Funchal, Madeira – another great island in the “middle of nowhere” Atlantic

Back to the islands! Just like when I was in the Azores, Canaries, and the Balearic Islands. However, in this case I was back to another Portuguese island – Madeira, which is just north of the Canary Islands. Madeira is still far enough from civilization that the Canaries are a bit closer than the Safi coast of Morocco. So that should tell you that they are quite far.

madeira island isla portuguese lands

Like almost all islands out in the ocean, they are blissfully calm with the ocean and the sun. Well, maybe.

But unlike going to the Azores and Canary Islands in the winter, Madeira had its weather change from cold to humid hot and only getting hotter!

marina portugual island fishing cruise boats

The marina in Funchal, Madeira’s biggest city, had a lot of tourists walking out and about.

One place of interest, if you are a football fan, is to go to the CR7 Musuem. CR7 stands for Cristiano Ronaldo and the number 7 meaning his jersey number. Considered one of the best players in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo came from Funchal, Madeira who decided to give back to his hometown by having a museum with some of his memorabilia and items of personal interest so his fans can partake into his professional and private life. The Real Madrid museum had quite a bit of Ronaldo stuff in there but I think Ronaldo wanted to share with fans because of the amount of hardware that he’s been given over the years has started to pile up. I suppose the solution to that is have a museum which can save a lot of save at home.

ronaldo cristiano museum museo portugal madeira in the city by the ocean

Funchal, Madeira’s most famous person that came from the island – Cristiano Ronaldo! Who has his own museum. Some may say he has a huge ego but I think it’s something for his fans to flock to and say that they went there.

downstairs museum lobby

After you pay the entrance fee, you go downstairs to see the attractions of trophies, statues, pictures, fan stuff, gifts, etc.

Having seen Ronaldo play twice, once in Madrid when he played against Espanyol and once in Camp Nou when Real Madrid and FC Barcelona played in El Clásico, I know that the man can flat out play. He’s one of the two best players in the past decade (alongside Lionel Messi) as both players have seen these two alternate winning trophies such as the Golden Ball and Champions League. The only exception was this past year which went to Luka Modric which didn’t make sense as I felt that the committee wanted to break Ronaldo and Messi’s monopoly since they are the top two kings of football.

happy birthday jersey autographed auto'd gift

Looks like the Real Madrid team signed a jersey for him for his birthday. Although I can’t read whose signatures belong to who… I can kind of read out Marcelo’s signature on there.

european golden shoe boot

Like Messi, Ronaldo has won a lot of Golden Shoe awards. This is awarded every year to the player who has scored the most goals in Europe.

golden ball ballon d'or

Again like Messi, Ronaldo has won the Golden Ball several times. This award is given every year to the best player in the men’s division. It takes into account not just the club statistics but also the player’s statistics for his country. Here the Golden Ball (or also known as the Ballon d’or) is prominently placed before a Cristiano Ronaldo likeness statue in a Juventus FC jersey.

After going to this CR7 museum, I was wondering if Lionel Messi will ever have a museum of his own in his hometown of Rosario, Argentina or maybe at least one in Buenos Aires in order to get more visitors. I know that there is a mini-museum for Messi in Barcelona (sponsored by Adidas) but a major one like Ronaldo’s? We’ll have to see. So far, the FC Barcelona museum might be the biggest one so far to have a quite a collection of Messi’s stuff while Cristiano Ronaldo, Madeira’s favorite son, will have his own museum for football fans to flock to in order to see some of his famous trophies, jerseys, and other goodies. I still wonder how dominant FC Barcelona would have become…. only if FC Barcelona decided to bring in Cristiano Ronaldo instead of Ricarod Quaresma. Ronaldo’s CR7 museum would have been even more packed full of stuff!

CR7 Outside Statue

Right outside the entrance of the CR7 Museum, stands a statue of Cristiano Ronaldo himself! However, it doesn’t really look like him and he looks like a goalie with those gold colored hands. It might be better than that ridiculous head statue at the airport though.

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Dreaming of Bream in the UK

You never know what to expect especially when you go fishing. This is most true when going to another location for fishing as you never know what will happen. In this case, I ended up going to the Grand Union Canal where the water is muddy (and dirty) but can hold quite a bit of fish in it, particularly wild fish. But what’s interesting is that these waterways are almost 100 years old and stretch for hundreds of miles (or even more kilometers) and hundreds of locks between the English cities of London and Birmingham. A particular canal culture has developed from its inception to its more modern day form to where people leisurely cruise up and down the canal as well as live on the boats varying from a temporary basis (vacations, weekends, etc.) to a permanent basis especially due to the high costs of living in the big cities like London.

canal boats locks waters fishing

As you see, there’s a boat going through the canal lock. It’s actually quite peaceful being out here on the canal waterside while fishing. You get to see all the canal boats go by while waiting for a fish bite.

bream carp wild fish Fische pez peces agua fresca

Just gotta have the fishing rods ready to go!

