Câmara de Lobos

Only a little further away from Funchal than a stone’s throw, Câmara de Lobos is probably one of our favourite towns so far visited on Madeira.

The “Chamber of Wolves”, named after the sea lions (wolves in Portuguese) that once lived there, is yet another seaside town: but this one I would actually call a town and not a village. At the small marina, the boats have been pulled up, and on the mountain side across from here, the number “2011” lights towards us. This is, I am told, to be changed to 2012 on New Year’s Eve.

Following our guide book, we end up at a bar called the Farol Verde — the green lighthouse. The place is fine, but after all the hype in the book it doesn’t quite live up to expectations. The local drink here is called Nikita, and it is made by mixing beer, white wine, ice cream and pineapple. It is a weaker drink than the Poncha and you can buy a meter of Nikita at a time. A meter of Nikita is a one-meter long, wooden tray, lined up with Nikitas from one end to the other. At the other end of the bar the poncha is also proudly displayed.

The green lighthouse is known for its green-ness, I understand. The guidebook has bragged about the toxic green colour inside, but really: it is a a couple of green lights at the bar area together with a thundering disco-inspired playlist. It is nothing different than fancy, colourful lighting any club could put on for atmosphere. On the plus side, the drinks are accompanied by a range of nibbles on the house: popcorn, olives, tremoços (which I have become addicted to) are placed in front of us.


Drinks and nibbles outdoors in December feels like quite the treat, and the outdoors atmosphere is nice and the evening air mild. Afterwards, we walk up the streets (still narrow), through the city centre to another place recommended by the guide: Coral is a restaurant built a little further up in the hillside, but still towering over the sea.

I try the local scabbard-fish meal, and we finish off with fruit covered in Madeira wine. The food is fine. I have no complaints about it, though we have eaten equally good food for two thirds of the price in less formal places. I am, however, reminded of the economic downturn the country is facing, as we are the only visitors in the restaurant. It is an eerie feeling. It makes me think of the Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy and the Restaurant at the End of the World.

Outside, however, Câmara de Lobos is as lively as ever. In a way it feels more natural than Funchal: more local people, less designed to attract tourists, this is the way we like it. I tell myself that next time I come to Madeira, this is where my base will be.

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