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Published: October 29th 2010
Madeira - Day 10 We quickly disembarked so we catch the cable car to Monte before the tour buses arrived, and as we rode up in the first chairlift of the day it started to drizzle, at this stage we had no idea of what was to follow. We made our first mistake when we reached Monte, we decided to stop and admire the great views over a coffee. The tour groups over took us and we ended up in a huge line for the wicker taboggan ride back down the mountain.
As we inched forward in the line, the rain fell heavier and heavier until it turned into a heavy tropical downpour. Ron kept telling me it would be worth the wait as it was such fun riding in the taboggan. After standing in the rain for at least an hour we eventually got near the beginning of the line, only three people were in front of us when the organisers announced the ride was cancelled for the day due to the bad weather. Thoroughly soaked we caught a local bus back to the ship to dry out, the bus seemed to race through the steep narrow roads at
a break neck speed, Ron was pleased to still get an exciting ride back down the mountain.
The rain kept coming, we were a little concerned as Ron had planned to go to Reid's Palace Hotel for afternoon tea. When the Captain announced all tours were cancelled because of the weather conditions we wondered if we could still make it. We were lucky to find a taxi driver who was brave enough (or foolhardy enough?) to get us through the floods to the Hotel. The journey up the hill was according to Ron, exciting, according to Alex scary, manholes were popping up and water pouring down the roads causing flash flooding.
Arriving at Reids was like arriving at safe sanctuary, particularly because of its beautiful location high on a cliff overlooking the capital Funchal. The Hotel opened its doors in 1891, the guests have included Captain Scott who called in 1901, en route to the Antarctic, and George Bernard Shaw arrived in 1924, to work, sunbathe and master the tango. The hotel was used as a base by John Huston and Gregory Peck during the filming of Moby Dick, as Madeira was at the time one of the
few remaining places where whalers still used open boats. After his defeat by Fidel Castro in 1959, the Cuban dictator General Fulgencio Batista took up residence on the third floor of the hotel. And most of the most famous guest was Winston Churchill who stayed while working on his war memoirs, and painting in the nearby village of Câmara de Lobos.
We felt priviliged to be having afternoon tea where so many famous people had sat and enjoyed the same view, we both agreed we would have loved to stumble across George Bernard Shaw mastering the tango. I (Alex) had been fretting we would not get back to the ship before it was due to sail because of the flooding we had seen, especially when another passenger also at Reids took a phone call from friends on board and passed the news that the Captain had stopped anyone getting off the ship due to the worsening floods. Thankfully during our few hours at Reids the weather finally cleared and we were able to eventually walk back to the ship, although by this stage we both agreed Reids would have been a great place to be marooned.
board the Captain announced that the flash flooding had caused havoc in the town, he told an amazing story of how someone off the ship had been watching the flood waters pour through the town into the port when they spotted a small dog being washed out to sea. The ship contacted the port authority who sent out a pilot boat which amazingly found the little dog, not to healthy but alive. The pilot had reported after taking it to a vet the dog was recovering nicely and not knowing the owner the Pilot had decided to adopt the little dog and had named it Queen Elizabeth, probably to be shortened to QE.
We were in port until late as special guests were giving a concert on board before flying out on the same night. Lulu embarked with her team of fifteen musicians, backing singers sound and lighting engineers, along with a special surprise guest Kiki Dee, they gave a lively concert in the Royal Court Theatre. We sailed at midnight, both agreeing we would like to visit Madeira again in better weather, even with the rain it looked a beautiful place.
Tot: 0.033s; Tpl: 0.019s; cc: 8; qc: 24; dbt: 0.0064s; 1; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.2mb