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24 Dec 2005: Feliz Natal

A picture

Welcome to Funchal

Having just finished my Japanese exam, it was time to turn my attentions to more worldy matters, such as the possibility of a Christmas holiday. Aki and I hadn't gone for a proper extended vacation since the summer of 2004 and it felt like it was about time, particularly as we had planned to take off a number of days together before Christmas.

While Aki's mother had come over to UK, Aki had been told by a Japanese tour guide that there was a Portugeuse island called Madeira which was a beautiful place to go to. We had no other ideas so, after spending some hours researching the island, we made the decision to go there.

Madeira is 3 hours from Gatwick by plane, and the island is actually closer to Morocco than Portugal. We flew to Madeira around 7am on Saturday 17 December, with return tickets to bring us back the following Wednesday. The times of the flights gave us almost five whole days there.

Funchal is the capital of Madeira and it is where virtually every tourist is based. We stayed at the conveniently located Quinta do Sol, although the convenient aspect only became clear after we had arrived.

If you know anything about Aki and I, you'll know that "holiday" for us usually means a great deal of exploration and wandering around and very little rest. Madeira was no different. On our first day, we toured Funchal and bumped into a number of local Christmas events, such as this band playing tunes such as Y Viva EspaƱa.

I forgot to mention that we did also see a legion of Santas on motorbikes.