Funchal is the capital city of the Maderia islands of Portugal, and is also known as one of the prettiest ports in all of Europe – easy to understand why - there are flowers EVERYWHERE! We docked on schedule at 8am and by 8:15, Cheryl and I were walking toward the city – about a 2-mile stroll just to walk out of the docking port itself and around the corner to the outskirts of the city. The ship had a free shuttle running every 20 minutes but with 7 full days at sea ahead of us, we decided to walk whenever we could. The early morning temp was only 55, but the fresh, brisk air was great. The first place we stopped was a beautiful catholic church – an old, incredible structure with a massive alter carved in wood. I said a brief, personal prayer to God and no sooner had I finished when the sun began shining through one of the upper stained glass windows reflecting itself on an adjacent wall (see photo) – incredible! For now, I’ll keep the prayer to myself – perhaps someday I can share it with all of you. We were very fortunate to be calling on this port as they were celebrating their annual flower festival – the city was absolutely alive with flower displays! Outside the church on Main Street were blocks of carpet flowers – flowers that were placed in wire mesh units on the ground that were hundreds of feet in length, each with its own design or theme – PLEASE SEE PHOTOS – these were amazingly beautiful! The aroma was phenomial! We boarded a cable car mid-morning and took a 2-mile ride up to the top of the mountain behind the city –incredible view of Funchal & our ship in the harbor. There was a botanical garden at the top – quite hilly on cobblestone walkways (very challenging) – well worth the walk – beautiful! Again, check the photos. By 1pm we were back down in the city and exhausted – time for lunch – so what do you have in Portugal?? Chinese of course! It had been so long since we had good Chinese, we just couldn’t resist! Much the same as Hong Kong – we had McDonald’s! We’re not very sophisticated travelers! After lunch, we started our long walk back to the ship and reached the port by 3:30. We set sail at 4:30, attending our last sail-away party of the cruise. It’s bittersweet at this point – we miss home & family very much, but we will certainly miss the many new friends we’ve met since January. Everyone is very busy exchanging email addresses – several will be on the World Cruise again next January so we’ll pick up where we left off. One couple from Brooklyn, New York (Eddie & Lea) have been on every World Cruise since 1994 – that’s 18 consecutive trips!! They are a wonderful couple & treasure their friendship. At any rate, there will definitely be a major adjustment period once we get back - neither of us have cooked a meal, washed a dish, or have done any kind of domestic chores in nearly 4 months. There’s been occasional laundry, but only socks & underwear – major laundry & pressing has been done by the ship. What do we eat the first morning back home, & who prepares it?? There’s a Denny’s not too far from the house…I just have a feeling!
So, it’s now April 23rd - we’re 6 days from Ft. Lauderdale. We’ve sailed just over 35,000 miles – Lauderdale is 3,200 miles across the Atlantic. Weather forecast for the first 3 days is good – cloudy, but steadily warming. Europe was chilly – every port – mostly cloudy & rain more often than not. It’s been at or slightly over 100 degrees in Phoenix – looking forward to the warmth again! Between now & April 28th, I plan to put together a pictorial story on our life aboard the Amsterdam – how we spend a typical day at sea – and we’ve had 59 days/nights just sailing the oceans! Until next January, our best wishes to you & yours, & may God bless!