Under, In, Above and On Cloud Nine
Today we took a trip to Nuns' Valley (Curral das Freiras). Surrounded by mountains, the little town lies inside a dormant volcanic crater. When nuns left the coast to escape 16th century pirates from France, Morocco and Algeria, they found safety here (long before there were roads). They helped the children and valley dwellers and eventually the town developed. There's no convent there now, but the nuns are remembered in its name.
Before heading down to the town, we took in the mountainous view from Eira do Serrado, 1095 metres above the town. Having driven through thick cloud to reach this point, we were afraid that all we'd see would be a white sheet, but the cloud swirled and thinned in places offering lovely atmospheric views of the mountains. (It's our third visit to the area over the years, and is well worth the 25 minutes drive from Funchal.)
Our tour ended with a visit to the second oldest Madeira Wine producers - since 1850, "Henriques & Henriques". We joined in a tasting of the family firm's 3-year-old Madeira, from dry to sweet. (We both preferred the dryer end of the spectrum, but they were all lovely.) Oh - and who should we see there, but Orchid99! A happy coincidence!
Took another 40+ photos, but I'll limit my blip to the clouds swirling around the mountain peaks, and one Extra of a tree (maybe struck by lightning?) looming out dramatically into the cloud below us.