8th February 2017

This is the classic flower of Madeira - the Bird of Paradise flower.

Today I drove the entire day and discovered that SatNavs are pretty useless on this island. We had decided to head for Porto Moniz on the North West coast and probably did the wrong thing by initially ignoring the satnav as we left Paul do Mar.

I had one of the worst times I have ever had driving abroad and believe me we have driven in most countries in a variety of vehicles and terrain. The first part of the journey culminated in being directed to turn sharp left up a extremely steep cobbled single track which then just stopped following a small landslide. There was a small space to turn the car with about 6 inches to spare with a sheer drop of several hundred feet in front and a deep drainage gully behind. I did wonder at this point whether we would actually make it!

The journey improved after we decided to ignore the satnav and try the traditional method of following the road signs which in the event turned out a to be a lot easier. We continued through verdant winding roads (and they are very windey) until we reached the windy coastal town of Porto Moniz. The place is known for its natural volcanic pools which have been developed with little paths around them for safe swimming as they are filled at high tide by the Atlantic. No swimmers today as the breakers rolled in and crashed up the steep cliffs. I'll be honest in that the town was not the most interesting and Colin was not impressed at the classy lunch I bought at a particularly small supermarket of a sausage, crisps and Madeiran biscuits - nice!

We continued on (me still driving and gradually eroding the gear box in our incredibly underpowered 1.2 litre Nissan Micra) to Sao Vicente where we had an excellent tour underground along volcanic lava tubes followed by a trip around the volcanic interpretation centre.

We then headed south to the second highest cliff in the world at Cabo Girao where the lookout point has a glass floor enabling you to stand over a sheer drop. I'm not great with heights and it took sometime before I could walk out onto the glass. This is where I found this lovely Bird of Paradise flower.

Finally before we headed home westwards we called into the little fishing village of Camara do Lobos to see the view that Churchill painted in the 1950's and the colourful fishing boats in the harbour.

I'll admit that I was pretty shattered after all that driving and we both feel that this island is pretty challenging when in a car. A great day though.
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