Lisbon – Some Random Decorative Art

One of the things that impressed me about our visit to Lisbon was the wealth of late 19th and early 20th century decorative art on the shops and other buildings. Perhaps this is because Portugal’s neutrality in World War Two saved them from the destructive power of the air raids or maybe it’s because Portugal has never been wealthy enough to bulldoze as much of its past in the quest for the new as other nations. Either way there is some good stuff on display.  This post is a random selection of stuff I snapped as we wandered around.

Tabacconist's shop front

Tabacconist’s Shop Front

These Art Nouveau shop fronts were shot around the Praca dom Pedro IV.

Art Nouveau Jeweller's windows

Art Nouveau Jeweller’s Windows

Almost a Belle Epoque Cafe

Almost a Belle Époque Street Cafe

This jeweller’s shop was close to the Elevador de Santa Justa.

Another Jewelers windows

Another Jewelers windows

Of course from the Praca Dom Pedro IV you get a great view at the platform that used to house the steam engine on the Elevador with its crowds of sightseers.

Elevador de Santa Justa

Elevador de Santa Justa

While the elevador itself was built to be not only functional, but also beautiful in the Victorian tradition of William Morris who said “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Okay it’s not inside anybody’s house, but its Art Nouveau cast iron and wood panelled lift cars are quite lovely.

Detail of cast iron work friom the Elevador de Santa Justa

Detail of cast iron work friom the Elevador de Santa Justa

There are also some fine Art Deco buildings like the Eden Theatre complex


Theatro Eden

And of course the grand railway stations are the expected temples to power and movement.

Rossio Station

Rossio Station

Even if they do conceal a Starbucks within in country with otherwise great coffee already. Trouble with stations as with temples, cathedrals or anything really big, is that the wealth of detail is often difficult to capture in its full glory.

Detail Cais de Sodre Station

Art Deco Detail Cais de Sodre Station

Of course smaller artworks are much easier.

Butcher's Van

Butcher’s Van

But often nowhere near as impressive as a whacking great mass of cast iron!

Elevador de Santa Justa

Elevador de Santa Justa

Lisbon – Breakfast, Trams, Cakes and Ruins

As they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but no matter how nice the Holiday Inn Lisbon was there was no way that we were going to pay €10 each for a chain hotel breakfast with rubbish coffee. Just around the corner in Rua de Dona Filipa de Vilhena  we discovered the delightful Pasteleria Filipa de Vilhena.


Pastelaria Filipa de Vilhena

The lovely ladies who run this little cafe don’t speak much English, but through a combination of mime, pointing and Spanish (Well I guess it is the country next door) we managed a selection of pastries, coffee and juice on both of our full days of exploring Lisbon, for an average of about €17 for all four of us. I particularly liked the one which sandwiched a layer of compressed bacon, egg and cheese in sweet pastry that tasted a bit like a French croissant and the coffee was excellent.

For our final full day in the city we had decided to do some exploring by tram so we walked down to Alameda Station to catch the Metro to Martim Moniz where we could pick up the no 28 tram, which would take us up to the Cathedral. Now I’m a bit of a sucker for Art Deco and on the way to the station I could not resist snapping this rather nice window belonging to the Ministry of Statistics.

Art Deco windows - Ministery of Statistics

Art Deco windows – Ministry of Statistics

Although we had already recovered the €39 cost of our Lisbon Cards over days one andtwo we still had a whole 24 hours freedom to ride Lisbon’s public transport network as we waited for the tram to turn the corner.

Trams waiting for the off at Martim Moniz

Trams waiting for the off at Martim Moniz

With the scream of metal wheels on metal rails we were soon off careering through the city’s winding streets, avoiding oncoming traffic, pedestrians, parked cars and even the sides of buildings by what seemed a matter of millimetres.

Squeaking past buildings by millimetres Lisbon's ancient trams

Squeaking past buildings by millimetres Lisbon’s ancient trams

We got off by the castle to enjoy the view and a beer.

view from the castle

View from the castle

Lisbon’s Se Cathedral was initially built after Dom Alfonso Henriques liberated the city from the Moors back in 1147. Built in the Romanesque style it has been reconstructed a number of times following earthquakes.

Se Cathedral, Lisbon

Se Cathedral, Lisbon

I was struck by how plain and simple the dark interior of the cathedral was, after the opulence of the church at the Mosteiro dos Jeronmos in Belem that we had visited the day before. The cathedral’s first bishop was the English crusader Gilbert of Hastings.

