101 in 1001: Visit Barry in Madeira.

I remember my dad calling to tell me that Barry had signed a contract to play professional basketball in Europe. "He's going to Madeira Island," my dad said. "It's like Europe's Hawaii."

I hadn't ever heard of the Portuguese Island, but it sounded pretty amazing to me. Temperatures between 65 and 80 all year long? Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean? Quaint towns and rolling hills? Yep, that's paradise.

Now, having visited Madeira, I know why I had never heard of the island: It's not at all an American vacation hotspot. There were lots of British English-speaking tourists, but we didn't run into another American the whole time we were there (minus the couple Americans on Barry's basketball team). To me, there's something liberating about that. Knowing you're visiting an area where you're in the minority. Seeing a truly foreign place out of wide eyes. It does something for your soul and your mind...

Lots more pictures will hit the blog later this week and next, but for now I hope you enjoy this sneak peek of the island from our hotel in Funchal (Madeira's capital). This was right at sunset. Gorgeous.