I will confess this experience scared the living daylights out of me and I spent the duration of the ride clutching my husband's hand and avoiding looking down. Having said that, the sight of Funchal, the red-tiled houses stretching up the hillsides, the ravines clothed in lush green foliage and the view of the bay made it all worthwhile. We also took the cable car to the Botanic Gardens, which I found easier. I think going downwards felt less vertiginous, if there is such a word. Anyway, I wouldn't recommend it to those who can't stand heights, but otherwise it's a great way to get to Monte and it offers some spectacular views.
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