Sunday, 8 June 2014

Sparkles, strawberries and champers

Hello it's the 8th June - still on Madeira 

Yesterday was mostly a laze about day where I read a book and caught some very patchy suntanning. We weren’t too fussed about doing touristy things during the day since we were booked to watch the evening Funchal fireworks from the catamaran – ‘Sea the Best’.

Funchal fireworks are world legendary and we have been lucky to be around for the first of 4 Saturday displays in June. Different companies who produce firework displays are competing against each other during the June Saturdays and the one reckoned to be the best display gets the task of setting up the NEW YEAR firework display, which is filmed for worldwide consumption: hugely famous in firework demonstrations. Yesterday, Saturday 7th June, was the turn of a Portuguese firework outfit; next week’s company are based in Canada, followed by 2 more that are Portuguese.

To start the evening, we taxied from our time-share apartment to Funchal harbour and had a wonderful dinner at a ‘reconstructed’ restaurant named ‘The Golden Gate’, one street up from the waterside. 

There has been an original ‘tea room’/ eating house on the site from Victorian times but the initial d├ęcor had subsequently been replaced over time. Around the millennium, the original plans were resurrected and a ‘reconstructed’ version created to give the old ambience- a very well done rebuild.  

Opposite our balcony table was the beautiful Banquo de Portugal building and a statue commemorating Joao Goncalves Zarco. 

I haven’t yet encountered statues for the other 2 main navigators who settled on Madeira, but if there’s one for Zarco I imagine there will be similar accolades for the others. Perhaps a task during the downtown walkabout planned for this afternoon? (Sunday)

After dinner, we wandered down to the harbour to find our catamaran, passsing the old fortifications buildings at the sea front- where the main defensive action took place in years gone past when the many pirates attempted to land on Madeira. 

The marina is full of beautiful and sleekly expensive boats, I’m not even going to try to say what types - I’m pretty sure there was every kind there. 

Sea the Best
The firework display is set off from the end of the long pier where the cruise ships dock – though there was no cruise ship in port last night. People converge on many different places to watch the fireworks, the Casino being a popular venue. My sister-in-law, whose time-share apartment we are using, recommended we try to watch the fireworks from the water. She has seen the firework displays from different viewing spots over the years of coming to holiday in Madeira, so we followed her suggestion.

The catamaran- Sea The Best - is used for many types of day trips. You can do dolphin and whale watching, and hope to view giant sea turtles and a variety of sea birds. Sometimes it’s possible to snorkel or swim from the catamaran, weather permitting. 

For our evening ‘fireworks’ trip, the deal was around a couple of hours worth of powering out from the harbour with a slow sail along the coast. As the sun set, the clouds rolled away to leave a clear starlit sky. We gently puttered along, a little way out from the shoreline and were able to admire the tiered lights of Funchal as they clothe the mountainside. By the start of the display we were in position opposite the end of the long pier, the engine idling. The crew had our champagne and strawberries ready for the first blinding flashes.

It was a spectacular display seen from such a wonderful vantage point. My photography skills are limited at the best of times, though are even more challenged in capturing fabulous sparkling fireworks from a slightly undulating catamaran. The firework show was naturally accompanied by suitable music relayed to us on the catamaran via the local TV/radio station which had a fashion show event on a red carpet catwalk on the harbour side. 

Ubiquitous it may be, but – it was a great night out! 

Tune in for more from Madeira, though today is our last day. This is where a non-smiley face is appropriate.    

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