Holidaying with baby

Trip Start Aug 01, 2003
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Trip End Sep 20, 2004


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Flag of Portugal  ,
Monday, April 9, 2007

This was our first major holiday with our one-year-old baby and I wasn't really up for it. My wife J was desperate for some sunshine at the tail end of the English winter and this made us look south. I had no desire to return to the Canary islands and would have prefered a Mediterranean destination but J was adamant the weather there would not be warm enough. After a quick internet search Madeira seemed a good compromise with good walking and a bit of culture for me, the weather and botany for J and Portugese, child-loving attitude for the bambino.
The flight was hell. The sheer amount of stuff - pushcairs, babycarrier, nappies, wriggling baby etc meant the relief of finally being checked in was amplified by a factor of ten (if only you could check the baby in!). When 'it' began to scream on take off , a major nagging guilt materialised. Is it fair to subject the baby to this? Was it the pressurised cabin? More red-faced, arched-back screaming distress. With motherly comfort he eventually settled but the nagging guilt remained.
Madeira is an engineers paradise. It rises, a mountain peak, out of the ocean. With no flat land everything has to be levelled, tunnelled and balanced on slopes, (including the runway, formerly the most dangerous in the world, now lengthed but still hairy) which is what the levaderos have been doing ever since the 15th century. The levaderos are responsible for the construction and maintenance of the levadas or water channels that take water for the high springs to agricultural terraces all over the island. As paths run alongside the levadas they also provided great opportunities for seeing the island on foot.
We stayed at the main tourist complex near the Lido in Funchal. The gardens around the city are colourful, lush and tropical and worth a visit even for the none botanical. Two cable cars have been set up by a Swiss company to take you from Funchal to Monte high on the mountainside. The views are great and this is where the ancient, now touristy, street tobbagan rides commence.

Two top tips:

1) Take a local bus (?86)  to Carreira du Funchal, (nuns valley). Head downhill along the road for 400m then take the clear path on the left and enjoy an exhilirating climb to a great lookout. As Madeira bus drivers are bonkers, once you have ascended this crazy peak, you will find a bus stop. Buy your ticket, close your eyes and pray.
2) Get one way tickets on the cable car to Monte and then Monte to Botannical gardens. Zigzag down through the gardens and catch a cab/bus back to Funchal.

Portugese men and women can't help but ogle a cute baby. We were constantly stopped in the street as little J was cooed over. He loved the attention and was spoilt rotten. He giggled, smiled and  luaghed so much he really was a joy to be around. Our first holiday with the baby was 10/10 but the actual journeying is so bad we won't be rushing into another trip.
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