on November 6, 2000
Long a tradition in the Madeiran capital, the ride down the mountain from Monte to Funchal on (or in) a wicker and wood toboggan is quite an experience. While the toboggans appear to be of an earlier decade, they sit atop wooden skids that are obvously of new wood, as they are oft abraded by the trip down the paved streets. Two people to a toboggan, with two burly Madeirans to handle (stop, in most cases) the conveyance as it slides nearly 2 miles into Funchal. The ride takes nearly 20 minutes and recreates a major mode of travel in the 1800 - early 1900's. On our descent there were four stops to re-wax the skids. While picturesque and quite different, I could not but believe that the burly gentlemen, clad in all white gear and topped off with straw hats, could have been more friendly and less obviously hawking for tips. Almost as much excitement as the trip down was the drive up the mountain in Bus #48, as the driver took a bus up hills and around the twisty bits where lesser mortals would have feared to drive a Fiesta. Note that bus service in Madeira made getting around very convenient.
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