Thursday, 7 April 2011

Madeira 2011, part four, Cabo Girao

What a lovely morning we woke to. The cloud was little and high, just perfect for our trip to the North of the island today. We've been wanting to see the North ever since we first came to Madeira, so today was another tick off the list. We went with 'Sunshine Tours'. It was really good value at only 20 Euros each. Most others were at least 5 Euros more. We wondered if, like the 'value parking', we'd be in scruffy transport.

Well, see for yourself. A brand new Mercedes minibus with all mod con's (including air con). The guide spoke several languages (well) and was very friendly and helpful.
There wasn't one spare seat, and we were glad to see this because we'd heard that lots of businesses were really feeling the pinch since the floods and Euro/pound parity.
Our first stop was at the lovely fishing village of Camera de Lobos, so well-loved by Sir Winston Churchill. He often came here to paint and relax.
High above us, we could see Cabo Girao, the highest sea cliffs in Europe. You can read about them here;
It never ceases to amaze me at just where these people will build their houses, and plant their crops!
After an arduous climb (for the bus) we got to Cabo Girao. We were let off to wander over to the viewing platform. This is looking towards Camera de Lobos. Note again how the crops go RIGHT up to the dizzy edge.

Looking down to the vineyards at the bottom - NOT for the feint hearted!

Some traders were selling jewellery, and had it displayed all along the tops of the walls. You'd think it would be really cheap, but it wasn't. The necklaces, which were simply beads on elastic thread, were fifteen Euros each!
Plenty of choice.
I really liked this sort, very 'fractal-like'.
Mother of pearl necklaces.
Down below, we could just see a tennis court close to the edge of the cliff. Who'd be a ball boy there?
They are building a 'walk of faith' at Cabo Girao, similar to the one in the grand Canyon. At the moment, you can just walk to the edge and look down (and around) for free, but no doubt they will charge when this is finished.
Next stop - Ribero Bravo. We parked the bus under this HUGE stone, that they had 'secured' (I hope) with wire ropes and wire netting (oh, and a stone wall).
Ribera bravo also suffered in the 2010 floods. This drainage channel was completely overwhelmed.
Today, it looked so benign.
Most of the churches (all but one, I think I was told) were sacked by pirates. The one that wasn't was tucked in the folds of the mountains. They all seem to look like this one at Ribero Bravo. Nice, though.
They all had VERY ornate insides (as do most churches). We were blown away by the chandeliers in this one.
And the artwork on the walls and ceiling was just incredible.
I think this was supposed to be the body of Christ (not the REAL one).
After the church, we went for a stroll in the sun, and ended up at a beach cafe for coffee. The usual 'bird of paradise' flowers were close by.
The locals were playing dominoes, and had this amusing habit of REALLY smashing them down, with a loud CRACK! every time it was their go on the table. They all did it, to a man.
Again, here as in Funchal, the silt and rocks from the floods were piled on the beach.
Then we were on our way to Rabacal, and the REAL mountains.


  1. Wonderful photographs, love the chandelier - I have a passion for chandeliers!

    Brave you for taking the photographs so close to the cliff.

  2. Thanks Les, hope you don't mind. I 'pinched' your image of the contractor board at the works of the Cabo Girao view point. I'm giving a talk on Madeira (to folk who know it well) and wanted to show them what is going on.