Boas Festas! Madeira, m’dear?

It’s extraordinary the lengths some people go to when they hear that we’ve arrived in Madeira for a week…

DSC06855aTo the left, old Funchal, and on the right the city as it is today just before Christmas…

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DSC06869Vibrant and full of colour, especially at night…

DSC06885 DSC06887 DSC06892 DSC06917 DSC06919There’s much to see, from the old fish market and the famous fruit and veg stalls…DSC06927 DSC06930

DSC06934  …to the incredible variety of street art…

DSC06938…including the doors of the old town participating in the scheme artE de pORtas abErtas… http://www.arteportasabertas.com/

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…oh, and yes, that bun is a door knocker…

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The gathering of nine artists at the Arte Moderna is worth a visit, too, although unfortunately the contemporary art gallery seems to have up-sticks from the old fort to somewhere out of town.

DSC07042…leaving behind some scrap metal…

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It might be easy to forget the harsh realities of life here, though. Having talked to the locals, it seems Madeira is still gripped by economic problems and unemployment.

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However, there does seem to be a certain amount of local resilience.

Who else would paint a trompe l’oeil on a parking meter…

DSC07036…complete with corny joke… “free reading”?

DSC07037I decide to strike out from the city on one of the famous levada walks. No other takers in my party, because of the hairiness of the route, and I have to admit there are one or two slightly dizzying moments, but actually the walk along this irrigation channel is beautiful…

DSC07011 DSC07013Did I say “walk”? I meant climb. One minute I am looking up at the cable car. The next, I am peeping between the trees way above it. Well, maybe not a minute…more like two hours…DSC07015 DSC07017Then I kind of lose my way and follow a mule track up into a village, of whose name I am still dubious. There, I am greeted by a guardian angel, well into her eighties I imagine, who disappointingly informs me that there is no café or any other facilities in the vicinity, but she will put me onto a bus. Where would I like to go? That’s a good question. But the Jardim Botanico seems a safe bet…

DSC07019 DSC07027 DSC07028 DSC07034Later in the week, we catch the bus up to the equally renowned Tropical Gardens, with their famous basket rides…          DSC07068  DSC07070 DSC07071 You tow the punters down, then you have to bring the baskets back up again… A lucrative business, I guess… DSC07074Actually, I love these gardens with their tall trees and sculptures…

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 …orchids and Japanese garden…

DSC07123In addition, there’s a fabulous collection of African sculpture…

DSC07096DSC07099DSC07104I think I feel one or two poems coming on…

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DSC07087 Lovely pots, too…

DSC07132And dragon trees…  DSC07141     If you get the chance to visit the island, take the time to visit the Nuns’ Valley…

DSC07229Is there really a village down there?

DSC07231 Our trip is drawing to an end, so we head off to Camacha on the bus, taking in a less vertiginous levada walk which includes some lovely wild flowers…

DSC07274…a recycled bicycle hedge…

DSC07260…and more very fine orchids growing in pots on the terrace of the café at which we finally arrive, hot and thirsty…DSC07277Temperatures ranged from 28 degrees to 17. Needless to say, it’s slightly cooler when we land back in Leeds…

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