Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Walking with the gadgette . Volume 5
 Holiday time again and, for a change, we are off to Madeira, that bit of Portugal anchored in nthe Atlantic some 400 miles west of Morocco.
And we are staying in the same hotel, the Pestana Promenade, which for some reason has upgraded us to a two bedroom apartment with three bathrooms, three TV sets and our very own hot tub on a very large and sunny balcony.
From our sixth floor living room we had a superb sea view, miles of nothing but Atlantic with the occasional cruise liner coming in to Funchal.
                                  Costa Magica docked in Funchal
 A view from a balcony. quite interesting at times. Obviously this photo was taken early in the morning as non of the many German guests has planted a towel.
The gadgette is not very keen hill walker but is quite happy to stroll, as pensioners do, along the sunny promenade in the direction of Camera de Lobos, famous as the one time holiday resort of Winston Churchill. Two years ago, on the section now referred to as "Dead Man's Beach!" we saw the body of a Russian man who, very sadly, had died in the water and had been washed for several miles along the coast before being left on the beach. he was being guarded, very nonchalantly by two policemen.
                      The promenade goes through a tunnel to reach Dead Man's Beach. It has an opening on to a sea cave. 
As somebody once said on leaving the island; "Farewell Madeira, island of wine, bananas and pensioners, many many pensioners." She forgot to add the flowers which grow all year round, everywhere and in abundance. Having visited the Botanical Gardens and Monte Gardens on previous occasions this time we headed for the much smaller Palheiro Ferreiro which was well worth the visit.

                                The promise of a rose garden
                                                  Madeiran Lizard, one of millions
                        My wife thought this looked a bit rude. Why?

                                         I declined to kiss the frog, thought I might get a handsome prince.
 But the highlight of the trip was undoubtedly the walk down the Corredor Verde de Ribero  de Joao  Gomes.
Billed as the Levada de Bom Successo this initially seemed harmless enough. I had spotted the route on the map and thought it would make an interesting stroll. I was right. Initially heading downhill from Monte, past the entrance to the gardens, under the Botanical Gardens cable car station just beyond Babosas the the path initially follows the route towards the Levada De Tornos. But a signpost   after about a half mile gives the choice of De Tornos or Bom Successo. I chose the latter and headed down the gorge. The undergrowth is almost alive with flowers, the trees are eucalyptus, mimosa and an occasional oak. There are spectacular views across the valley, there is a waterfall which today was a rather sad trickle. But the path is very steep and requires some care, especially for gadgettes without experience. In places the path is stepped, logs across the track held in place by steel spikes. But even on a dry day it is slippy, and descends about 400 metres in a relatively short distance.
Eventually the walker reaches the promised Levada de Bom Successo and so the descent is relatively mild although parts are exposed and there is quite a drop to the road below. The levada ends quite near a bus stop which whisked us back to Funchal in minutes, well a bus did. Some of these bus rides are better than Alton Towers, and considerably cheaper.

                                                  One of the easier sections
                                                             The overgrown gorge
                                            The brave gadgette strides along the levada, followed by the Thompsons who were on holiday with us but in a different hotel.
I was proud of my wife's efforts on the walk, amazingly she thought it was the highlight of the week.
No trip to Madeira is complete without a visit to Moynihans Irish Bar for the quiz night. As quiz master (part time) for the Blyth Constitutional Club this is a bit of a busman's holiday except we are answering questions, or trying to. Hopeless on modern pop music, brilliant on General knlwledge and  fair to middling on the picture round we came fourth out of seventeen teams. Quite an achievement. And the food is good, especially the all-day breakfast, very English in an Irish pub.
Moynihans Irish Pub and quiz house, the Turkish Restaurant is something entirely different.

Back to gadgie walks next week