Not far from the Cathedral is the Museo do Thetro Romano. This place is quite deceptive at first. the ground floor has a few artefacts, but you have to climb up a few flights of stairs, past the gallery and an open air terrace with a fantastic view before leaving the building and crossing the road to find the actual ruins  of the 1st Century BC in another building.

Remains of the 5,000 seater Roman theatre

Remains of the 5,000 seater Roman theatre

Back on the trams to downtown we spotted this place, A Brasileira (Rua Garret 120).

A Brasileira

A Brasileira

Inside it looked even better

Inside A Brasileira

Inside A Brasileira

And the food was excellent. We chose a selection of pies and pasties from the counter and enjoyed them with some very good coffee. The chicken and olive pies were delicious as were the bachalhau.

Chicken and olive pies, so good we ordered more

Chicken and olive pies, so good we ordered more

Each of the food items cost about €1.50 so the four of us enjoyed a very filling lunch for a bargain €30.

From A Brasileira it was just a short walk to Lisbon’s main square with its fountains and monuments.

Fountain Rossio

Fountain Rossio

Known as Rossio its official name is Praca Dom Pedro IV and pride of place goes to a statue of the King at the top of a column, only there is some doubt over whether it is really him.

Dom Pedro IV of Portugal or is it?

Dom Pedro IV of Portugal or is it?

Rumour has it that Pedro is in fact the Mexican emperor Maximilian who was executed while his statue was en-route from France, so Lisbon’s city fathers were able to negotiate a special price to take the statue off the sculptor’s hands!

Lisbon – We get Hammered and Ride the Tram Cars

From the Restauradores area of Lisbon there are two funiculars that you can take up the hillside. On day one of our Lisbon adventure we took the Elevador da Gloria up to the Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara, so after our trip to Belem on day two, we decided to cross the Avenida da Liberdade and ride the Elevador  do Lavra up to the Jardim do Torel.

Elevador do Lavra

Elevador do Lavra

This is the oldest of Lisbon’s funiculars having been built in 1884. The area at the top was a bit run down, but we found the Jardim and enjoyed a few beers watching the storm clouds gathering over the Lisbon skyline as the night drew in.

View from the Jardim do Torel

View from the Jardim do Torel

Personally I don’t think the view from this side is a pretty as that from the top of the Elevador da Gloria, however man can not live by beer alone so we jumped back on the funicular to look for somewhere to eat back in Restauradores. The previous night while we were still pretty knackered from travelling we had eaten in the very nice, but hardly Portuguese , Italy Cafe (Avenida Duque D’Aila 26B), but tonight we fancied something local. Finding somewhere with Portuguese cuisine wasn’t as easy as we expected, but eventually we discoved the Restaurant do Calcada (Calcada do Carmo, 35) behind Rossio Station.

After the obligatory starters of olives, bacalhau (salt cod) fritters and bread I tucked into a hunter’s sausage with a fried egg, rice and chips.

Hunter's game sausage with egg

Hunter’s game sausage with egg

Although it might not sound very exotic, it was delicious, the pork in the sausage could hold its head up to any barbecued pulled pork I have ever tasted. Nick’s mixed grill looked pretty good too.

Mixed Grill Restaurant do Calcada

Mixed Grill Restaurant do Calcada

Complete with starters, beers, water and a litre of house Vinho Verde the bill only came to about €70 for all four of us and we got a free aguadente to aid the digestion  from the waiter who proudly told us that he used to live in Canning Town!

Hunger satisfied the night was still young and since the rain was holding off we decided to go for a drink at the Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara.

Elevador do Gloria

Elevador da Gloria

There’s something very Jules Verne about the solid engineering of these Victorian funiculars that makes me think of films like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea or Ruler of the World. It would have been so cool to have found the tramcar driven by James Mason or Vincent Price!

Where's Catain Nemo?

Where’s Captain Nemo?

By the time we got to the top of the Elevador it had started to rain, by the time we settled under the umbrella at the kiosk in the Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara it was bucketing down. In the vague hope that the weather would ease off we stayed for a couple of drinks before braving the downpour back to the funicular and dashing to the Metro to get back to our hotel.

Elevador do Gloria

Elevador da Gloria

Lisbon – Westward Ho to Belem

Some of Lisbon’s most popular and iconic tourist attractions are in its western suburb of Belem.

