Saturday, 4 July 2015

Room 503 - Madeira

After spending a week in Funchal, Madeira (Portugal) I have never been more ready to head home. It wasn't the fact that I got sick of the place, on the contrary - I thought the island itself was stunning- it was more that I ran out of things to do and I am not the type of person to happily lie by the poolside and do nothing. Sounds so negative doesn't it! I don't mean to sound negative or ungrateful for that matter. There was so many great things about my trip that will be stored in my memory forever.

I must say that a highlight of my trip was spending time with family. Although, when you spend time with family you have a tendency to reminisce about 'old times'. 

**After writing that first paragraph I felt I jumped straight into the story (or review) before giving you the background details... so here it is..**

So.. I booked a holiday! 26 June 2015 - 3 July 2015 travelling from London Gatwick heading to Funchal, Madeira. My travelling companions... My pregnant sister Rachel and my not so little brother Ryan. After making my move to Berkshire 3 years ago I haven't had much opportunity to spend some quality time with my family. Not out of choice, it's more because we all have our lives to live and time just gets ahead of us. The reality is, we are just too busy. So, we all decided that a holiday was the perfect opportunity to get that time in and catch up!

My sister Rachel.. I won't tell you much about her story as I think I could write a novel on her life, but let's just say she needed a well deserved break from reality. My brother Ryan has never been abroad before and wanted to finally experience the culture of another country and that worthwhile holiday feeling. 

So we set off... 

The 3:30 am taxi journey to the airport was painful but the thought of no work, warm weather and a Portuguese island to explore made it all worth it. When we arrived to Funchal airport, it all looked..well small! Although there didn't seem to be a person in sight, I couldn't complain. I automatically felt at ease and it was so peaceful. The weight of the world was lifted and the feeling that this would continue to be this way for the next seven days was pure bliss. Oh, and lets not forget the sea view - that helped (A LOT).

We searched around and finally found our Thomas Cook rep, flying with Thomas Cook has its perks (not many but I'm sure more than one), at least you know your holiday reps are friendly and will point you in the right direction. We walked outside the airport only to find our chariot awaiting - this was in the form of a broke down white van from the 80's ready to drop us off to our destination - Hotel Raga.

Driving like complete lunatics up some rather steep hills we managed to get there alive! The weather wasn't looking so great and it started raining. Not a good start I must admit. 

We walked into the hotel at 12 and was told check in wasn't until 2 pm, so not only were we tired from our 3:30 am wake up, we had no room available to either catch some shut eye or freshen up. At this point, I must admit my holiday excitement was stunted. 

We left our suitcases in reception and decided to sit outside (at this point the drizzle has stopped). It all seemed very quiet and we wasn't impressed at all. Maybe it was because we were tired, that our room wasn't ready or the fact the sun wasn't exactly shining. 

2 hours later, as predicted our room was ready. Finally things started to perk up! We were in room 503. Our balcony was angled so we had a superb sea view - we could also sit and watch the evening entertainment on our balcony if we wished.

We could literally see the beyond. 

The room itself was mediocre, it was very similar to a travel lodge although they claimed to be a 4 star I would say it was more of a 3 star. Basic but clean and remotely comfortable. My only suggestions to them would be to 1) invest in some better blankets - the yellow ones are itchy and not very comfortable and 2) buy some better pillows - it felt like sleeping on a mattress alone they were so thin (talk about neck and back pain) 

After finally feeling like we were on holiday, we decided to throw on some clean clothes and head off to see what we could find. (Let the selfies begin)

First stop was to grab a bite to eat..

Personally, the food was OK! Rachel and Ryan both thoroughly enjoyed what they had, myself however didn't as much. Although the selection was great and some of my choices tasted as great as they looked, I did try some different dishes that well lets just say didn't agree with my stomach... (too much information)

However, I did find the most adorable cake shop. They sold the most delicious ring doughnuts which I have to guilty admit I lived on for the week. They also sold ice-cream which I helped myself to also.( I'm probably two stone heavier no doubt)

The days were filled with sunbathing, ice-cream and of course wondering around the island. We found so many little places and shops to spend or should I say waste our euros on. 

We couldn't go on many excursions because of Rachel being pregnant. However, we did have the pleasure of going whale and dolphin watching! Such an incredible experience, definitely one I would recommend. 

The overall trip was a success, although I think that five days would have been more than enough. We did everything we planned to do in such a short space of time the only thing left was to sunbathe by the pool - unless this is something that you enjoy doing of course ( I am too much of a fidget to enjoy this for too long). One of the many happy family memories I will have and of course, the start of Sprucenews wanderlust section! I left the island with a healthy tan and a smile.

I hope you enjoyed the review :) next up... Mauritius and Barcelona!!

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