Just about to embark to lead on trip number 54 to the wonderful island of Madeira- so why do I love it so much.
Well – a bit of background.
25 years ago- in a previous life – I negotiated a contract for the bus seat manufacturer I was Chairman of.
Funchal bus company – they are the yellow ones – needed one hundred buses refurbishing with new seats.
My role was to supervise the contract – so every three weeks out I would go to Madeira and help with the organisation of the contract.
I got to know the locals – real, hardworking people, a bit dour at first until you got to know them. Then once they trusted you- they were so welcoming.
Funnily enough as a walker- I did not get to see much of the main tourist walking areas but explored the areas around Funchal and Camara dos Lobos. They were easy to get to by bus.
Much of the ground I explored has since been gobbled up by new hotels and apartments for the locals- virtually nothing is left of the footpaths and local Levada’s I explored.
In 2002 when I set up Secret Hills Walking Holidays – once established- I wanted to venture into Europe. So, what better than to start with Madeira.
So began the adventure – slow at first but this destination has been a staple of our programme since 2006.
OK – it is grand walking- but why do I like it so much.
I love the bustle of Funchal- a working city, but with a lovely safe feel. I like the lovely places to eat and drink coffee or have a beer. I like that Madeira is warm- not too warm to walk and at the highest routes it can be chilly, but lovely to walk around in an evening with just a lights fleece or pullover- that ages me.
I like that the island has invested in its infrastructure – no oil needed here as waterpower, wind power and solar power provide for all the needs. I am thrilled every time I go -that the locals are making a real success of bringing tourists to the island- and no lager louts.
I like the transport system – a bus to anywhere you need to go and so cheap.
And I like how safe the place is – and no dogs roaming the streets, and good behaviour all round.
So, I hope that we can keep going with lovely clients showing them this wonderful island.
Oh – the walking – well it is simply brilliant – mountains to die for, coast walking and for those who do not want to climb- the Levada system which allows flat and easy walking.
I constantly marvel at the scenery, the flowers, the clean air, and the greenery. I know it rains sometimes and can be misty and cloudy first thing in a morning, but it would not be so green if it did not have water.
Three times per year – so June 6 is the next one followed by November 7.
Join us – you will not be disappointed.