Serenity of Swanwick
Phil and Sarah Tadd
Sun 18 Oct 2015 18:32
There is an area of low pressure going round in circles over Madeira and the ocean towards the Portuguese coast, so we expect to be here for a few days.
We had a couple of days getting washing, shopping and jobs done while it rained outside (two loaves of wholemeal bread and a batch of chocolate cakes). Then we got out in our hire car.
On Saturday we toured the eastern end of the island. The north coast is stunning with houses built on any flat space (and some that are not flat) and frequent vertical drops to the Atlantic Ocean. Sarah (passenger) spent much of the time telling Phil (long suffering driver) to drive further away from the edge on the switchback roads. We found a local market in the mountains and bought a weeks supply of carrots, potatoes and onions for 1 euro. The roads are amazing feats of engineering, particularly the miles of tunnel through the mountains. We were driving the day after torrential rain and gale force winds and rocks or trees in the road were not uncommon!
Today (Sunday) we went for a Lavada walk. Lavadas are watercourses built to channel water for agriculture, but I believe also for hydro electric power. They are hewn out of the vertical mountainside, at 900meters above sea level in the case of the walk we did, and include aqueducts and tunnels. The walk we did was 6.5km in each direction, but the levadas are everywhere on Madeira - as amazing a piece of engineering as the roads. Although the walking was easy (all the big drops were protected by a fence) the scenery was amazing and it was well worth doing.
Tomorrow we plan to tour the southern and western end of the island before returning the hire car.
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