Choppy sea during the night. We could feel the motion of the ship in bed, but it didn’t prevent a good nights sleep. The deck was wet when we woke for breakfast so it could have rained during the night. I checked the cabin TV to see if we were in port, the ship has CCTV front and aft so you can watch the sea go by from the comfort of your cabin, we were still at sea and the sky looked cloudy. By the time we had emerged for yet another early break fast we noticed that it felt decidedly chillier outside. As we ate breakfast, Madeira emerged from the clouds and we could see the high cliffs, Funchal and the mountain backdrop. The ship docked as we ate. The clouds moved away, the sun came out and blue reigned supreme again. The waves had numerous little white tops on them all the way to the horizon, a magical sight with the sun glinting and sparkling off the rolling breakers.
We had booked an excursion and as we knew the routine now, we didn’t bother waiting and queuing, we got our bus number and disembarked. As expected, we had first choice of seats and waited for the other passengers. For once it was just us English on the coach (a shame as my German is really started to improve).
The first stop was a view point high up in the mountains for photos. From there we went even higher to the top of Pico dos Barcelos to catch our ‘cestinhos’ back down. A ‘cestinhos’ is a wicker sledge shaped basket that you sit in and it is guided down the mountain road by two locals dressed in traditional gear. I videoed our journey down. I was expecting a short ride of around 100 – 200m, but in length it must have been around a mile or so. We stopped around half way for photos, the ‘runners’ they waxed the runners and really showed us the speed they could reach on the 2nd leg (Sue bought a T-shirt in the shop at the bottom). Good fun, I think a must do if you ever visit Madeira.
Our next stop was again on top of a mountain for more photos. There was a little market, which we wandered around. A (Chilean look-a-like)duo were playing a small guitar and pan-pipes under a tree (they could have been Peruvian), as we arrived they were playing “Halleluya”, it seemed quite appropriate (they could have known Bob Dylan), the views were stunning.
After less slithery journey down the mountain we next had a drive through Funchal, stopping in the center. After a short walk we visited a 17th century wine house and sampled some Madeira wine, rather sweet for my and Sue’s taste, but that didn’t prevent me from buying a bottle. We then had an hour and a half to walk around the town and sample its delights. We strolled around and joined the many holiday makers and locals (who were about to take lunch). We finished our walk in an park overlooking the harbour (good view of the ship) close to where we were to catch the bus back.
On return to the ship we met Jonathan and his mum returning from a trip to the Botanical Gardens. We passed through security with them and then met them in the restaurant for lunch. That afternoon they were going to Reid’s (poshest hotel on the island) for afternoon tea. We had elected to read our books and relax after all that exercise on a sunny deck and look at Funchal through the binoculars.
During the evening meal we chatted among ourselves about what we all had done that day and it turned out we all had very different experiences. Our waiter gave us a puzzle to work out (which we failed at) and he had to show us the solutuion. We met Jonathan and his mother in the atrium after dinner and we walked to the theatre and looked at previous cruises they had been on (on his ipad) until the show started. It was titled ‘Mercedes and Zoltan’, it was a clever acobatic/balletic act with a talented violinist displaying her talents between routines. Very enjoyable and different. We had teas and coffee with them in the restaurant at the back of the ship afterwards.