The Pinta arrived here in Bayona Spain in March 1493 to announce the discovery of the New World.
Lisbon's Palace Square saw Portuguese explorers returned with riches.
A few of the 5,000 skeletons that line the interior of this chapel in Evora Portugal.
On our way to the top of Madeira (6107 ft).
Thursday, August 16th
Doca de Alcantera, Lisbon 38'42N 009'10W
After a beautiful overnight sail, we arrived at this marina on Monday, a day and a half after leaving Bayona. It is adjacent to the container port and it is where we stayed when we were here last in 1993. Then it was just an empty area where foreign sailing boats tied up and rafted off one another. No running water, no electricity, no rest rooms or showers but it was free! Today it is a proper marina, with all the amenities and it costs about 60 Euro per night. We are a bit removed from the hustle and bustle of downtown Lisbon but the public transportation system is pretty efficient. Once we figured out the correct bus, tram or train to catch, we had Lisbon to explore.
Portugal, in becoming part of the European Union, received considerable funds to improve their infrastructure and beautify their cities. As a result, Lisbon has developed their waterfront, restored many historical/religious monuments and built some beautiful museums so it is a city of many attractions and even more tourists.
Monday, August 20th
en route to Porto Santo, Madeira 36'46N 11'39W
Over the weekend we took a trip off the boat to a beautifully preserved Medieval city, Evora, about two hours outside of Lisbon. On a very warm day, doing the "Walking Tour" we followed the narrow winding streets to striking architectural works- an elaborate medieval cathedral and cloisters and the picturesque town square (for a cold beer). We found our hotel up the street and it was surprisingly modern and minimalist but beautifully designed. We couldn't get our bathing suits on fast enough to soak in the pool and then dry in the shade. That evening we ate in town at a cafe serving regional food and wine and it was a nice change from the fish we had been eating in Lisbon.
We pushed off the dock at Alcantera this morning and said goodbye, once again, to Lisbon. It is a city rich with historical traditions, beautiful religious structures and a very busy night life (so we heard). We definitely could have stayed longer but the wind is right and Madeira is calling.
Thursday, August 23rd
Porto Santo, Madeira 33'03N 016'19W
We had a beautiful passage from Lisbon with the wind aft or on our beam, our forward sails out and Onora doing what she loves to do - sailing. It was a three night passage so we were tired when we arrived here but, once the anchor was down, a relaxing swim around the boat was the perfect tonic for fatigue. The water in this harbor is so clear that we can see 25 feet down to where the anchor is dug in. Amazing. It's obvious what draws so many people to Porto Santo - the beautiful four mile sandy beach with crystal clear water and baby powder sand. It is a highly esteemed resort area without the massive hotels and teeming crowds. We stayed two days and loved the relaxed atmosphere and perfect weather.
Tuesday, August 28th
Marina Quinta do Lorde, Madeira 32'44N 016'42W
This is how the Michelin Guide describes Madeira:
"Nearly 1000k from Lisbon, this 'Pearl of the Atlantic' is a volcanic outcrop rising from the waves. The name means 'wooded island', so christened by Henry the Navigator's men when discovered in 1419. Madeira is carpeted with flowers and charms visitors with its vegetation, mild climate and beautiful landscapes."
The island is only 25 miles away from Porto Santo so we had a relaxing sail to our marina, Quinta do Lorde. This marina, which has been open for a couple of years, is part of a huge hotel and housing development that won't open until November 2012. Most of the development has been completed but no one is living or working there so it feels like you are docked beside a deserted movie set.
Our first excursion off the boat was a nail biting bus ride into the capital city of Fungal. The city is nestled in a great natural amphitheater facing the Atlantic with a backdrop of dramatic mountains and a profusion of tropical flowers. We wandered around the old section of the city with its narrow cobbled streets and uniquely painted front doors. Their Museum of Contemporary Art, though no MOMA, is located in the old fort overlooking the city's harbor. We only gave ourselves a day to explore the city, not enough time, but we wanted to see the rest of the island. So, we rented a car and drove around the island taking on the hilly roads, amazing flora, fauna and spectacular views all around us. This is definitely a destination for those who love land adventures (hiking, biking and rock climbing) as well as water activities (fishing, diving, snorkeling) and the warm sunny weather is an added bonus. Definitely a recommended place to visit.
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