Thursday, 22 December 2011

Update from Paradise - part 9

Back to the "update..." series of posts in time for the Christmas edition.

Funchal is lit up to the hilt, as is usual this time of year, and I walk around town mumbling childish expletives such as wow, ohhh, ah, yeah.

All the streets in  Funchal have Christmas illuminations

even the quiet back streets

over a quarter million bulbs are used. Roughly a bulb
 per head of population

Tomorrow, the 23rd of December, tradition dictates we all go to Funchal Market after midnight for  last minute shopping. Its not so much shopping as making merry, eating and drinking until the early hours. Fruit sellers have their goods displayed in the streets surrounding the market and the snack and alcohol selling kiosks fill up every other available slot. There will also be folklore dancing and music to enhance the festive mood.

Snacks such as pork vinho d'alho, which incidentally gave origin of the Indian dish vindaloo, is a  hot favourite, no pun intended.  

(Back in the 15th century our explorer Vasco Da Gama found the sea route to India and started the spice trade. He also introduced the 'vinho d'alho' Portuguese method of marinading meat. It was later adopted by the Indians and the vindaloo dish was created! )

I remember as a child being so excited at staying up late enough to go to the market on the 23rd and then falling asleep in the car before even getting there. Great fun and very fond memories.

Christmas is  a colourful but quiet time in Funchal compared to the New Year celebrations. Madeira hosts the second largest fireworks display in the world on the midnight hour of the 31st Of December. It is a spectacle that lasts around 20 minutes and totally lights up the whole bay of Funchal.

But that's for another post.

Merry Christmas all!



  1. It looks lovely there. Great photos, are they yours?

  2. What a beautiful wouldn't believe the tired old decorations we have to put up with..
    I Googled but youre way out there. Coming from a huge country like Australia such a small island would scare the heck out of me.

  3. MERRY CHRISTMAS! It's neat to see how other cities decorate for the holidays. XX

  4. Dicky: Photos,erm, are they mine? Well, not with my camera but they are the current illuminations ;) Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones.

    Tempo: The island is tiny by comparison but you wouldn't want to walk around it. It's big enough to be alone with nature and not see a soul. Takes a good days driving to go around it, and thats on very good roads. Have a great Christmas down under with all your loved ones. Christmas in the middle of summer? How bizarre? Mind you, it will be around 20 centigrade here, so not that different.

    Momma. Merry Christmas to you and your family. Maybe one day you and hubster will come over for the New Year celebrations. You'd love it. Hugs from Madeira

  5. alriiiiight...i finally worked out where funchal is/was...i thought it was in china, great geography student that i was....
    anyhoo cool pics man...have a fun festive season

  6. Have a great Christmas Joe.

  7. Wow...i had to come looks kinda cool man...I gather the crowd weren't slamming OJ there either...and how classy..they were drinking from glass!
    hope the day is fun buddy...looking forward to hearing about the NYE partay

  8. I am in love with Madeira.

    1. ANd I'm delighted you are MC- it means you are more likely to visit :)