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Free Carwash on Madeira

self-guided walking holidays in PortugalMotorways are motorways, pretty much wherever you go the world over, so when we decided to explore the beautiful island of Madeira by car one day on a recent visit (we were there to go walking but couldn't miss the chance to have a drive, too), we were determined to follow the old roads as much as possible.

We boldly ignored the turn-offs for the modern VE1 and VE2 (much loved by local people who now appreciate speedy access) and headed for the far more interesting – albeit it much more winding and sometimes tortuous – ER101 that once circumnavigated the entire island.

self-guided walking holidays in PortugalToday, the most dramatic section is that along the south coast and so that's where we headed. If you want to get there (wherever ‘there’ is) quickly, use the motorways (dual carriageways, really) – but we didn’t. So we didn’t.

The ER101 is a road to savour; a road to enjoy driving along; a road that will take you to out-of-the-way places and offer dramatic viewpoint after dramatic viewpoint that many of the faster roads (often tunnelling straight through the mountains) completely miss.

But what's the hurry? Why rush? Slow down – there’s no need to speed along and there’s so much to see.

self-guided walking holidays in PortugalPretty blue hydrangeas line the verge; an old lady by the roadside sells hand-knitted blue bobble hats, the brilliant blue sea speckled with ‘white horses’ stretches away to the distant horizon and deep blue skies herald yet another glorious day. But I'm not feeling blue. This is a magnificent drive along a wonderful road and I really am excited about what's around the next corner.

In my opinion, it’s a crying shame that some sections of the ER 101 have been closed, especially along the north-west coast, due to land slips, rockfalls and subsidence. Wouldn’t it be great if they could be repaired and reopened so that drivers could enjoy these panoramic routes once more?

self-guided walking holidays in PortugalWhat better way to experience the wonders of Madeira’s magnificent scenery as you drive along – rather than staring intently at on-coming headlights in yet another tunnel?

Ok, so the old road goes through a few tunnels, too, but these are more ‘rustic’ – hand-chiselled passages carved out of the rock, illuminated by strings of light bulbs, and water cascading down through fissures – an experience in itself. But don’t worry if your car gets dirty.

Three kilometres south of Calheta in Western Madeira, outside the village of Madalena do Mar on the way towards Funchal, we passed through one such tunnel, delighting at its irregular walls, uneven roof and winding passage.

self-guided walking holidays in PortugalComing out into the dazzling sunshine once more, we rounded a corner of this narrow road which precariously hugs the high cliffs of the coastline, only to be confronted by a waterfall – plunging onto the road itself. It made me think, “just how many places in the world can you drive through a waterfall?” Not many, I shouldn't think! But here on Madeira you can. I know in an age obsessed with ‘health and safety’, you may think that it could be reckless or even foolhardy to continue.  Not a bit of it. We drove on through – slowly, carefully and calmly – and it proved to be no more hazardous that visiting your local car wash – only this one is completely free!
 

self-guided walking holidays in Portugal

Posted: 19/09/2013 12:39:27 by | with 0 comments
Filed under: heritage, islands, lifestyle, nature, opinions, Portugal, slow, transport


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