May 24, 2024

Pico do Areeiro

We woke around 7 again this morning. One possibility was to do the difficult hike from Areeiro to Ruivo, the so called “peak to peak” hike. A hike that can take 6 hours, with a LOT of elevation change. We decided to just go to one peak and enjoy the view, then do an easier hike somewhere else. This was probably a good decision as when we arrived at the pico it was very “cloudo” and we could not see much. But I’m getting ahead of myself!

We left the condo, and got in the car to head out… We missed a turn, and ended up on a different route that was basically 6 miles of city driving straight UP HILL. I’m so glad Jane was driving as I would have totally ruined the clutch on our rental car before escaping the city! Stopping and starting behind city busses on what must have been nearly 45% grade. I’m not exaggerating, I looked it up and that grade does exist in Funchal! Many are 25% or more.

Once out of the city the roads were less steep and really quite beautiful. Driving through some really old trees with the sun filtering through, it looked like we were going to be very lucky and get a great view. We happened upon a pack of mountain bikers! What a climb for them.

Sadly when we arrived at the parking area the clouds were starting to roll in.

At one point we could not even see the top anymore. Much less any of the scenery below us! Nevertheless we climbed to the highest point for a quick picture.

The footpath of Ponte de São Lourenço

After Areeiro we headed to the far north eastern end of the island to get some completely different scenery. This was a highly rated hike that lets you see the ocean from both sides of the path as you walk along ridge lines and up and down. The popularity of this was confirmed as we started to see cars parked precariously along the edge of the road at least a mile from the trail head. We made a couple of attempts to get lucky at finding a closer parking spot and were rewarded with a safe and relatively close spot our second lap!

It was fairly far to do the whole out and back hike so I set this saddle point as my goal, although I will say that there was not a consensus among the group as to how realistic that goal was.

The trail was super busy but the sights were amazing. I really loved all of the colors in the layers of the rocks!

After a wonderful hike we headed back to our apartment. We decided to stop for lunch after parking the car, realizing that if we returned to the apartment inertia would set in, and we would likely just sit there and starve. So we stopped at the Coachella restaurant. One of those along the hillside where there was always a woman trying to entice us to stop in and try the food. It had good reviews anyway so we risked it. It was well worth the stop even though we were all tired and sweaty from the hiking.

We still wanted to go back to one of the places back in old town in one of the long alleyways full of restaurants. We walked up and down the alley, accosted at every turn by eager restauranteurs who wanted to convince us to dine at their establishments. It was awful. We finally selected one, and although the food was good, the service was indifferent at best and hostile at worst. I had a steak with pepper sauce and fries. Yes the fries were what I really needed. :-)

After dinner we walked through the entertainment district, listened to some outdoor music and enjoyed a lovely after dinner drink at The Ritz. Tomorrow is a leisurely morning then off to the airport for our flight to Porto!