We use a day with our rental car to see a little more of the island. There aren’t really many roads to choose from. A continuous route circles the island and a road cuts Madeira from south to north. In between there are a few connecting routes.
The roads in Madeira are steep. Very steep. 40% gradients are not uncommon and vehicles are excessively pushed to their limits in first gear. The rua barreira even boasts a 45% incline. One wrong turn can have unforeseen consequences if you have to back out of a deep hole.
We take the route to the farthest town from us. First we have to follow the coast until the navigation system takes us through the island.
We strengthen ourselves halfway in the Taberna de Serrá. We see other guests eating strange mussels and are curious. The things you don’t have to open turn out to be sticky shells. So the strange smallpox that you usually find on posts of jetties or on coarse stones directly in the sea surf. And they don’t taste bad at all.
Lured by the smell and the generosity of the guests, Sara’s biggest nightmare is approaching: a cat. Orange like Garfield and with only one eye like a pirate, she scents her prey. Sara doesn’t hesitate and flees – onto the table. Of course, the cat won’t just be asked to leave, so mother and child have to hold out between meals until we move on.
Driving in Madeira, one imagines the beautiful landscape to the left and right of the roads. Deep gorges, steep coasts, the sea. Yes, that’s true – partly. Once in a while. Just a bit. Mainly you see one thing above all: tunnel. You drive through tunnels for a long time, step out of the tunnel and drive directly into the next tunnel. The majority of the journey just leads through a concrete tube.
At Sao Vicente we reach the other, rougher side of the island. The waves here are high and slowly break on the shore.
It’s not just the sea that’s rough – wind and rain seem to be too, at least we often see roads that have been buried by avalanches.
Leon’s call of nature has us looking for a stopping point and ideally we’ll find one right at Ponta do Poiso. There we not only find nice girls in a souvenir shop, who provide us with a bar table and a souvenir carpet for changing diapers.
The place also offers a fantastic view of the village of Seixal and a spectacular waterfall that falls deep into the sea from a narrow gorge on a vertical mountain.
It’s afternoon and we have to think about where else to go so that we can be back in time for Leon’s bedtime. Fortunately, it is not far to Porto Moniz, the end of the island. From our perspective.
In this city, numerous pools have been carved out of volcanic rock (piscinas naturais velhas) and many people bathe in them, despite the cool temperatures. Here, too, the waves thunder against the coasts and wash the pools and their contents thoroughly.
At the tip of the shore you can see a small castle that housed the sea aquarium.
Small bridges take you from one small volcanic island to the next. The natural pools are all free to visit. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time and swimming trunks to take a taste of the Atlantic myself. It’s about time and we still have a trip across the island ahead of us. Leon doesn’t feel like driving anymore and hates tunnels. So he punishes us with his loud complaints on the journey.