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Monday, June 6, 2022

Things To Do Near Funchal, Portugal Cruise Port

Cruising is a very easy way to see a lot of countries in a short amount of time. That being said, it also means that you have a less time than you need to fully enjoy the country you are in. But with planning and doing plenty of research before your trip, you can experience many of the highlights of the area.

The first stop on our recent Transatlantic Cruise was Funchal, Portugal. We were so excited to tell everyone that we were going to Portugal. Well, Funchal is a city on Madeira island which is on the African Plate and is very far from Portugal. We were closer to Portugal when we were in Vigo, Spain, our second stop.

One of the fun things about cruising is that you sometimes meet the nicest people on them. This cruise we met Evy and Gary from Lincoln, Nebraska. Although we only got to enjoy one lunch with them, we bumped into them at least once almost every day and it was always fun to stop and chat for awhile. 

On our day in Funchal, they took the shuttle up the steep rode from the cruise ship into the town while me and Soko walked. ("We should have taken the shuttle!" we thought as we made our way up the hill.) We wound up at the same place at the same time and Evy took this great picture of us. 

We are standing outside Santa Catarina Park. We were on our way to church as it was Sunday, so we couldn't stop in but we were hoping to get a chance on our way back to the ship that day but ran out of time. I'm sad about that but it gives us a reason to go back!

Before we travel anywhere, I do a lot of research about the area. I use the internet, maps and word of mouth and then make up an itinerary which usually includes where we will eat. I find that we waste a lot of time looking for somewhere and something to eat if we don't plan ahead.

If we are going to be somewhere on a Sunday, finding a mass to attend is usually what I research first then we make the rest of our plans based on what time our selected mass will start. 

I found out that there was a Catholic church within walking distance from our cruise ship. Funchal Cathedral was designated a National Monument in 1910. It turned out to be a gorgeous, small church with very hard kneelers and a very young priest. Of course, we couldn't understand a word of  Portuguese but we could follow along because we knew exactly what prayers were being said. Every Catholic mass around the entire world follows the same order of mass.

After church, we walked down to Praca do Povo, Funchal's waterfront. We strolled along the narrow paths and enjoyed the view of the Atlantic Ocean in front of us and the picturesque hills behind us.

We got a kick out of these adorable, mini food trucks parked in the square at the waterfront. We are not sure if they are are always here or if they were here because of the Flower Festival celebration happening in Funchal. Unfortunately, or fortunately for saving a few calories, it was early when we passed the trucks and they weren't open.

The next stop on our itinerary for the day was the Funchal Cable Car. We took the round trip ride (18.00 euros each) to get a different view of Funchal's landscape. If we had more time we might have considered going to the Madeira Tropical Garden that was a few steps away from where the cable car left us off at the top of the hill. There was an entrance fee ( 6 euros each) to the gardens so besides for not having enough time anyway, we decided that we would save a couple of euro and hopefully get to the garden that we passed earlier that didn't cost anything to get in.

Our next stop was Rua de Santa Maria to see the painted doors. The works of art on the doors were colorful, most were cheerful and some were very interesting to say the least. We had lots of fun looking for the doors and admiring the artwork on them.

We didn't have success finding the market in Zona Velha, Funchal's historical district which was the next "to do" on our list. We thought maybe it was closed on Sunday when we couldn't find the market after walking up and down a few streets trying to find it. I have since learned that this was the case. 

We weren't totally disappointed about not finding the market because if we never looked for it we would not have bumped into this women selling her beautiful flowers in her uniform of traditional Portuguese clothing.

One thing we were really looking forward to doing in Portugal was eating a "must try" sandwich called prego no bolo do caco. The restaurant where we were to find this sandwich must have closed or moved because it wasn't where it was supposed to be. Now began our search to find the sandwich. We looked on outdoor menus of several eateries and then found a very small store with a take out window. Under the window was a big ad for prego no bolo and the picture of it looked delicious! I was so excited to finally have found it. But no, when I showed the waitress our intinerary with prego no bolo do caco hand written on it, she told me, by shaking her head and pointing somewhere up the street, that their sandwich did not come with the do caco and that I needed to go somewhere else. At this point, we were running out of time and getting very hungry so thought we would just start heading back to the ship and hopefully find something to eat as we passed through the Flower Festival but before we got to the festival, we found it! 

The steak, ham and cheese sandwich topped with a delicious garlicky spread and stuffed into an incredible bread that had a crispy, thin outer layer surrounding a light and airy inside was well worth the trouble to find it.

It's always fun and interesting to be visiting a place and happen to be visiting when the residents are celebrating a special holiday. We were lucky to be in Funchal during their annual Flower Festival to enjoy the colorful flowers and to experience the excitement of the day with the many people who showed up to participate in this celebration.

It was really time to head back to the ship after we walked through the streets of the festival. We definitely ran out of time to walk through Santa Catarina Park but we were able to cut through another nice park as we made it back to the port.

We made it back to the ship with some time to spare and about an hour later we were leaving the port. We watched as the tiny island of Madeira got tinier and tinier then it disappeared out of view. 

Obrigado, Funchal, for the good food and fun time we had in your city! Hope to visit again one day soon.

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  1. Thank you for the wonderful tour. Looks like a great place to visit.

  2. That does sound like such a fun time!

    1. Yes it was! We are so happy to be able to travel again!

  3. Thanks for sharing your trip!

    LOVE that colorful door - and you are a brave girl for going so HIGH to get that city shot ;-)

    Have a funtastic weekend :-)

  4. Looks like Funchal, Portugal is a wonderful place to visit -- a sunny locale with a colorful culture, good food, and friendly people.

  5. Love those doors! I've heard good things about Madeira all confirmed here - thanks for sharing with #PoCoLo

  6. Thanks for sharing your wonderful trip to Portugal. I enjoyed reading this blog post and looking at the beautiful photos of your trip.
    Thanks for the blog visit and I hope you have a nice week.

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed our blog post. Thank you so much for stopping by!

  7. Nutella rolls - Yum! I've never been on a cruise. But Portugal is on my bucket list.

  8. Thanks for sharing with #pocolo, what a lovely place to visit and looks like you had a fab time. Chickenruby x

    1. We had a great time! Thank you for hosting and for stopping by. Both are very much appreciated!