The Eclectic Museums of Yekaterinburg
Anyone interested in a healthy dose of Russian history or culture need look no further than the city of Yekaterinburg, once called Sverdlovski and often Romanized to Yekaterinburg. As the fourth largest city in Russia, Yekaterinburg boasts well over 30 museums along with a host of accommodation possibilities for tourists. Photography, fine arts, literary history, folk arts, science and engineering are just some of the genres available for the keen museum visitor.
Many of the larger and most well-known museums of Yekaterinburg charge to visit, but are well worth the entrance fee. The Museum of Fine Arts houses the not-to-be-missed Kasli mouldings along with many historic and some contemporary Russian artists. The Regional Natural History Museum and the Ekaterinburg History Museum offer a fascinating glimpse into the rich history of Russian culture and particularly the Ural. The Historic Exhibition houses the famed Shigar collection of wood sculptures along with permanent exhibitions from the Romanov family. To really get a sense of Russian history through photos the Museum of Photography The House of Mentenkov is a must see and is the only dedicated state museum of photography in Russia. Many free museums are also to be found including the popular Nevyansk Icon Museum which focuses on icon painting through the centuries.
For those wishing to tuck in close to the technological and craft sides of this beautiful country a wealth of both small and large museums can be found, and places such as the Gamayan Centre of Folk Arts and Artistic Handicrafts even offer classes on stone cutting, castings and engraving. The Ural Geological Museum and the Museum of History of Stone-Cutting and Jewellers Art give a great insight into the beauty and craftsmanship of the country while the Science and Engineering Museum of Sverdlovsk Railway will send railway lovers into seventh heaven. October 2013 also marks the 70th anniversary of the city’s tram system so the Museum of the History of EMUP will be a must visit during this time.
Whatever time a visit is made to Yekaterinburg there is no shortage of accommodation for travellers on any budget. Backpacker hostels and motels are as abundant as expected in any major city and small apartments can be found to rent for reasonable prices. The city offers over 100 hotels with the Hyatt Regency Ekaterinburg currently being the only 5-star hotel available. A myriad of restaurants, cafes and bars can also be found throughout the city. Visitors can head for some traditional Russian cuisine or party the night away drinking Irish beer in one of the many popular Scottish themed pubs to be found. The Traveler’s Coffee cafe is reportedly one of the best places to go for both incredible traditional coffee and food The music played throughout Yekaterinburg is almost as eclectic as the museums; along with pop and classical there is a strong presence of rock, jazz and swing bands. A visit to the opera or ballet is also considered a must do for many visitors.
Yekaterinburg is a bustling major city packed full of both the usual aspects of modern life and a rich history ready for absorption. Anyone wanting to get a genuine feel for the Ural and Russian culture in general will find a genuine delight in this exciting city through both its daily bustle and the wonder of its eclectic museums.
The Drake Hotel Is A Staple Of The Toronto Nightlife
The Drake Hotel, one of the most popular boutique hotels in Toronto, is known as a “hotbed” for culture in the city of Toronto. The Drake has been known since the year 2004, for it’s commitment to showcasing some of Toronto’s best art. Unlike many other hotels in the area, The Drake presents itself as a boutique hotel. This means that The Drake offers some of the best customer service and facilities to their guests, while still presenting a feeling of intimacy and care.
The Drake is known as one of the top-rated, and most famous restaurants in Toronto. Out of the many Toronto restaurants, hotel guests know The Drake as one of the most appealing. There are multiple eating venues that are designed to fit the needs of everyone. The menus and decor of the restaurants change with every season of the year, giving returning guests a fresh experience each time that they visit.
There are seven different venues at the Drake Hotel. These venues include the Common Spaces, Underground, Room 222, Cafe, Sky Yard, Lounge, and the Dining Room. Each of these venues has a completely different atmosphere from the other. Some of these venues are very private and intimate, while others are lively and encourage guests to branch out and meet each other. Some of the venues even have unique gift shops and live music. Out of all of the Toronto restaurants, The Drake Hotel offers some of the best variety.