Dragon Gargoyle, Mostereiro dos Jeronimos

Dragon Gargoyle, Mosteiro dos Jeronimos

So day two of our Lisbon adventure took us down to Cais do Sodre station where we boarded the train to Belem (and yes it was included on our Lisbon Card Huzzah!). Now before we left the UK we had been given lots of recommendations about the most important thing to do there and it had nothing to do with the region’s history.

Custard tarts and samozas at Pasteis de Belem

Custard tarts and samosas at Pasteis de Belem

No it was cakes. Pasteis de Belem (Rua de Belem) looks like a small pastry shop from the outside, but inside it opens out into a vast cavern of blue tiled dining rooms where locals jostle with tourists for tables. Even at 10am it was packed, but we managed to get a table and were soon tucking in to spicy samosas (a legacy of Portugal’s Indian colony at Goa I imagine) and exquisitely gooey custard tarts with excellent coffee (have to say we never had a bad cup of coffee in Lisbon) and a half bottle of wine. Considering there were four of us the bill came to a crazy €16, how brilliant is that?

Gimme Cakes - Pasteis de Belem

Gimme Cakes – Pasteis de Belem

Suitably fortified we went to explore the Jardim Botanico Tropical. These splendidly decayed botanical gardens were not included on our Lisbon Cards so we had to fork out €2 to get in and explore the themed areas based upon Portugal’s colonial past. Despite the run down appearance of many of the buildings, a peak through the broken window panes of the central greenhouse revealed that research is still being carried out inside. If Dracula had ever wanted to take up horticulture he’d have been right at home here.

The Hammer Greenhouse of Horror? - Jardim Botanico Tropical

The Hammer Greenhouse of Horror? – Jardim Botanico Tropical

By the time we had finished in the Jardim it was starting to get a bit overcast so we made a dash for the Mosteiro dos Jeronmos. Construction of the monastery and church began in 1501 funded by King Manuel I’s taxes on goods from Africa and Asia and the opulence of its late Gothic (AKA Manueline) architecture is testimony of to the wealth derived from the new sea routes opened up to the east by Portuguese explorers like Vasco de Gama, who is buried in the church here.

Tomb of Vasco de Gama - Mosteiro dos Jeronimos

Tomb of Vasco de Gama – Mosteiro dos Jeronimos

There is no charge for visiting the church itself, but to get the best view of the interior you have to see it from the balcony that is only accessible from the monastery itself. (admission €7 or free with the Lisbon Card)

Church - Mosteiro dos Jeroniomos

Church – Mosteiro dos Jeroniomos

Within the monastery cloisters there is a wealth of carvings of strange beasts and monsters.

Cloisters - Mosteiro dos Jeronimos

Cloisters – Mosteiro dos Jeronimos

Whether these creatures were derived from reports of the far off lands opened up by the Portuguese merchants or drawn from the inner recesses of the Medieval mind are open to question, but the imaginations of the masons involved must have been quite scary places.

Gargoyles - Mosteiro dos Jeronimos

Gargoyles – Mosteiro dos Jeronimos

I was particularly taken by the gargoyles, there were all kinds of creatures, including dragons, wild boar, sheep, monkeys and even a grasshopper.

Grasshopper Gargoyle - Mosteiro dos Jeronimos

Grasshopper Gargoyle – Mosteiro dos Jeronimos

Opposite the monastery, on the bank of the River Tagus is a more modern monument to Portugal’s seafaring explorers, the Padrao dos Descobrimentos

Padrao dos Descobrimentos

Padrao dos Descobrimentos

The Padrao dos Descobrimentos was built in 1960 to mark the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator, who bravely stayed in Lisbon while people like Bartolomea Dias did the dangerous sailing over the edge of the world thing. The monument is in the shape of a ship with Henry at the prow.

Prince Henry at the prow - Padrao dos Descobrimentos

Prince Henry at the prow – Padrao dos Descobrimentos

It’s a fair walk along the windy banks of the Tagus to the Tower of Belem (Admission €5 or free with the Lisbon Card).

Tower of Belem

Tower of Belem

This Gothic pile was also built on the orders of Manuel I to protect the river mouth from invaders. The architect was Francisco de Arruda and the tower was completed in 1519. I think the batteries last fired in anger at the French fleet supporting the claim of Maria II to the throne of Portugal during the Liberal Wars of 1828 to 1834. We had a poke around the batteries, dungeons and climbed the tower before heading back towards the station.

