I had three days off again. It was the last day of the schedule for Sept/Oct and the first two days of the schedule for Oct/Nov. Though I did not know that before I was back from the Azores. Even Madeira had been on my list for a while, actually since I met the two sisters from this island at Felco’s home in Gaia.
The first I was thinking about, was the wine, of course and I did not really know more about the island. I surfed a little on the Internet and it seemed to be interesting as well. It was still possible to book a flight as well as a bed in a hostel. Ryanair has no flights to Madeira, but easyJet – another low-cost airline. I was going once by easyJet before and liked the bigger space between the seats. There were not lots of flights a day and I chose an early morning flight from Lisbon and a late evening flight from Funchal, the airport on Madeira. It was one of the cheapest flights and for 206,48 EUR. This time I had made a mistake, because even I put in the flight from Lisbon for 15th Oct and the flight from Funchal for 17th Oct, there were also shown flights from Funchal for 18th and the cheapest flight was on 18th Oct in the afternoon. I only saw, it was in the afternoon, though I bought that flight and did not see the mistake before I did get the confirmation. Shit happens! Actually it was my mistake. I did not check carefully enough. I could cancel that flight immediately, but had to pay around 37 EUR. Though the cheaper flight, was not cheap at all. The hostel was for 36 EUR for 2 nights – a little cheaper than TheNookHostel on the Azores. Even at this hostel the breakfast was included and it was situated in the city centre as well. I travelled with my little backpack again, all my personal belongings like my passport in my great hiking pants.
Here we go:
Sunday, 15th October 2017
The flight from Lisbon was for 7:10am, though I had to leave the apartment around 4:30am and I was afraid to not awake in time. I did not sleep that night. It was easy by watching movies. I was up around 4am and tried to get an “Uber”-car by the app. Unfortunately, that was not working. Around 5am I walked down the street I live for the moment and was prepared to walk to the next main street, but already at the first crossroad I saw a taxi coming and stopped it. In the app for Uber a price of 4 to 7 EUR was named, but I did not know, what the taxi driver will charge. Even it was so very early in the morning it was for only 5,80 EUR and I gave the driver 1 EUR as a tip.
I had already checked-in by the easyJet app during the day before and I could go directly to the security check. Also this time it was smooth through the security check. It took no long time and I was very early as usual. I did not even buy a bottle of water, because the flight was only for 1:40h. We should arrive at 9am, but arrived already at 8:40am at Funchal airport. I was on Madeira!
I found out very easily, that I could not walk to the city centre, but the bus was easy to find and there was also stated the fee at the bus stop. The ride was for 5 EUR. The problem was to know, where to leave the bus. I did it by my imagination and it was right. The bus is going at the seaside and the city centre is to the right hand side if you come from the airport. I had neither taken the time to eat something on one of the airports nor had I a sandwich with me. Therefore I was very hungry, when I finally left the Aerobus. I looked for a restaurant. I felt for an English breakfast, but a few restaurants were open and none of them I saw served English breakfast. Instead I ordered a special sandwich (that was the name of it and it came with ham, cheese, egg and vegetables/salad) and a galao. Now I was prepared for the walk to the hostel. Even it was not really far away, I made stops on the way for a church and other interesting buildings, signs etc.
I made an early check-in anyway, but was very welcome and had not to pay an extra fee. I have got a digital key for the front door and a usual key for the locker, which was situated as a drawer under the bunk beds. The hostel had even saved a bottom bed for me. I was very happy about it – I will explain more about it later. Actually before I found the hostel, I thought I was come to a usual building and it was something wrong with my booking, but then I have seen the name under the sign with the number of the house.
Well in the room with my bed I had a talk with a black German girl. I also asked her, if she already had been hiking and she had been to Pico Ruivo. Though I asked her, how the path was prepared and if there were challenges by highs. She told me, that there were highs, but she also showed me the path and how good it was secured with handrails. It looked like I could make it and I made it to my goal for the upcoming day. I still had a banana, I had taken with me as a snack from my home in Lisbon. Finally I ate it. Done this, I walked downtown again, but got tired around 3pm. I had been walking the St. Catharina Park as well as a while at the seaside and sat on a bench, falling asleep.
