Madeira

Closer Magazine Winter 2013-14

MADEIRA The pearl Located off the coast of Africa, just north-west of the Canary Islands, Madeira is a great holiday destination year round, with balmy summers and warm winters. Often referred to as the ‘Pearl of the Atlantic’, this green sub-tropical island offers such variety, with picturesque villages, rugged peaks, alpine plateaus, verdant valleys, wild flowers in abundance and an unspoilt coastline with towering sea cliffs. Its spectacular landscape has even earnt it UNESCO World Heritage status for The Laurisilva. It’s the largest surviving area of laurel forest and you can capture tantalising glimpses of endemic birds there. Nestled in Madeira’s gorgeous landscape are charming villages, such as the fishing village of Câmara de Lobos, 8 www.fredolsencruises.com a place where Sir Winston Churchill loved to write and paint; beautiful Camacha, Madeira’s ‘capital of culture’, well-known for its willow craft and folklore groups; and Machico, the landing point of the first explorers to reach Madeira and the location of the oldest church on the island. Discovered in the early 15th century by Portuguese navigators, the island’s early settlers constructed a large number of levadas (canals). They are still used today to distribute water from the wetter regions in the north to the drier sunparched regions of the south. The levadas are now also used as walkways and cycle ways; a great way to explore the landscape. One of the most popular walks is within the enchanting Rabaça Valley, where you’ll find the Levada of 25 Fontes with natural springs cascading into a crystal clear lake. For an adventure of a different kind, be transported back to the 15th century and sail on board the famous Santa Maria – a replica of Christopher Columbus’s flagship used during his voyages of discovery. As you admire the breathtaking views of Madeira’s south coast, you may even be lucky enough to spot a pod of dolphins or whales! Facing the blue Atlantic Ocean, with a backdrop of dramatic mountains, the capital, Funchal, has a timeless charm. With quaint cobbled streets, shops, cafés, bars and restaurants, it’s ideal for idle wandering. Christmas in Funchal is a festive fairytale; the twinkling lights that line the mountainside streets create an enchanting ambience. But the ultimate show stopper is the incredible New Year’s Eve fireworks display, said to be the largest in the world! Watch the show unfold from the comfort of a Fred. Olsen ship – surely the best place to view this unforgettable spectacle. Of the Atlantic


Closer Magazine Winter 2013-14
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