Up into the mountains today to a viewpoint Balcones which is more or less self explanatory, name a dead give away. Glorious view, that goes without saying, but the joy of the day, as far as I was concerned was the drive up there. Jude and Wes, who have been coming to Madeira for years, have a good friend, Luigi, who drove us for the day. After the stomach lurching, round the corner, get out of my way driving of the bus earlier in the week, to be sitting in the front seat of a Mercedes, beautifully driven and gliding gracefully round the curves in the road as we climbed higher and higher was soothing and a balm to the nerves. Not only was Luigi an excellent driver, but he pointed out various flowers, plants, trees and landmarks as he drove and was a mine of information. Everywhere you look in Madeira there are flowers, banks and banks of them and it is all incredibly beautiful.
Moment of the day for me was when we were driving through the forest and the trees around reached gloriously to the sky and it was like being in a cathedral, dim and quiet. Luigi had told me that I was the Boss and he duly schreeched to a halt when I yelled STOP so I could take this photo. It was so incredibly quiet and beautiful.
When we reached our destination, or as near as we could get by car, we then had a walk along one of the levadas to get to the viewpoint. As with the Nun's Valley the other day, we were lucky in that we met a crowd of tourists coming away as we were going, we had the Balcones to ourselves, and then on the way back met another couple of coachloads heading to where we had left. Perfect timing.
Everywhere you go people smile and are happy to see you and to talk and the atmosphere of the island is delightful. No wonder people come back year after year. This is my second visit and if a third is on the cards then I would have no hesitation in returning. On the way back to our hotel Luigi showed us this modern statue, similar to that in Rio de Janeiro, overlooking the sea and I, foolishly, was taken with a notion to walk down to the lookout shown here.
Why I do these things I do not know as I remember thinking as I strode confidently down, Elaine you have got to climb back up you must be Mad. Too late by then of course and it was worth the view at the end. My sister, who had wisely decided not to attempt the climb, then thoroughly enjoyed herself wathching me haul myself up the 187 steps to the top where I collapsed into a gibbering heap. Safe back at the hotel decided I would have a bijou snoozette before dinner, laid down, bliss. Woke up two hours later................