On the way we stopped to admire this replica of the Fairey seaplane the Santa Cruz that made the first aerial crossing of the South Atlantic in 1922,

Santa Cruz Seaplane- Belem

Santa Cruz Seaplane- Belem

and to have coffee, beer and more cakes at Pasteis de Belem, before catching the no 15 tram back into Lisbon.

Lisbon – Europe’s Steampunk Central

It’s been a year since our last ‘lads’ city break (for lads read adults only, one of the lads is Queene Mab AKA Mrs Shipscook). Unlike our previous Spring jaunts to Tallinn and Prague, we had chosen a destination that didn’t require thermal underwear this time, so at some ungodly hour we arrived at Luton Airport on Wednesday morning ready for our flight to Portugal’s capital Lisbon.

As you can see we flew easyJet

As you can see we flew easyJet

Having swotted up on the city before we left I’d determined that we would be using public transport a fair bit, so our first port of call was the Airport’s Tourist Information Office to collect our Lisbon Cards. For €39 they gave us the use of Lisbon’s Metro, trams and trains, plus free or discounted admission to lots of tourist attractions for the 72 hours we’d be in the city. Being a bit of a skinflint I kept a running total in my head as we went, with the Lisbon Card getting its first hammering for €1.25 as we boarded the Metro from the Airport to Saldanha to drop off our bags at the Holiday Inn Lisboa (Avenida Antonio Jose de Almeida).

Lisbon's Metro stations are very arty!

Lisbon’s Metro stations are very arty!

Having got up at 3am by the time we got to the hotel we were starving, but the nearby Pastelaria Flor des Avenidas,

This pink deco concoction housed the Pastelaria flor das Avenidas

This pink deco concoction housed the Pastelaria flor das Avenidas

proved to be the ideal place to recharge and plan our assault on Lisbon’s attractions. Our first meal in Lisbon was pleasingly cheap, for about €7 we got a hearty stew of pork and sausage with rice and chips. The beer at €2.20 a pint was particularly welcome.

Pig bits stew, quite subtantial for €7

Pig bits stew, quite subtantial for €7

So with a bellyful of food and beer we hit the Metro heading for Baixa-Chiado and the Elevador de Santa Justa.

Elevador de Santa Justa

Elevador de Santa Justa

Like Edinburgh, Lisbon is a city built on hills and this huge cast iron contraption was completed in 1902 to save little Lisbonites legs. It was designed by Raoul Mesnier de Ponsard, who was a pupil of Gustav Eiffel. Inside the cast iron shaft are two wood panelled lifts that take you 145 foot above the city (€5 or free with the Lisbon Card kerching).

Praca Dom Pedro IV as seen from the Elevador de Santa Justa

Praca Dom Pedro IV as seen from the Elevador de Santa Justa

When you get to the top another €1.50 (free for us) will buy you access to the observation platform via a very tight spiral staircase. From here you can get a magnificent view across the city. This platform used to house the steam engine that operated the lift cars before the elevator was converted to electricity in 1907. A cast iron bridge links to the top of the elevator to the hillside and the Parca Lius Camoes. From there it is a short walk down the Rua do Loreto to the Elevador da Bica

Elevador  da Bica

Elevador da Bica

Also designed by Raoul Mesnier de Ponsard, this elevador is a funicular that links this part of Lisbon to the riverbank 245 metres below. It was opened in 1892 and costs €3.60 for a one way trip (again free for us with the Lisbon Card).

here we goooooooooooooo

Here we goooooooooooooo

From te Elevador terminus we walked along the riverbank back towards the station at Cais de Sodre. I thought this part of Lisbon was a bit grim, but when we got to the station we soon found a pleasant, but pricey bar in the Praca do Commercio for a well received pint. Guidebooks, maps and reading glasses were fished out of pockets while we decided what to do next. Obviously the novelty of riding the funiculars hadn’t worn off yet so we hopped on the Metro back up to Restauradores to take the Elevador  da Gloria to the Bairrio Alto.

Elevador da Gloria

Elevador da Gloria

This is the most famous of Lisbon’s funiculars and was opened in 1895. At the top of the funicular we discovered the Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Acantar, a small park with an amazing view over the city.

Late Lisbon from the Miradouro

Late Lisbon from the Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Acantara

There was also a bar kiosk with tables and very welcome gas heaters, since it was starting to get chilly in the early evening. What with the fantastic view and a few glasses of local red who could ask for anything more as the Sun dropped below the hills.

