If I were to fall in love and run off to an ideal place to live, Madeira would be high on my list. I love Madeira. My first sight of the island was over ten years ago. I arrived by ship in the early morning -- and there it was: the white streaks of Funchal set in emerald green flowing to the sea. It was a magical place -- and still is.
This trip was a great opportunity to renew the romance. And renew it I did.
I had no excursions planned for this trip. I simply wanted to walk the streets of Funchal, climb its hills, and simply live in its unique rhythms.
Madeira is amalgam of the very best of Portugal in a jewel box setting. There is very little space to live. Like most mountainous islands, the majority of real estate is vertical. But the residents have learned to thrive within their physical limitations -- where front yards become vineyards and banana plantations.
And the food. It looks good. It tastes good. It is good.
I had one of the best fish dinners in my life. Scabbardfish must be the ugliest of God's swimming fish, but, on a plate, it makes up for everything with its heavenly taste.
If I could, I would retire in Madeira. The "could" is the problem. It is a very expensive to live. I can live far better in Mexico -- and there is the an even more remarkable mixture of history and contemporary life.
Next stop: Cadiz, Spain.