Although organised tours can be worthwhile sometimes off the cuff days can be special and this was one of those days.
One of the things that intrigued us about Madeira was the Toboggan sled rides. Unfortunately, one of the problems with going on these, is that they are at the top of the mountain and it is often covered by clouds. For the first few days this was the case but on this day we woke to a clear sky so set off on our adventure, although I hadn't told Sue yet.
You can walk to the top but we decided to take the cable car as this was a lot easier. The views were impressive and the houses clinging to the cliff sides even more so. Not a place to sleep walk in the night!
On arriving at the top we had a lunch in a small cafe overlooking the view and then set off to explore. The first place we arrived at was the Jardim Tropical Monte Palace.
Our rep in the Hotel had told us the queues were longer earlier in the day for the Toboggan rides, particularly if a cruise ship was in, so we had time to spare.
We had heard of the garden and decided to explore. This proved to be a good choice as it was a fascinating place where we spent about three hours. We slowly walked down the hillside wandering through the sculptures and pathways finding interesting views and features at every turn. Although tropical, a lot of the sculptures etc. had a Chinese theme, which surprised us at first. Eventually it opened out to a stunning view of the house and lakes. I wanted to sketch this but people commandeered the best places to sit and it was too hot in the sun.
Eventually we found a sheltered spot where I drew a pond with a small bridge. Just as I finished a couple came and sat in front of me.
Next we moved around to the other side of the small lake where I sketched the tower building,
As we made our way back up the hill this had been a superb afternoon and really enjoyable.
After leaving the garden we made our way to the toboggans. As it was late afternoon there were no queues and we were soon on our way. This was an exhilarating experience and not to be missed.
The ride finished half way down the hill. We were told by our rep in the hotel that the walk down to town was quite manageable and not to take a taxi. What she didn't mention was how steep it was and the fact you had to dodge cars coming down the narrow road. Our knees suffered but we made it to the bottom.
An unplanned day and one we will always remember.