Sunday, January 12, 2014

Madeira Island

It's raining today on Madeira Island but we set out anyway to explore some of the things to see here. Plus, it seems that my laptop computer has finally died and the procedure I normally use to upload photos is not available to me. So I figured out a way to take photos with an iPad and then upload them directly to Blogger. So just a few photos today as I figure out how this all works. 

I first visited this island in 1990 while working for Lindblad and we arrived by ship. The change in those 23 years is astounding. Back then it seemed like a rural, out of the way backwater but today it has a freeway and many many more people and hi-rise apartments. I attribute the growth to the islands economic connections to all of mainland Europe through the European Union. What a difference although this is my fourth or fifth time here and the change was imperceptible before. 
Valley of the Nuns from above

Close-up view

The spectacular valley walls are composed of layered basalt lava flows but the valley bottom contains a layer of relatively unconsolidated pyro classic tephra (cinders). When the stream in the valley dissected into the cinder horizon, it caused the otherwise dense basalt to collapse, forming the valley. The oldest sub-aerial lavas here are 5.6 Ma but only 4.2% of the volcano is above sea level! That means that 96% of the volcano reside below the sea, an astounding thought.

Driving on the narrow, hilly roads is a colorful experience

We visited a local winery and got to taste the famous Madeira aperitif

Oak barrels for aging the wine

Local vintners 

The island is about 40 miles long and 20 miles wide with 300,000 inhabitants. It has no archaeologic sites and the first people known to have seen it were Portuguese navigators in the 16th century. If I had the ability to attach a link, I would do so for Madeira but as I say, this posting is an experiment using an iPad.

1 comment:

Gaelyn said...

Bad timing for the laptop but this works.