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Queen Elizabeth 2 - 2003
South American Adventure - Part 4

Dakar, Senegal

Due to the late departure from Rio, and the tide times, we were late arriving in Dakar and departed after just 4 hours on shore. We only get cheap fuel in Dakar, but that still makes it an important port. It seemed strange that we had got into this situation when we had only been 2 hours delayed in Rio.

We had already done both the Dakar tours last year, and didn't want to repeat them. Those who opted for the boat trip to Goree Island were lucky - they were collected from the quay just behind QE2 so did not need to jostle with the locals at the public ferry terminal. Dakar is not a good town to visit. QE2 passengers are always mobbed as they arrive in the shuttle buses, and this experience frightens most who return directly to the ship without getting off. Even crew were intimidated.

We decided instead to browse through the handicraft market on the dockside. Having heard the prices, even after bartering, there were no bargains. There were nice two piece wooden chairs at $40, but large giraffes were £70 - the same price as in Reading.

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

We wanted to see something of the interior of Gran Canaria, and not the beaches, so we set off on the morning excursion to visit the Angostura Valley and the Bandama crater. The trip began with a short guided walk in the old part of the town, to see the cathedral of Santa Ana. Also in the Plaza we saw the Bishop's House and the birthplace of Don Jose de Viera y Clavijo. We continued to the Place of the Holy Spirit, where we saw the house used by the Inquisition.

It was then just a few minutes walk, retracing our steps past the cathedral, to the Casa de Colon - Columbus House. There is a basement museum, including a jail, and then two further storeys. Nearby was the oldest church in Las Palmas, San Antonio Abad. We returned to the coach and off into the countryside, past fields of grapevines, towards the viewpoint of Bandama. It is on a hill overlooking Las Palmas, and also looks down onto a crater, where one man lives in a house in the centre. The road up to the viewpoint clung onto the edge of the hillside, and was narrow and winding. There were very few places wide enough for two coaches to pass, and that caused much cursing and reversing.

We continued through more countryside, in the Tefira direction, stopping for coffee at the Restaurant Las Grutas de Artiles, dug into the hillside. We retraced our route back towards Las Palmas, past a number of cave dwellings, until we reached our last stop at the Canary Gardens. This is truly a botanical garden, not an acclimatisation garden like in Tenerife. The site is large and we could only visit a part, but it was very well presented. Notable highlights were a clump of dragon trees, and the enormous cactus garden.

Funchal, Madeira

We arrived in Funchal to a wet, cold and grey day. We took the Shuttle Bus to the centre of town then worked our way up to the main street, and to the Central Market on the edge of the old town. Nothing seemed to have changed since our visit in 2002. We found the same fruit and vegetable stalls, as well as the enormous fresh fish area, and the flower sellers.

On the way to the cable car station we passed lots of shoe shops, and managed to get a new pair of trainers for Pete. We had expected the visibility to be too bad to make it worthwhile catching the cable car to Monte, but in spite of the heavy showers there was still good visibility. However the problem was the wind. In the event, it was a bit blowy as we went over one of the valleys, but was still safe enough. We went to look at the church at Monte, which contains the tomb of the last Emperor of Austria. We then walked around the Monte Palace Tropical Gardens in the increasing rain. After an hour we had had enough, so came back down by cable car. Thankfully the winds had reduced.

We spent the rest of the afternoon on board, and then it was time to reluctantly leave for home.

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