There are many types of entertainment venues at the Drake Hotel. The Underground is one of the biggest venues, which is known as the party venue of the hotel. The Underground is open during the night and hosts live music. There are Indie shows, DJs, film showings, live comedy performances. The Lounge is another venue that is part of The Drake. Some have called The Lounge the “living room” of the hotel. There is also live music in the lounge, but the lounge also offers s o much more. In the past there have been live cook-offs from professional chefs, trivia, and art discussions between the guests. There are also world-renowned brunches offered and that are served in the Lounge. The lounge is decorated with rotating art exhibits as the background, making it the perfect setting for any entertainment function.
Every room in The Drake Hotel is furnished with a glass shower, artwork unique to each room, hardwood floors, customized millwork, a Drake Hotel handmade doll, and edible treats. Each room is charmingly petite, giving them a cozy and comfortable feel. The main function for the bedrooms, or crash pads, is for sleeping. The Dens and Salons are designed for the guests to have fun and relax in. Visit Thedrakehotel.ca for more information and start planning your trip to The Drake today!
Francis Jodden is a Canadian hotel &hospitality critic who blogs about the best places to stay and dine in Canada and abroad. When choosing among popular boutique hotels in Toronto, Francis prefers and always recommends The Drake Hotel for a great stay and a great meal. For more information and to start planning your Toronto trip today, Francis recommends that you visit Thedrakehotel.ca!
The Best Place to Get Lunch During a Cruise Shore Excursion on Gibraltar
The best way to approach Gibraltar is from the sea. Select a cruise ship that will call in as part of one of the many different Mediterranean cruises that are available. As the rock looms up in the distance you will be in awe of the size and the way it rises steeply out of the water. Truly a vantage point that must be reached, even on a short visit. The question is how to see as much as possible while leaving ample time for lunch at one of the Rock’s many superb restaurants.
Arriving in Gibraltar
Gibraltar has a special harbour for cruise ships and as you pull up to the dock, you will again be stunned at the sheer size and closeness of the rock. Your cruise ship will have organised some excursions for you, which is by far the best way to make the most of what Gibraltar has to offer. Lunch, however will be a free time, giving you the choice of many delicious possibilities from the many diverse options available.
Where To Eat – Main Street
Main Street is just what it says. It is where you will find all of the shopping at great tax free prices. This includes Marks and Spencer plus many shops offering unique products, such as the glass for which Gibraltar is famous. It is very convenient as it is only a short walk from where Celebrity Cruises and other ships dock as part of their Mediterranean cruise routes and there are many bars and restaurants to choose from especially in Casemates Square, which is located at the lower end of Main Street. Sophisticated dining will not be found here however – as the choice ranges from Burgher King to Pizza Hut and Fish and Chips, but there is very good pub grub served at the Lord Nelson and Latino’s Diner is an actual restaurant with tables inside and out. It is an American style diner which serves excellent steak and many other delicious dishes.
Ocean Village For Lunch
If you prefer a more sophisticated style of dining in beautiful surroundings, then go to Ocean Village, which is just across the road from Main Street. The restaurant Ipanema offers wonderful views over the marina and serves traditional Brazilian food. The waiters come to your table with a choice of different cuts of meat, such as ham together with caramelised cinnamon pineapple and steak infused with garlic. There are also some wonderful pasta dishes and salads. Another option with great views over the marina is Taps Bar, which serves the most amazing selection of tapas, such as tortilla and patatas bravas – delicious.
Gauchos, an Argentinian restaurant, is probably the most popular in Gibraltar and is well used by the locals, saying a lot for the food which is always good. The Landings, located at the Queensway Marina, is up-market and very chic. It serves food with a Jamaican twist and has an enchanting outside dining area. Finally Charlies must be mentioned. It is a great seafood restaurant in Marina Bay and you must try ‘Charlies Boast Trash.’ Indian food is also served.
One thing is for sure – no matter what your taste – you will be spoilt for choice in Gibraltar and will no doubt be looking forward to a return visit.
