A day after arriving in Lisbon, Portugal, and Gesy tells me, “We are going to Madeira next week, I’ve already got your ticket.”
My thoughts at that exact second – 1) Wow, she bought my ticket… That’s really nice of her, and 2) Madeira, Portugal… Sounds cool, it must be a very close flight if it was just another place inside of the country.
Long story short. I had no idea where Madeira, Portugal was. In fact, when I was told it was an island I said, “ah that’s nice, it must be a little island off of the coast” … Wrong again. Madeira is an island just north of the Canary Islands off the coast of Morocco. It is actually closer to Africa than it is to Portugal! I had no idea that this place even existed.
After arriving in Madeira, I was blown away. Imagine a cross between the liveliness of Key West and the charm of Monaco. The island is beautiful. From the picturesque ocean views from everywhere in town to avenues littered with cafes, live music, and the occasional gypsy. Somehow it is able to capture the essence of ‘Europe’ and project it in the display of a single street… on an island… in the middle of no where.
My fascination with Madeira doesn’t just stop with this aesthetically appealing part, but is deeper rooted in the actual mechanics behind the economy itself. It is an island in solitude without any other land mass too close at all. The island is able to sustain itself within its little bubble while only having to import a fraction of what they consume, mainly consisting of cars and other technologies. After every amazing meal we had, I asked how it was possible to make such good food in such a remote destination, and the answer always was, “We make it all here on the island.” Incredible. The country of Portugal may be in a crisis, but I don’t think Madeira has caught word of that yet.
We were shown around Madeira by one of Gesy’s partners who made sure we got the most out of our stay. He showed us the best spots in town and treated us to a day out on his boat where we were able to see Madeira from a whole different angle.
After having been to such an incredible place (without even first knowing it existed on a map) I can now honestly vouch for this little speck off the coast of Africa as a destination most people would thoroughly enjoy. I will definitely be back.