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Adventures & Learning Articles

Madeira Action: Ride, Run, Swim

With only two days left before leav­ing Fun­chal, we decid­ed to pack the day with adven­ture and start­ed with a sun­lit ride up the moun­tain on the Monte Cable Car, moved to a fast-paced clip down the Tobog­gan Run, and fin­ished with an exhil­a­rat­ing swim in the Atlantic Ocean.

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Adventures & Learning Articles Travel

Laurissilva Forest Trail Ride, Madeira

Por favor, volte (please, come back).
Por favor, volte (please, come back).

Look­ing for a bit of “horse heav­en”, I con­vinced Stephen he would love a group ride in the woods. After a quick check on Tri­pAd­vi­sor, we dis­cov­ered to our sur­prise that Madeira’s Num­ber One attrac­tion fea­tured hors­es! With a call to Quin­ta do Ria­cho, I com­mit­ted. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the image of Tex, an enor­mous ani­mal with a mind of his own (Stephen’s last equine “expe­ri­ence” on a rocky Ore­gon beach), popped into my head. Could we make this work? Des­per­ate to jump into the sad­dle, I man­aged to cajole him into action.

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Adventures & Learning Articles Travel

Madeira East Road Trip


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Fea­tures: beg­ging man, grow­ing crops, walk­ing mourn­ers, bear-snatch­ing tot, whirling fog.

We wait­ed for the car agent at the des­ig­nat­ed spot for an hour (due to a mix up) before we even­tu­al­ly drove off in a wee, dirt-brown Nis­san Micra. We’d asked for a mod­el with good tires, but in the end con­sid­ered our­selves lucky to get any vehi­cle, albeit with 89,000 kilo­me­ters (or 55,302 miles) on its hooves. We divid­ed the work from the start: Stephen would dri­ve as he enjoys the famil­iar British chal­lenge of nar­row, curvy roads while I simul­ta­ne­ous­ly would pho­to­graph every­thing that moved, along with every­thing that didn’t.

Once we came to a halt, all bets were off, and the best wo/man cap­tured the Nikon cam­era, while the run­ner-up used his/her iPhone. Ulti­mate­ly, on our East jour­ney we snapped rough­ly 150 pho­tos to com­pile enough raw mate­ri­als to cre­ate this post. 

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Adventures & Learning Travel

Madeira West Road Trip


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Fea­tures: beg­ging lizard, smil­ing dog, tree-hug­ging bear, park­ing tick­et, and explod­ing tyre

The alarm went off at the ungod­ly hour of 7am, and we slow­ly dragged our­selves out of bed. A lit­tle known fact: dark­ness pre­vails at 7am in Madeira. Why on earth had we orga­nized a car rental for the day, I’d rather just mooch around in my work­out shorts for the next two hours, cup of tea in hand, and take a good long look over the bal­cony at the evolv­ing sea scene below.

Nev­er mind, we got our­selves orga­nized: we packed up the swim­ming gear, the cam­era gear,  the food & water and car­ried every­thing to the local car rental office across the street.

The agency pro­vid­ed a Renault Clio, black, that had been around the block a few times, I’d say. The tyres appeared pret­ty bald and the odome­ter reg­is­tered 69,000 kilo­me­ters. Not too bad if the island were the size of Cal­i­for­nia, but it’s only about 30 miles long. So it has had a good num­ber of short trips. The agent care­ful­ly point­ed out the spare wheel loca­tion and con­firmed a tool kit and jack on board. First time a rental agent has done that in the recent past.