Besides trying out a few walking trails June and I wanted to see more of the island and figured the easiest way would be to take a tour. We both thought the Eastern tour sounded the most interesting so on Sunday January 25th off we gallivanted for the day. W got picked up at the nearby Hotel Orca Praia and after picking up a few more sightseers we were off....
Our first stop was the Church of our Lady of Monte in the nearby town of Monte...high high up....it was certainly a distinctive looking church,,
|The view of Funchal below wasn't bad either!|
Then it was on to Camacha which is known as the culture capital of Madeira and home to wicker products done by hand. Most wicker products are now mass produced in China (isn't everything these days?) and there were many tempting things on offer. I lusted after the beautiful wicker chairs and kept saying to June "that would be a perfect reading chair for my balcony" but as I didn't want to pay the shipping costs home nor travel with a chair (needless to say) I settled for a wicker egg cup. (very impractical as I tend to be a messy egg eater but oh well). I do love wicker so guess I will have to settle for a mass produced one from China when my "nesting project" starts later this year. (but we won't talk about that right now okay...)
Our next stop was Ribeiro Frio which is probably the most famous levada walk for tourists in the country. Due to the drizzly weather that had sprung upon us most people went into the cafe for a warm drink and perused the souvenir shop. Not June and I...we walked along the path for about fifteen minutes before having to turn back or get left behind. I think this would be a great walk to do with a guide. It is a 11 km walk to Portela.
Then we climbed into the sky through pouring rain and it was rather a scary drive to be honest - I was certainly glad it wasn't me driving but the driver was experienced and calm. (June and I were sitting up front with him) It was supposed to be a wonderful look out but most of it did not even bother getting out of the car. I don't know why he bothered with the stressful drive to be honest.
Then it was on to the town of Santana which is known for its uniquely shaped houses....we were taken to one that the guide jokingly said was his mother-in-laws. Inside sat a man who was selling coffee liqeur for a euro so of course we purchased some - tasty! We carried on to a group of them which was a tourist trap. It still was very interesting though.
Time for lunch. We could have paid 10 Euros more for our tour and have lunch included but it was a 90 minute break and June and I figured we would pack sandwiches and explore. What the girl didn't tell us was that the restaurant was in the middle of nowhere. So we sat with our sandwiches, ordered soup and sat at our own table while our travel companions had a three course meal complete with wine (damn!) for 10 Euros..ah well live and learn.
On the way back to Funchal we stopped at a few viewpoints - not knowing we would be walking in the area the next day!
We got a deal on the tour for 27 Euros and it was well worth it - the weather could have been a bit better but those are the breaks. Despite being a small island the weather systems vary widely - Funchal was sunny all day! Our guide was great and filled our heads with all sorts of information which of course I promptly forgot. It was good to see more of the island though and I look forward to seeing more of it in the future because Madeira, I love you!