Bargain holidays for Brits ; River erosion concerns ; Whale sightings excite in Calheta

Today’s photos – Many thanks to Pete … "Tail of 3 Ribeiras of Funchal. Are they trying to tell us something, about land erosion and the environment? 1st pic Ribeira de São João   2nd Ribeira de Santa Luzia,  3rd Ribeira de João Gomes. Der – Would a Ribeira campaign of asking people for photos help to make thing more aware in the blog help?". It might do Pete, but please don’t look to me to run it or publicise, as I have more than enough on my plate … any volunteers?

madeira news blog 1003 pete  1 Ribeira de Sao Joao Funchal madeira news blog 1003 pete  2 Riberia de Santa Luzia Funchal

madeira news blog 1003 pete  3 Ribeira de Joao Gomes Funchal

Ken emailed me with this story, thank you : Unfortunate Experience. Having met our family who are on a visit to Madeira, at the airport last night (Saturday, 27th March), we were driving home in Tandem, myself leading my son who was driving a hired car, to go to our home in Estreito da Calheta. Going down the long decline on the Expressway after the exit to Madeira shopping, we were in the right hand lane as we didn’t want to drive faster than about 80 km per hour. Cars were obviously passing us as usual in the left hand passing lane, going down the hill towards the big bridge in the valley. Suddenly we noticed that the flow of passing cars had slowed to our pace, and in fact the pace of cars ahead of us in the right hand lane had also slowed to below 70 kph. The reason soon became clear as we saw a small car ahead in our lane weaving dangerously from side to side. It sometimes went right across the middle line of the road and then back again. The car we saw later was an older model Ford Fiesta, dark blue/black. Both lanes of traffic were reduced to the speed of the offending car, the driver of which seemed to be under the influence of alcohol or perhaps something else.

One or two cars tried to overtake the weaving car, but were forced back by the erratic track of the offender. With the number of cars backed up behind us, my son who is a driver with years of experience of driving on the freeways in and around Los Angeles, who was in the hired Ford Focus, decided to lead the way in overtaking the offender, which he did but for his troubles received a slight side swipe from the inebriate driven vehicle. This was as we were going through Câmara do Lobos at about 20H10. Once my son had overtaken him, the driver of the offending car seemed to get a grip on himself, and stick more to the right hand side of the road than he had previously, and the backlog of cars then followed my son’s example, and went past the offending car. After the rush petered out, we too were able to pass the car. It was driven by a sole occupant. Prior to our overtaking him , whilst he was going through a tunnel, he was in fact so far over to the right that he ran against the walkway curb.

I wonder if any of your other readers were perhaps involved in this incident and can perhaps tell us what the final outcome was. We unfortunately didn’t take the registration of the car. We just hope that no disaster happened either to the stupid driver, or any innocent bystander.

Many thanks to Elaine (East) for these web snippets :

Madeira appeal could top 100,000 pounds. Jersey Appeal

PUT YOUR BEST FOOT FORWARD WITH OUR GUIDE TO HIKING HOLS More calorie-based incentives – do the walk, you get to have your Madeira cake and eat it. NEWS OF THE WORLD

Many thanks to Becky for this video and web snippet :

Madeira Island – as beautiful as ever

A comprehensive travel blog from 2008:  "Funchal itself clusters in a valley around a pleasant bay but, as I said, don’t expect a beach. The sea-shore offers only dingy pebbles, and you won’t see anyone bathing. I only saw a few kids on the pebbles and one of the few homeless to be found there. This particular chap was dressed as if for the Arctic, wore the traditional woollen hat with side-flaps – the story has it that these are so the men can let them down to block out nagging wives – they’re considering it for export – and he wore a huge gold chain and medallion around his neck along the lines of a mayor. (Unless he was, indeed, the mayor of Funchal, I would have thought that the police should have taken a closer look at his regalia than I did.)" TRAVEL BLOG

"A nice balanced piece I thought" – Adrian. Bargains to bag as Madeira gets back to normal – Places that rely on tourism for their livelihood develop the ability to bounce back from disaster.  Madeira hit the news in February when a month’s worth of rain fell in just one hour, triggering appalling landslides that temporarily paralysed the island’s capital, Funchal. It was a cataclysmic event that claimed 42 lives and made 200 homeless. Yet within days, the Portuguese island in the Atlantic, famous for its mild climate, was attempting to convince travellers that it was back in business. Previous experience of such disasters suggests that people are inevitably affected by the negative news stories. The TV cameras reveal awful pictures of destruction yet there is no follow-up which shows that things have returned to normal. The Madeira tourist office has vociferously appealed to people not to cancel planned holidays to the island – with limited success. The result is that, in the words of one UK Madeira specialist: "Bookings have fallen off a cliff." In these situations the way to recovery usually lies through cut-price deals. For anyone planning to travel in April, for example, there are extraordinarily good buys to Funchal. Teletext Holidays WEBSITE is offering a seven-night package to a three star hotel for just £186 including a return flight from Gatwick – seven nights’ half-board at a top-grade hotel costs £444. While there are still signs of damage, the message is that Madeira is almost completely back to normal. At the prices currently available, it’s a prospect too good to miss. Frank Barrett.  (Mail on Sunday Travel 28/03/10). Many thanks Adrian.

‘Cheetahs of the Deep’ and other whales off the Calheta Coast! The blog site of the whale & dolphin watching boat ‘Lobosonda’ is reporting with photos impressive sightings in the last few days. Among them are Pilot Whales. The North Atlantic Ocean population runs, in a band that runs from South Carolina in the United States across to Madeira, the Azores and Morocco.

Length (metres): Adults are 3.5 – 6.5 metres in length. When they are born short-finned pilot whales are about 1.4-1.9 metres long.