Ten Beautiful Things to Experience in Antigua
St. John’s, Antigua’s capital city, is the commercial center in the island. This wonderful vacation place holds something for everyone to enjoy. It maintains its West Indian flavor and enthralls visitors with local specialties, shopping, galleries, traditional stone buildings as well as huts made of wood. The best ten things that you can do in St. John’s are:
St. John the Divine’s Cathedral
In this historic church services are held daily even now and anyone can take part. You can enjoy the artwork, atmosphere and architecture inspired by religion. You don’t have to pay any admission fee, but is suggested that you donate some amount in order to help maintain the church.
This church has been built on the same location where two churches existed, of course, one after the other; the first one was St. John’s Anglican Church that was built in 1681 and the second one was built in 1746.
Antigua and Barbuda Museum
The museum, operated and maintained by the community, displays a great collection of historical pieces. The museum allows visitors to touch as well as feel the stone pestles and conch-shell tools that the islanders carved in the past. The museum also examines natural history and the colonial influence on the island’s development.
Fort James is a seventeenth century British Fort that was built in order protect the St. John’s harbor. You can still see parts of the original wall, powder magazines from of the 1600s and 1700s and cannons.
The Redcliffe Quay which was originally slave quarters is now full of food vendors, specialty shops and tourist information centers.
Cedar Valley Golf Club
If you play golf, then you will definitely want to visit this golf club. It is a par-70, 6,000 yard course that offers splendid views of the ocean. The Antigua Open and the Eastern Caribbean Golf Championship are conducted in this club.
Heritage Quay is another shopping district that offers duty-free shopping. The Heritage Quay also provides an out of this world view of St. John’s Harbor.
You can go for a cruise on the Caribbean Sea waters in a replica of the nineteenth century Clipper Ship.
Fort Barrington was built in 1779 to protect the interests of the British from the French invaders. It is named after the Admiral who strengthened the fort in the year 1779 to safeguarded St. John’s Harbor during the 18th and 19th centuries. A short hike is required to access Fort Barrington.
Museum of Marine Art
The Museum of Marine Art is dedicated to beach lovers and here you can see unique as well as unusual sand samples and artifacts that were retrieved from local shipwrecks.
If you are interested in history, Catherineburg Ruins in is the place to visit. Here, you will learn a lot about the colonialism that existed during the eighteenth century. The sugar and rum factory that was located in this place served as the headquarters of the Amina warriors during the 1733 slave revolt.
So, whatever it is that you are looking for – shopping, sightseeing, golfing – St. John’s will offer you that.
Take a trip to Northern Cornwall, England
Motorway access along the M5 ensures swift and straightforward progress to the West Country. A holiday down in North Cornwall promises lots of beach fun, history, great food and drink, unique customs and a way of life found nowhere else in the UK. Arranging coach travel or mini bus hire to North Cornwall is a great idea if you fancy a few days away in spectacular surroundings with a few friends.
Any trip to North Cornwall can be as action packed or relaxed as you’d like. The variety of things to do means there is something for all tastes.
Water based activities
Beach lovers marvel at the many sandy beaches on offer for swimming, surfing or just paddling with your trousers rolled up. Fans of kayaking, sailing, windsurfing and other water sports appreciate the scenic locations and great conditions. On the north coast there are some great surfing beaches including Summerleaze at Bude and Fistral at Newquay.
Padstow is a fantastic seaside town to go and visit.
Other popular activities available include horse riding, Go Karting, golf, coasteering and fishing. Well known places such as the harbour town of Padstow are ideal bases to stay as there is so much to do. Why not go out mackerel fishing on a boat from the harbour? You can take your catch home with you and cook it for lunch. Or cross the Camel Estuary on the small but perfectly formed Padstow ferry which carries people over to the village of Rock, famous playground of young royals in its time.
