Madeira me dear...
The sail from Porto Santo to Madeira was an easy day sail past the Deserted Islands arriving at Quinta do Lorde Marina at the northern tip of Madeira just as the sun was setting allowing us to nip to the bar and have a double gin and tonic. It is a place that evokes the TV series 'The Prisoner' which was set in Port Merrion [sic], down to the emptiness and electric golf carts.
You can't spend a day I'm Madeira or any island for that matter without trying to get to the top of it. I failed in Porto Santo but here we hired a car and set off for a tour. What an amazing place it is, steep tropical forest with sudden openings allowing views up valleys to cloud draped sharks teeth peaks, and down to nest villages and farms where every bit of land is put to use growing everything from beans to bananas, including sugarcane and taro or 'Elephant ears'. I was particularly interested to find tea growing, which I am sure does, but failed to see any.
It was interesting to see small vineyards where the plant is trained horizontally giving the effect of a cascade flowing down over terraces,all mixed in with more beans and bananas. We defended from the heights to visit ??????? And while Paul found a terrace bar with a view, I went for an explore around a headland with the camera, past algae filled swimming pools set into the space between cliff edge and sea and substituting for a beach on this rocky stretch of coast. The pool was empty, as were the majority of the cafes and bars, and the only users of the vantage point at the edge of the pool were four local anglers looking to catch a free supper against the background of the distant rocks for img the northern defence of the island, including a magnificent arch in a sharks tooth of a rock emerging from the Atlantic.
There is an excellent walkway around the headland but the geology means that it must be constantly under threat from a collapse. This town happens to be home to the last steam driven cane crusher and distillery and, having found it and it's shop, I hurried to fetch Paul to come and sample the selection of rums, fruit liqueurs, and Madeira wines, the oldest was a 1977 vintage..
We headed back to the car, distracted for a few mins by the array of sunbathing lizards lined up in a wall outside the church.
Then back in the Panda and up and up along the winding and precipitous roads through the lush jungle up the Ruiz Frigo, which lived up to its name, in search of lunch, a levada and the summit.Lunch was interrupted by a mirad of wasps finding a warm haven in the bar. Here we bought a pair of 'traditional' Madeiran hats with aerials sticking out of the top making us look rather too much like tellytubbies on holiday! Eventually we drove on up through drizzle, mist, fog and hunters with their dogs (but what were they hunting!?) and reached the car park at the Summit. It was 4.5 Deg C so after a quick dash to the trig point and only a view of the radar dome through the fog we headed back down, down down to Funchal through the massive scar left behind by a fire that started almost at sea level and seemes to have caused devastation up through the Botanical gardens and suburbs above. We arrived back at Quinta do Lorde just as the sun was providing a magnificent send off of colour for our last night on Maderia. next day we would head of for the two day voyage to Tenerife.