Last week members of the Trefoil Guild from all over the UK explored the Atlantic Island of Madeira. Venture Abroad Representative Katie gives us a few insights into the final few days.
Day 6: A day of adventures
On Monday, we headed for one of the more famous attractions on the island – the Monte Palace Gardens. The Palace itself is currently owned by a wealthy Madeiran businessman, who loves to collect things, whether it’s rare plants from all over the world, or bizarre pieces of art work. Along the way, we saw copies of the Terracotta Warriors in Xian, a large collection of Buddhas and a copy of a modern piece of art work from Harrow. The gardens themselves were very peaceful which meant that you could appreciate the art works more. It was also the perfect tonic to the excitement of the Monte Toboggan Run, which was our next stop!
The toboggans run for 2 km through the streets of Monte, and are all made out of wicker. They are controlled by two men who sit on the back of the toboggan and leap off to stop it. Rest assured that it was fully risk assessed – and the ladies came back with massive smiles on their faces! It definitely showed the more adventurous side of the Trefoil Guild.
That adventurous side came out again later that afternoon, when some of the group opted to do a Jeep Safari across the island. The tour started with more Madeira wine tasting (possibly for courage) and then we headed further into the island, towards Nun’s Valley. Here we were treated to some spectacular views of the quieter corners by going off road in the jeeps. This allowed to see more of the beautiful flowers in some of the more hidden corners. Our journey was rounded off by a visit to the glass bottom platform, which stands over the Cabo Girão, the highest sea cliff in Europe at 1900 ft. Most definitely a spectacular day!
Day 7: Orchids and chocolates
Our final day was much quieter after all of the excitement of the previous few days. The morning was spent at leisure – some people enjoyed a walk, a bit of last minute shopping, or just relaxing by the pool, making the most of the last rays of sun.
In the afternoon, we set off for our final gardens – the Quinta de Boa Vista. Originally founded by a British Consul, Cecil Garton and his wife Betty, the gardens have now been taken over by their son, Patrick, who gave us a tour of the gardens. The gardens specialise in orchids, and Patrick gave a lot of hints and tips on how to look after them, which was appreciated by many members of the group. The visit was rounded off by delicious tea and cake, taken on the lawns overlooking the tiered gardens and Funchal beyond. We then headed back into Funchal city centre, where we visited the artisan chocolate shop, Uau Cacau. Here we were able to sample their award winning chocolates, together with (of course) a glass of Madeira!
The next day, the heavens opened and heavy rain accompanied us back to Madeira Airport. It was a shame that we had to leave this beautiful place in the rain, but it is always needed to keep the island so green. We all left with great memories and some new Trefoil friendships.