Valley of the Nuns. Jet2. Madeira Island Ultra Trail.

Valley of the Nuns nominated

Valley of the NunsRTP report that Curral das Freiras is on the “7 Wonders of Portugal” candidate list in the category “Remote Villages” in a Portugal-wide competition. Arco de São Jorge, Espigão and Furna are also competing in the same category. Madalena do Mar and Porto Moniz are candidates in the “Seaside Village” category. Chão da Ribeira, in Seixal and Ilha, in Santana, have been selected for villages in “Protected Areas” category, while Lombada dos Esmeraldos in Ponta do Sol appears in the “Monument” category. Serra de Água is competing as a “Riverside Village”. Faial is nominated in the “Rural Village” category. Curral das Freiras also has a second nomination for the “Authentic Village” category. It is not immediately apparent who is behind the awards, with the contenders being whittled down to a shortlist this month.

Jet2 wins Best Airline awards in TripAdvisor poll

Jet2 took two top prizes in the inaugural TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice awards for airlines, winning the “Best Airline – UK” and “Best Low-Cost Airline – Europe” prizes. The awards, covering every major carrier worldwide, are based on an algorithm that took into account the quantity and quality of airline reviews and ratings submitted by travellers over the past 12 months. It is the first time that the world’s largest travel website has published “Travellers’ Choice” awards for the airline industry.

Madeira Island Ultra Trail

Madeira Island Ultra TrailThe annual Madeira Island Ultra Trail event officially kicks off tomorrow, and seems to be getting even more popular year on year – 2016 saw 2,000 participants with 48 different nationalities. The primary race (MIUT) is a ridiculous 115km from one end of the island to the other, passing through the highest peaks on in the centre – Encumeada – Pico Ruivo (1861 m) – Pico do Areeiro. This sets off at midnight on 22nd April in Porto Moniz., with last year’s winner finishing in Machico just under 14 hours later. There are three other events: 85 km (Ultra), 43 km (marathon) and a mini marathon of 16 km. More details of the different races and routes can be found on a previous post.

Madeira Film Festival

Madeira Film Festival logoThe 6th Madeira Film Festival is underway as of yesterday, lasting until the weekend. This is an independent international film festival “inspired by nature, which brings together various initiatives associated with sustainability, art, education, eco-tourism and leisure, a tribute to the Laurissilva Forest”, according to Visit Madeira. The Festival is staged between Belmond Reid’s Palace Hotel and the Municipal Theatre. All films are screened in the theatre while most of the workshops, fashion show, gala dinner and cocktail drinks are held at Reid’s. A full program can be found on their website.

Part of the old North Coast Road re-opens

Part of the old road between São Vicente and Porto Moniz has re-opened with restrictions – cars can travel on a one-way system, and only between 10h00 and 18h00. I recall first travelling this route in 1989 – stunning, but a little scary! A more recent video of the old road can be seen on YouTube from 2009, by which time the “new” north coast road had been added.

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Safe Communities Madeira. Flower Festival. Monte road closure.

“Safe Communities Madeira”

Safe Communities Madeira logoI had the pleasure of meeting the “Safe Communities Portugal” project in Funchal recently. The organisation was there to establish further connections with the various organisations that police the island and to promote the addition of a Madeira section to their website. SCP (and Safe Communities Madeira) is a non-profit crime prevention and public safety organisation aiming to assist the English-speaking population and visitors. This can be quite difficult, as the policing of Portugal is quite complex, with responsibility for different areas of policing split between PSP, GNR, Judicial Police, SEF and the Civil Protection Authority – interestingly the division of responsibilities is not quite the same in the archipelago as on the mainland. Extensive information on crime prevention and crime reporting can be found on their website.

Davis Thomas, President of Safer Communities Portugal SCP President, David Thomas, is a very passionate and interesting individual who was awarded the British Empire Medal in the New Year Honours List in 2016, in recognition of his “services to crime prevention and awareness within the British and international community in Portugal”. His primary aim is to assist in breaking down any perceived barriers between the English-speaking community and the different law enforcement agencies in Portugal. He has the right CV for this, having served in the Hong Kong Police for 30 years as a Deputy Regional Commander, retiring as an Assistant Commissioner, before moving to the Algarve. Among his more interesting jobs he headed up the VIP Protection Unit in Hong Kong, as well as a consultant to INTERPOL and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Loves Madeira and is a regular visitor!

Flower Festival to feature vintage cars again

Vintage cars in Funchal

The Flower Festival this year, which runs from May 4 to 21, will once again feature a parade of old cars and motorcycles. The parade, on Sunday May 14, will, start at Praça da Autonomia, and travel southbound along  Avenida do Mar ending at the roundabout accessing the Port of Funchal. There are 400 vehicles registered  already, including 150 motorcycles.

Monte road closure

Monte aerial viewThe ER 103 between Monte and Poiso has been closed temporarily after attempts to stabilise the slopes above the road led to a small rock fall. The slopes lost their trees and vegetation in the fires of August last year and were considered dangerous. Weather conditions locally have not helped the project, and it is like that the road will remain closed until the end of the month. This is the main road heading north from Monte through Rebeiro Frio to Faial on the north coast, so tourists heading that way will have to head towards Camacha and pick up the ER203. The Diario reports that there are complaints that the closure is not actually signposted before you get to Monte. As a reminder of the fires there was a small outbreak in Santana yesterday which destroyed a small area of forest before being brought under control by local firefighters.

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New Savoy–more. Beach warning. New videos.

New Savoy – more photos

Aerial view of New Savoy

I am not particularly keen on filling the blog full of photos, but following up on the last post I think it is worth drawing attention to the scale of the development taking place in central Funchal that will become the New Savoy. The one above, from shows it dwarfing the Porto Santo Ferry, whilst the one below shows the relentless rise of the building as more floors are added. Really hope that this does not prove to be an aesthetic disaster dominating the city! With this and the Regency Palace reopening the tourist capacity of the island will increase considerably.

New Savoy continues to grow

Beware bogus tax e-mail

Financas logoThanks to Ellen, who drew my attention to this story from the Portugal News; Tax authorities have warned against fake e-mails which are being sent out to taxpayers requesting the settlement of debts. According to a statement published on the Tax and Customs Authority’s web page, the aim of this e-mail is for the recipient to download a virus onto their computer. The fake e-mail message claims that a tax debtors’ list is being updated and that the taxpayer should make a payment to be excluded from this list followed by a request to download an invoice, which is in fact a virus.

Beach warning as fine Easter forecast

The Maritime Authorities in Madeira have issued a warning as Easter approaches, with good weather forecast for the holiday period. They point out that beaches such as Praia Formosa are still not patrolled by lifeguards at this time of year, and locals and tourists who head to the beach in the sunshine are being asked to be careful, particularly when there are children involved.

Alex Lima videos

Couple of new videos by Alex Lima popped up on YouTube  recently.
The first is an aerial view of the south west coast of the island starting at  Ribeira Brava

Whilst the second is another aerial video featuring Paul de Serra, Seixal and Curral das Freiras

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