Day 7 (Saturday, 27-9-03)

The long anticipated split happened today. Five of us went up the mountain to do the peak walk, that was Jenny, Janine, Eric, Frans and I. The others went to Porto Moniz and surrounding area.
Franki took us up speedily to the starting point at Pico do Arieiro. As we approached the starting point I became more and more agitated because we saw bus after bus coming off the mountain and I had visions of thousands of people on the trail. And then at the parking area we came across this group playing music trying to sell their music, this now really got me pissed off. And I don't know why because other members of our group thought that this was very pleasant.
Fortunately as we got to the trail it became clear that 99% of the people up there are only there for the view. I wouldn't say we had the hiking trail to ourselves, it was bearable. And what a fantastic trail, it went along the top of razor rocks with shear drops on each side, it went along the side of mountains with the path hacked into the rock (half tunnel) and it went through tunnels.
A few words on the weather, I had anticipated a cool temperature up there (1800m) and started hiking in longs. I soon had my legs taken off. The temperature was pleasant and at times even hot, where the wind didn't reach us. Clouds started to build up on both sides, but we remained above the clouds in beautiful sunny weather. The hiking was not that easy, initially we went down by about 250m which had to be climbed up again to 1750m at Pico do Torres. And then down again to 1600m with a final sharp up to Pico Ruivo de Santana at 1862m. The hut at the summit was not well stocked and charged €2 for a cooldrink.
From Pico Ruivo it was mostly downhill to Franki's taxi at Achada do Teixeira and we managed that very quickly. The walk was only interrupted once when we stopped at a drinking fountain with cold clear water. We were back at the hotel at 18h00.

And what did the other half do? Here it is!
3 of us elected to face the juggernauts of the coastal road rather than the elevated mists of the mountains or a whole day on the concrete 'beach' of Porto Moniz. I was seduced by the "its only a 3 kms walk from Seixal". A mere stroll!! We got out of the communal taxi at Sao Vicente and while waiting for the bus did a thorough tour of the very pretty village & square which we had driven past so many times. When the bus dropped us off at Seixal the first little misgivings arose - signpost read 8km to Porto Moniz.
Seixal is a lovely village cascading steeply down the hill to a little port, the opposite side of which is being transformed into a swimming area with a natural enclosure of huge rocks. Not conducive to swimming at the moment with the construction work but will surely be lovely for next year. Wandered through the narrow streets and peeped into little houses on the way back up to the road.
And so the very long, hot trudge along the road, braving the oncoming concrete mixers, huge lorries laden with rocks taken from the tunnel building and dumped to extend the little ports. The Spicey Lichtmans preferred to walk on the sea side of the road so as not to have to face the oncoming monsters, which by the way, only veered very slightly to avoid me at the very last moment. We started to thumb a lift but the realisation hit us that except for full taxis or little tour buses and the juggernauts, the cars going past were all VERY small. Who was going to pick up 3 people & packs? We picked our way carefully through a tunnel, thank goodness only a short one. Fortunately and eventually someone did stop. A little 4 door, 4 seater car with a couple in the front and baby in a car seat in the back. I thought, toughies for the SpiceyLichtmans, I'm getting in. No, no says the lady and beckons them to come too. The packs went in the boot and ALL 3 of us sat on the 1 remaining seat. What bliss. They were visitors from Lisbon and were on their way to swim at Porto Moniz and we left them in no doubt about how grateful we were for the ride.
The rest of that day was spent really relaxing and swimming with a little gift shopping thrown in.

Day 8---->