Walkies – Madeira

Madeira – on our way to Funchal marina

The view from the boat of Funchal – impressive by day

We have been exploring Madeira from Funchal for the last few days. Not only is Madeira a retirement ground for old Toyota Starlets but also so far we have been impressed by the walking tracks that we have found on the island. Funchal marina itself is home to one of the least swanky toilet and shower blocks that we have experienced so far and what passes for rather dubious entertainment until the early hours. Last night we were treated to some rather loud and out of tune singing by a man and what I assumed to be his son. I suppose going from Quinta do Lorde, which actually was the height of luxury, anything else will be a little bit disappointing but we are thankfully very close to buses here so exploring is much much easier from here.

Anyway, I have been surprised by the variation in the landscape so far. We have seen craggy, clay rock faces, high mountains, areas recovering from forest fires and lush green valleys, Madeira is contrasting to say the least. The walking is equally interesting, many following the path of water channels (or levadas) which were built to direct water down the many large hills. The main advantage of levada walking is that they are generally flat which is great if you don’t like walking uphill. They are exciting in places too as you will often find overhangs to deal with and long, low tunnels with accompanying girl-eating spiders. I was surprised to actually need the torch the guide-book suggested for the tunnels.

Pete and Caroline walking along the levada at Lombo Grande

Negotiating an ‘awkward’ tunnel – note the thin path and water
channel to the right – (Lombo Grande)

Obstacle course (Lombo Grande)

Fabulous mountains and area recovering from forest fires
Eira do Serrado

The area of Eira do Serrado is famed for its nuns, a post-lady and chestnuts. The nuns apparently used to escape up the valley whenever pirates attacked Funchal, the post-lady had an epic walk to deliver post around the valley and the locals use the chestnuts to make delicious food. The only surviving evidence of the nuns are two aptly named restaurants “Nun’s Valley” and “Nun’s Valley Two”…Very original. Our walk (which supposedly follows the ‘easiest’ part of the post-lady’s route ended at Nun’s Valley where we sampled some traditional soups – Chestnut for Pete and bread soup for Chris and I.

What is this? Bread..an egg..rosemary sprigs…a giant garlic clove!
…yikes something very hot. Mmm soup.

Phoenix from the flames – flowers growing wild here after the fires.

We have been making good use of the buses from Funchal. They appear to have been designed for very very small people which is entertaining when it comes to some of the corners. The roads of Madeira are extremely bendy (not to mention narrow in places with occasional holes where they are repairing after rocks have fallen. You have to hold on tight at times to stop yourself falling in the aisle.

The other day we took a bus up the hill to a botanical garden, small bird park and an orchid garden. I had no idea orchids were so complicated. Here they grow them in bottles for years and years in a small laboratory before they can eventually plant them. Some take over ten years before they even produce the first flowers!

Orchid


Yes Mr Bond it is an orchid growing laboratory

Hiding amongst the orchids

After a busy day walking yesterday today is a bit of a rest day and with any luck Chris will attempt to make some home made bolo do caco bread. He triumphed the other day with a coffee and walnut cake which actually cooked well in the boat’s oven…an achievement indeed…

Coffee and walnut cake…the food of kings

We will probably stay on the island for a week or so longer before thinking about moving on.

2 Responses to “Walkies – Madeira”

  1. Well the Island certainly looks interesting. I really like the phoenix from the flames.

  2. Yes it was lovely but I have no idea what it is…

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