After several years of holidays abroad, we have realised that we are no longer sunbathers. We can no longer lie for hours and all to soon we become restless. As well as that, we are not ones for returning to a place we have visited before so we like to explore n different countries whilst we can.
Like many holiday makers we attended the holiday Rep's presentation. This is mainly to find out information and if reasonable; plan trips. We had done research and talked to close friends who had visited the Island, and because of this we had an idea of what we wanted to do.
On arrival the hotel receptionist had given us a leaflet of trips recommended by them. The best package included two full days and one half day tours. At the meeting these same trips were offered at three times the price.
We have done trips with various companies including one on which we were the only English speaking couple. This was not ideal. The guide would spend ten minutes describing something and then in English say something like "We are passing some ruins".
In this instance we went with the Hotel's tours, as the Rep's were a little on the expensive side for the same tour.
The first one covered the West side of the Island. After being collected at the hotel the minibus took us to the next harbour at Camara de Lobos, a quaint harbour with small streets covered with decorations. This was my first sketch showing the white houses and boats.
Next a stop at Cabo Girao a glass bottomed sky-walk. We had been on these before so knew what to expect and the views were certainly worth it.
After that it was on to Ponto do Sol for a coffee break and a walk around the town where we were impressed with the church.
Then to something we had heard a lot about a walk along a Levada; on of the many walks along the paths by the side of the irrigation channel. A nice walk above the clouds, although this one was dry because they were building a new reservoir nearby. A note to myself, 'Wear long trousers next time because of the thorns'
Next, we stopped for an included lunch at Porto Moniz, famous for it's rock pools. Unfortunately, we didn't have costumes with us as these were very inviting on a hot day.
Another stop at Veu da Noiva, allowed us to see the old road around a headland, where at one time you drove under a waterfall and as the driver pointed out this saved him washing the van afterwards! This road was no longer safe for coaches and had been replaced by one of the many tunnels through the mountains that have been constructed.
After another short stop, at a small village, where we saw another highly decorative church interior, there was a steep climb to the viewpoint at Encumeada. From here you could see impressive views of both sides of the Island.
So was it worth paying only a third of the price for the trip. On the down side the air conditioning wasn't perfect but apart from that there were no complaints. We went to the same places, parking was easier and the local driver knew shortcuts where large coaches couldn't go. We also met a lovely couple from Belgium and sat with them for lunch.
A highly recommended trip and a good start to our exploration of the Island.