Martin arrived at the moment that we walked out of the terminal. His suggestion was that we should drive to Machico, stopping at viewpoints on the way. We had to be back at the ship by 12 noon, so time was of the essence.
The motorways in Madeira are amazing and some of the tunnels through the mountains stunning. Journeys that used to take 2 or 3 hours can now take as little as 20 minutes. Martin quickly reminded us that that was one of the reasons why the island is 6 billion euros in debt!
The first vantage point looked down on the airport and almost immediately we could see a plane approaching. It negotiated the short runway without any difficulty. As you will probably be aware, the extension to the runway, built on stilts, is another contributor to the islands debt. Apparently the airport is still regarded to be one of the worlds most dangerous.
We then drove to Machico where it is said that Captains Zarco and Teixeira first landed on discovering Madeira. A lovely small town with a harbour a couple of smallish hotels and a gentle relaxed air about it. The beach was sheltered and covered in yellow (imported) sand.
After an excellent coffee while overlooking the harbour, we returned to the taxi and set off for the ship knowing that any traffic problems would mean that we missed the 12 noon deadline and would incur the wrath of the Captain! We made it with 10 minutes to spare but were the last and the gangway was removed once we were aboard.