Madeira is a popular holiday destination at any time of the year and around a million people visit this wonderful piece of Portugal annually. It lies just south of the Azores and is a place I love to visit.
Lying on the Gulf Stream, the island enjoys yearlong mild temperatures, with a low of sixty-six degrees in January, rising to highs of seventy-eight degrees in August and September. Come to think of it, Madeira is a mild sort of a place, chilled, relaxing and welcoming.
Intriguingly, the island has, by legend, an English connection. Madeira’s city of Machico is supposedly named so after a mysterious Englishman named Robert Machin (or perhaps Makin). Machin eloped from Bristol in the reign of Edward III, with his true love, a lady remembered as Ann d’Arfet.
According to locals, their ship from Bristol to France was driven off course by storms. The star-crossed lovers only just made it to Madeira, where Ann tragically died. Whatever the truth in the story, Madeira was claimed by Portugal in the 15th century and has been part of the country ever since, although it is now an autonomous region.
Thos wishing to find the best holidays to Madeira will be interested to know that it is technically part of an archipelago. Madeira lies approximately three hundred miles from Africa and six hundred miles from Europe.
The archipelago is a series of volcanic islands that appeared twenty million years ago. Madeira was one of the latest of the islands to appear. Funchal, Madeira’s capital, lies to the south of the island and is somewhere I love to visit.
It is a five hundred year old city that rests in an enormous geological amphitheatre which looks as if it is chiseled into the rock it stands upon. The dramatic combination of coasts and volcanic highlands that Madeira enjoys provide magnificent landscapes for the holidaymaker to marvel at.
Tourism accounts for over twenty percent of Madeira’s gross domestic product. Most of the islands visitors come from Germany, the UK, the Portuguese mainland and Scandinavia. As a sort of reverse trend, most of the Portuguese population of the UK actually comes from Madeira.
Visitors from the UK are always well received and English is routinely spoken, especially in the major centres of population. This is yet another reason why I love visiting the island.
Madeira takes food seriously and eating out there is a delight. Seafood dishes, as you would expect on an island, are always a good bet. For meat lovers, Espetada is a must-try; chunks of beef marinated for hours in wine, vinegar and olive oil and then grilled over fragrant wood chips.
The local wine, fortified and known simply as Madeira, comes either dry or sweet and compliments the local specialties superbly. Madeira is the kind of place to be if long, relaxed lunches are for you, as they definitely are for me; yet another reason why I love Madeira so much.
Author Bio: Miranda Holland finds the best holidays to Madeira online.
(photo credit: 1)