Bairro Alto station

Bairro Alto station

Madeira – Meat and Mariachi on the Rua de Santa Maria

On the last night of our Madeira break tragedy struck, the Donna Maria restaurant was closed! fortunately we didn’t have far to look as at the top of Funchal’s Rua de Santa Maria we found the O Jango restaurant.

Judging by the decor I suspect this place may have once been an African restaurant, probably based upon the cuisine of Portugal’s colonies of Guinea-Bissau, Angola and Mozambique. Whether it was or not, it’s now resolutely Madeiran and the Espetadas were, if anything, even bigger than Donna Maria’s, even if they did come on a metal spit rather than a Laurel Bay skewer.


Complete with vegetables this gut busting beef feast was only €13 per person and savagely delicious. In fact with starters, wine and a couple of beers the total bill only came to €66 for the three of us which is amazing value compared to what you would pay back in the UK. In fact all the restaurants we tried were relatively inexpensive except for the Casa Portuguesa.

Rua de Santa Maria has some great bars too. Bar Caracas is essentially a man behind a counter, a TV, a table and three chairs. It’s where all the old Portuguese guys hang out, so we’d only have a few drinks in the early evening and then leave the bar to them so they could ruminate over the football and complain about their kids in peace. We went Dutch and drank Head Knocks, lager with Genever chasers. The bar keeper was extremely enthusiastic with the spirit measures (€3 each, but about four UK measures) and by our second visit local gin ended up being substituted for the Genever, though the empty stone bottle found its way back onto the well stocked shelves.

Another place that we liked was the Joana Rabo de Peixe Mexican restaurant. We only had drinks there one evening, but we chose well because it was Mariachi night.

Mariachi Band

Mind you the band was so big that they had to perform in the street outside. Not very Portuguese I admit, but with the street blocked by happy people enjoying the Latino sounds, a fantastic atmosphere.

Madeira – Poncha

Legend has it that Madeira’s favourite local tipple, Poncha, was brought to the island by British travelers en-route back from India. The original recipe seems to be about two parts local Agaudente de Cana (raw sugar cane spirit), two parts lemon juice and one part honey, although today it’s often made with a variety of fruit juices.

Essential Ingredients

Naturally after sampling a couple in the local bars we made sure that (purely in the interests of consumer protection of course) that we brought some of this Agauadente home and had a go at making it ourselves. Agauadente is similar to Brazilian Cahacca and you don’t mess around with it since it is 50 per cent proof, but I’m pleased to say that it had the desired effect when mixed with guava juice and orange blossom honey. When making the Poncha add the fruit juice to the honey and give it a good stir before adding the Agauadente. In Madeira you can buy Poncha sticks for this, but I have enough single use utensils cluttering the kitchen already so I used a spoon.

Venda Velha Poncha Bar, Funchal

Just opposite our hotel, on the corner of the Rua Santa Maria was the Venda Velha, a bar that specialised in Poncha. By about 8pm it was usually heaving with local people having a night out. Peanuts would be poured onto the makeshift table tops of old rum casks, while a debris of nutshells would gradually rise from the floor  Their Poncha came in traditional lemon, orange, mango, guava and passion fruit flavours. My favourites were the passion fruit and the guava.

Another house speciality was the Nikita, which consisted of centrifuged white wine, sugar, vanilla ice cream and pineapple juice topped off with beer. Apparently named after the Elton John song rather than the shoe banging Russian leader it is actually a lot nicer than it sounds, but I have yet to try making one a home.

Photos copyright QueenMab/Shipscook Photographic. contact for commercial reuse

Madeira – Casa Portuguesa

Since most of the restaurants we had sampled in Funchal’s Old Town had so far been so reasonable, we thought it was time to try one of the posh ones.

Casa Portuguesa

Casa Portuguesa, on the steep Travessa das Torres, has a reputation for high quality traditional Portuguese cuisine. Inside the whitewashed walls are punctuated with traditional blue tile panels, while shelves and other surfaces are adorned with the predictable rustic items bought as an auction job lot. On the crisp white table linen silver rests are provided for the cutlery and the staff are OCD attentive to your needs.

Me with soup at Casa Portuguesa

On opening the menu though, my hackles rose when I spied the €2.50 cover charge. Personally I think that’s a bit stiff for supplying bread rolls that people don’t always eat, it’s the culinary equivalent of Ryanair’s credit card surcharge. However to start there was choice of soups. I went for the tomato and onion which was quite good, but not anywhere in the same league as the one from the Donna Maria Restaurant  and horror! no poached egg.