Padstow is also famous for its many impressive eateries. Celebrity chef Rick Stein was the pioneer in this part of the country, setting up a restaurant on the harbour’s edge specialising in the freshest fish and seafood. That was around thirty years ago, today visitors can still dine at Steins Restaurant, although booking early is the only way to secure a table these days. Other foodie delights to sample during a Padstow sojourn include traditional Cornish Pasties, Cornish Fairing biscuits and old fashioned clotted cream fudge – all certain to hit the spot for hungry day trippers.
If you want to work off some calories after indulging in the local fare, you can arrange bike hire from Padstow and cycle along the Camel Trail. This is a disused railway line just over seventeen miles in length which stretches between Padstow, Wadebridge and Bodmin. Cyclists, walkers and horse riders use the trail which threads its way through beautiful countryside. It is nice and flat so all the family, young and old are able to have a go.
The Eden Project
Lovers of all things botanic will enjoy a visit to the famous domes of The Eden Project. Situated near St Austell in mid Cornwall, this place showcases the incredible diversity of plant life we have on earth. In several bio-spheres with varying micro-climates, we are able to see different species up close from all over the globe. A wonderful place to spend a day with lots to see and learn, good wholesome food, plenty of parking and excellent facilities.
Newquay and Fistral Beach
Newquay is the surf capital of North Cornwall and caters to the young crowds. If you are looking for buzzing night life, then Newquay is the place to be. The waves are very good and Fistral Beach regularly plays host to world renowned Surf Competitions. Add to that the amazing Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay and it is certainly a place with a lot to recommend it.
Hiking and rambling
Hikers and ramblers who like nothing better than to get out in the fresh air should take a walk along the spectacular coastal paths in the area. Or venture inland to Bodmin Moor, where the romantics seek outJamaica Inn (famous setting for Daphne Du Maurier’s novel) and the more adventurous keep their eyes peeled for the infamous beast of Bodmin, fabled wildcat of the moor.
Cornwall is one of the most visited tourist areas in England.
Cornish history pursuits
History buffs who enjoy exploring old stately homes and gardens should head for Prideaux Place near Padstow or the National Trust beauties of Lanhydrock and Cotehele – all fabulous places for an expedition with like-minded friends.
North Cornwall is the perfect destination for a few days away with friends. With the convenience of coach hire or mini bus hire, your visit is made simple and North Cornwall is suddenly much closer than you once thought…
Planning Your Whistler Golf Getaway
During the winter, Whistler is a mecca for all downhill ski enthusiasts. In the summer, though, Whistler is a top vacation destination for golfers. Home to four championship courses and nestled in the Blackcomb Mountains of British Columbia, Whistler provides the backdrop for an amazing golf getaway that is easy to reach with shuttle service.
Getting to the resorts is easy and Whistler transportation can be easily arranged online through www.ridebooker.com. The website provides fast and easy booking for shuttles that provide transportation from Vancouver to Whistler, in between the resorts and the city, and to and from the airport. Transportation is effortless to and from the following world-class golf courses.
Robert Cupp’s Big Sky Golf and Country Club rests in an exquisitely picturesque setting as it lies at the base of Mount Currie. A wonderful day of golf is waiting to be enjoyed on the award-winning course featuring bent grass from the tee to the green and Ravensdale sand bunkers. The next amazing course is Nicklaus North which rests among a beautiful sparkling lake, gorgeous pine trees and a majestic mountain background. Designed by Jack Nicklaus, the course is rated as one of the top courses in North America. In addition, the course has a marvelous grill that boasts a lakeside patio. Another fabulous course meandering along a beautiful mountain backdrop is Arnold Palmer’s first Canadian golf course, Whistler Golf Club. Nine lakes and two creeks overshadowed by majestic cedars bejewel the spectacular course. Finally, the most unique golf course in Whistler is Fairmont Chateau Whistler Golf Club, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. The course has been etched from the side of Blackcomb Mountain and rests 400 feet above the valley. The higher elevation provides golfing with an unbelievable view of the mountains and valley below. Wildlife, ravines and waterfalls are gems among the rolling course. In addition to amazing golf resorts, the area is home to Whistler, a wonderful mountain village.
