July 2, 2018 Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

St. Martin Cemetery Headstones

St. Martin Church Interior

Mark, Kent, Sue and Marcelo from the Funchal Lookout Point

Funchal Lookout View

Blandy’s Madeira Winery

In the morning with Sue, we took a van driven by Marcelo out to the local cemetery called the Cemiterio de Sao Martinho or cemetery of St. Martin. This is the largest cemeteries in Funchal where many of the well-known families of Funchal have been laid to rest. They have family sepulchers or small ornate sheds where you can find racks on either side that hold eight caskets per small structure. You also can find many urns of ashes inside of the family plots. In addition to the old wooden caskets many of these sheds are ornately decorated inside and out. The exteriors often have art nouveau or neo-gothic styles dating back to the 1800’s. The interiors of the structures are sometimes adorned with ornate ceramic tiles, many photographs, as well as both fresh and artificial bouquets of flowers.

The cemetery also has smaller above ground vaults that may be ornately decorated with statuary and flowers as well as photographs of the deceased. Besides the above ground vaults there are three additional vaults under each vault to provide more space for families’ loved ones. If you can’t afford either of these options there are the traditional burials in the lawn with a small headstone marker, the wall vaults or even stone vases of flowers with the names of the deceased and a photo of them.

Our next stop was the nearby church of St. Martin located on a prominent hilltop overlooking Funchal. A previous church of the same name had been located nearby until 1883 when a parishioner died and left almost all of his fortune to the church. The current church was inaugurated in 1918 and just celebrated its hundredth anniversary on June 24.
The church is quite simple on the exterior although once you enter the church you are taken by its high ceilings, exquisite murals, glistening wooden floors and pews. It is very tastefully decorated without being too gaudy even though there is a lot of gold used throughout.

After our visit to the church we had lunch at a local restaurant along one of the restaurant row streets with our friend Sue. Mark tried the local specialty called Espetadas which are grilled marinated meat on a skewer. They use chicken, beef and pork for the skewers. Mark tried the pork which was tender and nice.

In the afternoon we met with our entire group at the Blandy’s winery in the center of town where they make Madeira wine. This particular winery has been here for 200 years and owned by the same family (seven generations). We had a tour of the winery in Funchal although today much of the wine making is done at another location outside of town. They have a very nice museum documenting the long history of this family business and their famous Madeira wine.

After the tour of the winery we had a tasting of two of their Madeira wines and one white table wine. There were few of us who liked the taste of any of the wines but it may be that it is an acquired taste….or terrible wine. The Madeira wines are extremely strong, reminding us of cough syrup. Even the white table wine had a strong sulfur odor and not very nice tasting. They say that the Madeira wines will not age in the bottle so they will last on the shelf for a lifetime or longer.

After the winery tour we met up with four others (Cookie and Vince; Natalie and Jan) from our tour group for a bite to eat at a local hamburger restaurant that was very good. The French fries had the skins on them and were sprinkled with herbs. Kent and Mark had the tuna sandwich which was a tuna steak with lettuce, tomato, a fried egg and sauce. It was very good. Afterwards a walk home and to bed.