I don’t want to end my posts about Madeira on a low note, so I’m going to begin at the end and tell you about the last day of our holiday first…
It was 8 a.m. We had got ourselves up and showered super early ready to drive into town for our pick up for the jeep safari. A mere five minutes into the drive, the front window steamed up badly and Jan stopped paying attention to the road and fiddling with the ventilation system. Suddenly, the mountain loomed up in front of us, so quickly that I didn’t even have time to say anything (“watch out” was on the tip of my tongue, but the words never made it out). Fortunately, Jan was actually slowing down at the time, but we still hit the mountain with a rather loud bang! We were lucky… if we hadn’t been turning towards the mountain we may well have gone sailing off the side of it! The poor rental car ended up with a slit tyre and a bit of a bash to its left front side though…
Needless to state, the jeep safari was off. Jan managed to drive the car back up to the hotel, where there was actual mobile phone reception – luckily we hadn’t gone too far! We contacted the rental car company, who gave us the number to call the breakdown service and while Jan called I removed everything from the car. The breakfast waitress actually ended up speaking the the recovery person for us because he spoke very little English then, while we waited for him to arrive, we sat down for breakfast (initially we had planned to leave before the breakfast room opened). 45 minutes later, a man with a tow truck arrived to take us to the airport, where we were to pick up our new car. He even stopped partway down the mountain for us to take a photo of the view, which I did purely because he was being so nice:
Luckily Jan had taken out the full insurance policy that the rental car company offered, so we were completely covered. All he had to do was write a description of the accident and circle where the damage was on a picture of a car. After that, we received a new rental contract for the second car along with the keys and documets, then we were free to go. Obviously we were far too late for the jeep safari, but it was still early enough for us to enjoy our last day on the island. We decided to drive East, as that’s the direction we would have been going on the tour. Jan drove as far East as possible, to a carpark at the start of a trail, then we got out and started hiking Ponta de São Lourenço, the easternmost part of the island. During the hike, we had views of the Islas Desertas (uninhabited islands), Porto Santa and, once we reached the end, the ilhéu do Farol, the islet that marks the very easternmost point of the island (obviously you can’t walk to there…). It was a nice enough hike, but for my tastes it was hot! Jan claims we were “lucky” it was “such a mild day”, but personally I felt like I was being roasted alive every time the wind died down! I made it all the way to the end and back though, and was treated to an ice cream for my efforts once we got back to the car :-D And despite my complaints, the scenery really was magnificent and the views well worth all the walking! Here, have some photos:
That isn’t even half of the photos I took during the hike, but I didn’t want to add too many. It actually took quite a lot of will power to stick to just those eight!
Once we’d walked back to the car and eaten our ice creams, we set off for Santana to look for some traditional Portuguese houses. Most of the ones we spotted driving along were unpainted and appeared to be used for storage rather than as homes (they were all in people’s back gardens/fields), then we came across the ones that had been set up purely for the tourist. I still had to take pictures though… touristy they might be, but that doesn’t make them any less adorable!
Then, as we were leaving Santana, we spotted a genuine building of the same type! Jan pulled over and I jumped out to get a photo… what you can’t see from the picture is that, round the back, the house actually had two stories. It was built on the side of a mountain, with the front entrance higher up than the back one. I didn’t dare take a photo of the back of the house though… an old lady was standing on the back doorstep with a bucket of weeds glaring at me! And I’m a wimp when it comes to glaring old ladies…
And that was it for Friday. After visiting Santana, we drove back to our hotel via a new road that lead straight across the mountains. It may sound like we didn’t do much that day, but bear in mind the car thing took a few hours and then we were hiking for another three! Also, our flight the next morning was at 7:05 a.m. and we still needed to pack..
Tomorrow, I’ll go all the way back to the beginning of our holiday and tell you about Funchal, the capital of Madeira.
~ I am including this holiday as my January 2014 trip for the Take 12 Trips challange, even though it was December for part of our time in Madeira! ~