Fish Soup

Mab and Nick had the fish soup, which was made with the ubiquitous Black Scabbard Fish. From the spoonful I tried it was certainly very tasty.

On to the mains, and I plumped for the chicken in a creamy mushroom sauce.

Chicken with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Like all the dishes, this was very nicely presented,and came with potatoes, sweet potato and the local Madeira Marrow. This vegetable is also known as Chayote Squash or vegetable pear. The chicken breast had been butterflied and beaten almost micron thin, consequently the meat was a bit dry, but the sauce was very pleasant.

Mab had the steak with peppercorn sauce.

Chicken in Creamy Mushroom Sauce

While the carnivorous Nick had a mixed grill of chicken, bacon, beef and sausage.

Mixed Grill

Now this little lot came to nearly €100 with a bottle of local rose. While the food was OK I didn’t think the dishes showed any real flair or originality that justified the 33% extra price tag over the Donna Maria, so I was a little disappointed. However if you don’t have the odd bum experience you can’t appreciate the good ones. We took a look at the desert menu, there was nothing that special on it, decided to spend the money on beer instead and scarpered off into the night.

Madeira – Misty Mountains and Levadas

There’s something humbling about standing on our planet, but being above the clouds. You can’t help but think what a truely marvelous place the Earth is.

Clouds Rolling in Pico do Arieiro

We’d got up really early to catch the bus up to Pico do Arrieiro, Madiera’s third highest peak. The journey had taken us up through agricultural terraces, forest and moorland, to reach the visitor centre 1810 metres above sea level. The view, like the air temperature took your breath away, all around cloud clung to the valleys in the moorland, while distant ramblers were dwarfed like ants in the landscape.

Madeira is famous for its walks and the next place on our itinerary, Ribeiro Frij in the Natural Forest of Madeira World Heritage Site, presented the opportunity to enjoy an easy Levada walk.

Trout Fry Ribeiro Frij Fish Farm

Ribeiro Frij means cold river in Portuguese and the National Parks Department have established a trout farm in the town to take advantage of the supply of naturally cold water. Before we got started on our Levada walk we had a good look at the pools where the trout at different stages of the life cycle were kept.

Just About Oven Ready

The levadas are irrigation canals that bring water from the mountains down to the farmlands where it is more arid. The Portuguese built the first levadas in the 16th century and there is a network of 1,300 miles of canals cut into the sides of the mountains. Many of them are quite hazardous to walkers, but we were pretty safe on our chosen route which took us through the the Laurelsilva forest,

Incedible scenery on the Levada Walk

before meeting some of the friendly chaffinches at the Balcoes.

Friendly Chaffinch

It was then a short walk back to our coach pick up.

Our coach pick up point

On the way down to the coach, I noticed these terracotta doves at the corners of the roof of a farm house. These and other such mouldings are a common feature on Madeiran houses. Busts of women and children and dogs are also popular and it is said that Portuguese sailors brought the tradition back from the Far East.

Terracotta Dove

Our next stop was the town of Santana where some of the traditional triangular thatched houses have been preserved as shops selling local tourist items, including some very tasty biscuits.

Traditional Madeiran Houses

Just behind the houses this deligthful old lady was keen to show us her sweet potatoes.

Look at my Spuds.

The town of Santana extends to the coast, where we had the lunch that was included in the trip. I had a very good tuna steak accompanied with some excellent white and a paint stripper red.

Beach at Santana

After lunch we had a wander around the beach, well not so much a beach as a small estuary much favoured by the local cats, before taking the coach back to the resort.


Our Eastern Delights trip was booked through Thomson Holidays, cost £38.99




Madeira – Time for Some Cake

Bolo de Arroz and Queijado

Well we could not visit Madeira without sampling some cake, although these two beauties are actually mainland Portuguese origin. In the Rua Santa Maria we discovered the Mariazinzha Bakery by the smell of its freshly baked bread. Most days we’d buy some rolls for lunch. but just for once we decided to try what the locals had for elevenses (To those of you from outside the UK or Ireland elevenses is the British tradition of having a cup of tea and a snack somewhere between breakfast and lunch, usually at 11am)

The Bolo de Arroz  is literally a ball of rice flour baked into cake. Inside it is very light with a distinctive rice flavour. It’s also a bit dry so definitely benefits from being drunk with either some black coffee or some chilled Madeira wine. The Queijado is a creamy cheese cake with a very firm filling, again great with a coffee.