A picturesque and quaint hamlet, Whistler provides elegant and unique dining, shopping and entertainment experiences. Dining venues range from casual to fine dining while exclusive shopping is found in the village’s boutique shops along Whistler’s Stroll. Museums and galleries are ready to be explored in and around the village and offer a look into Whistler’s history and culture. The beautiful village and amazing golf courses make Whistler an incredible vacation destination.
Planning an amazing golf vacation is easy and convenient. Getting between Whistler and Vancouver is easy to arrange by using Ridebooker transportation options. Whistler transportation is available to and from the city, airports, golf courses and Whistler village. Easy access to all of the resorts and the amenities of the resort area help to make any Whistler golf vacation a relaxing and enjoyable experience.
Jack Benefold is a Canadian golf writer and golf enthusiast who blogs about his favorite golfing destinations. On a Whistler golf getaway, Jack always uses Ridebooker transportation options when getting between Whistler and Vancouver, and highly recommends their services!
Planning a Romantic Trip to Paris:Impress Your Partner with These Ideas
They call Paris is the “city of love”, and couples from around the globe visit the area to celebrate anniversaries and organise engagements. That said, you probably want to know exactly what makes this city so romantic, right? Well luckily for you I’ve been doing some research and now I’ve got a pretty good idea.
So, if you’re considering taking your loved one to Paris for a short break, have a quick read through the rest of this article first, and i’ll do my best to let you know about some of the most popular locations and pastimes frequented by foreign couples.
Wine and Oysters at Le Baron Rouge
If your partner is the type of person who likes nothing more than sitting in a cozy, comfortable room listening to soft music by candlelight, you really should take the time to visit Le Baron Rouge. This popular wine bar is always filled with happy locals, yet it never gets too busy to enjoy a peaceful, undisturbed evening. With some of the tastiest oysters in the whole of France, this is an essential stop for couples on a romantic break.
Visit The Dame du Canton For Dinner
This vintage barge that sits on the Left Bank of the Seine River is always a huge hit with foreign travelers. The gypsy-jazz music that plays every night is truly unique to the area and the lantern-lit restaurant that features authentic French dishes is guaranteed to satisfy – unless you suffer from sea sickness of course, as this boat tends to rock when it’s filled with happy patrons.
Head To The Four Seasons For A Chocolate Massage
I know what you’re thinking; “he’s made this up”, But you’d be wrong. If you take your partner down to the Four Seasons, they now run “all about chocolate” spa treatments that include mint chocolate body scrubs followed by toffee and swiss chocolate body wraps and deep tissue massages in cocoa oil. This is something I absolutely promise your partner will love.
Stay At The One by The Five
Though you’ll have no trouble finding luxury hotels in Paris, no matter where you stay you must book at least one night at The One by The Five. Located near to Port Royal, this private five-room apartment complex has been specially designed to blow your partner’s mind. With floating beds and black leather walls, this place is certain to make a big impression – just don’t plan on doing any sightseeing on that day, as you seriously won’t want to leave.
So there you have it my garlic-loving friends. Those are some of the main reasons why British couples travel to Paris – especially at this time of year when the nights are getting colder. Though I haven’t mentioned it yet, make sure you also spend an hour or two visiting the Eiffel Tower, as this always seems to draw a crowd. Also, make sure you take some time out to visit one of the many art galleries in this city, as some are truly awe-inspiring.
Have a great time!
Off the beaten Barcelona track
Barcelona is known for being a compact city, but that doesn’t mean there’s not much to do here. Indeed, there’s plenty to do other than the famous sights. So forsake the beach for a day and get your day trip hat on as we introduce you to Barcelona’s best-kept secrets. Once you’ve read up on these, you won’t be able to resist jumping on the first flight to Barcelona.
Placa del Pi
Barcelona’s gothic quarter is one of the most intricate places to get lost in, with dozens of special little spots that feel far from the madding crowd. This square is one of the most bohemian locations in the city – an old meeting place for local artists and musicians. As well as the decorated facades and antique shops full of trinkets, there are a number of restaurants serving interesting cuisines. Definitely worth a visit.
