So, after telling you about the flight, I thought I’d fill you in on what happened during my holiday to Madeira. We only booked it a week before we were actually due to go, so it was all rather rushed, but I think overall we did quite a lot in the 4 days that we were there. I mentioned in an earlier post that I’d been struggling with my anxiety lately but I was still determined to go away, and I’m glad we did. Despite a HORRIFIC flight out there, the rest of the holiday went really well and both my stomach and my anxiety behaved itself. So, I won’t faff around any further – enjoy my account of a short and sweet trip to Madeira.
Day 1 – Exploring the Seaside & an Afternoon by the Pool
After some pretty stressful travelling, we had an early night to help us get ready for a day of exploring. We stayed at Hotel Alto Lido, which was just outside of Funchal – it was so pretty! There were plenty of restaurants, bars and shops nearby so we had pretty much everything we needed in one place. After breakfast we headed out for a walk along the area where our hotel was, with the aim of exploring a little further tomorrow. We had a walk along by the sea and took in the views, which were gorgeous. There wasn’t a proper beach to walk along, as the tide was in and most of it was all pebbles, but walking along the seafront was still enough to take in the scenery. After a wander round for a few hours, we headed back to the hotel where we spent the afternoon by the pool. After crisping up nicely in the sun, we headed out in search of a restaurant for dinner. We ended up a steakhouse, but a combination of it being incredibly busy and not the best cut of meat meant that we didn’t enjoy ourselves quite as much as we’d hoped. We ended up rather full and I began to get a little nervous that my stomach was going to start misbehaving, so we had a leisurely walk back to the hotel and watched a little Peep Show before we went to bed.
Day 2 – Cable Car & Botanical Gardens
We had a slight hiccup in that we ended up sleeping in past breakfast, so we were a little bit behind in what we wanted to do. Once we’d got sorted we headed out on the bus into Funchal, the capital city of Madeira. We headed straight to the cable cars, which I was less than thrilled about because I’m not the greatest fan of heights. I wasn’t particularly sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out they’re not as fast as they look! We decided to head to the Botanical Gardens for a wander around, which meant a trip in another cable car – thankfully by the end I’d had enough exposure to no longer be afraid of them!
The Botanical Gardens had to be my favourite part of the whole trip. They were BEAUTIFUL. So many colourful plants, gorgeous scenery, and the views were incredible. Plus there were even a few cats! Who knew? My only gripe? I was hoping they’d have a selection of botanical gins in the gift shop…this was not the case. We hopped back in the cable car and started our journey back to the hotel, where we spent an afternoon once again by the pool. What was even better was that the chap minding the bar at the time didn’t seem to care how much booze he used up, meaning that we were both served drinks that was 90% spirit. My “mega gin” and my husband’s “mega vodka” had us incredibly drunk by the time we went back to our room to get ready for dinner!
For dinner we went to a nearby restaurant called Cris’s. We’d tried this place the night before but it was fully booked, so we’d made a reservation for this evening. Oh. My. God. If you’re ever in Madeira, go to Cris’s. It’s INCREDIBLE. The staff were lovely, we were given a glass of fizz as soon as we sat down, and the food was fantastic. We started off with some garlic bread, and I had confit duck for my main while my husband had pork cheeks. For pudding, we both went for the lemon meringue pie which was the most dreamiest pudding I’ve eaten. The meringue was so light and fluffy, and the pastry was so sweet and buttery. We even had a quick word with the owner to let him know how much we loved his food. Definitely my favourite holiday meal EVER. Because we’d had more booze on top of the mega gin, by the time we left we were incredibly drunk – but that’s what holidays are all about!
Day 3 – Tuktuks & Tobogganing
Funchal has so much to do in terms of the touristy stuff, so we decided to head back out there to do the classic toboggan experience. Part of this meant going in the cable car again, and we had been told by a couple we’d met the day before that there was a rather long walk back down again afterwards. We saw a sign advertising a ride in a tuktuk for 10 Euros, but this turned out to be 10 Euros each. After my husband attempted to haggle, the guy said he’d take us up there and back down again, plus give us a lift back to our hotel for 30 Euros, which we agreed on.
The tuktuk was actually a really fun thing to do! We saw loads of sights and our driver gave us loads of facts and answered all of my husband’s weird questions as he drove us around. As promised he dropped us off at the queue for the toboggan and said he’d meet us at the bottom. If you’ve not heard of the toboggan before, it’s basically where 2 of you sit in a wicker basket that slides down a massive 2km hill, and it’s steered by 2 men at the back. Describing it doesn’t really do it justice – but it was a lot of fun to say the least!
Afterwards we got back in the tuktuk and we were taken right to the front of our hotel where, you guessed it, we spent the afternoon by the pool once again. Sadly the mega-gin man wasn’t at the bar this time though.
For dinner we went to another nearby restaurant called Ihla Kaffe, where we had another amazing meal. We started out with garlic bread, and I had pork belly for my main, while my husband had fillet steak. Again, it was on par with what we’d had the night before. The slab of pork belly I had was HUGE. My husband had ice cream for dessert but I was unfortunately stuffed, so decided not to push my luck by having a pudding. Even though I was really liking the look of the apple tart.
We decided to have another walk around the seafront to walk off our dinner, and by this point we’d got to know the area quite well. My stomach unfortunately decided it’d had enough for one evening though (potentially fuelled by the thought of getting back on a plane tomorrow), so we ended up going back to the hotel for an early night.
Day 4 – Waiting Around
I have a slight issue when it comes to the last day of holidays. If we’re leaving early in the morning, it’s not a problem, because we have a whole day to enjoy beforehand. However, if our flight is in the evening, I’m in ‘going home’ mode pretty much as soon as I wake up. It’s not helped by having to check out of the hotel and then having a good 8 hours to kill. This was definitely the case on Friday. Our flight wasn’t until 20.25, and because we expected check out to be 11 at the latest, we were up early for breakfast. Check out turned out to be at 12. Luckily, we were allowed to store our luggage in the hotel which gave us a little bit more freedom. We didn’t want to venture too far, so after a little wander around the shops, we headed back to the hotel for a burger.
To be honest, there was probably more we could have done to make the most of the day, but we spend most of it in the hotel lobby reading! Eventually it was time to get the bus to the airport, and before we knew it we were on the plane flying home.
Overall, I loved Madeira. While the weather wasn’t as hot as Gran Canaria or Barcelona where we’d been the last few years, it was warm, and the rain held off enough for us to explore. My anxiety for once seemed to behave itself, despite a VERY shaky start. I was especially concerned about my stomach too, given that it hasn’t been very co-operative recently, but actually, it was pretty well behaved. I think the trick was just not to push my luck when it came to eating! Of course I didn’t eat as much as I wanted to when it came to the lovely meals out, but given how my stomach’s been in general lately, I think I still did pretty well. Aside from my bikini being a bit loose! It turned out there was loads more that we could have done, as we were told by the waiter at Ihla Kaffe, and we awkwardly had to just say “…yeah, we’re going home tomorrow…” so I think in the next year or so we’ll probably be back! My husband got quite a nice fill of Madeira wine (I wasn’t too keen), and thankfully, at the duty free I managed to pick myself up a nice bottle of Madeira gin. I’ve yet to try it, but I’m sure it’ll be delicious either way. Let’s face it, if it’s gin, I’ll drink it.