My first sight of Maderia was of the island's mountain top peeping through the clouds as we began to descend for landing. It was jaw droppingly spectacular. The island, off the African coast, is actually cooler than other sub tropics, being surrounded by the sea, and being January, was cooler still. But a lovely temperature for us. And the landing was amazing. The ninth scariest landing, apparently! This picture was taken from the cable car that runs up the mountain side from the sea front. A gorgeous country, of which more anon. We'll be returning this coming January, and I have a separate article in the pipeline, called 'Flip Flops and Furry Boots'. That'll keep you guessing.
I think it's clear what this is. The tips of the Familiar steeples could just be seen over the roofs of adjacent buildings from our apartment balcony. What a lovely surprise!
Twenty countries! Yup - I've been to twenty countries! Wey-hey! (Cease with the exclamation marks, why don't you...?). I read some years ago in a bonafide travel magazine that you can be classed a real traveller if you've visited twenty countries. Shall I list them? Here goes, in no particular order. Deep breath...
America, Canada, Mexico, Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Hungary, Africa, Turkey, Malaysia, Portugal, Slovenia, and now Madera- although that's part of Portugal. Exhale. I'm so proud. I had thought it was nineteen until Husband the Great Mathematician pointed out that it was, in fact, twenty. During the late 70s, while Greyhound bussing the States, someone calling me a 'world traveller'. That stuck with me.
At one time I wanted to do some sort of volunteering overseas, and I do regret not doing so. I was a shy soul and was scared that I would be homesick. Now my son is planning on riding his Harley Davidson abroad and possibly doing just that. In my not so generous moments - of which there are many - I'm really jealous. I considered, all those years ago, of doing grape picking on an Israeli kibbutz (still possible, I wonder, but unadvisable today, I should think). Or joining Operation Drake or Raleigh as a crew member on board a full rigged ship and travelling to third world countries to build local schools and hospitals, construct wells, give medicines. They take artists and scientists on various overseas projects. I loved the idea! I took/take great interest in travelling and adventuring artists, botanists, scientists, medics who collected medicinal plants for Kew Botanic Gardens, as an example.
I'd love to scuba dive among wrecks in the Caribean seas. But I'm not keen on the idea of breathing like that beneath the depths, no matter how tantalising. I will, however, attempt to learn to snorkel so that I can swim a coral reef, maybe Australia, who knows? One for the bucket list. (Incidentally, I did briefly snorkel on the UK south coast recently accompanied by an American World War two fighter pilot doing his airobatic stunts. Just for us!
I'll be posting mores photos in due course. Of which there are a zillion. In the meantime, adios, caio, au revoir, etcetera.