The summer of 2014 was a tough one for me. I hit a physical and mental low point, I was exhausted. The perfect timing for a holiday. But where do you go to escape it all? To find 100% relaxation without spending too much time alone with the thoughts in your head? Michiel found the perfect solution: the isle of Madeira.
Madeira, also known as “the flower island”, that didn’t sound too bad. I like flowers! Love them even! They make me think of all the beauty in the world. We searched the Airbnb database to end up in something we like to call “Paradise”. Casa Muda had it all: a friendly host, a welcome basket with local products for the days to come, a chicken coop to provide us with fresh eggs, a passion flower plantation, a garden full of flowers, the cutest little rustic house to live in and, oh yes, the most beautiful pool you’ve ever seen with your own private view of the sun setting in the sea every night… Welcome to paradise.
The thing that sets Madeira apart from any other vacation destination? The Levada walks. Madeira is a very lush and green island with a mild climate. To irrigate the banana plantations and to provide water for the villages, a circuit of water canals called Levadas runs down from the mountains, crossing the most beautiful parts of the dense and old forests on the island. Hiking routes have been created alongside these canals, bringing you to remote places of pure beauty and nature, it feels like ending up in a fairytale.
When Michiel and I travel, we try to do it our way. We do not deliberately search for “different” things to do, but we highly value the general mood of a holiday, the smells you encounter during your visit, the way the light hits the sceneries, the food, how friendly the people are, those moments when you look at each other and smile, when you know you both feel happiness in its purest form. It’s all in the details and often in the simple things.
As we live a hectic life at home, holidays are for relaxing, but laying flat on our backs in the sun approximately lasts for 30 minutes and then we’ve had it. So the trick is to not plan too much into your holiday schedule. Make a top list of things you want to do or visit, be stern with yourself, leave room in your agenda to just “be” there, to soak it all up, even when you’re visiting a vibrant and busy city. Make memories you can not tell people about, things people should experience to understand. Holidays are not made for ticking off things on your list.
Our tips for Madeira:
Do not go to Madeira for the villages or Funchal, the capital. There’s not much to see or visit. A visit must be paid of course, but don’t expect too much. Except for the botanical garden!
This island is to be loved for it’s nature and hiking options.
When looking for peace and quite, search for a place to stay in the West or North part of the island. Those are the greenest regions that will surprise you the most.
Take a sweater: when the clouds and winds set it, it can get a little chilly, even in summer.
Visit the higher parts of the island.
The coast is beautiful, but the mountains have a vibe of their own.
Madeira doesn’t have natural beaches, so don’t come here for a beach holiday, it’ll feel fake.
When looking for something to eat, ask the locals for advice, because a lot of places are very touristic and not authentic. Don’t come to Madeira if you want to be swept of your feet by the food.
Make sure you know how to drive a steep slope. Madeira is built on hillsides, so the most beautiful places are reached via the most exciting roads. Don’t burn your brakes!
Take some proper hiking gear with you:
walking boots are indispensable to reach the best parts of the Levada walks.
Avoid high season: the Levada trails will be too crowded to enjoy the peace and quite of nature.
If you decide to travel to Madeira, give us a shout!
We’ll be glad to give you some more tailored advice.