|Subject: Madeira Travelogue - Part 2|
Saturday, July 22nd
Our first day-trip is dedicated to the Northeastern part of the island. At Ribeira Brava, take the 104 north and soon you'll find yourself climbing up to the Encumeada pass (1007 meters). Along the road we stopped many times to look at the magnificent natural sceneries of this valley. At the pass there is a shop and a café. But along the valley you can find other two beautiful places for a stop: the Pousada dos Vihaticos (634 meters) and another restaurant on the right, just before the pass.
At the pass you can enjoy the landscape of both the north and south coast.
The route 101 from Sao Vicente to Porto Moniz is terrific. It's a very narrow road carved in the steep rocky cliffs. Sometimes you have to pass into dark and narrow galleries. Sometimes you have to pass just below a waterfall flowing from the cliffs over the road. There are few places to stop the car, and you drive always hoping to not meet another car coming along the other lane. Anyway, the views of this stretch of coast are really breathtaking and worth the hard drive. Even if this road may be a little scary for some drivers, I was happy to be one of the last drivers to follow the old path. In fact, a lot of works are in progress to build new galleries and enlarge the road. This road will loose its charm for sure.
Located in the far north of the island, Porto Moniz is known for its natural pools of warm water in the volcanic cliffs, so we stopped for a bath before lunch. This was the happiest part of the day for Shaila, who started immediately to play in the water. Here we met a Portuguese couple, Fernando and Maria. They're from Setubal, and came in Maderia to find a job (Fernando is a teacher and had to settle in Madeira to find a job). It was hard to take Shaila out of the water, but in the end we managed to go to lunch. We had a good espada with potatoes at the Gaivota restaurant.
In the afternoon we headed back to Funchal. You have two choices: route 110, which crosses the Paul da Serra highlands, and the 101 along the coast. We opted for the first one. At Santa we had to stop because of a religious procession. I stopped the car just in front of a stall where two women were making fresh bread in an oven. Nicoletta immediately jumped out of the car and bought three round loafs, which were still hot. We took the 110 and after a while we were at about 1000 meters, surrounded by a wonderful natural landscape. This is one of the wildest and charming parts of the island. The road goes just along the ridge of the highland, so that we had deep clouds on the right coming up from the sea, and a bright crystal sky on the left. We reached the Paul da Serra, a wild highland at 1500 meters. From here, the road starts going down. Sometimes we found ourselves into the clouds and I had to drive carefully because of the low visibility. After a series of dramatic sceneries on the surrounding mountain peaks, we reached again the Encumeada pass and stopped at the restaurant, which is just below it.
It was snack-time for Shaila. We had a long stop here, enjoying our refreshments and the wonderful panorama. In the late afternoon we headed back to home for dinner.
End of Part 2
Stefano Dighero Genova - ITALY