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Symphony World Travel - Fetcham

29th October 2019

Portugal – Marvellous Madeira

On arrival at Funchal Airport we were met by a lovely holiday representative and taken to the Cliff Bay Hotel for a two-night stay.

We had a junior suite located in the most gorgeous position with stunning views and the gentle sound of the ocean lapping over the rocks below. Oh, the tranquillity! The hotel was fabulous, with fantastic food. 

In the morning a few of us were up early before breakfast to sample the stunning indoor pool that opens to the outside and we decided it would be rude not to sample the Jacuzzi hot tub as well! 

After breakfast, we were collected for our inland trip to Nun’s Valley. I knew Madeira was mountainous, but the scenery takes your breath away. The walk up to the top is a must, although quite hard on your legs, and looking down we could see a little village in the valley below. 

In the car park at the top, there was a great souvenir shop selling ice cold bottled water which was very welcoming as the temperature reached 23 degrees – and it was the beginning of December! 

Lunchtime came, so off we went to visit Quinta De Sao Joao, a wonderful 18th Century house with a real oldie world feel and furnishings to match, where we had a fantastic lunch. 

Lunch at Quinta De Sao Joao

A quick visit to the city market for a bit of R&R shopping! Then afternoon tea at Reid’s Palace Hotel which is within walking distance of the Cliff Bay Hotel. Reid’s is one of Madeira’s iconic long-standing hotels and the tea was superb with waiter silver service. 

On our second day we were able to go to do the iconic Toboggan Run. Great fun was had by all and we thoroughly recommend it. You can buy a photograph of yourselves zooming down the road at the end of the run, with the toboggans looking like oversized bread baskets! 

The iconic Toboggan Run

Onwards for lunch at the Casa Velha Do Palheiro. This Casa is very quiet and tranquil being some 20 minutes from Funchal. Once a 19th Century Hunting Lodge, they also have an 18-hole golf course, and wonderful gardens with exotic trees and plants. Back to the Cliff Bay to collect our cases and on to the Quinta Jardins do Lago for our last night’s stay and dinner. 

Quinta Jardins Do Lago has breath taking views over the Bay of Funchal, and a lovely relaxing pool. There’s also a resident giant tortoise called Columbo who’s very partial to being fed by the guests.

Columbo moves at a more sedate pace

Madeira has a myriad of things to do from golf to gardens to Levada walks, cycling, whale watching, and of course the spectacular Christmas illuminations – not to be missed. 

This Island is a must for a week, a short break, two centre or even longer – and do try the cable car! 

This review was written by Jan Colson, a member of the Symphony Fetcham team.

By Nicky Banin
29th October 2019