Madeira A place so laid­back they don’t have a word for ‘quickly’ Travel notes

The Herald Magazine - - etc TRAVEL -

Main pic­ture: The mar­ket in the Old Town of Funchal. Above: Largo do Cole­gio Old Funchal

roads, the houses built into se­ri­ously steep slopes, and we got a de­tailed lec­ture on how the wa­ter trav­els from north to south. Who knew a drainage sys­tem could be so fas­ci­nat­ing? Se­ri­ously, ask about a tour. The lush scenery is beau­ti­ful and the chance to learn about life not so long ago is fas­ci­nat­ing.

Right, it was time for me to, cough, play golf. David Whyte, a Scot who or­gan­ises breaks for golfers, tells me that I have a nice swing. He’s a ter­ri­ble liar. We took a ferry to the is­land of Porto Santo where there is a Seve Balles­teros course. My hero de­signed a lovely golf course with lots of grass and only a small bit of wa­ter. I found the wa­ter. That’s how good I am.

The golf is su­perb. It’s all quite new so the club­houses are top notch. The food is great. Of course it is. And then there is pon­cho, the lo­cal liquor, which sorts out the men from the boys. Sheesh.

Lastly, I have to talk about the Old Town in Funchal. With its brightly coloured doors, many restau­rants, in­clud­ing Taberna Ruel which for this foodie is in his top ten, wee bars, shops and nar­row streets that are great to pot­ter around, this was a real high­light.

On a Satur­day night, with red wine in hand, I sat out­side a bar on my own, in my shorts, watch­ing the world go by and think­ing: “I like this place, I’ll be back”.

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