I decided, that it was not good to sleep on a bench outside and walked back to the hostel, where I slept for around 3 hours. Around 6pm I was back to the seaside and found the old town, which is a really nice area. Actually they have painted the doors with different images. I think every owner of a house, the image(s) of his choice. Some were very good art, other naive art. All of them made the area interesting as well as nice for a walk. Unfortunately it was already dark and I did not have my camera with me either.
I was reading a lot of menus, most of them had fish as the first choice, some of them had fish as the only choice, others had a very good mix of fish, meat etc. I stayed at a nice looking restaurant, offering a 3-course dinner for 10 EUR. That was not as cheap as I am used to eat, but I usually only eat 1 course, though the price was good. They had the menu in different languages, even in Swedish, but the waiters did not understand Swedish. I ordered a dinner with avocado salad as a starter, a spit with different kinds of meat with fried potato and vegetables as well as main meal and a chocolate mousse for the dessert. Unfortunately there was not much avocado in the salad, but the meat of the spit was not only decorative, but also tasty. I asked for wine in a glass, but I asked for a “Rosé” and they did not have that wine in a glass. I was told, that the bottle only has two glasses and I ordered it, not asking for the price. When I had finished, there were still 1 – 2 glasses of wine in the bottle. I thought, I will leave it, but the waiter told me, that it is mine and I had paid for it. She put it in a plastic bag for me and handed it out to me. Meanwhile the dinner was for 10 EUR, the wine was for 8 EUR. I walked back throughout the old town, enjoying all the painted doors and even wall paintings.
Monday, 16th October 2017
The bathroom at the hostel was unisex as well. There were two of all: Showers, basins and toilets. It was different to TheNookHostel, because the toilets and the showers were separated from each other, with each their own door. Anyway one male guest did not pay attention to, that all was unisex and started to take off his underpants at one of the basins, when he got aware of me and stopped in a second, dressing again. There were space enough in the showers, that one could take the clothes in there and dress before leaving. The toilets were not so comfortable. A big person would have had problems in there.
Breakfast was served in the kitchen, but there were lots of space in the garden to sit and eat. There were plates with one big bun each, a fruit, a tissue and cutlery. The ham and cheese were in the fridge, the butter on the table. There were new-made coffee and orange juice as well. Every day it was a different kind of fruit, but the ham and cheese was of the same kind. Unfortunately no cereals were offered and milk only for the coffee. After that superb breakfast I was talking with the assistant at the reception. It was another girl, not the one from the day before. I was asking her, how to go to the Pico Ruivo, but she told me, that I should not make that walk without company, because the weather is changing quickly on the island.
She recommended instead a walk at the Baia D’Abra. The bus no 113 was leaving 11:30am and I had to catch it downtown, where also the Aerobus is going. I had lots of time before that bus would leave and tried to go to the market, but did not find it. I walked streets with lots of shops and became interested in a Bordal makers shop. A woman did sit outside with her embroidery and it was stated, that one could visit the factory and get a guidance for free. I entered the place by the stairs and was welcomed very well. I think, the shop assistant are very happy for everyone coming up the stairs and people in my age know to appreciate that work. There needs a lot of hours to get the pieces done and I understand the price, but I do not have a lot of money for these thinks, otherwise I will not have money for my further travels.
While I was looking around and got explanations, the prices were named as well, a group was starting for the factory visit and I was allowed to join. It was very interesting. We got to know, that women at home stitch all of these. They get paid after the work they do, not the hours they really need. We also got to know, that it is the good old way, the younger women learn the handcrafts. It is tought from mother to daughter. Unfortunately the youngest woman working with it, is 45 already and no younger ones are interested in to learn. By the way, the oldest woman “employed” of this factory is 90 years old. Here in the factory the pieces are prepared. There are big textiles, which are prepared with the patterns, the got washed and parted as well as how the “holes” come into the pieces at the end. Finally we were back in the shop and I bought a little table-cloth, which is to add upon a big table-cloth and has to be under a bowl or similar. It is a yellow one, there are more in green of this kind. The bigger table clothes usually goes in white and beige, the blouses are in colours white, beige, yellow, green and a special and very nice red. I also was told, that there is an online shop of them, where I could order for sending home to Sweden or to my friends and family wherever they live.
