Madeira 4. This morning’s excursion was an optional one, and about half of us had chosen to do it. We were driven to the Pico dos Bartelos for a view over Funchal.
Now, a word about Portuguese pronunciation, especially of the Madeiran variety. Our guide, Lina, was painstaking in her efforts to help us to understand where we were, especially for those of us, like me, who were trying to follow on a map, by saying the names very slowly and very carefully and very often. Unfortunately she never thought to spell them. Anyone, like my singing friends, used to Italian, or even Spanish, may be saying ‘Pico dos Bartelos’ in a certain fashion in their heads. I thought I knew, from the itinerary for the week, where we were headed for on the map, but when I heard – or rather couldn’t even make out – the words (this is the nearest transliteration that I can do, with hindsight) ‘PicoodoshVartewoosh’. I thought I must be mistaken. But I wasn’t. Even the Portuguese pronunciation guide I had brought with me hadn’t prepared me for that!
Anyway, I was not over impressed, call me a Grumpy Old Woman, with the ‘beautiful’ view – too built up for me – so I concentrated on taking pictures of the lovely plants in the pretty little park at the top of this Pico.
We went on to the Eira do Serrado (Eira = barn-floor, threshing floor – but to me this was another Pico!). From this very high viewpoint in the interior, we could look down the Curral das Freiras, translated as the Nuns’ Valley. (There are various explanations for this name, so I’ll not bother with any of them here.) From the point where the coach left us, I walked up to the miradouro (viewpoint), 1097 metres (3435 feet) above sea level.
Panoramic view. This was in fact sort-of wrapped round me, which explains why the left is in the shade and the right in the sun. We heard that the day before nothing of this could be seen because of the cloud/mist.
These were taken on the way down again to the coach, via a stop for coffee on the very sunny terrace.
From here we were taken down to Monte, which has a lovely church, visible from Funchal, especially when lit up at night, but I didn’t get a picture of it.
The touristy thing to do from Monte is to take a toboggan ride. To quote from my Lonely Planet guide, ‘Toboggans were once the only way goods could be carried down Madeira’s steep and roadless landscapes, and the Monte carros de cesto are a relic of those days.’
For safety reasons, the old cobbled roads have been tarmacked over. We were told that this had taken some of the excitement out of the rides. Ten minutes of the following was excitement enough for me.
Imagine doing that for 45 minutes, all the way down to Funchal.
The toboggans and driver/brakemen are taken up to the start again, by lorry.
The coach took us back to our hotels, but I asked to be dropped at the seafront. Nothing was laid on for the afternoon, which I used for very different experiences, back up – and down – in Monte, but in a calm and contrasted way…