Madeira 2010, day 11, Hotel Jardim Atlantico

April 20. Resting day at the hotel. Walked a bit in the surroundings and enjoyed life. 6307 was the number of our nice apartment. Check out day 5 for some views inside the apartment.

Writing postcards.

Writing more postcards.

View from the hotel yard. The glimpse of houses far down by the shore is the old fishing village Paúl do Mar. There is a path leading all the way down there from the hotel. It is beautiful and full of great experiences, but with an elevation of 500 meters it could be an ordeal, at least on the way back to the hotel.

Of course there are flowers.


Madeira 2010, day 10, Levada do Castelejo

April 19 . Levada do Castelejo is not one of the most frequented levadas, but it offers a varied walk along its path, first through the upper parts of the small village Cruz and then along the luxuriant valley of Ribeiro Frio. Occasionally you almost get a feeling of jungle. The narrow path and the sparse existence of railings may not make this levada the first choice for the unexperienced levada walker. The most important rule for any levada is even more important here: Walk or admire the view. Never both at the same time.

Today was not the sunniest day of the journey, but the temperature was nice for walking. When we returned we walked the last hundred meters through pouring rain, but it didn’t matter much since we always have our folding umbrellas in our backpacks. On our way out though, there were quite a few glimpses of sun.

Here we have parked above Cruz. The last bit was the steepest I have ever driven by car. When we returned, the road was so slippery after the rain that it wasn’t possible to brake, the car started to slide immediately. If it hadn’t had ABS brakes I don’t know what would have happened.

This is the slope. The mountain beyond the village is called Eagle’s Rock, it’s a landmark for seafarers north of Madeira. It may be worth a hike of its own.

Madeira is truly an island of flowers. There is always something in bloom, all year round. And you find flowers with such intense colours. The beginning of this levada walk passas a few meadows where we found this plant among others. I have no idea what its name is, but for our personal use I have named it fireflower.

A closer look at a fireflower.

I don’t know the name of this one either. It looks like something belonging to the carnation family. It too has the most intense colour you can imagine.

A closer look at this one too.

I’ve had garden nasturium myself, easy and goodlooking in the garden. This is no garden though, it grows like weed here. (In Sweden we have the expression “grows like weed” about something that multiplies easily and seemlingly without any effort. Don’t know if the expression has the same meaning in English. In this case it’s obvious though.)

Att the beginning of the walk we pass some of the highest situated houses in Cruz. The levada almost seems to be part of the house.

But it is not long before the levada turns south, into the valley. This is the last building before nature takes over. On the other side a waterfall dashes down towards the river.

Here begins the wilder part of the hike. Ribeiro Frio runs a some hundreds of meters below us and to the east the wall of the mountain rises even higher.

We have come to the beginning of the levada. There isn’t a lot of water running in Ribeiro Frio at the moment, but it is enough to fill the small chilly pond, which in turn provides the levada with water. If it had been a warmer day a freezing swim in the pond would have felt wonderful.

The nature of Madeira, exciting and varying.

A last levada picture. Close to this place we had an unusual experience. On our way back, on the one foot wide path, with hundreds of meters of nothing on one side, we met a couple of joggers in full speed. It was so narrow we had to squeeze against the mountain wall on the inner side of the levada to be able to pass each others. And if they haven’t fallen over the edge by now they are still alive and in good condition.


Madeira 2010, day 9b, Funchal Flower Parade

April 18, Funchal. We spent the rest of this day watching the flower parade, the highlight of the Funchal Flower Festival. Vehicles with fantastic creations covered with flowers, dancing people in beautiful flower inspired dresses, booming music and a huge crowd of spectators along the parade road. Here are a few pictures with just a fraction of what passed in front of us.

Children are an important theme in the parade, although you can sometimes hardly see them behind the flowers. Note that the experienced mummy’s chained the dummy.

We were standing at the begining of the parade route where the children were still happy and laughing.

Here comes a humungous basket rolling with flowers and children.

Flowers, flowers, children, children.

An official in a high position.

One of the great tourist attractions in Funchal is to ride in one of these sleighs on the asphalt road all the way from Monte way up on the hillside and down to Funchal. Two men dressed in white are standing on the rear of the sleigh, manoeuvring it with their shoes. Here is a YouTube clip from such a ride.

Another magnificent creation. Huge flowers made of huge quantities of flowers.

Madeira 2010, day 9a, Funchal

April 18. Beautiful morning. Ocean and sky bleading into each other into a blue dream. A fishing boat struggled slowly as a white dot across the picture.

We went to Funchal to see the flower parade. There was time for a visit to the botanical garden first. Here is the view from the parking lot.

And here is a view in the garden itself. Symmetry and patterns are recurring flower themes.

Some hard kept bushes.

This is a replica of the houses that are to be found in every Madeiran tourist leaflet worth its name. In reality there aren’t many of the palheiros, as they are called. We have travelled around a lot in Madeira and we have yet to see one of them. If we wanted to see genuine palheiros we would have to go to the village Santana in the north of Madeira, there are a few house kept to provide tourists with photographing opportunities. We’ll just settle with this one for the time being.

As soon as I saw these… er… well, trees, I knew I’ve seen them somewhere before. Then it dawned on me! Beaker in The Muppet Show! See for yourself.

A viewpoint at one end of the botanical garden. A typical view of a Madeiran motorway with breath-taking bridges and long tunnels.

There was a whole department with birds in cages. They seemed to be rather bored, especially the parrots. The peacocks are loose, though. This one is magificent.

After our visit to the botanical garden we went down to the harbour to watch the start of the flower parade. On a bus on the way we saw a poster that seemed to urge you to contribute to the victims of the earlier floods. “Together we will rebuild Madeira” is what the first line of text says. However, with Google’s tranlation help, we now understand that it is an optician who wants to benefit from what has happened to sell some more glasses.

The flower parade was a treat. Here are two picture, there will be more in next post. Stay tuned.

Madeira 2010, day 8, Levada do Paúl

April 17. Good weather at the hotel, but we went up to the mountain plateau Paúl da Serra. Here it was misty and only 6 degrees (Celcius). We parked below the Senhor da Montanha monument where Jesus appeared throught the mist. 

He is 6 tons heavy and made of white marble.

There are more religious symbols below his knoll. Here are the loaves of bread and the fish, also made of white marble. But isn’t there one loaf too many?

Levada do Paúl crosses the road a couple of hundred meters below the monument. It runs 1300 meters above the sea and gathers water from the great plateau Paúl da Serra. This high nature seems barren, the reason being centuries of misuse of the forests (I wrote something about the reforestation project here). There was also a fire here some years ago. The yellow bushes are furze, beautiful but fierce with thousands of hard, long and sharp thorns.

We were not the only wanderers on the levada path.

Here is an ancient stone paved road crossing the levada.

Some way after the road crossing you can walk a short path up onto a mountain top with a stunning wiew of the great valley. If you turn around you can admire this magnificent mountain wall.

Shortly afterwards it started to rain and we turned back to the car. On our way back home over the plateau we had a break at the bizarre bar/restaurant/hotel Jungle Rain Cafe.

The interior is supposed to make you feel like being in the jungle.

It is an internet cafe too. However, Gunilla didn’t manage to send her mail. Bad communication due to the rain, the waiter said. The fake tree is asleep at the moment.

Even the chairs have tails.

When we got back to the hotel, ants had created their own walking trail on the kitchen wall. What now?

Well, they had found a package of yummy crackers. I hope they enjoyed them to the full, because shortly the cleaning maiden entered with her largest spray bottle and spoiled the fun.