All right, it’s a bit of a cheat to put Montserrat on the list seeing as it’s not actually in Barcelona. But as it’s just an hour out of town by train, there really is no excuse not to visit this picturesque location. Forests grow in between the gigantic dolomite rocks that make this such a unique location. Wander along to the Benedictine monastery for superb views and a close look at an old religious building that has plenty of character and a number of fascinating artefacts.
Not many people can say they know where they’re going to be buried. However, world-famous architect Enric Miralles must have had an inkling that he wanted to be laid to rest here as he was designing it, because this is where he ended up. Containing thousands of ‘residents’ including the man himself, the cemetery is laid out quite unlike any other of its kind. It’s not easy to reach by public transport, but this works out in favour of those seeking to get away from the tourists.
El Jardi cafe
Venture away from the obvious terrace cafes that line Las Ramblas and instead transport yourself to the luscious gardens of this eatery. Situated in an old hospital in the red-light district of El Raval, you’ll find an orange tree-filled courtyard and elegant fountains that could convince you that you’ve taken a step back in time. If you fancy staying for dinner (entirely understandable), there is an excellent bar and restaurant. And the best part is that the tourists don’t know about it.
Once you’ve had dinner, the next logical step is to find a secret bar. El Mariachi is a favourite hangout for musicians. Decked out with mismatched chairs – and an even more bizarre selection of drinks – it’s easy to see why. The venue’s specialities include its murky cocktails that prove wrong the old sentiment: – “Never trust a cocktail that remains clear until the last ingredient and then immediately clouds”. These taste wonderful.
Moving to Nigeria? What’s the Cost of Living There?
Moving to Nigeria isn’t something that should be taken lightly, and many people are confused about the cost. The truth is, relocating to Nigeria can be pretty expensive, and the worst thing expats can do is underestimate that cost. Expats who don’t know much about the West African country might assume that it’s fairly affordable, however; Nigeria’s two largest urban centres are ranked as two of the most expensive destinations in the whole world! Lagos and Abuja were placed 39 and 64 out of 214 destinations evaluated in 2012. Read on to learn more about the costs of living in Nigeria:
Rural, smaller areas in Nigeria can offer expats a much less expensive lease of life, and perhaps even cheaper houses in Nigeria property centre. However, many people wanting to make the move to Nigeria concentrate on the two aforementioned expensive destinations; Lagos, and Abuja.
A lot of people are probably wondering how an African country, often spoken of for it’s high levels of poverty, crime, and corruption, can beat massive economy’s such as Berlin and Barcelona when it comes to living costs. This is actually all down to the oil boom of the 70’s, which consequently allowed economic expansion and population growth to explode. Saying that, for around 90% of the Nigerian population, the cost of living is around 1 dollar per day.
Expats in Nigeria will have to spend a lot more to live the kind of lifestyle they’ve grown accustomed to. Unfortunately, it’s not very balanced in Nigeria; the rich are so rich they could take 5 baths a day in their money, while the poor are literally dirt poor. Some expats estimate that moving to Nigeria in a family of 4 will require the household to earn approximately 200,000 dollars per year or more, while a single person with less to worry about might be able to get by on around 60,000 dollars per year.
Housing Costs in Nigeria
If you’re not one of the lucky expats who has had housing included in an employment package, you’ll need a huge salary or allowance to cover the cost of living there. A one bedroom bungalow in Abuja can cost you as much as 3,000,000 NGN, equivalent to 20,000 dollars. You’ll also need to prepare to fork out for extra security due to Nigeria’s rising crime rates.
Transport Costs in Nigeria
The cost of driving and public transport in Nigeria can carry some unexpected costs. The only public transport worth taking in Nigeria, is a driver you’ve hired to navigate through the traffic for you and get you from A-B. Much of the public transport available over there isn’t safe at all and should be avoided! Costs to hire a driver can vary, but if you have an employment contract you should try to negotiate one that way.
