Madeira, like the Azores, is an Atlantic Ocean archipelago governed by the Portuguese. Its Mediterranean climate makes it an attractive destination for tourists; more than one million visit every year. The main harbor in Funchal is a favorite cruise ship port of call. Many who know little or nothing about the islands know the name, Madeira, because of its signature wine. Fortified wines like Madeira, Port, and Sherry were developed to remain stabile during long sea voyages. Winemakers accomplished this by distilling brandy from the wine and adding it back to raise the ethanol content.
Laetitia began the day’s tour by taking her group on a sleigh ride. It may seem an odd thing to do on an island that has no snow, but the rapid mile-long descent through Funchal’s asphalt city streets in wicker basket cars on skids is a very popular local custom. The group rode the cog railway to the hilltop suburb of Monte where they boarded the sleds. Each sled accommodated two riders who sat together on a padded seat while two drivers clad in traditional white uniforms and “boater” hats steered each sled along its downward route. Afterwards, they toured Funchal’s spectacular Botanical Gardens. The sled ride inspired Laetitia’s limerick of the day.
If you’d have a fun Funchal day
Why not go for a ride in a sleigh
Steered by uniformed guides
These snowless thrill rides
Down the streets help you cast cares away.