That’s why I thought it was really interesting and fun to go fishing in the Grand Union Canal while watching the canal boats go back and forth while using the locks to go up and down the canal since certain parts of the water are at different elevation. It wasn’t my first time seeing locks in operation as I’ve seen the Miraflores Locks of the famous Panama Canal nor was it my first time fishing in a canal since I went fishing in the Panama Canal for Peacock Bass and Snook. The big difference was that the Grand Union Canal is not that wide nor deep so the types of fish in there are more restricted to where they are at unless they swim in shoals trying to find food and/or seek protection in numbers.

net bream side view fishing

A good net is a must here as the Bream have small mouths so a hook is easily going to pull out.

I speak of numbers because this is what I ended up with – bream, bream, and more bream!

bream uk english coarse fishing fish canal

A bag full of Bream fish – over 12! Unfortunately, Bream isn’t the best kind of fish to eat and it’s against the law to eat native fish anyways.

catch release bream uk english fishing england canal freshwater fishing

Got handfuls of Bream before all of them were sent back to the water – catch and release!

Unfortunately, none of the carp wanted to take my bait and reveal themselves to the outside world but I take it that the carp that I caught last weekend in the Czech Republic had already did the work for the British Carp. So no need to do double trouble work. But still, it’s hard not to be a little greedy with the Fishing Gods and their blessing of my fish catches. I wanted a fat, wild Carp but I suppose the Fishing Gods already blessed me with big Carp last year.

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There’s fishing in the Czech Republic!

I didn’t know this but I found out that you can go fishing in the Czech Republic! Start point: Prague, Czechia’s capital and biggest city in the country, which happens to be a place that I’ve been to before so I’m familiar with the place. But just not the fishing. I’m sure that if I went in the past, then I could go catch some fish that I’ve done before: trout, carp, pike, perch, etc. Or perhaps a fish species that I have not yet caught before. The most important part about this trip was that I’d get a chance to go fishing for the first time in a landlocked country such as the Czech Republic. So forget about the famous Czech beer and all that tourist crap – I’m going fishing! I’m going to take the path less traveled…. again! I needed this trip after watching FC Barcelona falter in Champions League. Something to dull the pain and stop the bleeding of suffering in misery…. luckily, salvation was here in Czechia!

fishing bobber up down fish rod holder pole carp waiting patient

Alright, got all setup and now just have to wait for the fish to bite. This fishing is not just sit down and wait for the bells and whistles to fire off so you can start fighting the fish. No, you actually have to set the hook yourself when the bobber goes up or down. And some of these bites are real subtle.

fish 1st first czechia bohemia moravia empire inland lake fresh water guided tour

Within a few minutes, I had my first fish of the Czech Republic!

hooked action picture photo green lake vegetation background

After a while, the fishing slowed down as the rains and cold weather came but such worsening conditions would not sour me down. I stayed and fished and fished until all of a sudden, the fishing got hot and heavy. Even my guide had to hold off on going to the bathroom as I hooked one as soon as he said that.

gold carp fish freshwater fishing

This carp had great colors of gold on it that I had to take a picture of it.

running carp frankenfish weigh fat tough

This carp looked like a frankenfish as it had that curved neck into back look. Not sure what happened there but still a good fighter as it tried to run off in spurts.

My guide tried to get me hooked onto a sturgeon which was the intended species but knowing how tough it is to actually hook one, I know that the chances of having one bite would be very difficult. I tried back in California to hook and land one but it never happened as it was just striped bass and halibut. Still, the day continued to bring in more and bigger fish… including a big carp that was probably bigger than the one I caught fly fishing in the UK!

hooked 20 lb pound carp

I hooked and fought a big carp. My guide said that the big ones usually go off in long, deep runs in an attempt to outrun the fishing line. The smaller, younger ones primarily do the left and right, shake and bake method including turning at the surface to try to spit the hook out.

20+ plus pounds lbs of carp czech middle central europe fishing

And there’s the lucky fish! Maybe 20 pounds of all mirror carp? My guide, Oleg, had to help me pick up this slimy mirror carp.

release liberar librar pez en czechia

There’s me trying to release the big lumper back into the waters. I had some trouble as its fins and tail would get stuck in the net while I was releasing it. That tells you how big and long that thing was!

In this landlocked country full of mountains and rivers, I was glad to get a chance to try my skills at fishing this place. Like fishing in Germany and in Slovenia, you have to look hard to get that opportunity and looks as if I found my golden chance to do so.


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What to buy in Germany – Biersteins, Pewter Cups, Mezzo Mix, Fritz Cola

I’m not going to write about the hundreds, thousands of beer brands that one can find in Germany but there are two items which might make someone very interested in these drinking utensils which can enhance the drinking experience to optimum levels: biersteins (or beer steins) and pewter cups.