Weight: At birth, Short-finned Pilot Whales weigh about 60kg (135lb). A fully grown adult will weigh between 1 and 4 tonnes.

Diet: Fish, Squid, Octopus

Life span is about 45 years in males and 60 years in females for both species. Image caption: Globicephala macrorhynchus, The Short-finned Pilot Whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus)

Logging, lobtailing, slapping flukes, porpoise and spyhopping. Short-finned Pilot Whales are very sociable and are rarely seen alone. They are found in groups of ten to thirty, though some pods are as large as sixty. They are sometimes seen logging and will allow boats to get quite close. They rarely breach, but may be seen lobtailing (slapping their flukes on the water surface) and spyhopping (poking their heads above the surface). Before diving, they arch their tails and raise them above the surface. When coming to the surface to breathe, adults tend to show only the top of their head, whereas calves will throw their entire head out of the water. Adults occasionally porpoise (lift most of the body out of the water) when swimming particularly quickly. They are known as the ‘Cheetahs of the Deep’ for the high speed pursuits of squids at depths of hundreds of metres.

Fin whales off the Calheta Coast! Also, Lobosonda has sighted Fin whales. “In the morning there were 4 fin whales that rushed very fast to the east, in the afternoon there were 3 fin whales which went for a while just beside our boat.” They are the second largest whales and the second largest living animal after the blue whale growing to nearly 27 metres long. They live to 94 years of age. Its food consists of small schooling fish, squid, and crustaceans including mysids and krill. Image caption: Fin whale off the Calheta Coast, Madeira.

Image : Fin whale size.  Wiki pages: FIN WHALE PILOT WHALE Link to Lobosonda’s blog:

Many thanks to Paul for all that information on our oversized neighbours. 

Today’s news headlines from the front page of the Diário de Notícias :

To purchase a house on Madeira is more expensive – A bank assessment in the Region comes up with values superior to the national average by almost 25%. The price of construction is higher, and the consequent bank evaluations even more so. Madeira has the highest rating in Portugal. According to a study by the National Institute of Statistics, the average bank evaluation on housing in Portugal, during the month of February, stood at 1,183 Euros per square meter, or 0.5% less than in January, but more than 4.5% higher compared to February last year. However the banks have evaluated the value per square metre on Madeira to be €1,470, 24.2% higher than the average for Portugal.

Today’s main news headline : Storm already caused three lawsuits – There are two criminal complaints lodged by relatives of victims (crane and landfill) and an investigation initiated by the MP (Babosas). One of the cases (pictured) is of a crane that fell in Laranjal killing people. One of the lawsuits has actually been instigated by the Prosecution Service (MP) itself, after hearing news and complaints about the situation in Babosas, something that the MP has the power to do. There will be other such cases for sure, as 6 months are allowed from the date of the incident to formalise complaints.

Diocese doesn’t comment on the suspicions of paedophilia – There are cases of two padres on Madeira. But Paço says to the Diário that doesn’t talk "based on conjecture". And that "if there are cases being investigated, they should be investigated, proved, and that each one  assume their own responsibilities". The Diocese ignores investigations of members of the clergy suspected of sexually abusing minors that occurred in 2008 and 2009, according to church spokesman, Father Marcos Gonçalves. The Justice Police are investigating cases following the receipt of anonymous letters.

Free calls to South Africa and Venezuela. Almost old news really, as Cable TV company Zon offers free calls to fixed phones in those two countries between 9 pm and 9 am, from next month. That’s using the telephone package that costs €9.99 per month. The change has happened as Zon increased the list of free-to-call countries from 20 to 30. They now include Austria, Germany, Andorra, Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, United Kingdom, Sweden, Switzerland, Chile, Peru, Australia, China, Japan, Croatia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Canada and USA. With Canada and the USA  you can also make free calls to mobile networks, no doubt subject to some restrictions or conditions, before someone finds out otherwise and sues me.

Social Democrat Party conditions representative of the Socialist Party on the table of the Legislative Assembly of Madeira – Ramos only accepts Serrão.

PP [Peoples Party] criticises deputies on holiday with support, when there are matters from the storm to be dealt with.  Had to guess that one a bit, seemed an impossible headline to translate, but even the Diário often makes errors, even on the front page.

If anyone else can oblige with the translation of any of the ‘blank’ or sparsely filled headlines, or other news stories, here is the link. All contributions much appreciated. 

If you can, please contribute something Madeira related. A funny story or good or bad experience, a news item, or a story from a Madeira newspaper, a teaser, news of a bargain flight or item in a supermarket. Please help keep this blog going … without user contributions it won’t survive. Please don’t send in automatic translations (like Google translator) without checking them through and correcting them first, thanks.

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4 thoughts on “Bargain holidays for Brits ; River erosion concerns ; Whale sightings excite in Calheta”

  1. There is still no information about police action in the case of the Garajau dog. Connie Penn, who originally told me about the situation, is back in Madeira until Friday. She is sending me new photographs of the dog and its surroundings. The English visitors, who were staying near the dog and who reported its condition to the Santa Cruz Police, are Maureen and Michael Cruamer. They are a married couple now back in England. They told Connie and presumably also the Police that for five days, no-one had provided the dog with food or water, so that when they tried to lower food to it, the dog was unable to eat it. They thought it was very ill and probably suffering from dehydration. Ater their complaint to the Police, someone apparently went to the house to leave food and water for the dog. They did this around midnight, did not put any lights on and even blacked out some of the windows of the flat. Tobi, who also went to the flat to feed the dog with a mixture of his own soup, biscuits and dog meat, verified that someone else had left food and water for the animal. However, the dog apparently found Tobi’s offering “more tasty”. That’s all I have at present.


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