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It’s a grey day – Madeira
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Tue 7 Jan ’14 – day 24  The sea had moderated even further overnight and so I was able to get a decent night’s sleep.

As Oriana docked in Funchal, the capital of Madeira, the weather was poor with low cloud and rain showers and that is how it remained all day.

There were a couple of other cruise ships in the harbour, MSC (Italian) and ARIA (German) and we were berthed out on the breakwater, but even in the harbour the wind was making the ship move around and roll slightly.

It was possible to walk into town, but I took the shuttle bus and was slightly surprised when we were dropped not far outside the entrance to the port rather than much further along the promenade.  However it soon became apparent why this had happened, as virtually the whole of the waterfront was a construction site as the local government were improving the channels which funnel the water from the mountains inland through the city and into the sea.  They are also taking the opportunity to create another cruise ship berth along with a park.

I had wrapped up against the wet conditions with waterproof jacket and trousers, but some passengers from all three ships were totally unprepared for the conditions and were soon looking like the proverbial drowned rats.

I was to be able to stretch my legs after three days confinement on-board when all the open decks were closed and so the chance of some exercise was virtually nil; even the exercise machines in the gym were out of bounds on occasions as the mountainous seas greatly increased the possibility that a user may have be thrown off.

So a fast walk right to the far end of the promenade was my way of getting a little bit of exercise as well being able to breathe fresh air rather than the air conditioned blast that you get on-board.

Then back passed the bottom cable-car station, not worth taking a trip as the top station is up amongst the clouds and the visibility will be nil.  Up to the covered market, through the fish counter, then passed the fresh fruit and vegetables and finally the flower stalls.  There a number of the distinctive Portuguese blue and white tile murals depicting scenes from the past on the market walls and elsewhere throughout the city.

     

While I was strolling up the road there was a delicious smell coming from a café, so I went inside and had a cappuccino and a very tasty pastry.

Despite the rain café owners have put out tables and chairs in order to tempt customers, but the large umbrellas are up.

As it was twelfth night yesterday, workers were out dismantling all the Christmas displays that were dotted along the main shopping street.  And the whitewashed exterior of the cathedral glistened in the rain.

 

With the rain continuing to fall I decided that I had enough of walking around in the wet so headed back towards the port and climbed aboard the shuttle bus that delivered me back to the terminal.  This has been constructed since the last time that I was on a ship that called here which was back in 2009 / 10 when we stopped outbound to the Caribbean on Arcadia during the trans-Atlantic cruise over Christmas & New Year.  That was a memorable trip as at least one ill passenger was disembarked at every port, including an unscheduled one at Ponta Delgada in the Azores on our way home.

Having returned to my cabin and removed the wet outer garments it was time for a very late lunch and then an afternoon snooze.

My efforts in the individual quiz in Tiffany’s was a bit of a disaster as it was just one of those days when the majority of questions were on subjects that I had absolutely no interest in, so I achieved a rather low score.  But I did enjoy my cappuccino and biscuit.

The buffet in the Conservatory tonight was one of my favourites, the Curry Night.  P&O have a tradition going back years of serving authentic curries and this was long before they became a widespread high street dining option.  These nights are so popular that seats are at a premium, so I always tend to wait until later in the evening before I go up to dine.  There were no Chicken Tikka Masalas or jars of sauces here, but excellent Indian food prepared and cooked by the Indian chefs who take great delight in giving passengers a taste of what the chefs would consider to be ‘home cooking’.

Normally there would be lots of the ships officers having a curry, but tonight they were performing in the Pantomime again, so are very noticeable by their absence.

After what was a tremendous repast I complimented the Chef and requested that he passed on my thanks to his staff for all their efforts in producing such a great meal.  He was pleased and I think a little surprised that someone had taken the time to come and see him.

So after what was a very filling meal and a few bottles of Cobra beer it was time for bed and hopefully another good night’s sleep.