Thursday, July 30, 2015

Madeira - the Hawai'i of the Atlantic

To celebrate my big 3-0, my boyfriend took me on a trip to Funchal, Madeira, Portugal. This is a place I've been wanting to see for some time because this is where some of my ancestors emigrated from. They moved to Hawaii, which perhaps wasn't a difficult move, climate-wise at least...Madeira seems to be the Hawaii of the Atlantic. 

And I felt pretty at home here. The island is much more steeply mountainous than the Hawaiian islands, but the nature was quite a bit like home. Everywhere I looked, things were growing. Banana trees popped up in the middle of the city. Passion fruit vines stretching out over other plants, dripping with fruit and its trademark ornate flowers. Even monstera plants, which take years and years to grow fruit were bearing fruit in abundance.

Yes, of course I tried the fruit! Three types of passion fruit: lime, peach, and "English tomato" with a monstera fruit in the middle. The monstera tastes like a cross between pineapple and banana.

Drinking fresh pressed cane juice mixed with rum and lime from the open market is the perfect way to cool off.

A lady in traditional Madeiran attire carrying an arrangement of local flowers, all of which also grow in Hawaii!

It was wonderfully warm in Madeira, and I got lots of color just walking about town. I was worried that I would sweat to death in the heat, so I hardly brought any vintage, instead relying on my tropical pieces from retro-inspired, New Orleans-based Trashy Diva to keep me classily (and colorfully!) dressed for my vacation.

The one and only vintage dress I brought with me went out on the night we tried espetada (Madeiran BBQ).

We went out to Armazém do Sal for my birthday dinner. The Lena sarong dress in Red Waterlilies from Trashy Diva was just perfect for a romantic dinner on a hot night.

They serve nouveau Portuguese food - so delicious! I highly recommend this restaurant if ever you find yourself in Madeira. We wrapped the night up at Venda Velha, a poncha bar. Poncha is a special Madeiran drink made from extra strong rum, lemon, honey or sugar, and sometimes fruit juices.

When on such a beautiful island, a bit of adventuring is surely in order. Funchal has cable car lines that take you up into the mountains and provide a scenic view of the city. Once up in the mountains, we visited the botanical gardens. 

We also went on a 4-wheel tour of the eastern side of the island, which is more verdant than the western side as it's geologically older. We visited a local farmer's market high up in the mountains where we drank a traditional (very alcoholic) poncha, took in amazing panoramic views of the island, saw traditional homes and tried more delicious Madeiran food. The next day, we went on a catamaran cruise along the coast and even saw a pod of dolphins!

Last but not least, I got to do a bit of genealogical research on my Madeiran ancestors. I headed over to the Regional Archives and did in fact find records of my Madeiran relatives! I even found their emigration paperwork showing that they left for Hawaii. It was a wonderful way to end one of the best vacations I've ever had.

And it's all thanks to this guy! This trip surely won't be the last...


  1. What a wonderful time you two must have had on your holiday and I must say how stunning you look in your Trashy Diva outfits Milan. Look forward to your next holiday shots.......

    1. Thank you Christine! It was definitely one of my best trips ever. I'll be sure to put up photos of my next trip!

  2. Gorgeous pictures, wow!!! Love seeing those Trashy Diva pieces, you wear them so well! :)
    Happy birthday!!


    1. Hi Bristol! You're too sweet. :-) Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Your trip - and you of course - looks amazing! I want to go!!!!