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6 Reasons To Escape To Madeira

The Atlantic Ocean is blessed with a group of islands – Madeira – whose main draw is their natural beauty, with a stark contrast between the leafy green vegetation and the deep blue of the Atlantic waters. Not for nothing has it acted as a place of refuge, rest and inspiration over the last few centuries, seeing the passage of such figures as Napoleon Bonaparte, the Empress Sissi, Emperor Charles I of Austria, the writer George Bernard Shaw and Winston Churchill, among others. You could be the next traveller to become captivated by these isles. Here are the main reasons it is worth flying to Madeira:

1. Good Climate All Year Around

The geographical location of these islands and their mountain relief have endowed them with a tropical oceanic climate, featuring pleasant temperatures all year around, ranging from 17°C in winter to 25°C in summer. This means that any time of year is suitable for visiting and enjoying the archipelago.

2. Funchal, the Capital

The capital and one of the largest cities in Madeira is Funchal, which lies in the south of the archipelago. Standout landmarks in the city’s priceless historic centre include the 16th-century Sé Cathedral – noteworthy for its Mudéjar-style, wood-panelled ceiling – and the Igreja do Colégio collegiate church, its interior studded with gold panelling and tiles.

One of the inevitable rituals for sightseers when they come to the city – assuming they are bold enough and don’t suffer from vertigo – is to go up in the cable-car that leads to the lofty suburb of Monte. The hill affords spectacular views of the bay and it is worth visiting the local Monte Palace Tropical Garden and Leite Monteiro Park. The return trip down the hillside can be negotiated on an unusual form of transport – a kind of wicker toboggan driven by two men dressed in white called carreiros who steer the cart down the slope.

3. Unique Fauna and Flora

One of the highlights of the island is the presence of indigenous animal and plant species. A must-see is the World Heritage Laurisilva Forest. Another must-visit are the Desertas Islands, a marine nature reserve which boasts indigenous shellfish and sea birds like Cory's shearwater and the  Madeiran storm-petrel. Animal species also include the monk seal, indigenous to the archipelago.

4. Porto Santo Beach

Curiously, the island terrain limits the number of natural beaches to the island of Porto Santo, which has 9 kilometres of fine, golden sand and crystal-clear water. The beach has rightly been considered one of the most beautiful in Europe.

5. Cuisine

Of the typical Madeiran dishes, we can recommend the swordfish, preferably combined with banana, in addition to caldeirada (a fish soup), bife de atum e milho frito (tuna fish with fried corn) and espetada (charcoal-roasted beef on a bay leaf skewer). For dessert, we can heartily recommend a typical sweet known as bolo de mel (a honey cake with Madeira honey).

6. Madeira Wine

Ever since the sugar cane plantations went into decline in the 17th century, having been overtaken by the sugar farming in Brazil, grape-growing and viniculture came into their own and still play an important part in Madeira’s economy. Notable local grape varieties are the Bual – which is similar to Port – Verdelho, Sercial and Malmsey, the most popular of all.

Ready to discover this lost paradise in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean? Check out your Vueling here.


Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Images by David Stanley, Greg_Men, penjelly, Krzysztof Belczyński, Hannes Grobe


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The 4 top diving sites in Europe

You don't need to travel to Southeast Asia or the Caribbean to find the best sea beds: taking a plane to any of these destinations will suffice. Discover the best diving sites in Europe!

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Authentic Santander

Their interior design and decor are clearly aimed at newcomers and avant-garde visitors, but they retain the traditional flavours of their cuisine through formulas cherished for their long-standing success. I am referring to Bodega La Cigaleña and Bodega del Riojano, two beacons of Santander whose labour reminds us that wholesome traditional cuisine based on no-frills quality produce is the secret of their permanence over time.

Bodega La Cigaleña

Wine, wine, wine; produce, produce, produce; history, history, history – that’s what makes Bodega La Cigaleña the epitome of classics in downtown Santander, a place well worth visiting, particularly to savour their food and drink. Simple dishes based on the finest ingredients is the perfect excuse to try the best wines – especially the natural ones – a trend picked up on some years back like some visionary pioneer by the manager of the establishment, Andrés Conde Laya, the third generation of business owners here since it opened in 1949. An eatery with the atmosphere of a rustic inn and a museum of myriad curiosities.

And, if they are not natural wines, don’t fret, as their wine cellar, with some 10,000 items, can count itself among the finest in Spain. You need only to look up to discover a ceiling crammed with bottles – they have, for instance, a Madeira wine from 1830.