Outside again and with this special souvenir I tried to find a supermarket, which I did after a while and bought two sandwiches and two bottles of water for my hike. I had to find the bus stop, which I did in time, even I had to ask a lot around. I bought a return ticket for the bus, because I was told of the assistant at the hostel, that it will be cheaper. The bus ride was already interesting. Unfortunately I could not make any pictures. There were high mountains and narrow roads, but some tunnels, making it easier to go to that place. The last village before the viewpoint is Canical. The bus is going once an hour. Already halfway it started raining and I hoped, the rain will stop, when we are at Baia D’Abra and it did, but only for a short while.
The hiking trail was so different to that I had imagined after the pictures, the German girl showed me the day before. It was, because this part of the island was also very different. There were no trees, but some moss and very low vegetation. There were stones on the trail – and where there were not it was very muddy. There were also lots of stairs. The handrails very often broken and when I came to the most narrow part of stairs, there were no handrails at all. Though I stopped there, fortunately. I had asked a young couple from Switzerland (I had to speak German, because they were no good in English), what to see if I follow the trail further and they told me, the views are not so very different to that was I already have seen.
Halfway back to the road, it started raining again. There was a car park and because there were no shelter, no bathrooms, nothing, I asked a couple on the car park, if they will take me to the next village, just somewhere, where I can get shelter, because the next bus was in 50 minutes. The man denied, though I walked to the beginning of the car park and hold my thumb up. The first car stopped and took me with them. The told me, they are Polish, but live and work on Ireland. That explained a lot for me, because on Ireland it is usual with hitchhikers. This couple was very kind and even they had to turn for coming to their destination, they brought me a little longer. I took shelter in a café, drinking a galao and eating a Cocos muffin. That was only made of desiccated coconut. It was quite dry.
I walked in time down to the bus stop, which was just some meters away and met there another couple. They were French and told me, they also had been at Baia D’Abra, but turned around quickly, because they did not have the right kind of shoes. The bus was a little late and we tried to chat, but it was not easy, because of there little knowledge of English. Finally there was a bus and we were going back to Funchal with the bus.
I went back to the Old town of Funchal and took lots of photographs of the doors with art and also of some walls. It was still drizzling, but it stopped after a while. In a souvenir shop I bought three very small bottles of Madeira tastes: Madeira wine (medium dry), poncha (rum) with passion fruit and honey and banana liqueur.
Back at the hostel I had an evening meal, which was my other sandwich (I only had eaten one of them during the day) as well as some presunto (gammon) and drank the rest of the wine from the day before as well as I tasted the drinks of the small bottles. I was drinking water in between the different tastes, because I really want to know, what it is. I also had a short talk with a Swedish man from Kiruna, who would like to stay on Madeira for the warmer weather than at home. Afterwards I made my notes and took care of my receipts.
Tuesday, 17th October 2017
I checked out of the hostel around 9am and after I have had breakfast. I had got back the 20 EUR deposit for the key to the locker and hoped, I will make my day by this money. I had asked the assistant at the hostel one more time for the market, but did not find it, but after a while. I expected an open market place, but this one was a Food and Souvenir Hall. I continued in the direction of the sea and was suddenly in front of that Food Hall. Even there were a lot of souvenirs for sale, it was an interesting place. There were also a lot of stalls selling fruit and vegetables and there were another floor, where fish was sold. The Hall had three floors. The first and second was not so different from each other. The ground floor was only half or more an extension, but lower situated. Among the souvenirs were also the special hats from the island, native people worn here before. I bought dried papaya, I had to get my digestion working again. The white bread for breakfast and no cereals made it difficult for me. I was not allowed to buy less than 100g papaya and they did not cut the trunks either. Finally I bought 130g papaya for 5,27 EUR. I also bought a bottle of water and outside the market a “bolo caco com presunto”, that was for 2,50 EUR and I had half of it as a second breakfast. Unfortunately it is also white bread.
