Alone Like a Rolling Stone

The botanical garden, Madeira

If a sailor on a long distance trip is missing something, it is the plants and flowers that simply do not exist at sea. We have a basil bush on board, which we nurture and care for. Meanwhile it has become a remarkable shrub, which we bought as a small plant back in Italy, but of course it cannot replace a flowering landscape. All the more reason to be happy when an island has such a diverse and exotic flora as Madeira.

Funchal, Madeira

Fog is coming up and where a few seconds ago the rock face was visible, you can't see your hand in front of your eyes anymore. The Pico Ruivo is with 1875m the highest mountain on Madeira. From Pico do Arieiro it is about six kilometers. Six kilometers that are extremely hard. At first, the path from the peak of Arieiro leads steeply downhill to below 1500m, then follows a relatively flat passage until you have to climb steeply up to Ruivo again. All around, there are steep slopes, just like in the Andes. The vegetation is gigantic. Here almost everything grows and blooms.

Hiking in the mountain Ruivo, Madeira

Blue, red, yellow and especially the intense green is fascinating. Partridges, which are obviously used to hikers, run along the edge of the path. I stand in the first tunnel and try to activate the cell phone lamp, which I do not succeed in immediately as I am in my late fifties. If I don't use an app on my cell phone once a week, I always find it a bit difficult to use and especially to find it. But without light, nothing works in the tunnel, you can't see where you're stepping or how deep the ceiling is coming down. In the flat passage there are three more of these tunnels. Just before the summit there is a mountain hut where you can even get a coffee. Arrived at the top, all efforts were worth it. You will be rewarded with an amazing view.

Ruivo, Madeira

On the way back I stand at the ascent of the Arieiro and see the rock face along which the path leads disappearing in the fog. This can be an advantage for those who are not quite free from giddiness, as you can't see how far down it goes. But joking aside, if you are not free from giddiness, you should not make the tour, the path is too narrow and the ascents and descents too steep. The trail is well secured and I struggle along the wire rope because of the lack of visibility. Well, I admit that this is a little bit connected to the decreasing forces that make an upright walk more and more difficult. After 6 hours, 12 kilometers and about 800 meters of altitude difference my sea legs are happy to be back at the starting point. It was great!  

Partridge at Arieiro, Madeira

Unfortunately I cannot hide the fact that the sore muscles were even nasty during the next days. But Gaby can't be considerate of such small things, after all there is still a lot to explore on the island. Funchal, the capital of the island has a lot to offer. We visit it on several days. Today we visited the port, the Columbus monument and the market. We are glad to have called at the Marina Quinta do Lorde. Although there is nothing going on here at all, even at night the abandoned hotel village is a bit scary, but the infrastructure is much better and there is much more space. The port of Funchal is narrow and very crowded. The toilets and showers are old. In the southwest of the island there is another marina which was almost empty at the time we visited it. The Marina da Calheta also has a modern infrastructure and is then also the cheapest of the three. The Columbus Monument is above the marina in Santa Catarina Park. At least it should be there. Due to vandalism the statue was damaged and finally removed, at the moment only the pedestal is left. 

Substitute Columbus Funchal, Madeira

Some people simply have a problem that seems to be deep-seated and that obviously can only be fought with destructive fury. It is a pity if you can't communicate with your fellow world in any other way. So that we are not here in vain and for all Columbus fans, I have mimed the Columbus for a short time. At least Sissi, a few hundred meters away, is standing at her place, which makes us feel a little positive again. A visit to the market of Funchal should not be missed and so I tortured myself with my sore muscles across the city to the market Lavradores. On the way there is the cathedral of Funchal, which we also visited. But today we have no luck with our sightseeings, the cathedral is currently undergoing major renovations and most of it is scaffolded and covered with ugly foil. In the market hall until you as a tourist, in Corona times, are fair game. There is not a single cruise ship in the harbor and tourists are few on the island. The market hall is practically empty, as soon as you enter it, the traders rush towards you. If you can, save yourself in the fish hall, here you are safe from intrusive stall owners. 

Market hall Funchal, Madeira

Ten, nine, eight, seven... We are sitting in our Fiat Panda, I have just put it in first gear, the force of gravity is pushing us, not by acceleration (a Fiat Panda has no acceleration), more by mass, deep into the seat. The road, just as wide as the vehicle itself, goes up the hill with a 25% gradient. On the left and right it drops just as steeply at least 600m into the valley. Next to me it screams: "You are not going up there now! Due to the centrifugal force my neck muscles are so tense that only looking straight ahead is possible. I try to turn my head a little bit as a matter of courtesy, but I don't succeed....six, five, four, three.... the panda roars in the first gear, I think the first step has ignited. ...two, one, zero, with no less than 20km/h we drive up the hill, the accelerator pedal fully depressed, out of desperation we keep pressing the handbrake button, we make it after half an eternity, the road gradient flattens, the contact pressure decreases and the head can be turned again. Next to me sits Gaby, with beads of sweat on her forehead and wet hands. If you leave the highway in Madeira and head inland you have to expect narrow, steeply rising or falling roads. A 25% gradient is not uncommon. But the view and the deep view are gigantic. We drive all over the island, visit Paul, the plateau in the west and stop in Seixal, a fishing village, to eat our first swordfish. In Ribeira da Janela we build our own stone man on the beach and enjoy the view of the sea.

Northwest coast near Ribeira da Janela, Madeira

We travel the northeast coast from Porto da Cruz via Sao Jorge, Ponta Delgada to Sao Vicente and return via Funchal. And again the fingernails claw deep into my flesh. We sit in a basket sled in the Monte district above Funchal. In the morning we went up with the cable car to have a sleigh ride. The advice of mine to use three instead of two sled drivers because of the high body weight was not followed. The sled consists of a wickerwork under which wooden runners are mounted. To make sure that the runners will slide smoothly, they are greased with a grease cloth. Also here it has a 25% slope. Where it becomes a little flatter, the two sled drivers help a little, but usually it is so steep that the sled accelerates by itself. The route is about two kilometers long and leads over the regular road network - including crossroads, passing the hospital, you never know. We survived it and before we start the walk down to Funchal, we first have to fight the somewhat weakened knees. 

Basket sleigh ride Funchal, Madeira

The next stage wants to be prepared, we are stocking up and looking for a suitable weather window to reach our final destination for this year, the Canary Islands. When and how we will reach the Canary Islands and which island we will finally meet, we will tell you next time here in our blog on Glen's World. Until then, as always, fair winds and keep a stiff upper lip.

Weather forecast from 22.11.2020