Moving to Nigeria With Kids
It isn’t recommended that you move to Nigeria with Kids in tow, as the cost of sending them to a private school to get the education they deserve is close to university fees in the UK. Local institutions aren’t an option for expats, so consider this carefully when you have kids!
Moving to Nigeria definitely won’t be cheap, so make sure you’re prepared for the costs before making any big commitments!
Must-see Madeira – A First-timer’s Guide
An enduringly popular destination on the itineraries of many cruises from Southampton, Madeira is the largest island of a sub-tropical archipelago in the northern Atlantic Ocean and is situated 620 miles south of Portugal and 450 west Morocco’s coast.
Madeira was discovered in the fourteenth century by Portuguese navigators, who were immediately struck by the island’s outstanding natural beauty. Blessed with year-round warmth, sunshine and, rich with lush vegetation, plants, flowers and dense forests the island became known as the ‘Garden Island’ and the ‘Pearl of the Atlantic’. Today, Madeira’s hospitable climate and stunning landscapes remain key attractions for more than one million visitors of all ages each year.
Despite its compact size – Madeira occupies an area of just 801 square kilometres – the island offers a wealth of memorable attractions, activities and experiences, so for guests who have never visited before here’s a first-timer’s guide to Madeira’s must-see attractions.
Ponta de São Lourenço Natural Reserve
In contrast to the verdant green hues of the rest of the island, Madeira’s volcanic easternmost peninsula presents a landscape of arid beauty, populated by rare and unique indigenous plant species and offering magnificent panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean. A protected environment since 1982, the Ponta de São Lourenço Natural Reserve is an ideal spot for walkers, bird-watchers and wildlife enthusiasts who may spot basking sea lions here.
Porto Santo beach
Madeira is not a typical beach holiday destination. The main island has only one small beach, Prainha, which is located on the eastern peninsula and features naturally black volcanic sand. Whilst Prainha is an excellent beach from which to swim, dive or snorkel, visitors wishing to relax on a more traditional stretch of golden sands should head northeast to the island of Porto Santo. Here nine kilometres of unspoilt and generally uncrowded sands are lapped by warm, calm and safe waters and, besides a number of hotels, there are facilities including beach bars and showers.
As Madeira’s pretty, modern and cosmopolitan capital city is where cruises from Southampton dock; Funchal provides an unforgettable introduction to Madeira for first-time visitors. The city boasts many highlights including the vibrant and colourful Mercado dos Lavradores (‘workers market’) which sells local and exotic specialities including flowers, spices, fruits and local handicrafts but is particularly famous for its fresh fish.
Equally compelling are Funchal’s numerous public parks and gardens which display the island’s diverse and exotic flora at their best. Unmissable among these are the tropical gardens at the Monte Palace Museum, the beautifully-maintained Santa Catarina Park which overlooks Funchal’s harbour and the Madeira Botanical Gardens. Set on a Monte hills above the city, the Botanical gardens are divided into themed areas containing different species of plants and flowers and also feature an aviary of exotic birds. Reaching the Botanical Gardens is an unmissable experience in itself as a modern gondola cable-car system ascends the hillside from the city below offering passengers outstanding views of Funchal, the coast and the ocean.
For Madeira’s guests with no fear of heights, a visit to Cabo Girão is a must. On the coast not far from Funchal, Cabo Girão is Europe’s highest sea cliff and the second-highest in the world. At a height of nearly six hundred metres a transparent glass viewing platform projects from the cliff top offering views of the sheer drop to the sea below. Those too scared to look down will be rewarded with unparalleled views of Madeira’s southern coastline.
The Calheta Sugar Cane Mill
Madeira is famous for the production of a fortified wine which also bears the island’s name, but in the fifteenth century, Portuguese settlers planted sugar cane as a commercial crop as the island’s subtropical climate was perfect for its growth. At the end of the nineteenth century the village of Calheta on Madeira’s southern coast had as many as eight sugar cane processing factories, but today only one remains and is still operational, producing a selection of fine rums, cane brandy, cane honey and liqueurs cakes and cookies.