Around 11am I took a bus to Cabo Girao, this bus was even harder to find than the bus to Baia D’Abra the day before. Actually I was thinking to go to the Botanical Garden by the Gondola this day, but it was more than 30 EUR for the Gondola, the entrance to the garden included. I had read about much lower prices and on Madeira there are no prices for seniors. That I decided to go to Cabo Girao, was the easy way to go there, the price and that it was stated, that the rock wall is falling 500m or more steep down. There should be a skywalk, too. I did not really remember the departure time of the bus, though I was late, but fortunately, the bus was later. I bought a return ticket this time as well. It was 2 times 2,75 EUR and it was another bus company than the day before. Cabo Girao counts to Funchal as a suburb, even it is quite far away. The scenery during the bus ride is worth it, the skywalk is not, because it is not clear glass, but with dots and not easy to see down. The bus ride took around 90 minutes one way. It was up and down and narrow roads throughout the mountains. Even the viewpoint at Cabo Girao was very touristic, it was worth the ride. The cliffs are a little better to see as the Dingli Cliffs on Malta, but the Cliffs of Moher on Ireland are more impressive. Also here were shops, selling souvenirs, even they also had capes. If they were handcrafted, I could not find out, but the prices were like that. In addition to that one had to pay 50 Cent for using the toilet and it was not in good conditions.
The bus back to Funchal was late again – around 15 minutes. I had a short nap on the bus on the way home, even I took some photographs first. Back in Funchal I tried to get a trip to Santana, where the small houses, shaped like an A, are still being there. It would have been possible to go there with the 4 o’clock bus, but there would be no bus back in the evening. The first I did was buying an ice cream, when I could not make another sightseeing. It always helps me ;-). I had to take out more money and was looking for an ATM, though I was aware the “Story telling” shop and museum. I asked, what the story is about and they told me, about the history of Madeira. I already had red about it on the Internet, but I thought, there may be something I do not know yet. I can tell you, there was not, even the museum was nice.
There were a roof top with the Story telling restaurant. I took my evening meal there. The waiter asked me if I will dine. I told him, I just want have a meal. I did only have one course (lamb shops with vegetables and fried potatoes and a maracuja soft drink – original from Madeira). It was for 16,25 EUR. The lamb was medium to rare, what I am not used of lamb, the Portuguese kind of fried potatoes are not my favorites and the vegetables were cooked carrots in slices and broccoli. As usual with no spices. Anyway I gave 2 EUR in tips. I should not done that!
Back outside I still had time to spent before going to the airport. The last bus was for 7pm, I read and I was eager to take the one before of the reason, that I want to have to take a taxi if I am late for the bus or the bus is not coming. I was walking around the area outside, between the Story telling centre and the station of the Gondola. There were artisans selling their art work. I was walking all the stalls and finally did buy another handmade table-cloth – a little one as well. It was for 8 EUR, a bargain compared with the first one I bought.
At the bus stop for the airport I was waiting for a quite long time, because I saw too late, that the departure time stated was from the start of the route and not from the place, where I was. Though I had to wait for 20 minutes more and the bus was not in time either. I had a 5-EUR-note and paid with it. I should not got any change, but the bus driver was giving me back on 20 EUR. I told him, that I had paid with a 5-EUR-note and he was thankful, that I had not taken the change.
At the airport I was controlled very carefully. That was my own mistake. I had forgotten to empty all my pockets of my hiking pants. Though I had my silver card case, my coins and so on still in my pockets. The scanner was noisy of course. I emptied all the pockets as well as I took of my watch and my belt, but the security officer checked with an electronic stick all over me. At the end she was satisfied. She did not find anything more and I was allowed to continue.
While at the gate we were checked by the easyJet stewardess for our luggage. There are lots of people, who cannot read, it seems. The low-cost flights says only one luggage is allowed, but people came with two. The people are not checking the size of their luggage, either. Some of them had cabin bags, who were not made for the cabin. All this stuff was collected and was going into the trunk of the airplane, which means, that the passengers, who owes this luggage has to pay for to get them back. With my little backpack, I did not have any problems. In the plane, I had to put it in the overhead locker, even there was space enough for me, to have it in front of my feet. The reason was, that I was sitting at one of the emergency rows. There are lots of space for the legs, but the luggage has to go in the lockers for safety reasons. The steward helped me and was also very kind explaining the issue as well as he told us, that we had to become aware of, how to open the emergency door in case of. I thought, that it is a little thoughtless to place a 67-year-old woman directly at the emergency door, but I know I have my guardian angel and no need to open that door. During the flight I thought I need to throw up, I think it was the lamb dinner. I should not have eaten such a dinner before the flight.
The flight was calm, but when we flew over the mainland of Portugal – it became very windy. Anyway the pilot landed the aircraft very softly and 10 minutes before the landing time. Though it was 10:40pm, when we arrived in Lisbon. The disembarkment took a little while, but I caught a bus back to Olivais Sul before midnight.