The next leg of my journey takes me on an eleven day cruise to Barcelona. Seven straight days at sea with no land in sight. But on the eighth day of the cruise, there was land: Funchal, Madeira.
Funchal was a beautiful little town built up the mountain-side, very picturesque.
I walked from the port past Forte Sao Jose,
built sometime around 1419, on my way to checking out the quaint village. After an hour or so I worked my way down to the Island Cable Car, and decided to ride it up to the top of the mountain.
There they had the Jardim Tropical Monte Palace (Botanical Gardens). I enjoyed my walk through the gardens.
Outside the wall of the gardens, you could take a Toboggan ride in the traditional basket sleds, which were the means of transportation back in the 19th century from Monte to Funchal. You should have seen some of the travelers faces as the sled reached up to 48 kms per hour.
After the gardens, I chose to hike the 5 kms down to Funchal. The road was very steep with the pitch at 35 to 45 degrees most of the way, but I enjoyed seeing some of the old neighborhoods. I will also note that the streets were very narrow.
Back at sea, the Norwegian Epic is a big cruise liner with essentially 19 decks. It has all the usual, plus a little bit more. Fun fact: the Norwegian Epic is the same ship that Meredith’s (my youngest daughter’s) boyfriend’s parents traveled on this past year!
The casino onboard was not very crowded, especially for Blackjack. I will assume that was because everyone was losing. There was a large “Duplicate” Bridge crowd with lessons in the morning, and tournaments in the afternoon.
I purchased the Ultimate Dining Package. It is well worth it. I ate very good food at the associated restaurants – Cagney’s (Chicago Steakhouse), Moderno’s (Brazilian Steakhouse), Le Bistro (French Cuisine), Teppanyaki (Japanese), and La Cucina (Italian). The entertainment was excellent, and there was live entertainment at all hours: song and dance, dueling pianos, cirque de dreams, comic shows, you name it. Yes, you could find some kind of entertainment just about anytime of the day.
To work off all of the food and ice cream I was eating, I began exercising in the fitness center, but soon found the jogging track with a nice breeze and a great view of the ocean.
The Epic had lots of tanning/sunning areas around the pools, with hot tubs, and several large waterslides. I enjoyed the waterslides.
On the way out of port, I could have sworn I saw the “Pearl”, arrrrr!
The next time you hear from me, it should be about Barcelona, Spain, so until next time, here is one of many crazy sunsets on my cruise: