Seixal, Madeira, Portugal

The Island of Madeira at the Heart

The Old ER-101
Troubled Pool
Faith Above the Abyss
Laje Beach II
North facing homes
Bride's Veil
Volcanic Eden
Cornering Houses
atlantic pool
the village
Tunnel to the Sea
Seixal and the Great North
Bride's Veil II
The New Beach
Laje Beach
Marine Conviviality
The Escarpments of the Village
Visitors to Madeira are enchanted by its almost tropical drama. In this case, the author must confess that it was the destination of his first three plane trips. That he has a friend from there, who made him be a bit from there. From the Madeira facing the endless North. From the fearless and welcoming Seixal.

Having a debut flight, on Christmas Day, with a landing at Funchal airport is worthy of note.

What to say then, when, after that landing, there is a journey by car between Funchal and Seixal, along the old road.

Two decades passed. The memory lingers. Hostess and expert on the way, Sofia Lima takes the wheel.

She takes us up and down the lethal ravines between São Vicente and Seixal, with the confidence of a rally driver that leaves us somewhere between enthusiasm and fear.

We enter and exit tunnels with poorly polished surfaces that demonstrate the hard work of pickaxes and the like, begun in 1950 and popularized as “pierced”.

Leaving them, we are left with the Atlantic either in front or on the side, often far below, where the waves punish the cliffs.

In the middle of winter, waterfalls bathe the narrow road and wash the car by force.

Large basaltic pebbles that accumulate next to the wall that protects vehicles from diving into the ocean, remind us that it is not just water that falls there.

They underlined the obvious fact that every trip to Seixal was an adventure. And Seixal hadn't even started.

We arrived about night. We settled in the inn that Sofia had reserved for us.

Shortly afterwards, we are having drinks at the “Arco-Íris” the unavoidable bar of the village, Manelito and Carlucho. And getting to know the hostess's cronies.

Seixal, the Oitavas, the Lapinhas and an Unbridled Party

It lasts as long as it lasts. In Madeira, traditions such as the Catholic faith are taken seriously.

In the calendar, December 26 dictates the Octaves of Christmas, so venerated that the authorities declared the day a regional holiday.

Seixal, Madeira Island, the Village

It is customary to go from house to house, in the religious version, appreciating the lapinhas (read nativity scene) of the neighbors.

In profaned practice, the custom serves as a pretext for a revelry that is as itinerant as it is rooted.

More than showing off the house's lapinha, each family welcomes visitors with food and drinks left over from Christmas (but not only) and neat. In the drinks, in particular, there are whiskeys and old brandies, homemade wine produced with local jaqué grapes and many others.

They offer themselves to the stranger with a kindness and firmness that do not seem to admit refusal. As time passes, accepting them produces unexpected effects.

When the visits begin, Lisbon friends stick together. Halfway through, without even knowing how, the group breaks up into different homes in Seixal.

I remember visiting some alone. One of them belonged to a couple of emigrants who had just returned from South Africa, proud to be able to taste the jaqué wine that linked them to the land. To Seixal and Madeira.

Later, we got back together in the “Arco-Íris”. At the counter, around the foosball table and more Coral Tónica. Each one, with their amazing stories to tell.

As we would come to understand, in Seixal, the Oitavos lasted, like, the whole week. Discovering the stunning scenery of the village and its surroundings compensated for waking up late and somewhat hungover at the “Brisa Mar” hotel.

A few days later, we returned to Lisbon. With lives still teeming with everything we had experienced in Seixal. With new friendships, some of stonecutters, then, living on the mainland.

The Summer Return to Seixal

We arrived at summer vacation. Marques, one of those bricklayers with whom I kept in touch, invites me to return. He offers to stay with his family. I gladly accept the invitation.

Filipe, one of Marques' brothers, at the time and like so many Madeirans, still an emigrant in Caracas, Venezuela, spearfished in the offshore sea, as a rule, in front of the pier and the natural pools.

Day after day, this is how he assures us of fresh fish that his mother cooks for meals, accompanied by sweet potatoes and boiled semilhas, harvested from the house's garden.

Instead of the Christmas Oitavos and Lapinhas, it is the summer festivities in Seixal and neighboring towns that justify the festivities and the inevitable madness.

In the middle of the summer, this fun has a delightful bathing area. In the natural pools of Seixal. Off the Pier. In Poça do Mata Sete, baptized with the truth of the tragedy, however poignant it may have been.

And, a short distance away, but on the opposite side of seriousness, in Praia da Laje, which locals have come to call Jamaica due to the tropical look of the palm trees planted there a few years ago.

Despite the good-natured Caribbean imagination, its seafront has no traces of white sand or coral.

It is covered by large basaltic pebbles that the waves continue to polish and that inspire the coat of arms of the village, at the base of a complementary pebble (tree).

At the time of this bathing evasion, there was not even the black sand beach adjacent to the port, which today attracts thousands of visitors to the village every year.

When I bathe in it overlooking the grandiose landscape of the east of the North, I confirm that it is the best beach on the island of Madeira.

So I would classify it even if I considered myself exempt.

The Incredible Golden Road Monument

We go back along the old road and its tunnels between São Vicente and Seixal. We examine them with the attention they deserve.

We understand the work, the prodigious engineering and the costs that it required, to such an extent that it became known as the Golden Road of Portugal.

To arrive at the true value of the work, perhaps it is better to pay attention to the delays in life that it solved. For a long time, Porto Moniz was only reachable from the south of the island.

And, in periods of bad weather, a journey between the Funchal and Seixal (today 40km, 50 minutes), was done in the form of a roller coaster, up and down the crest of Encumeada. It could take four hours.

Or five. Or whatever they were, according to what fate had in store.

More than two decades later, on our way back to Madeira and Seixal, we travel through several of the modern and spacious tunnels that connect the towns in the interior of the island.

Today, between old and new, more than 150 tunnels make Madeira a Swiss cheese island.

Those from João Delgado and Seixal, replaced the daring ER-101, which has become a historic and tourist attraction, still with its adventurous touch.

Misadventures in Old ER101

We leave the modern road. We get into the old one, committed to recovering the feeling of what it was like to walk through it. Moments later, we regretted it.

The remains of the road seem even tighter than we remember.

It is soaked by different waterfalls whose origin we fail to understand.

Parts of the worn asphalt are speckled with splinters of basalt also fallen from the top, imperceptibly from there, of the cliffs.

Rather than playful, the experience turns out to be reckless. We reverse gear as quickly and as well as we can, in the tightness and imminence of the precipice, with the Atlantic, down there, insinuating itself.

We didn't know it yet, but daring came with a price. During the afternoon, we realized that one of the basalt chips had caused a slow puncture in a tire. When we passed through São Vicente, we wasted time fixing it.

The maneuver completed, we returned to the safety of the new road.

We take refuge at the Véu da Noiva viewpoint, the emblematic waterfall that plunges 110 meters into the sea, in front of the old route of the ER-101.

A Village as Sloping as it is Fertile

If Madeira is steep and vertiginous, Seixal abuses it.

The settlement of the north coast of the island and the village required strong determination and consistent ingenuity. Most of its houses are located between cliffs and chasms.

The gardens and crops are always inclined, like the local vineyards, arranged in terraces conquered from less steep areas of the cliffs, protected from the wind and the weather by barriers of heather and leafy ferns.

Even produced in redoubts that any outsider would classify as unusable and in small quantities, Seixal sercial grapes are resistant to gravity, mildew and powdery mildew. They have long enriched good Madeira wines, the drier ones.

The irrigation of these vines and other crops depends on the use of water from the stream that descends from the top of Fanal and which divides the village almost in half, through the levadas and canals in which Madeirans and seixaleiros have become experts.

The last time we visited Seixal, we did it as part of a much broader project on the island of Madeira, outside of Christmas – New Year's Eve, the festival period or any other festivities.

We didn't stay there to sleep and we only managed to see two or three of the people we knew there.

Seixaleiros that Depart, Seixaleiros that Return

Since 1950, remote Seixal has lost population, mainly due to the diaspora to Venezuela, South Africa, Australia and many other destinations. In this time, the village went from 1360 inhabitants to just 656, in 2011.

We realize, however, that the tourist prestige of Madeira, which for several years has been elected “Best Island Destination in the World”, the attraction of the black sand beach and the access facilitated by the tunnels now take many more visitors there and from the four corners of the world.

Simultaneously, the atrocious reality in which Venezuela has been living and the violence in South Africa, have made many Madeiran emigrants return.

Even though they no longer speak Portuguese, some open small businesses with which they seek to remake their lives. Even if they lack the big profits from other stops.

Even if they only have a view to the North and the immense Atlantic.

It receives them, as it welcomed us, the subtropical and Edenic embrace of Seixal.

Pico do Arieiro - Pico Ruivo, Madeira, Portugal

Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo, Above a Sea of ​​Clouds

The journey begins with a resplendent dawn at 1818 m, high above the sea of ​​clouds that snuggles the Atlantic. This is followed by a winding, ups and downs walk that ends on the lush insular summit of Pico Ruivo, 1861 meters away.
Paul do Mar a Ponta do Pargo a Achadas da Cruz, Madeira, Portugal

Discovering the Madeira Finisterre

Curve after curve, tunnel after tunnel, we arrive at the sunny and festive south of Paul do Mar. We get goosebumps with the descent to the vertiginous retreat of Achadas da Cruz. We ascend again and marvel at the final cape of Ponta do Pargo. All this, in the western reaches of Madeira.
Funchal, Madeira

Portal to a Nearly Tropical Portugal

Madeira is located less than 1000km north of the Tropic of Cancer. And the luxuriant exuberance that earned it the nickname of the garden island of the Atlantic can be seen in every corner of its steep capital.
Ribeiro Frio Forest Park, Madeira

Ribeiro Frio Acima, on the Path of Balcões

This region of the high interior of Madeira has been in charge of repopulating the island's rainbow trout for a long time. Among the various trails and levadas that converge in its nurseries, the Parque Florestal Ribeiro Frio hides grandiose panoramas over Pico Arieiro, Pico Ruivo and the Ribeira da Metade valley that extends to the north coast.
Ilhéu de Cima, Porto Santo, Portugal

The First Light of Who Navigates From Above

It is part of the group of six islets around the island of Porto Santo, but it is far from being just one more. Even though it is the eastern threshold of the Madeira archipelago, it is the island closest to Portosantenses. At night, it also makes the fanal that confirms the right course for ships coming from Europe.
Terra Chã and Pico Branco footpaths, Porto Santo

Pico Branco, Terra Chã and Other Whims of the Golden Island

In its northeast corner, Porto Santo is another thing. With its back facing south and its large beach, we unveil a mountainous, rugged and even wooded coastline, dotted with islets that dot an even bluer Atlantic.
Porto Santo, Portugal

Praised Be the Island of Porto Santo

Discovered during a stormy sea tour, Porto Santo remains a providential shelter. Countless planes that the weather diverts from neighboring Madeira guarantee their landing there. As thousands of vacationers do every year, they surrender to the softness and immensity of the golden beach and the exuberance of the volcanic sceneries.
Aldeia da Cuada, Flores Island, Azores

The Azorean Eden Betrayed by the Other Side of the Sea

Cuada was founded, it is estimated that in 1676, next to the west threshold of Flores. In the XNUMXth century, its residents joined the great Azorean stampede to the Americas. They left behind a village as stunning as the island and the Azores.
Graciosa, Azores

Her Grace the Graciosa

Finally, we will disembark in Graciosa, our ninth island in the Azores. Even if less dramatic and verdant than its neighbors, Graciosa preserves an Atlantic charm that is its own. Those who have the privilege of living it, take from this island of the central group an esteem that remains forever.
São Jorge, Azores

From Fajã to Fajã

In the Azores, strips of habitable land at the foot of large cliffs abound. No other island has as many fajãs as the more than 70 in the slender and elevated São Jorge. It was in them that the jorgenses settled. Their busy Atlantic lives rest on them.
Capelinhos Volcano, Faial, Azores

On the trail of the Capelinhos Mistery

From one coast of the island to the opposite one, through the mists, patches of pasture and forests typical of the Azores, we discover Faial and the Mystery of its most unpredictable volcano.
Santa Maria, Azores

Santa Maria: the Azores Mother Island

It was the first in the archipelago to emerge from the bottom of the sea, the first to be discovered, the first and only to receive Cristovão Colombo and a Concorde. These are some of the attributes that make Santa Maria special. When we visit it, we find many more.
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Chobe NP, Botswana

Chobe: A River on the Border of Life with Death

Chobe marks the divide between Botswana and three of its neighboring countries, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia. But its capricious bed has a far more crucial function than this political delimitation.
Aurora lights up the Pisang Valley, Nepal.
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 3rd- Upper Banana, Nepal

An Unexpected Snowy Aurora

At the first glimmers of light, the sight of the white mantle that had covered the village during the night dazzles us. With one of the toughest walks on the Annapurna Circuit ahead of us, we postponed the match as much as possible. Annoyed, we left Upper Pisang towards Escort when the last snow faded.
Traditional houses, Bergen, Norway.
Architecture & Design
Bergen, Norway

The Great Hanseatic Port of Norway

Already populated in the early 1830th century, Bergen became the capital, monopolized northern Norwegian commerce and, until XNUMX, remained one of the largest cities in Scandinavia. Today, Oslo leads the nation. Bergen continues to stand out for its architectural, urban and historical exuberance.
Passengers, scenic flights-Southern Alps, New Zealand
Aoraki / Mount Cook, New Zealand

The Aeronautical Conquest of the Southern Alps

In 1955, pilot Harry Wigley created a system for taking off and landing on asphalt or snow. Since then, his company has unveiled, from the air, some of the greatest scenery in Oceania.
Ceremonies and Festivities

Defenders of Their Homelands

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Kronstadt Russia Autumn, owner of the Bouquet
Kronstadt, Russia

The Autumn of the Russian Island-City of All Crossroads

Founded by Peter the Great, it became the port and naval base protecting Saint Petersburg and northern Greater Russia. In March 1921, it rebelled against the Bolsheviks it had supported during the October Revolution. In this October we're going through, Kronstadt is once again covered by the same exuberant yellow of uncertainty.
Margilan, Uzbekistan

An Uzbekistan's Breadwinner

In one of the many bakeries in Margilan, worn out by the intense heat of the tandyr oven, the baker Maruf'Jon works half-baked like the distinctive traditional breads sold throughout Uzbekistan
capillary helmet
Viti levu, Fiji

Cannibalism and Hair, Fiji Islands' Old Pastimes

For 2500 years, anthropophagy has been part of everyday life in Fiji. In more recent centuries, the practice has been adorned by a fascinating hair cult. Luckily, only vestiges of the latest fashion remain.
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Busselton, Australia

2000 meters in Aussie Style

In 1853, Busselton was equipped with one of the longest pontoons in the world. World. When the structure collapsed, the residents decided to turn the problem around. Since 1996 they have been doing it every year. Swimming.
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DMZ, Dora - South Korea

The Line of No Return

A nation and thousands of families were divided by the armistice in the Korean War. Today, as curious tourists visit the DMZ, many of the escapes of the oppressed North Koreans end in tragedy.
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The Deep Mexico of the Barrancas del Cobre

Without warning, the Chihuahua highlands give way to endless ravines. Sixty million geological years have furrowed them and made them inhospitable. The Rarámuri indigenous people continue to call them home.
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Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

The Earthly and the Celestial

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Beagle Channel, Argentina

Darwin and the Beagle Channel: on the Theory of the Evolution Route

In 1833, Charles Darwin sailed aboard the "Beagle" through the channels of Tierra del Fuego. His passage through these southern confines shaped the revolutionary theory he formulated of the Earth and its species
São Tomé Ilha, São Tomé and Principe, North, Roça Água Funda
São Tomé, São Tomé and Principe

Through the Tropical Top of São Tomé

With the homonymous capital behind us, we set out to discover the reality of the Agostinho Neto farm. From there, we take the island's coastal road. When the asphalt finally yields to the jungle, São Tomé had confirmed itself at the top of the most dazzling African islands.
Passengers on the frozen surface of the Gulf of Bothnia, at the base of the "Sampo" icebreaker, Finland
Winter White
Kemi, Finland

It's No "Love Boat". Breaks the Ice since 1961

Built to maintain waterways through the most extreme arctic winter, the icebreaker Sampo” fulfilled its mission between Finland and Sweden for 30 years. In 1988, he reformed and dedicated himself to shorter trips that allow passengers to float in a newly opened channel in the Gulf of Bothnia, in clothes that, more than special, seem spacey.
View from the top of Mount Vaea and the tomb, Vailima village, Robert Louis Stevenson, Upolu, Samoa
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Stevenson's Treasure Island

At age 30, the Scottish writer began looking for a place to save him from his cursed body. In Upolu and the Samoans, he found a welcoming refuge to which he gave his heart and soul.
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Red Center, Australia

Australia's Broken Heart

The Red Center is home to some of Australia's must-see natural landmarks. We are impressed by the grandeur of the scenarios but also by the renewed incompatibility of its two civilizations.
Sheki, Autumn in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Autumn Homes
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
Chã das Caldeiras to Mosteiros, Fogo Island, Cape Verde
Natural Parks
Chã das Caldeiras a Mosteiros, Fogo Island, Cape Verde

Chã das Caldeiras to Mosteiros: descent through the Ends of Fogo

With the Cape Verde summit conquered, we sleep and recover in Chã das Caldeiras, in communion with some of the lives at the mercy of the volcano. The next morning, we started the return to the capital São Filipe, 11 km down the road to Mosteiros.
UNESCO World Heritage
Castles and Fortresses

A Defending World: Castles and Fortresses that Resist

Under threat from enemies from the end of time, the leaders of villages and nations built castles and fortresses. All over the place, military monuments like these continue to resist.
Visitors to Ernest Hemingway's Home, Key West, Florida, United States
Key West, United States

Hemingway's Caribbean Playground

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Glass Bottom Boats, Kabira Bay, Ishigaki
Ishigaki, Japan

The Exotic Japanese Tropics

Ishigaki is one of the last islands in the stepping stone that stretches between Honshu and Taiwan. Ishigakijima is home to some of the most amazing beaches and coastal scenery in these parts of the Pacific Ocean. More and more Japanese who visit them enjoy them with little or no bathing.
Ulugh Beg, Astronomer, Samarkand, Uzbekistan, A Space Marriage
Samarkand, Uzbekistan

The Astronomer Sultan

The grandson of one of the great conquerors of Central Asia, Ulugh Beg, preferred the sciences. In 1428, he built a space observatory in Samarkand. His studies of the stars led him to name a crater on the Moon.
Train Kuranda train, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
On Rails
Cairns-Kuranda, Australia

Train to the Middle of the Jungle

Built out of Cairns to save miners isolated in the rainforest from starvation by flooding, the Kuranda Railway eventually became the livelihood of hundreds of alternative Aussies.
A kind of portal
Little Havana, USA

Little Havana of the Nonconformists

Over the decades and until today, thousands of Cubans have crossed the Florida Straits in search of the land of freedom and opportunity. With the US a mere 145 km away, many have gone no further. His Little Havana in Miami is today the most emblematic neighborhood of the Cuban diaspora.
Casario, uptown, Fianarantsoa, ​​Madagascar
Daily life
Fianarantsoa, Madagascar

The Malagasy City of Good Education

Fianarantsoa was founded in 1831 by Ranavalona Iª, a queen of the then predominant Merina ethnic group. Ranavalona Iª was seen by European contemporaries as isolationist, tyrant and cruel. The monarch's reputation aside, when we enter it, its old southern capital remains as the academic, intellectual and religious center of Madagascar.
Sheep and hikers in Mykines, Faroe Islands
Mykines, Faroe Islands

In the Faeroes FarWest

Mykines establishes the western threshold of the Faroe archipelago. It housed 179 people but the harshness of the retreat got the better of it. Today, only nine souls survive there. When we visit it, we find the island given over to its thousand sheep and the restless colonies of puffins.
Bungee jumping, Queenstown, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, the Queen of Extreme Sports

In the century. XVIII, the Kiwi government proclaimed a mining village on the South Island "fit for a queen".Today's extreme scenery and activities reinforce the majestic status of ever-challenging Queenstown.