If you’ve read any of my other blogs you’ll already know that my Dad is from Madeira and in July of this year, I had my first visit to Madeira.
When Madeira went onto the green list for travel this year, we took the opportunity to spend a few days there and took my Dad with us as I was keen to see where he grew up and have him show us around Funchal.
Pre-Covid, my Dad visited Madeira every year and although times were hard for him there as child, he loves going back there. He is very proud of where he’s from.
Dad’s Family History
My Dad grew up in Funchal, people were either very rich or very poor back then. My Dad’s family were the latter.
Dad’s parents left Madeira when he was 12. They had to leave their children on the island with other family members taking care of them, whilst they went over to England in search of a better life for their family. In time, they managed to set up a guest house in Bournemouth so my Dad and his siblings moved across to the South Coast of England to start a new life with them.
My Dad had to work hard when he came to England. He was a silver service waiter and a window cleaner. He was also a promising footballer in his youth but as a dark skinned young man with a strong Portuguese accent, he was told at one club that his ‘face didn’t fit.’ Racism was truly alive and kicking in football back then.
I was shocked when Dad took us to see the house he grew up in near Funchal, they were a very big family and the house was so tiny. They had a roof over their heads and it was an improvement on the shacks that some of his friends lived in, but it really hit home to me how hard things must have been for his parents and why they wanted to find a better life for their family.
It was a special trip for us to make with Dad and I was happy to learn more about my Madeiran roots and see some of my Dad’s history. Outside of the trip down memory lane, Dad had a great time playing at being a tour guide as we visited Funchal. He was so proud to show off his home town.
Madeira really is beautiful, I cant believe that I left it so long to visit. The people are friendly, there are plenty of touristy things to do there and we will definitely be going back there again. We only spent 5 days there but could happily have stayed longer if we had the time.
Here are a few of my recommendations for things to do in Funchal;
A Boat trip to watch whales and dolphins swimming in the sea
Try Poncha – a traditional alcoholic drink
Eat Malasada – a Portuguese style doughnut
Visit the CR7 Museum – a must for football fans
Walk around the beautiful gardens at Monte Palace
Swim in the Natural Volcanic Pools
Take a ride in a Monte wicker sledge – this needs to be seen to be believed and I didn’t actually do it as I chickened out!