Friday, 22 April 2011

Madeira, final part - Marisqueira O Barqueiro, and home :-(

After our long bus ride back to Funchal, & after our refreshment at O Tapassol, we decided to just have a walk round, and let Sue torment some of the sculptures. Here she is, holding hands with one of them! We were going to go back to our room, then get ready for the big treat tonight - we were eating at Marisqueira O Barqueiro, at the far end of Funchal.

This one should be shouting WHOOAAAAA!!! (Especially to that passing yellow bus)

So we got ourselves ready, and took a leisurely walk from our hotel to the restaurant. It was about 3 miles, but it was such a lovely evening, the walk was a delight. After turning down from the main road to the small coast road, we came upon O Barqueiro, and doesn't it LOOK terrific?

Curved, and with those huge windows, looks a bit like a fish tank!

We sat down and were treated to TWO free starters, which we ate (this time, we were HUNGRY!). The couple on the next table, Joao & Noelia, had finished their starters, and had this ENORMOUS fish platter placed between them. Well, after seeing it, we decided that's what we'd have as well (although I'd got my eye on the skewered prawn and octopus - but I'll save that for next time). All those fries, the salad, the garlic bread - ALL included, no extra charge!

Someone looks pleased!

And who could blame her - just look at this fishy feast! We plumped for the meat and fish one, which included some really nice mixed sausages, and black pudding, plus nuggets of chicken. We did the best we could, and cleared the platter, but the fries and garlic bread beat us!

Full or not, someone had room for a sweet, and was shown the tempting array!

This was what Sue chose - again, a stunning plate of food.

We went home replete, again choosing to walk all the way (and thoroughly enjoying it).

The next day was our last in Madeira, so we decided to explore the town more, going onto the harbour walls, and around the back streets. We also walked the walls below the park, where they had planted even more beautiful flowers.

Another sculpture, one we hadn't seen before. This city is full of such lovely things.

The 'Santa Maria' sailing ship (with diesel engines chugging away) taking people out to see if they can spot dolphin.

A MUCH more modern vessel - a deep sea angler. There are some seriously good specimen fish around this island, and although now off-season, at the right time of year, lots of people come here to chase the big ones!

The 'business end' of the boat. get strapped in, and 'tight lines'.

This looked a lovely place to have lunch. Perched on the cliffs, it should have a good view along the coast.

So it does - and the food wasn't bad either. As you can see, quite overcast and cloudy for our last day (which is why we didn't choose to do a high walk today).

The picturesque 'old town'. Those are the yellow walls of Funchal fort.

The street cafes in the old town - all vying for your business, but there was only one place we were heading - a nice swim, shower, sauna & Jacuzzi back at the hotel. We got back, changed and went to the pool. Afterwards, we headed for the sauna. I got there first, and was very surprised to see a fat, naked German guy sitting in there on his own. I did my best to ignore the situation (being English, etc), then Sue arrived. She sat down, the guy stood up and left (in all his nakedness) We giggled, and were just settling down, when in come FIVE naked Germans - three BIG women and two guys (why is it never really nice, slim, fit young birds that come in naked????) Anyway, they carried on as if it was normal (which it probably is in Germany), all the time throwing water on the coals until it was REALLY HOT in the sauna. After a while, they all got up, willies & ample breasts swinging, and left for the Jacuzzi (where, fortunately, they wore trunks). Sue said she'd seen more willies that day than all of her life. I thought she deserved to see just one more ;-)

That night, we again went to O Tapassol, this time for dinner! It was our final night, and this was where we went to celebrate. The food, atmosphere and staff were all great. Can't wait to get back there soon :-) (as you can see though, the temps had dropped a bit, and I was actually wearing a COAT!)


Here are the guys - always ready to serve and have fun.

Then, it was back home, but on the way, I really needed the toilet (all that beer) and the only place open was the casino. Now, at 57 years old, I've NEVER been in a casino. I've never been a gambler, but have played cards when I was a kid, and at college. Sue had been in one though (bit of a high-roller, you know) so she showed me how to lose thirty euros in 15 minutes on the roulette wheel. After that, I spotted the blackjack tables. JUST like 21 (or 'pontoon', as we used to play), so I got some chips, and sat down. Beer was VERY cheap in here - maybe they wanted you to get 'merry' and bet more, I don't know. All I do know is 30 Euros took me over two hours to lose, during which time I had fun (oh, and a toilet break). I walked away from the table with a 2 1/2 euro chip - all I had left. That is, until Sue said; "aren't you going to cash in your chips?". "What, all two and a half euros worth", I said. At which point, she revealed that she had been secretly 'stealing' a chip every now and then from my winnings, and produced thirty euros worth!!! I never even saw her take ONE! (I'll be watching her a LOT closer from now on). Anyway, we were laughing like idiots as we left, at around 3AM, still not out of pocket after three hours play! What a great end to a great holiday (but it doesn't make me want to go to a casino again). We slept well, but not for long, as we had to be at the airport for 10:00 o'clock, so a bleary-eyed couple emerged from our room to set off for home.

Goodbye, Madeira xx

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Madeira, part nine, Ribero Frio (cont)

To continue from the last post. Well, now the levada builders really did have their ingenuity tested! The water had to get through this gap in the rocks.
I imagine they had to blast a bit out, but look what a good job they did, and covered it as well, so we could walk along it. How thoughtful!
Another tiny shrine to Fatima, done by the builders.
Glimpses, glimpses, but oh - WHAT glimpses! We want to be up there, and that is TOP of the list for next time.
Meanwhile, Sue's hair had dried, so it was time to dampen it down again ;-)
The look says it all.......I WISH..............
We stopped at a viewpoint, and guess what - more (or was it the same ones) birds that let you hand-feed them. I had the camera in one hand, and some bread in the other.
This was the view we stopped for.
I wonder why they didn't just go round the outside of this rock?? Only the levada builder would be able to tell us.
The path is quite slim here, and that drop to Sue's left is about 400 feet - sheer!
This is almost art, isn't it?

Penha d'Aguila - been there, done that, got the poncha.
The end of the levada - for now. The water was just flowing out and down the hillside. It seemed like waste, but what we didn't know was it was going to be directed into a reservoir quite soon.
A levada 'water house'.
THIS was what the new levada works were all about, they were digging out a reservoir. We had a broken English conversation with one of the workers who told us all about it.
However, the view on the other side of the ridge was MUCH better, and so we settled here for lunch.
Nice butties, Sue! I was definitely in favour, as I'd carted a couple of bottles of beer in my rucksack for us to have with our lunch.
Those clouds looked very ominous, and yet we got no rain all day, in fact it cleared up nicely later on.
There was a typical foresters house just below our picnic point. The gardens and lawns at these places are immaculate.
We saw more 'work in progress'. They were ripping up the old, small levada.
And replacing it with a new, larger and faster flowing one. This was a good example of how they made the smaller levadas. A bit finicky, but it works well.
The finished article.
A long-drop section. You don't see this very often. The drops are usually quite gentle.
This was at the far end of the walk. Here we were in Portella. It was mid-afternoon, so we went to the bus stop, only to realise the last bus was about an hour ago! So THAT'S why there were several taxis hanging around. Luckily, we met a Dutch couple in the same boat, so we decided to share a taxi to the bus station, which cost 15 euros. The driver offered to take us all the way to Funchal for another 15, but we decided not. The bus was MUCH cheaper, although it took longer (but we were in no rush).
Also, we would have probably got taken back to the hotel, and missed afternoon drinks at O Tapassol. CHEERS!
It was only drinks though, as we had a very special food night planned tonight.
See next post!.