Day 5. Madeira’s mountain range : Curral das Freiras

It was a cloudy morning but still warm enough to enjoy breakfast out on the hotel terrace. We lingered over our coffees longer than usual as we didn’t have any specific plans until the afternoon.

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Remembrance service on Funchal’s seafront

Sauntering down into the centre of Funchal we noticed that two more cruise ships had arrived in port.  A little further along the seafront we spotted crowds gathering and, being inquisitive,  stopped to take a look ourselves.  Standing in front of the cenotaph we watched the annual Remembrance Day Service, it was 10.30 am on 11th November and civic dignitaries were gathered alongside members of the Portuguese armed forces with war veterans proudly holding aloft flags of their battalions.  It was a moving occasion and we paused to reflect on all those service men and women who gave their lives during wartime.
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Bank of Portugal, Funchal

After the service we continued our walk through the old town.  It’s my third holiday here in Funchal yet it’s surprising that each time we take a stroll through the labyrinth of narrow, cobbled streets I come across something new and yet to be discovered.

A short rest back at the hotel and at 1.30 pm we boarded a minibus along with six other people for an afternoon excursion into the mountains.

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Pico do Barcelos
We were the final passengers to be picked up and this proved to be a bonus as we were invited to sit at the front of the minibus alongside the driver.  Our first stop was just above Funchal at Picos dos Barcelos, a viewpoint from where we had excellent views down to the harbour and of the surrounding coastline.
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The pathway to the mountain lookout point

Returning to the minibus we continued along to Eira do Serrado, a viewpoint and hotel set high above the Curral das Freiras.  We had 40 minutes here, so ample time to follow the short trail along the hilltop and to admire the views.  Our final stop was down the narrow hairpin bends to the village of Curral das Freiras (Nuns Valley) where we visited the attractive old church with its distinctive blue and white Portuguese tiling and enjoyed afternoon tea on the upper balcony of one of the small cafes before returning to Funchal.

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Nuns Valley
The evening followed a usual pattern of strolling down to the centre of town, enjoying a meal in one of the many restaurants , returning along the promenade and then relaxing in the hotel lounge over a drink whilst listening to the live entertainment.  Tonight,  we listened to a very talented singer / saxophonist on stage who was proving popular with the audience.

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