Ok, before we get started, lets do some Parish announcements
– I know some of you also had birthdays yesterday and weren’t mentioned, but you never asked. Quiet bairns get nowt, as Karen would say.
– I have now fixed the previous blog titles so they read Day 1-9 (sorry Tessa, that was confusing having 2 day 6’s)
– Morgan, good to hear you are reading the blog at 4:00 am whilst up with Douglas and I feel the strap line “Better than watching a 2 year old vomit” could be quite fitting for this blog.
– Suzie, I know that I said I would sell anything, but I fear what you are offering is illegal in some territories and immoral in most others, so I have had to refund you your paypal payment. I also hope the slipped disc is improving after the “incident”.
Right, on with the blog. The forecast for yesterday was bad. I mean really bad. As we sat on the balcony eating our breakfast, the weather was gorgeous, but we could see the black clouds coming across the sea at us. Today was going to be an indoor day. On the 2 occasions we have been to Funchal we had tried to visit the Museum of Modern Art. The first time we got there too late as the opening times showed that we had just missed it. The second time we missed it because it’s actually closed and moved to a different town a few years ago. Confusingly though there are still adverts for it on billboards all over the city, it’s in all our guide books as being in Funchal as well as being on many web sites. After some googling we discovered that it was now in Calheta which was at the other end of the island (luckily along the VR1. I knew it was worth buying a book of tickets for that ride).
So at 11:00 am we headed off just as bang on cue the rain came. As we travelled past Funchal the rain got worse as we began driving through low cloud. It was quite nice though as we could no longer see the terrifying drops on either side of the bridges. We just turned the radio up and ignored the fact that we were aquaplaning several hundred feet in the air on a narrow piece of tarmac. As an aside, the radio station we have been listening to, Antenna 3, is a mixed bag. One minute it seems to be a pop music station playing “Prince, Lady Gaga and Michael Jackson” which in Portuguese they announce as “Prince, Lady Gaga and Michael Jackson”, then it goes off and does a 20 minute phone in (unsurprisingly also in Portuguese). Also the fact that you go through so many tunnels here, you keep losing it anyway. On the way back we plugged in the iPod and listened to 1989 by Taylor Swift (which translates in Portuguese as “Taylor Swift”).
We had never been this far to the West before and passed through Riberia Brava, even though we should have passed by it not through it. It was only when we hit a dead end we realised we shouldn’t have turned down here (it really is getting habit forming this taking wrong turns). On past Ponta do Sol, through a tunnel which had windows and offered an exciting sea views and up to Calheta. (Karen would like to know why there is no museum on the tunnels. They have a museum for whales and Karen things the tunnels are far more interesting than whales. I have to agree with her). As we were half way through the penultimate tunnel, all the tunnel lights went out. Now that was dark. Even with my headlights on (I just drive with them permanently on these days. I just pretend I’m a Volvo) it was dark. We were a little shocked but had recovered by the time we got to Calheta.
The website for this art gallery hadn’t been updated since 2011, but we could see from the picture that is was on the sea front. There were no road signs for it, so we headed to the front. As we turned onto the front, Karen spotted a grey concrete building building that looked like it could be it to the right. Still no sign for it. Just to be on the safe side we drove the entire length of the sea front, turned around and then came back and parked up. We then had the old “how much money do we put in the meter?” debate. I plumped for 3 hours (as we would probably be getting lunch as well). We paid our €2.60, put on our waterproofs as it was really lashing down and walked towards the grey concrete building. (still no sign)
When we got there, it was a car park. So where was this elusive art gallery? I looked up and my heart sank.
“You see that great big grey building about 200 feet above us on the cliff face?”
“Yeah””Do you think that might be it?”
Back to the car. Back up the hill to the roundabout. There was still the slight problem of the fact that there were no road signs. We just had to go through each exit in turn hoping that we could get to it. We could see a road coming down from it, but we couldn’t see one up to it. We tried one turn off and very quickly realised that we were just going in the wrong direction, so turned around in the fire station (literally in front of the fire engines) and went back the roundabout. The next turnoff took us to Calheta East, perhaps you got it up the other side of the peninsular? 5 minutes we are sat outside a farm. That wasn’t the correct turn.
I then remembered that I had brought the Sat Nav with us. We dug it out of the glove box and let it do its stuff. It seemed to think we were still in Derby Street in Ormskirk, but that was fine, it just needed to find the satellites. Eventually it did and we saw a little triangle sat in the middle of a green screen. Strange. I programmed it to find museums as a point of interest. The screen was filled with options. The Archeological museum was only 588 meters away and the military museum was only 600 meters away, but still mo museum of modern art. Weird. Then it slowly dawned on us that “m” on the sat nav was “miles” not “metres”.
“This sat nav hasn’t got any Madeiran maps on it has it And?”
“Errr, looks that way”
“They are museums in southern Spain aren’t they?”
“I think so, yes”
(Come on, I thought Western Europe maps would include the Spanish and Portuguese Islands. I was obviously wrong). Eventually at 1:00 pm, so 2 hours after we left we found the museum (there was never a road sign). 10 minutes later we found the entrance (after asking in the cafe) and eventually we saw the art. (To be honest it was a bit “meh”). As we sat and had our lunch, we noticed that we kept losing bits of the scenery to cloud. First tops of the mountains disappeared, then houses, then entire hills until eventually even the mist was swirling around outside. (I said the weather was bad).
We started our journey home which included more aquaplaning, fog in a tunnel (I’ve never even experienced that in the UK) and drivers driving with their hazard lights constantly on (it must the a Madeiran thing). We arrived home, in the rain, at 5:00pm. And you know sad thing? The memory of the journey will be with me longer than the memory of the Art.
Tomorrow night I’ll tell you all about our one and only Maderian hill walk.