Getting on/off a motorcoach, requiring going up/down a few steps; driving about 100 miles total; approximately 8 hours throughout the day; stops for field trips. Walking up to 2 miles total for the day; periods of standing during field trips. Many winding mountain roads throughout the day, much cooler temperatures at higher altitudes.
Boarding our motorcoach with our local expert, we’ll drive to Cabo Girão, the highest sea cliff in Europe at roughly 1,900 feet (580 meters). It offers spectacular and vertiginous views from the glass platform suspended over the ocean below. From the cape, we’ll transfer to the western side of the island stopping at Ponta do Sol. Here at the birthplace of the American writer, John dos Passos, we will learn about the Chicago-born "father" of Madeira. We’ll then continue to a nearby sugar cane mill where we will learn from our local expert about one of the most important small industries in the region as we discover the process of producing the local sweet drink, "aguardente" (firewater). While here, our expert will show us around the facility. Later, we’ll drive north to Porto Moniz, known for its crystal clear natural swimming pools that were formed by volcanic activity. On site, we’ll learn about the decline of the traditional fishing industry and the former whaling community of the island.
At a local restaurant, we’ll have a 3-course plated meal with water and a glass of wine.
Next, we will drive south through part of Madeira’s endemic laurisilva, a unique type of laurel forest that was once widespread throughout southern Europe and northwestern Africa. It is now a protected UNESCO site on the island. Aboard the bus, a local expert will provide commentary about the site, the animals, and the history. After we freshen up at the hotel, we will go to the renowned Reid’s Hotel – emblematic site of Funchal and host to many important historical and literary figures including Cuba’s General Batista, Winston Churchill and George Bernard-Shaw. Here, we will enjoy a traditional afternoon tea with selection of cakes and scones as we discuss how the history and culture of Funchal is linked to this iconic hotel.
This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to explore local cuisine. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.