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Thursday, 3 February 2011

Day 5, Thu 3rd Feb, Funchal, Madeira

Yesterday was pretty uneventful, but today is very different.
The ship arrived in Port  before 8 this morning.  We got up a little earlier than usual, grabbed breakfast and went ashore.
We've been here before, and knew exactly what we wanted to do so we headed along the pier to join the main road that runs along the seaside.  We got sidetracked almost immediately by something we had seen before, a sort of rocky outcrop that obviously used to be some sort of fortification but seemed to have been absorbed by the pier and dock buildings.
A scruffy looking man was opening doors in it's side, and shouted "It's free!" as we eyed it up warily.  So we climbed the steps to see what the view was like at the top.

View from the Principality of Pontinha
The steps inside were extremely rickety, H&S would have closed him down instantly, but it turns out we were inside the ancient Fort of St. Jose, which was built on a small island.  Its remains were sold under royal charter and therefore this tiny little hill in which we were climbing about is an independent state.  The scruffy man was in actual fact the owner and hence the Prince of the tiny tiny Principality of Pontinha.  Apparently he's having a bit of a disgreement with Portugal about his title and the Principality.  Hmmmmmmmm.................. Anway, it was interesting to prowl around inside the rock, and I've added a photo of the view of the port from it.

We walked on along the coast to the cable car terminal, the cable car then took us up to the Monte church at the top.  We've been here before, but we had another look around the church, which is very ornately decorated inside. 
Then we went to where we had intended to get all along, the toboggans!  They were waiting for us.  All the men that push the sledges were hanging around waiting for the first gullible tourists..  As were the other gullible tourists.........   All sort of collecting together at the side of the road, waiting to see who would go first, a bit like the gnu's in Africa, eyeing up the river full of crocodiles that they know they have to cross.So me and Peter went first.  And thoroughly enjoyed it.  It wasn't anywhere near as scary as it looks, in fact, I thought we went quite slowly.  The two guys pushing seemed to be earning their keep for sure, and they took us half the way back to the city centre. At this point we were pestered to buy a photo, or take a taxi, but we decided to walk the rest of the way.  It was downhill after all. 
So now we are in Funchal city.  it is lovely here.  The sun is out, and we are at a very nice spot outside the Teatro Municipal Baltazar Dias, at a delightful cafe surrounded by fountains and gorgeous gardens.  And to top it all, FREE wi-fi.
We are about to go for a little more of a wander, maybe find some food and see what we can see.  Lurrrrrvly.

Funchal, Madeira 2012
Travelling to Funchal, Madeira 2013
New Years Eve Fireworks, Funchal, Madeira 31 Dec 2013
B&B in Funchal, Madeira 2014
Funchal, Madeira 2014

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