Finding our way around the steep mountainous roads of Madeira…Photos of us…

“Nemo” was headed my way as I leaned into the aquarium inside the restaurant, his cute little mouth, sucking in the shape of an “O.”

Online maps in Madeira, Portugal don’t easily provide directions from our home to where we’d like to go. The paper maps we have, don’t show the smaller streets. Many roads are one way with no seeming way to get back to where we started.

Although the weather was warm, we’ve been cold while attempting to acclimate after the extreme heat we’d experienced in Morocco, South Africa, Kenya. Thus, Tom’s long sleeves. We both had jackets with us which we will again today with it cool and windy.

With a dinner reservation last night and a red spot on Google Maps, showing that the restaurant was on the ocean in Ribeira Brava we figured we could find it. Gina explained there was a parking ramp below the restaurant. After a 15 minute drive from Campanario to Ribeira Brava, we were excited to find the parking ramp with the restaurant above.

Taking this photo of us by the boat reminded us of a similar photo in Hopkins Belize over a year ago.

Parking the car in the ramp after taking a ticket (how modern!) the guard motioned us to the elevator to go two floors up to the restaurant. Meandering out the elevator, we searched for a sign with the name of the restaurant. Alas, it wasn’t the restaurant where we had a reservation.

When we spotted this sign, we knew we found the “wrong” restaurant deciding to stay for dinner anyway.

We looked at one another, shrugging our shoulders, deciding this looked like a great place to dine as we moseyed to the huge chalkboard menu in both English and Portuguese. We decided to stay.

As soon as we perused this boarded menu we knew we’d be staying for dinner, although we weren’t in the restaurant for which we had a reservation.

The day had been perfect at 72F, 22C and the thought of sitting outdoors along the ocean was appealing. I felt like a kid in a candy store with a pocket filled with money, flitting about taking photos, practically squealing with delight over the 6:00 pm sunshine, the sound of the surf, the dogs running about, and the birdcage and aquarium in the restaurant. 

Dining in the interior of the restaurant may be necessary on rainy or windy days. 

Tom had one of those ” _ _ it” eating grins on his face that wouldn’t stop. We sat at a comfortable table for four with a crisp linen tablecloth. 

The restaurant view from the sidewalk. More photos will follow tomorrow with too many to post in one day.

As it turned out, the restaurant, Restaurant and Grill Muralha was listed as #2 on TripAdvisor’s rated dining establishments in Ribeira Brava. What a stroke of luck! The restaurant where we’d intended to dine was listed as #4. We’ll find it next time.

The cozy bar on the interior of the restaurant.

Not only was the menu filled with numerous suitable options for me but also for Tom. We weren’t certain as to spices used in Portuguese cooking, wondering if we’d be disappointed with overwhelming flavors for which we’d soon tire. Alas, we were in luck. Portuguese food is lightly seasoned with spices we found to be not only palatable but familiar, enjoyable over the long haul.

Portugal is known for its fine wine worldwide some of which the restaurant proudly displayed.

Tom ordered a beer while I ordered the usual bottle of bubbly water. The food was beautifully presented, promptly served, and hot, mouth-watering, and delicious. The portions were huge as shown in these photos.  We devoured every morsel on our plates. The service was impeccable, friendly, and English speaking, to our surprise.

A decorative shelf on the interior of the restaurant.

It was so good that we commented that the others may be a hard act to follow. With only nine major restaurants in the area with many smaller café and eateries, we’ll return in the future.

Tom ordered the Mixed Grill which he thoroughly enjoyed.  They had swapped the lamb for more steak. He’d had his fill of lamb in Morocco. Of course, more “chips.”

Our bill plus tip was close to the highest we’ve paid since the onset of our travels, US $62.27, EU $45.47. We didn’t flinch. Able to cook our own meals, most likely we’ll dine out twice a week.  If all of our restaurant meals were of a similar price, we’ll spend approximately US $1200, EU $876 during our time in Madeira, for both homecooked and restaurant meals, an amount we’ve budgeted knowing that prices would be higher on this island than in many other countries we’ve lived thus far. 

This was the most delicious and sizable salmon steak I’ve ever had in a restaurant. 

Based on our research there are only a few restaurants on the island where one could spend more, most of which are in Funchal, a long drive from Campanario. We’ve always preferred to dine within 15 to 20 minutes of home when, here, for example, the mountainous drive is not suitable after Tom after consuming a beer or two. 

My salad and cooked vegetables we fabulous. I know, I shouldn’t eat raw vegetables but we’re hearing the water is fine here, although we continue to consume bottled water. There were no comments in the TripAdvisor reviews indicating anyone became ill after eating at this restaurant.

(Since I haven’t driven a car in 16 months, let alone a stick shift which I do know how to drive, we didn’t add me to the contract leaving Tom as the only driver. In an emergency, I could drive a stick shift if I had to).

This yellow parakeet at the restaurant was checking me out as I attempted to whistle.

After I finish writing today, we’re heading back to the supermarket, the largest in the area, to search for the items we either couldn’t find or forgot to buy in our exhausted state on Friday afternoon. This time, we’ll translate all the items we couldn’t find into Portuguese hopefully aiding in our search for certain items.

While dining, this fluffy dog came by staring at me, hoping for a morsel. The waiter scooted her away. She reminded us of a bigger scruffier version of Jessie of Gucci and Jessie, the two dogs we loved in Kenya.

So far, so good. We love Madeira, the scenery, the house, the food, and the friendly people. A few days ago, we saw Gina’s dad gardening on the steep hill across the street. I yelled out to him, “Olá, como você está?” which translates to “Hello, how are you?” Later, he told Gina, “She speaks Portuguese!” Ha! We shall see!

Photo from one year ago today, May 20, 2013:

Our last night on Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Sea left us feeling a little sad as the end of the most extraordinary cruise we could ever have imagined.  The Pyramids, The Suez Canal, The Lost City of Petra, and the Treasury where Indiana Jones was filmed, the excitement of The Gulf of Aden and so much more, added to our wealth of growing experiences. For details of that final night as the ship made its way to Dubai where we’d stay in a condo for two weeks, please click here.

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