Heading East

Trip Start Dec 05, 2011
Trip End Feb 23, 2012

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Where I stayed
Encosta Cabo Girao

Flag of Portugal  , Madeira,
Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Exploring the South East Coast

Today we decided to explore the south east coastline up to the most easterly point Ponta de Sao Lourenco.

Stopping at Funchal on our way through so we could book a boat trip for Thursday and visit the market to get some fresh fish; we set off in glorious sunshine having been assured the weather all over the island was good today.
Funchal was busy with the first shoppers after New Year and with three cruise ships in the harbour.. We couldn't resist buying some watercolour prints of Madeira scenes and some hand embroidered mats as presents to take home. The streets were lively with musicians playing on every street corner; a full brass band on the marina, guitarists and a strange instrument that was a cross between a glockenspeil and a mandolin, all delightfully playing a variety of classic and folk music.
The market was vibrant, it is an amazing structure; with three floors built round a courtyard, the colours and smells of fresh fruit and flowers managed to out do the smell of the fish market which in it's own way was just as fascinating with it's array of freshly caught tuna, swordfish and the ugliest fish I've ever seen the 'Black Scabbard' which apparently can only be found in the deep waters surrounding Madeira, its bulging blue eyes and sharp vicious teeth belying the delicate flavour of this traditional Madeira fish popularly served with fried bananas. We bought swordfish and black scabbard to take home for our own fish feast.
The dual-carriageway expressway extends almost to the east tip at Canical and is an amazing feat of construction of alternating tunnels and viaducts allowing a swift journey despite the mountainous cliffs. Passing the airport at Santa Cruz we travelled beneath the end of the runway which was eerie to suddenly see an aircraft taking off in your sight line. East of Santa Cruz we stopped at Machico, Madeira's second city, which sports a sandy man-made beach and swimming opportunity, a rare sight on this island of mountainous cliffs and rocky coves.Continuing east we stopped at Canical ,the last port in southern Europe to cease whaling in 1981. It is now a major tuna fishing port with numerous large boats in the harbour. We stopped for a coffee and a port (as you do), and were fascinated with the congregation of fishermen playing a noisy card game.
On to our destination Ponta de Sao Lourenco at the eastern tip a rocky peninsula offering amazing panoramic views across to a series of small islands. There is a two mile walk out to almost the end of the point but as it was already late afternoon we decided not to risk being stranded in the dark in unforgiving rocky volcanic landscape.
A speedy return home on the expressway to our balcony to catch the last rays of sunshine accompanied by a nice bottle of chilled Madeiran white wine completed a lovely day.
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