They do say youth is wasted on the young. Kids spend their entire adolescence hoping to grow up faster and wanting every day to be their birthday, and all the while we hear adults moaning in the background how much they wish they could be young again.
Well, this little spot off the coast of Portugal is finally giving them a chance.
On the small archipelago of Madeira, an autonomous region of Portugal, exists the fun pastime of the Monte Toboggans, one of the most famous attractions in its capital Funchal. But if you think of snow and cold when you read the word ‘toboggan,’ think again. These toboggans are available to ride all year long (except on very rainy days), and once upon a time, they were the primary method of transportation down the steeply declining hills of the city.
The wicker-wound toboggans easily slide down these little winding roads, and their unique approach to transport has made this a much sought-out tourist destination. Called the “Carro de Cesto,” this famous 2 km ride takes tourists from the steps of the hilltop Nossa Senhora do Monte Church to the town’s Livramento suburb at the bottom of Funchal – all on the toboggans.
The toboggans are chauffeured by two men dressed in white and wearing straw hats, called ‘Carreiros.’ Their local and geographical expertise helps them steer visitors around with ease, and the special rubber-soled shoes they wear help them put on the brakes. The whole ride is about 10 minutes, and can get up to 30 miles per hour.
Madeira is one of two autonomous regions in Portugal. In addition to offering these sweet toboggans, the little cluster of islands are an exquisite mass of lush green forests and volcanic mountains. According to historical records, it was the first land discovery turned into a new territory during the Age of Discovery, which saw more Portuguese ships sent out than anyone else by far. But today, it has won back some self-governance as an autonomy.