Tuesday, October 17, 2023

16th of October 2023 - The Journey Home

Once through security at Funchal airport I headed to the priority lounge only to find a queue as the man on the front desk was saying that the lounge was full.  He was only letting people in as people came out.  Needless to say people were getting quite upset especially the German couple at the front of the queue.  In the end the police were called to manage the situation.  I’ve never seen anything like this in all my years of travel.

I mentioned in an earlier entry that Funchal airport is considered the third most dangerous in Europe.  Planes are not allowed to take off and land when the wind is above a certain level.  Our flight was delayed because the incoming flight was delayed by high winds.  Even when the incoming flight was given permission to land it had to abort its first attempt to land and go round ago.  Our departure, though delayed, was uneventful.

Monday, October 16, 2023

15th October 2023 - Catamaran Trip of Madeira's Southwest Coast

On the last full day of my Madeira adventure I went on a catamaran trip from Funchal harbour.  This gave me the chance to take some pictures of Funchal from the sea.

The Santa Maria de Colombo, built in 1998, is a Madeiran pirate ship which is an exact replica of the Christopher Columbus flagship.  This ship is another option for a boat trip from Funchal.

We saw some dolphins who performed for this including leaping in the air.  It was hard to catch a good shot of the dolphins.  All my pictures just show their fins.

On our return journey we hugged the coastline.  Just to the left of centre on the following picture is a lift going from the top to the bottom of the cliff.

There were also some deserted terraces that had been used for agriculture.  Two of the main crops on this part of the island are bananas and grapes.

The hotel I've been staying was in full view just before the catamaran returned to Funchal harbour.  I did not visit tthe adjoining casino.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

14th of October 2023 - West Madeira Tour

We were unable to visit Porto Moniz due to wildfires but were very fortunate to see much of the rest of the west of Madeira.  There was visible smoke at certain places we visited and we could also sometimes smell the smoke.

Our first visit of the day was to the Cabo Girão cliff skywalk which is the highest cliff skywalk in Europe.  The skywalk is made of transparent glass to provide views to visitors.

We then drove to Ribeira Brava with its local church “Igreja de São Bento“.

Ribeira Brava's namesake, the Ribeira Brava ravine and river valley, empties into the Atlantic ocean along the village's coast.  We could hear the pounding of the surf.

Afterwards we went inland to see spectacular views over the mountain peaks and the deep valleys surrounding Paul da Serra.  On days with good visibility it is possible to see the sea from Paul da Serra however this was not possible with the smoke from the wildfires.

We did however find many examples of indigenous vegetation in this area.

We ended our trip around western Madeira in the fishing village of Câmara de Lobos.

Decades ago Câmara de Lobos was the home of the monk seal (also known as the sea-wolf) and this is where its name comes.  We could see an interested representation of the monk seal which is made from recycled material.

The black scabbard fish is caught by local fishermen but at night.  They play cards during the day.

Câmara de Lobos still had many of their decorations up after their recent festival of the black scabbard fish.

On Madeira they make agricultural use of even the steepest of land by farming on terraces.

After a very hot day sightseeing it was great to go for a swim in the hotel pool.

Friday, October 13, 2023

13th of October 2023 - Eira do Serrado and Monte

Pico dos Barcelos is an observation point above Funchal where the locals meet on New Year's Eve to watch the fireworks.  When we were there was a man playing pan pipes.

After Pico dos Barcelos we drove up some very winding roads to Eira do Serrado overlooking the village of Curral das Freiras which is also known as the Valley of the Nuns.  Some of the pictures are a little hazy due to wildfires on the west coast of Madeira.

Our next experience was the "toboggan ride" at Monte which was originally a fast means of transport down to Funchal for people living in Monte.  The toboggan sledges appeared around 1850.  The sledges are now used by tourists for an exciting experience of sliding at high speed on narrow, winding streets from Monte down to Funchal.  The two-seater wicker sledges glide on wooden runners, pushed and steered by two men traditionally dressed in white cotton clothes and a straw hat, using their rubber-soled boots as brakes.  The downhill journey is made in about 10 minutes on a total course of 2 km, reaching at times a speed of 48 km/hour.

This is a picture I took of a slower part of the ride on the way down.  This bit was slow because we were crossing roads with normal traffic on.

This photo of a picture shows myself and Leslie, another woman on my Madeira tour, arriving in Livramento after our "toboggan ride" from Monte.


After our adventurous, yet safe, "toboggan ride" we then took a very smooth ride in the cable car back up to Monte.

Terry, yet another woman on my Madeira tour, and I walked back to our hotel along Funchal promenade.

12th of October 2023 - East Madeira Tour

We drove past Funchal airport on our way to the east of Madeira.  The airport is considered the ninth most dangerous airport in the world and the third most dangerous in Europe due to its location and its spectacular runway construction.  Pilots must undergo additional training to land at the airport.

We drove along the coast stopping to view the spectacular scenery including Eagle Rock (which looks nothing like an eagle).

One stop was at a rum factory where, as well as sampling the rum, I had my first taste of poncha which is the traditional drink of Madeira made with rum, honey and fruit juice.

I then explored around the lovely village where the rum factory was located.

We then continued to Santana where, again, we could see the traditional triangular thatched houses typical of the region.

Our next stop, for some strange reason, was at a trout hatchery in Ribeiro Frio.

We ended the day at Pico do Arieiro which is the third highest peak on the island with a large weather station resembling a golf ball.  I didn’t manage to get to the highest point where there were the best views were as I found the altitude challenging.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

11th of October 2023 - Levada walk

Levadas are irrigation channels or aqueducts on Madeira that were originally built to carry water from the mountains to agricultural areas.  Madeira has more than 3,000km of these irrigation channels.  Today, they are used for both irrigation and as popular hiking paths.  Many of the levadas are very accessible with a path next to the water channel.  We walked along one of the levadas for about 7km.


The levadas have gates which allow control over the flow and distribution of water along the channels. They can be opened, closed, or adjusted to regulate the amount of water flowing through the levadas, ensuring efficient irrigation and water management for agricultural purposes.


There was a wide variety of flowers along the levadas which made for a lovely walk.

I ended my day with another swim before getting ready for dinner.