Monday, 14 January 2008

An Island known as Madeira

As mentioned before in my last post,we spend the last week of year 2007 in the autonomous region of Madeira in Portugal.

Hubby spent 6 years of his life in the region when he was young and only after 50 years that he managed to come again and also to show me the island as he promised years back to show me the spectacular fireworks display on New Years Eve.
Photo takenfrom the plane while on landing course

Making reservations for flight+hotel package tour was not easy.I started my search from September and only in November that i finally managed to confirm our trip for 6 days/5 nights package tour.

Not knowing that i also captured the hotel site ( building in the middle with pool) from these photos although a bit blurd.

We had a charming hotel situated in a small town of Sta.Cruz,about 5 minutes drive from the airport in Machico.The hotel has a mountain view front rooms and sea view rooms with terrace, we were lucky enough to have a room with sea view and terrace as i always hoped to have. We can also watch the sunrise at about 8:00AM from our room or at the restaurant when we take our breakfast or watch the planes on their arrival, landing and take off at mid day or about 5:00 PM, where we took a lot of photos on our last day.

The city of Funchal as seen behind during our sightseing tour of the city

History of Madeira below as copied on site.

When the Infante Dom Henrique, better known in English as Prince Henry the Navigator, gathered together the finest cartographers and navigators of Portugal at the beginning of the 15th century, his plan was to extend the knowledge of the coast of West Africa. Armed only with square-rigged ships, compass, hourglass and astrolabe, the initial sea captains were severely handicapped in their endeavours. But in the course of their ventures, the finest hour of Portuguese maritime history, luck brought greater riches than the purities of science and logic.

Two young sea captains, João Gonçalves Zarco and Tristão Vaz Teixeira, were blown off course on their journey around the African coast and after many days at sea found land on a small island that they named Porto Santo - the very first of the many discoveries made by Henry's school of navigation. On reporting to Henry they were promptly ordered to return and colonise the island. The year was 1419.
Seductive as are the charms of the golden sands of Porto Santo it seems somewhat incredible today that it took a further year before the next discovery was made. The captains had reported a dark mass of clouds visible on the southern horizon. They were now encouraged to explore this foreboding mass. As theories to whether the world was flat had yet to be completely disproved, it took an enormous leap of faith to cross the traverse.

As they approached, the huge Atlantic rollers breaking along the north coast and the boiling turbulence of the cross currents at the Ponta de São Lourenço cannot have eased the concern of the superstitious sailors. But on rounding the headland they discovered the bay of Machico, the threshold to the heavily forested island that they named Madeira. Prince Henry immediately organised the colonisation of the island, with the first families coming from the Algarve region of Portugal.

Today the statue of Zarco looks down on the descendants of the first colonisers as they navigate the corner in front of the Bank of Portugal building in downtown Funchal. As the Portuguese overseas possessions have shrunk, so the relative significance of this first of the great discoveries has gained in importance. To find a needle in a haystack can be trying, but to find Porto Santo in an Atlantic storm was a lucky prize indeed.

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