Madeira 6. Friday. Not a very photogenic day, so quite a short post.
Two opt-in outings today, and I opted in to both. In the morning there was to be a very gentle 6 kilometre walk along a levada. Levadas are water channels , 2500 km of them, irrigating people, crops and power sources, and they make for walks of various lengths and difficulties – and beauty. This one had little to commend it, in my view. It was crowded with three sizeable groups – ours was made up of people from British and French holiday groups – jostling to get away from one another. The two levadas concerned had little or no water in them – it was not the season for irrigating crops (we were told by the excellent young specialist guide, Maria, coping very well in two languages), so the water was being kept up high to feed (water?) hydroelectricity. The countryside was really nothing more than agreeable to look at, and at times the view was of the backs of houses lining the path along which we walked. That said, I believe there are some absolutely fantastic hikes to be had for real walkers.
I fell to talking with a Belgian couple from Brittany. Among other things Micheline said that she and the rest of her party had been a little disappointed at how built up Madeira was. I responded that I felt exactly the same but I hadn’t dared say so to others in my group.
In the afternoon just five of us went on what was rather pretentiously called a jeep safari tour. We were joined by a woman from Germany who was good and smiley company. Jokes over about there being no elephants (but see my next post) or tigers around, one of our number was disappointed that we were in built up areas for so long and that we did not spend more time out in the countryside. But, outside the new main roads, tunnels and viaducts, moving around the island is extremely slow, for topographical reasons! Personally I found it quite interesting to spend some time being driven through little back streets that no coach could get to, and well, we did go off road for a couple of short periods. Moreover, we saw the Nuns’ Valley from a different angle, and in very different weather conditions. And one of my companions, Charlie, an engineer, got very, very excited about the workings of another cable car. And I had another pastel de nata when we stopped for refreshments – a much bigger one than I had seen before.
Back at the hotel, I had worked out several evenings previously that it was possible to hear live, but not download, The Archers on Radio 4, using the wifi area in the lobby, so by now I had got into the habit of making sure I was there by 7 pm, listening, then looking at emails and – sorry – Facebook afterwards, before going up to the dining room on the sixth floor for my meal. I know, it’s pathetic.