Turning 33 in Madeira (Part 2) – Birthday dinner

“Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.” – Oscar Wilde
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Being loved. Loving life. Cheery sun rays. Beautiful flowers. Counting my blessings in life as I was turning 33 (and still doing so after turning 33!)  Subsequent to Part 1, May 3 and 4 were spent primarily in Funchal, the capital of Madeira. As Querido and I were there during the Flower Festival Week, the streets were filled with floral arrangements, which emitted a naturally sweet scent! It was a simple joy to be simply strolling along the pavements!001 collage (1) 001 collage (1)001 collage (1)

I was really happy to be surrounded by all the different species of flowers. In the end, my “timekeeper” Querido had to constantly remind me that we had yet to check out other sights of Funchal.  Afterall, we were going to catch the Flower Parade the subsequent day. (If you think that the above is an overload of flowers, wait till I blog about the Flower Parade which happened on my actual birthday, May 4!)

Reluctantly, I headed to our next stop, the Mercado dos Lavradores. This vibrantly-coloured marketplace had all kinds of tropical fruits.  It was also the first time I knew that so many varieties of passion fruit existed – golden, purple, banana, granadilla, etc. By the way, I was trying the banana passion fruit in the collage below. Unfortunately, it was not as yummy as it appeared to be.001 Collage (1)

There was also a bustling fish market on the ground floor. Huge and fresh tuna, sea bream, red mullet, swordfish, etc were on sale. Nowhere compared to the Tsukiji Market in Tokyo, but it was still a sight.001 Collage (1)
As we were behind schedule, Querido and I grabbed a quick lunch at a local cafe at the marketplace. When in Madeira, do what the locals do – Indeed, I grabbed a bolo de caco and brisa maracuja drink, aka fast food of Madeira. Nice :)001 collage (1)
Thereafter, it was time for the cable car ride and the picturesque view of Funchal! Both Querido and I felt that it was the best value-for-money cable car ride ever. The steep journey was approximately 3,200 metres long and we had the entire cabin to ourselves! Loved how the landscape transformed during our 15-min ride – from the city view to lush greenery, which had farm crops and houses precariously perched at the edge of steep cliffs. There were luxurious mansions; and there were basic dwellings. It was eye-opening to witness such juxtapositions during the cable car ride.001 collage (1)
The uphill journey ended at Monte, where we visited the Church of Our Lady of the Mount (Nossa Senhora do Monte). However, what caught my eye was the traditional “wicker toboggans”, which people (in the past) rode to get to the foot of Funchal. Now, it had become a tourist attraction. However, I did not have a go at it as I thought it was very laborious for the “manual drivers”, many of whom appeared to be in their 40s. Furthermore, it had to be super taxing to navigate the multiple, windy turns.001 Collage (1)001 Collage (1)
The below 2 collages are made up of some other random sights we saw. By the way, we walked a lot!001 Collage (1)001 Collage (1)
After an exhausting “walk-a-ton” day, it was time for my birthday dinner! Yeah! :) Dinner was at Armazém do Sal, which was a 200 year old, former salt warehouse. The food was above average. More importantly, the service was impeccable, as echoed by the good online reviews which prompted me to make a reservation in the first place :) Sometimes, I think good service really makes a huge difference to one’s dining experience.001 Collage (1)001 collage (1)001 collage (1)
At the end, the restaurant had a birthday surprise for me. A complimentary dessert platter and madeira port on the house. I loved how they decorated the plate with the heart of viana motif too. By the way, I liked the taste of madeira port as it had a hint of gula melaka taste (Madeira produces sugar cane by the way!). After dinner, Querido and I took a leisurely 1-hour walk from the restaurant back to the Lido area (just like how we used to walk from Finchley back to Baker Street in London after a movie night out).  It was also during this walk when the clock struck 12 and I turned 33 :) Happy birthday to me!001 collage (1)
Last but not the least, I also received a thoughtful Tree of Life pendant from Querido’s mummy, with a blue lucky charm. Planning to wear that on Querido’s birthday, which is in 2 days. Another feast ahead!001 collage (1)
This has been a rather long post, so saving the 4 May Flower Parade for Part 3.  Have a beautiful week ahead!