A unique-to-Madeira, crazy, and really fun way to get back down to the city center from the Monte Palace Tropical Gardens is to take a basket toboggan ride down. Or, you can walk down the very steep and narrow streets and photograph those people who are taking rides in the basket toboggans. We opted for the latter.
When we exited the garden, we saw all the toboggan drivers waiting with their baskets. There’s a resemblance to the gondoliers in Venice. We wondered how the toboggans slide down the asphalt. The baskets’ runners appeared to be smooth wooden strips so the steep slope of the street must be the key for how easily they seem to slide down the street. Brakes and steering? There aren’t any – it’s all controlled by the fancy footwork of the two “drivers” in their jaunty straw boater hats.
There’s a long tradition of toboggans on Madeira and not a wonder. The streets really are quite steep and traveling by foot seem a bit treacherous. Our choice of walking certainly took longer, but the chance to photograph this Madeiran mode-of-transport meant we didn’t have to pay anything but attention getting down the hill.