The Disney Files: Day 5 – Funchal, Madeira

It’s Day 5 and we’re making our last stop in Europe at Funchal, Madeira, birthplace of the footballer and man who singlehandedly supports the stocks of hair gel companies, Cristiano Ronaldo.  After Madeira we head out to sea for a full 5 days before arriving in St. Maarten, which I can’t wait to write about.  Lots of excitement there!

Love for Anything Portugal or Portugal-ish

I’d like to start by dedicating this post to Elisabete, Nidia, Sónia, Samuel and of course Bruno, my favorite Portuguese bartender.   We’ve lived together, traveled together, drank together, ate together and shared our misery with Dutch cuisine together.  I guess it should then come as no surprise that I’m automatically enamored with anything related to Portugal.  I traveled there with my effervescent roommate, Elisabete, last year and I suppose having not only a local, but a good friend as your guide will make any destination that much more enjoyable, but I can’t help but have unconditional love for this codfish and cream from heaven eating country.
The kids dressed up for formal night

My Hope Floats

As such, I was very much looking forward to my day in port at Funchal.  I opted to go on the bike riding excursion as a little reminder of life back in Amsterdam.  To my surprise, not many others shared my enthusiasm for cycling and there ended up being only three of us.  This is when I met Harry, an American man who also happens to be the friendliest human being alive, who was traveling across the Atlantic with his wife, Sandra who unfortunately couldn’t join due to a knee injury.  We got along really well sharing our life stories and it actually did feel like riding bikes again back in the ‘Dam, except with enormous hills.  It was one of my top conversations of the cruise.  Later that day, I think perhaps in the evening, I met his wife Sandra and was immediately charmed.  Thinking about them and also Jack and Claire, gave me a sense of comfort.  As a single twenty something, I feel as though all we hear about these days is bored, frustrated married couples or couples getting divorced, and I have to admit, it didn’t really turn me on to the idea of monogamy.  But after meeting these two couples, I felt encouraged to find the elusive ‘One’.  Here were four people, who after being together for several years, still were in love and had a zest for life and adventure.  It was good to see this side of the fence and I’m glad I could share it with others because I really think my generation is one that is rather jaded and pessimistic when it comes to relationships, myself included.  So here’s to hope!

Food the Way it Should Be

During my time in Amsterdam, I really began to appreciate the joy of preparing food and creating some special to share with close friends, which is ironic because if you spend ten minutes talking to me, there’s a high probability I’ll gripe about the injustice that is Dutch cuisine.  However, I think that cooking with friends from many other countries and experiencing new cuisines made up some of my best memories in Amsterdam, especially those moments with the Portuguese contingent.  Since my trip to Portugal with Elisabete, I’ve been completely hooked on Portuguese food and wine – the bacalhau, pastéis de belém, clams, vinho verde, and so on.

On our way back to the ship after the morning bike ride, I convinced Harry of the gastronomical superiority of Portuguese cuisine and he later joined me for lunch in town.  I noticed a little hole in the wall on the bike ride through town on the street with the painted and sculpted doors and brought him there.  I generally trust restaurants that are tucked away from the hustle and bustle of main streets and have hand written menus.  Disappoint it did not, but I was slightly upset to learn that bacalhau was not the heart of cuisine in Madeira as it is in Portugal.  Still I got to introduce Harry to vinho verde, a semi-sparkling fruity white wine made in the Minho region of Portugal, and he was a fan so I felt proud that I passed the Portuguese team baton to another.  For the meal we had a vinaigrette salad with octopus and I had espada for my main.  I’m still not entirely sure which fish that it is but suffice it to say, similar to sea bass.  The highlight for me though was dessert.  I’m crazy about pastéis de belém, which is a buttery golden pastry filled with custard, and the dessert I had was similar except it was flavored with passion fruit and served in a cup.  It was the perfect last meal in Europe (for now) and I felt I could leave the continent on a good gastronomical note.  But I did have to make one more stop before hopping back on Ship Mickey.

Don’t you hate it when…

…you’re prepared for a major argument and really want to have that argument because you know you’re right, and then nothing happens?  One of the things that made me a little bitter about the cruise to begin with was the “Lonely Person Tax” which is basically the single supplement fee that cruiselines charge to passengers who travel alone.  I understand the economic reasoning behind the idea of the supplemental fee but still, it’s another one of those stinging punches to the face of the single traveler.  Given that I had already paid an extra fee to be on the cruise, I felt that I should have extra privileges, specifically those that affected my purchase of three bottles of Portuguese wine while on the island.  Before disembarking for the day, I heard a nasty rumor that you were only allowed to bring two bottles of alcohol on board per person.  Again, I understood the reasoning but I was in a bit of a princess mood that day and I couldn’t make up my mind in the shop, so I figured I would first scheme and then argue my way into bringing more booze on board.  After all, I felt that since I paid for the fare for 1.5 people, I should be given the bottle allowance of 1.5 people.  I saunter up to the security gate with my three bottles in two different bags to try and confuse them and I was all prepared with an articulate argument defending my rights as a single woman and they didn’t say a word.  They simply smiled at me and told me to have another fucking magical day.  And so was wasted, another twenty minutes of my life.

The Disney Files


12 thoughts on “The Disney Files: Day 5 – Funchal, Madeira

  1. I can relate to your experience in Portugal. Allison and I went on a bike tour outsice of Lisbon. It is a beautiful country, delicious food and wine. I fell in love with all the pottery.

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