It’s the beginning of March and I’ve left Christmas and New Year’s Eve far behind me.
I spent Christmas in a completely different way than usual this time, which was good and felt right. I was still able to enjoy the holidays and had a great time. One day I was invited by great guests in one of the cottages to a winter Christmas barbecue followed by a games evening (night). The next day I spent in the bar of a dear friend’s father, where many different people ate and celebrated together who could not / did not want to celebrate at home for various reasons.
On New Year’s Eve, I went with a group of friends to the capital Funchal where, after a delicious meal, we were able to experience the famous fireworks at first hand. We stood right on the harbour promenade and were completely surrounded by fireworks.
Madeira’s New Year’s Eve fireworks are among the largest in the world and are set off throughout the city and even on the water.
For this colourful spectacle, up to 14 cruise ships are anchored every year to get a great view of the impressive city scenery from the water.
The fireworks are truly overwhelming. You can’t help but be amazed by this unique experience.
So now it’s off to spring. This is especially evident here in the significantly increased number of guests in the holiday homes. There were tourists here all the time in winter, too, but now you can already see a clear increase. Not only are there more guests arriving – I also receive more bookings every day. One of the holiday homes is already fully booked for the whole of 2022. On some days I have received over 20 bookings.
It seems that many people finally want to travel again and apparently the winter weather is also driving the northern Europeans to the booking websites, so that they can at least enjoy the anticipation of their holiday. That’s fine with me, of course. I’m happy about all the reservations and I’m glad when the holiday homes are fully booked.
I myself have also been busy with holiday planning.
My hiking group is planning a hiking trip to the Azores in autumn and we are currently gathering information. The Azores are known for their many hiking opportunities and we would also like to climb Portugal’s highest mountain, Pico (2351m).
A trip to the Azores has been on my bucket list for a while and a holiday there were actually planned together with Bas before these plans were scrapped due to Corona.
I’m already looking forward to experience the nature over there and extending the “green therapy” to this group of islands.
I have been living in Madeira since July 2020 – but in January this year I left the island for a few days for the first time. This month was the first anniversary of Bas’ death. I didn’t want to spend that week here in Madeira and was looking for a good distraction.
Since I wanted to experience a bit of “real” winter, haven’t been on a city trip for a long time and have friends living in Vienna, the perfect distraction was quickly found.
Together with my friend Lisa (here from Madeira), I visited our friends Coral and Alex, who have been living in Vienna for a few months now after spending some time in Salamanca, Spain. Coral and Alex are a Spanish-Austrian couple we met last year when they were in Madeira for a few months.
It was a great time in Vienna: it was really nice to see them again and it was good to get away for a while. Vienna is a very interesting and impressive city and definitely worth a visit – I also really enjoyed the “winter experience”.
Of course, I first had to gather up my winter clothes in some boxes, which I haven’t worn since arriving here in Madeira.
Winter jacket, gloves, scarf, freezing temperatures, cold feet, snow, open-air ice-skating, heated coffee houses and delicious Austrian pastry made the winter feeling complete.
You can probably enjoy all this especially if you otherwise have rather mild and pleasant temperatures all year round, but I hadn’t missed the early darkness in the afternoon so far.
For a few weeks now, I’ve also been having Portuguese lessons every Wednesday. Not officially, but I meet my friend Lisa for a few hours in a café and then we only speak Portuguese. She answers my questions and corrects me on my pronunciation. I have a list of Portuguese words that are unpronounceable for me, which I practise regularly and hopefully will eventually be able to say them without any problems. I had the same problem in Dutch at the beginning, so I still have hope.
At the moment I’m practising my flutter tongue, the rolling R with the tongue at the front of the teeth. In German, the “R” is pronounced more in the throat, but here it is pronounced with the flutter tongue in the front. Luckily, I know a few speech therapists who provided me with some exercises. Now I practise “bidi bidi bidi, bada bada bada, brumm, drumm, frumm, etc” all day.
I understand Portuguese quite well now, at least when the locals make an effort and speak to me slowly and clearly. Madeira has its very own accent. It’s like learning High German in Hanover and then coming to deepest Bavaria. So when they start talking amongst locals, I’m totally lost.
I’d say my level of speaking is more like that of a toddler. I can make myself understood, but I’m far from satisfied and hope that it will get much better in the near future.
Of course, there are often amusing misunderstandings, because there are Portuguese words that seem familiar but actually mean something completely different, the so calles “false friends”.
For example, I’ve always been surprised when people here have cancelled appointments because they have “constipação”, but they just had a cold.
However, these funny confusions help to ensure that the correct meaning is usually not forgotten.
Every Sunday the hiking continues and there are still new hiking trails and great landscapes to discover. My “green therapy” is an important part of my week and I always try to schedule my work around the hikes. This group has grown so close to my heart and I really enjoy this time together.
In the last few weeks, nature has also shown its power: an earthquake woke us all up early one morning (luckily without major damage) and in February, due to a storm, almost all flights were diverted or cancelled completely for 4-5 days. I also waited in vain for a few guests who ended up stranded in the Canary Islands, Lisbon or Faro.
Nature can be so beautiful and impressive, but it also remains unpredictable.
Até à próxima!