Friday 19th May 2023

We were up early as we booked to go on a trip around the East coast. So, breakfast early, they even had Portuguese custard tarts!

The mini bus collected us and several other couples from hotels along the way. It surprised us that we stopped to collect a couple from Reid’s Palace Hotel, a long established hotel always been “the” place to go for afternoon tea, very posh! We thought they would have hired a private chauffer! We think he was possibly an ex army commander or something similar, as every stop we made he appeared to do a head count. More to the point, he gave our driver 1 euro tip, obviously the way people like that accumulate their wealth! Oh dear. AND our driver was a very good tour guide.

We went to Ponta do Rosco where you could view both north and south of the island. Very different. The south is warmer and calm seas. The north much colder and quite rough sea. Madeira is very diverse with their weather/temperatures according to where you are. It has a lot of microclimates. The south gets all its water from levadas from the north. We also stopped at Machico viewpoint.

We saw the commercial port. All their petrol comes in here, road taxes are included in petrol and they still manage to pay far less than we do in the UK. We passed under the runway (extended 20 years ago), it is the cross winds that stop the planes landing (about 1 in a 100). Madeira also has 153 tunnels cutting through the mountains. A lot of this work has been carried out in the last 20 years and they will eventually pay back the money to the EU (2040). They have also built expressways which means a journey that would have taken 3 and a half hours on windy narrow roads to reach Funchal now takes half an hour.

Half the island’s population live in Funchal.

We also went to the Rum Distillery and tasted their 60% rum, made from Madeira grown sugar cane.

We had lunch in Santana village and then drove up Verada Dos Balcoes. We hadn’t realised the tour included a mountain walk but it was well worth it to see the birds who came and sat on your hand! Then up and up the mountain, above the clouds to Pico do Areeiro.   It really was a brilliant day and we found out so much more about the island.

All that walking quite a tiring day.