It was a Saturday and the majority of our group had the day off from the Portuguese language classes they are taking each morning from 10:30-12:30. Mark and nine others took a van to the eastern most tip of the island where there is a hiking trail called the “A Ponte de Sao Lourenco” with spectacular views of the water and cliffs. The hiking trail was well marked although the terrain was very hilly and strenuous. The sign at the entrance to the trail claimed that it was only 3.2 kilometers but it took us two hours to reach the tip of the island and ninety minutes to return. Kent went shopping in town with Sue and Natalie. Sue and Kent had ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch!
After an afternoon of relaxing from the hike we were treated to a wonderful dinner at our hotel. This weekend in Madeira they had many festivals including a celebration for the autonomy of Madeira from mainland Portugal in 1976. Each Saturday night during the month of June the city allows four different countries to put on a firework show as a part of an International Fireworks Competition. After the four countries have put on a show the public votes for the best show. Once the votes are in the company with the most votes is allowed to put on the Atlantic Festival fireworks show, said to be the largest in the world (the one we saw).
The dinner at the hotel was a large buffet for about 100 guests out on the terrace overlooking the city and the seaport. There was a soup and bread station where they served the local Caldo Verde Soup made with potatoes, olive oil, collard greens and sausage. Next was a salad bar with a green salad, apple salad, chicken salad, Jell-O salad, etc. For the main course they served steamed vegetables, rice, sweet potatoes and grilled meats. The meats included two types of sausage, fish, pork and beef. The desserts included a delicious coconut cake, chocolate cake, flan and more. They also served wine during the entire meal followed by coffee and Poncho. The Poncho drink is made with distilled cane sugar, lemon juice, orange juice and honey.
After the extravagant three-hour dinner, we enjoyed the fireworks display which lasted twenty minutes. It was synchronized to music but at our hotel we were unable to hear the music. The fireworks were nothing spectacular to us as we have fireworks in San Diego all year round but it was enjoyable.