So this is where all the wine comes from. . .
The other day we were having a relaxing day of not doing much so decided to go for a short walk along the cliffs that are just a half a mile or so from the Marina - on the map it looked like the walk was a couple of km .. . . . we did all of the walk and it took us 3 hours being more like about a 10m round trip, worn out when we got back. The photo below is looking back to the main island, the marina is the little white patch you can see where the cliffs meet the main island which is in the background. The paths had steps and things in some places but not all - you really have to get used to heights around here. Loads of little lizards everywhere - some seem to get fed so were pretty tame although one did walk onto my hand, lick it a couple of times then clamped its mouth around my little finger - what is it with the wildlife around here? - it had no teeth though, think it was just investigating, so a 6 inch lizard is rated much below the danger levels of the triggerfish that bit Adam.
Today we hired a car since that seems to be the best way to see the island and it is pretty cheap compared to trying to get around by bus, the roads are so twisty and scary (lots of them clinging to the sides of cliffs) that it has taken us most of the day to drive around half of the island. Our poor little hire car with a hair-dryer engine has spent most of the day in 2nd gear struggling up mountainsides.
The main island is very green - every available space that is not quite vertical has terraces on it with banana's , vines, passion fruit and things, below is Boaventura on the north side of the island which has lots of vineyards and vines starting to escape into the road
BoaVentura again . . . .
Below is a view getting high into the mountains in the centre of the island north of Serra De Agua - the banana trees and vines are gone and pine and eucalyptus are there instead - it was a chilly 15 degrees at the top (brrrrrrrr) - but the landscape was stunning
We went to the highest sea cliffs in Europe at Cabo Girao - had to wait a while for the clouds to clear, it doesn't look that far down - but it is about 1800 feet (or 600M in new money) so don't drop your sunglasses as it will be a long walk down to get them and definately no tombstoning. Unbelievably there are two little terraces on the lower cliff to the left of the picture, not the ones at the top as that would be too easy - there is a brown field on the top then look down the cliff face from this and there are two vaguely triangular patches of green - these are terraces with vegetables or something growing in them - we did say they did extreme gardening here but that is surely taking it too far? no idea how you would even get there.
We went up to the highest road on the island to see the views down the valleys - however, below is what we saw. Probably a good job as the roads run right along the cliff edges and we're probably best of not seeing how high we are, we did wait a while for the clouds to clear but I think up here is probably in the cloud most of the time. Right at the top of the island it is actually pretty flat - although no photo's - we got above the clouds but the landscape basically looked like the pennines - flat, grass, marshes - pretty much like Lancashire and there were cows wandering around on the road to avoid so again, pretty much like Lancashire.
The island is covered in tunnels for the roads - most on the south side are big, lit tunnels - but some on the north are pretty different - and require a mad search for the headlights in the hire car - the picture below is the entry to one of them - this is on the Madeira equivalent of an A-road - glad we didn't meet anyone coming the other way as there was only room for one car. The other feature of roads in Madeira is rocks - every so often there is a sign like the ones in the uk showing 'danger falling rocks' but in Britain you never see any evidence, here there are hardly any signs, but rocks and boulders at quite frequent intervals on the mountain roads, luckily we didn't see any in the process of falling....