We had heard that there was plenty to do on cruise ships but had little faith in that. A lot of what happens on the boat isn’t for us, but we did see Paul Adams, a comedienne play the other night. He was funny and we had a good time, but doubt I would have paid to go. It was more just something to do, as it probably is for other people as well, like the couple in front of us who spoke no English. I’m not sure what they got out of the performance but apparently it was better than staying in their room. Last night we also saw the Jade singers perform songs from Smokey Joe’s. Again, ehhh, but something to do while the boat is moving.
Yesterday we started out by walking along the shorefront in Fungchal, Madeira and it is a beautiful spot. We only had a couple of hours before we had to be back on the boat to catch an excursion so we stayed close by but the water is gorgeous as is the town, even with the mud that lined the streets. Apparently there had been a lot of rain and flooding and they were at the end of cleaning it up. There were beautiful gardens and we got some great pictures.
The next part was the one I was least looking forward to…our excursion. It seems as though every trip we go on we do something that tests my fears. We’ve ridden ostriches, climbed glaciers and been on narrow winding roads and took a gondola ride up to the top of table mountain. Today, however takes the cake for testing my fear of heights. We first took a cable car ride to the top of the mountainside. This was a 15 minute slow moving ride that was incredibly high…and I mean incredibly high. The gondola ride at least had a driver and there were a number of people in the ride with us. The cable car had just us and three other people. There was no driver. There weren’t even any emergency instructions or a button to hit in case of emergency. I spent the 15 minutes with my head down and got a good look at the floor of the cable car. Once at the top however the church was beautiful and everything was green. We walked around for a little bit and then took wicker sleds down partway to the bottom. I didn’t know what the wicker sleds entailed until we saw them leaving.
The wicker sled is literally a sled made of wicker but instead of running on snow or ice it goes on the roads with two drivers. The drivers steer the sled with their feet and bodies (they stand at the back of the sled) and they run and push the sled. We were moving at a pretty fast speed by my estimation and the roads are very narrow and cars were coming from the other direction straight at us… scary! But we made it out alive.
Our next stop was an overlook that shows a crater in the island. One of my biggest fears while traveling are the roads that are inevitably narrow and winding. I got to experience this yet again. Coach busses are large and I can’t’ imagine how we even made it up to the top of the overlook. The roads were incredibly winding and there was little to no guard rail on one side of the road, the other side was a cliff. The side with no guardrail was also a cliff however it was a sheer cliff down. When making turns we had to go to the other side of the road, this was also the protocol for making turns although we would beep our horn when doing that. It was terrifying. Words can not convey my level of fear during this. We did make it up to the look out point and quite frankly it was not worth the fear the ride to it induced. But we made it back down alive and so it was worth it.
Our last stop was a wine tasting. Apparently Madeira makes special wine so we were able to taste three types of it. Then we were back to the boat….an eventful day. Today is a day at sea and a day of homework for me. Tomorrow we’ll be in Spain and will do some caving.