Day 13 - Funchal, Madeira

April 6, 2019 - Originally, we had planned to avail ourselves of one of Regent's complimentary shore excursions in Funchal. However, we decided a couple of days before we arrived here to turn our tickets back to the Destination Services desk and head out to explore Funchal on our own.

As I am working on my blog at 6:30am, I can see that we are sailing into the port of Funchal.

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We disembarked the ship about 10:45am to find that Regent has graciously provided a shuttle service from the pier to the town center. We hop on for the 10-minute drive into town.

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The shuttle drops us off across the street from a beautiful park, so we walk through and enjoy the flowers and plants.

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Some local artisans have set up small booths selling a variety of handicrafts. We buy Rickee a bracelet made of cork.

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Around noon, I get a little hungry and decide to try a traditional Portuguese street food called Bolo do Caco, which is basically a flat, circular bread, shaped like a cake and thus called bolo. It is traditionally cooked on a flat basalt stone slab. The bread is usually served with garlic butter, or eaten as a sandwich with different fillings. I had one filled with Chorizo sausage and garlic butter and it was pretty tasty, and a great value at only €2.50.

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After my quick lunch, we walked to where the cable car goes from sea level to the top of the mountain. The cable car ride is 12,198 feet long and rises 1,837 feet. Each of the cars can hold up to eight people but there were only five in ours.

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The cable car ride up to the top of the mountain cost €11 per person (round trip would be €16pp), but we had the bright idea that we would just walk back...a decision we would later regret.

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When we got to the top of the mountain, we saw a strange activity going on where couples were sliding down steep roadways in little wicker basket carts with wooden rails. It looked just stupid enough to be fun, so we paid €30 and climbed aboard one!

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I took a photo of Rickee in the cart before our two ‘drivers’ started pushing us down the steep mountain roads at breakneck speeds. They go around corners, turning the cart sideways to slow it down, and pushing it faster if it starts to slow down. It was really a lot of fun. The toboggan ride only lasts about five minutes, but it got us about one-third of the way down the mountain.

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At the end of the toboggan ride, we were offered a taxi ride back to the city center for €26, which seemed a little steep for a five-minute taxi ride. So, we started walking down these incredibly steep streets toward town. Trust me, after about 30 minutes of walking down these streets, that €26 started to sound like a bargain! About two-thirds of the way down the mountain, we found a small local snack shop and sat to rest with a couple of Cokes. Fortunately, it was a beautiful sunny day, about 75 degrees.

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We did make the walk all the way back to the ship. Who needs a shuttle? In all, we figure we walked about 3.5 miles, most of which was at a steep decline. We were both pretty sore by the time we got back. Rickee went out on the balcony to take some parting shots of Funchal as we sailed for our final destination of Lisbon.

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Tonight, we returned to Pacific Rim for dinner. Rickee had a delicious Peking Duck Salad with cashews, watermelon and cucumber in a wonderful sweet fish sauce dressing.

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She also had an order of the Chicken and Foie Gras Gyoza dim sum.

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For her main course, she ordered the Chinese Barbecue Pork Ribs.

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For my main course, I ordered the Beef Bulgogi, which was not like any Bulgogi I have had before. Typically, Bulgogi is thinly sliced meat dressed in a Bulgogi sauce then served on rice. This was more like three chunks of tenderloin with Bulgogi sauce on the side for dipping. Regardless, it was still very good.

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After another filling meal at Pacific Rim, we decided to head back to the suite for an early night to bed. Tomorrow will be our last full day aboard Regent Seven Seas Explorer, as we sail towards Lisbon.