In April 2001 I was given an award by my work, for being an innovator (I built a problem reporting tool which many of the people here use). The prize was a weekend for two in Madeira, at the Reid's Palace Hotel in Funchal, Madeira. Along with 17 other winners, and their spouses/partners/friends, we flew out on a Friday morning, stayed over for three nights and flew back on the Monday afternoon.
Reid's Palace was built by a Scotsman, in 1891. It's built above a cliff in Funchal, the capital of Madeira. The hotel is well known in the area for its traditionally British afternoon teas on the terrace. The accommodation was excellent, the grounds were lovely and the staff always helpful.
The hotel also had three pools, two on the upper level, and one down by the ocean side. There was even a springboard into the ocean, which was not too cold, but very salty.
On Saturday evening we were treated to an excursion on the Santa Maria, a replica of the original which Columbus sailed across the Atlantic. It's surprising how small the boat seems when you realise the amount of time the sailors spent aboard. The sailors were all decked out in traditional garments and we had a pleasant cruise.
We had a chance to wander down to the town on a few occasions. As with the rest of the island, Funchal is very hilly, with barely a square foot of flat ground anywhere. The harbour is big enough to house a couple of cruise liners, and there is a beach of black, volcanic sand. There's a lovely park at the west end of the seafront, with some nice paths and a lot of flowers.
When we had our weekend, there was a flower festival in the town. On the Saturday the children all went to the Wall of Hope, where they each planted a flower. There were decorative flower carpets around the town and lots of entertainment going on. On Sunday afternoon we had the flower parade, a number of floats, each with its own theme, and each followed by a group of dancers.
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