Not-to-be-missed dishes include a sauté of 18 vegetables (a tribute to a creation by Michelle Bras), and grilled octopus and Norway lobster covered in a thick sauce of lobster heads. A word of advice – let yourself be guided by Andrés when it comes to choosing a wine.

Bodega del Riojano

Bodega del Riojano, which celebrates its platinum anniversary this year, is one of the quaintest eateries in town on account of its wine casks decorated by artists. Most of them are located above the heads of the guests. This restaurant-gallery features snapshots of Woody Allen, and works by Ramon Calderón, Antoni Clavé, Oswaldo Guayasamil, Eduardo Gruber, Manuel Viola, Miguel Ibarz and even the comedians, Andreu Buenafuente and Moncho Borrajo.

Their culinary offerings could be described as homemade, with a prevalence of traditional recipes  and stews, like their leading performers – red beans, peppers stuffed with beef, and pork and codfish with tomato. Also noteworthy are their mussels and prawn croquettes and their scrambled eggs with ham and baby broad beans.


Text and photos by Ferran Imedio of Gastronomistas.com

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Lisboa by Panenka

By Panenka www.panenka.org

Panenka, a soccer magazine anyone can read, transports us to other countries through their passion for the sport. This time they take us to the Portuguese capital where they show us their perfect eleven, both for those places related to the football game and for those touristic places.

Sports Eleven

1 Sintra A young and wealthy José Alvalade met football in the festivities of this city. On his return to Lisbon, he decided to found a football club.

2 Estádio Nacional do Portugal Headquarters of the final of Taça, hosted the first game in the history of the European Cup: Sporting-Partizan.

3 Estádio José Gomes The home of Estrela da Amadora, a football club that was founded looking at the sky is in the district of Reboleira, in Amadora.

4 Estádio Francisco Lazaro The oldest club in the city is Futebol Clube Benfica also known as “Fofó”, nothing to do with SL Benfica.

5 Estádio do Restelo One of the greatest prides of Belém is Os Belenses and its premises, from where you can see the river Tagus.

6 Estádio da Luz Renovated in 2003, the stadium of Benfica will host the Champions League final in 2014. The statue of Eusebio will greet the winner.

7 Franco Farmácia In the back room of this pharmacy in Belém, Benfica was founded and was given the red color and the eagle as a symbol.

8 Império Pavilhão Bonança Benfica basketball and hockey teams have their court here, along with Da Luz,

9 Estádio da Tapadinha In the district of Alcântara stands Atletico Clube de Portugal, former League champion and now in Second Division.

10 Estádio José Alvalade Also remodeled in 2003 for the Euro Cup. In the first match `played here, Sporting da Liboa vs. Manchester United, Ferguson fell in love with Cristiano.

Clube Naval de Lisboa 11 Founded in 1892 on the banks of River Tagus, is the best association to practice water sports in the city.

Tourism Eleven

A Torre de Belém Built in 1515 and World Heritage Site, is the first lighthouse the ships coming from America see.

B Pastéis de Belém In the bakery of the same name they sell these famous sweets of cream with a secret recipe for over 200 years.

C Monumento a los Descubrimientos A 52 meter long monument to commemorate the discoverer of Madeira, Azores and Cabo Verde.

D A Brasileira A meeting point for cultural Libon between Chiado and Bairro Alto. A statue of Fernando Pessoa included.

E Elevador de Santa Justa To link the districts of Baixa and Chiado Pombalina rises this amazing elevator building.

F Praça do Comércio It is the most important square in the city, former home for the Royal Palace, destroyed by an earthquake in 1755.

G Praça Dom Pedro IV – Known as the Rossio Square, this is the lively and noisys place in the city. Perfect for eating or extending the night.

H Catedral de Lisboa Also kown as “S锑, the oldest building in the city. Dates from S. XII and has a strong Romanic style.

I Museo del Fado In the district of Alfama, the Portuguese style reference, Fado, was born. Amalia Rodrigues sang Fado as anyone.

J Oceanário de Lisboa It is the second of these characteristics in Europe, with over 450 different aquatic species.

K Puente Vasco da Gama Above River Tagus, its 17 km. make it the longest in Europe. The best postcard of Lisbon.

BY Panenka www.panenka.org

Illustration by Pep Boatella / @pepboatella

Why not take a trip to Lisboa? Have a look at our flights here!



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