Beer steins or biersteins, as they are spelled in German, are known for their elaborate designs on these massive mugs that are supposed to contain the lifeblood waters of humankind: beer. If you go back in time, people could not simply drink water from the rivers and lakes as it would make them sick due to the lack of technology to purify the water. One way to cleanse water was let the alcohol making process taketh over and convert the water into beer. Hence, people were able to quench their thirst and chillax at the same time. But of course, they needed to have a good container to drink out of which why beer mugs were invented. As time went on, it was somehow decided that the royalty and rich people would have nicer, more elaborate, more expensive containers to drink out of which became the beer steins.

old ancient beer steins germany german beer

These are some old beer steins where someone had them painted, probably by hand. Some of these beer steins can be worth a lot of money. Don’t get them confused with modern ones where they were painted on by a machine and are not worth that much in monetary value.

gods and goddesses royalty beer mugs

And then there are those that are worth even more money than cars. Some of these are hand-carved with Greek Gods being the theme and I’m pretty sure that they were made for the kings and queens in Germany. They are obviously the far more valuable beer steins.

When the common folk and middle classes saw the more pricier versions of these beer steins, they too wanted something expensive even though it might be utilized for more formal and celebratory events. I think that’s how someone invented a cheaper but ingenious way to make them look good for those big events. Pewter, also known as poor man’s silver, is quite heavy and in a way, far more durable was the choice of metal for these beer steins and were far superior than than regular mugs and glass cups which were more likely to break upon falling and making contact with the ground. That’s why pewter saved the day and allowed everyone to have a very nice cup/mug to drink out of.

decorated pewter cup

This pewter cup depicts a group of fishermen. Each pewter cup might be completely decorated with its own special insignia and themes. The pewter cups of the modern day are very detailed and still pricey.

gold silver pewter beer stein cup mug

And then of course, there are those where someone decided to make a specialized pewter cup/beer stein version for a rich person or someone of royalty in order to show off.

For the drinking department, if one is looking to fill their biersteins and pewter cups, I’ll introduce Mezzo Mix and Fritz Cola. Mezzo Mix is basically like a regular cola soda but with an additional flavor of orange infused into the drink. It’s not quite like an overloaded orange soda like sunkist or fanta, but it’s more of an addition to a coke with the distinct orange flavor taste in it. There is another soda out there which is very similar to Mezzo Mix which is called Schwip Schwap. I can’t really figure out if there is a difference between Mezzo Mix and Schwip Schwap but it’s good as well.

german soda

Like a cola but with an orange flavor taste. Massively popular with the German populace who want something other than the big cola brands.

fritz german cola

Frtiz Cola is more of craft soda but people do buy them for their more natural cola taste.

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Legoland, Germany

Why not be a kid again at Legoland Deutschland? I say I do! And where is this place at in Germany? Well, it’s nestled somewhat of a car drive between the major cities of Stuttgart and Munich so I think it’s best to drive a rental car out there due to the lack of good public transportation to get there. Unlike the Legoland in San Diego that I went to, this Legoland is only open during spring, summer, and autumn due to the European cold weather shutting it down during the cold months. So it’s best to make plans to travel there during the sunnier days when it’s a lot warmer and you can wear just shorts and t-shirts to enjoy yourself being a kid again.

lego castle series big human sized

While waiting in line, there were a bunch of Lego figurines surrounding this castle.

lego pharaoh full sized legoland

I haven’t seen anything like this – an Egyptian Pharaoh full-scale sized made completely with Legos! This is definitely not Cairo, Egypt.

lego police man poster

I saw this funny Lego policeman poster which was funny to see.

Unfortunately, the summer time is when all the little kids show up and when I mean kids, I mean kids from all over Europe. Sure, there are two other Legolands in Europe which are in Denmark and in the United Kingdom, but this Legoland in Germany is much closer to most Europeans and it’s generally on the way to other tourist sites within continental Europe for most travelers, particularly those with kids. So this Lego destination probably gets the mass road rangers during high tourist season. And believe me, it’s just swarm after swarm of kids and tourists so it can get a bit hot as you’re standing next to a stranger/fellow tourist while under the scrunching, heavily-concentrated magnifying sun. So I recommend going in the spring or fall to avoid the summer hordes.

I liked Legoland Germany but the place lacked the quantity and quality of Legoland San Diego and its roller coasters as well as the Star Wars Lego Sets, particularly since California had the life-sized Darth Vader, life-sized Darth Maul, and a lot of famous Star Wars movie scenes reenacted by Lego toys. Legoland Germany has started to add some of these interesting exhibitions to their amusement park but I still think that it’s not as good as the ones that I saw in Legoland San Diego.

lego buildings custom made

There were some mini-size scaled buildings made completely of Legos as well.

lego replica buildings

I am not sure which replicas these Lego buildings were of but they look nice to look at.

Still, I won’t complain as I was a big fan of Legos as a kid and I still am. To me, being in Legoland was like being a kid all over again except that I am older and have a lot more money to spend even thought I didn’t spend it on Lego toys. I like spending more into experiences to where going to Legoland was like a jump back in the past.

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