My first sight of Maderia was of the island's mountain top peeping through the clouds as we began to descend for landing. It was jaw droppingly spectacular. The island, off the African coast, is actually cooler than other sub tropics, being surrounded by the sea, and being January, was cooler still. But a lovely temperature for us. And the landing was amazing. The ninth scariest landing, apparently! This picture was taken from the cable car that runs up the mountain side from the sea front. A gorgeous country, of which more anon. We'll be returning this coming January, and I have a separate article in the pipeline, called 'Flip Flops and Furry Boots'. That'll keep you guessing.

Twenty Countries

I think it's clear what this is. The tips of the Familiar steeples could just be seen over the roofs of adjacent buildings from our apartment balcony. What a lovely surprise!

Twenty countries! Yup - I've been to twenty countries! Wey-hey! (Cease with the exclamation marks, why don't you...?). I read some years ago in a bonafide travel magazine that you can be classed a real traveller if you've visited twenty countries. Shall I list them? Here goes, in no particular order. Deep breath... 

America, Canada, Mexico, Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Hungary, Africa, Turkey, Malaysia, Portugal, Slovenia. Exhale. I'm so proud. I had thought it was nineteen until Husband the Great Mathematician pointed out that it was, in fact, twenty. I remember, during the late 70s, while Greyhound bussing across the States, someone calling me a 'world traveller'. That stuck with me.

You've probably guessed by now that I'm keen on travel. No kidding. (I've just looked at my travel page and appreciate that I'm repeating myself. Sorry.) At one time I wanted to do some sort of volunteering overseas, and I do regret not doing so. Fact was that I was a shy soul and was scared that I would be homesick. Now my son is planning on riding his Harley Davidson abroad and possibly doing just that, and we're giving him all the advice and encouragement necessary. In my not so generous moments - of which there are many - I'm really jealous. I considered, all those years ago, of doing grape picking on an Israeli kibbutz (still possible, I wonder, but unadvisable today, I should think). Or joining Operation Drake or Raleigh as a crew member on board a full rigged ship and travelling to third world countries where they build local schools and hospitals, construct wells, give medicines. They took artists and scientists on various overseas projects. I loved the idea! I took/take great interest in travelling, adventuring artists, botanists, scientists, medics who collected medicinal plants for Kew Botanic Gardens, as an example.

I also love the idea of scuba diving among wrecks in the Caribean seas. But I'm not keen on the idea of breathing like that beneath the depths, no matter how tantalising. I will, however, try to learn to snorkel so that I can swim a coral reef, maybe Australia, who knows? One for the bucket list.

Now, I'll end on the promise that I'll be posting some photos of other countries in due course. At the moment, I've only got Funchal, Maderia, and Barcelona, filed on my laptop, so I must make the effort to find other pics and download them. Of which there are a zillion. In the meantime, adios, caio, au revoir, etcetera.