The beautiful, subtropical island of Madeira , known as Portugal’s “Jewel in the Atlantic”, is situated 800km off the north west coast of Africa, 1000km south west of Lisbon. Considered one of the most beautiful islands in Europe, and is 22km by 57km. Its subtropical climate means that even in winter the temperature rarely falls below 17C, and rarely exceeds 23C in high summer.
Due to its volcanic origin, Madeira is very hilly, and the coast is steep and rocky, with high cliffs and deep valleys running down to the Atlantic and no sandy beaches, but there are some really nice secluded pebbled beaches.
The language is Portuguese, although many speak excellent English. The capital, Funchal, is cosmopolitan and alive with restaurants, bars, clubs, and a casino.
Covered in rich subtropical foliage and the variety of flowers the island a permanent flower show. Birds of Paradise flowers, blossom in the fields and hydrangeas line the paths that skirt the edge of mountain terraces. The island is a haven for those who enjoy being outside for both gentle strolls and hard core hiking. The 1300 miles of irrigation channels, known as levadas, carry water down from the mountains on gentle gradients and provide a ready-made system of trails crisscrossing the island with footpaths running along their entire length.
Madeira is a place of moderation in most things, where respect and old world manners have yet to become outdated. The people a gracious, helpful and friendly.
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