Our adventure on this Portuguese island began as we got off of our cruise ship and started to walk into town. The first thing we did was take a tour. We learned that Madeira Island has some wonderful wine that was used to celebrate the Declaration of Independence in the U.S.A. Also, on the island, there are the tallest cliffs in Europe and the second tallest in the world!
In the town of Funchal, Madeira’s capital, we hopped on a cable car to the top of one of the mountains surrounding the city. The views were wonderful! You could see our cruise ship, all the red tile roofs, and the beautiful shimmering ocean. Too soon, the ride came to an end and we had to get off. Afterwards, we headed over to the beginning of the famous basket rides.
The basket sled is a bench for two to three people inside a baskety-woven base. Two men pull you along, and when it gets steep enough to let you slide down without pulling, they get on the back to slide down with you. Most of the slopes were almost 45 degrees down! When I got there, the slopes were so steep that I considered taking a taxi down. Eventually I decided against that and tried the toboggan ride. Wow, they go fast! To make matters worse, we were zooming down a regular road, with cars parked along the side and a car or two driving along! So you could call it a very dangerous, fast obstacle course without a track. The ride was only about 10 minutes long, but packed with excitement. It’s a whole 2km of adventure sometimes going at speed of 48 km/hour. They have been sledding down the mountains of Madeira for 100 years, originally being for transportation.
Then, we continued the rest of the way on foot to the bottom of the hill, where we had a delicious lunch of some espade, a deep-swimming fish that lives at a 1,000 meter depth. As evening approached, we got back on our cruise ship, content and confident that we had gotten the best out of our day in Funchal. I truly recommend, if you ever are there, that you try the basket ride and make time to go on the cable car too.