ast week I was away from the interwebs and England as I went on my first holiday abroad in years to the Portugese island of Maderia.

I went away with my boyfriend who kept the secret of the location a surprise for me for endless weeks AND I even managed to get through security in the airport without finding out. You should’ve seen the security guards face when he asked me where I was going and I said I don’t know… it quickly followed by a ‘Its a surprise.’ I didn’t want him thinking something suspicious was going on haha!

The surprise was amazing, we stayed in the most amazing hotel just away from Funchal, the capital city, and we were at a hotel by the sea. We stayed in the Hotel Vidamar which is INSANE. It has two towers, two infinity pools, spa, gym, three extension restaurants, a bar, buffet every evening with sea views, amazing hotel rooms with balcony. It was just amazing how huge the hotel was.

Each day involved walking. We were a good 20 minute walk from the city but the city held something different everyday. We rarely did the same route twice. We arrived on Friday, walked around Saturday and Sunday, Sunday was definitely an interesting day as it was as you expect. Everything shut up shop, no one around but was such a peaceful change. Such a busy city. It hosts a marina and clearly does most of its exports here.

One morning my boyfriend, Dan, thought it would be a fabulous idea to make me wake up at 7am to go downstairs, it wasn’t even ready for breakfast yet so it wasn’t my favourite thing to be doing and I was very out of it but we went down by the pool to watch the sunrise. It was a cloudy morning so we decided to go back upstairs instead and when we looked out we had just missed it by a minute rising. It was a beautiful backdrop everyday.

Some of the most recommended things to do in Maderia are to visit the shops, wine lodge which is a very historic traditional wine maker. Maderia wine tastes very much like port or sherry which is NOT my taste, I’m more a white wine, rose kinda girl. So we went to the wine lodge and I tried the Atlantis Rose, ┬áthis was so nice so we got a couple bottles and was great to get a souvenir to take back home that wasn’t a keyring.

The market was very interesting, a very busy place that did take a good walk to find and admittedly is more busy on Saturdays but just past the trees above in the corner was the fish market. You’d see people bring in loads of fish that probably was caught only an hour or less before and cut up to be sold. My first reaction was that it looked so unhygienic but I have to say I’ve never eaten so much fish before, it was so nice to try the fish at dinner and lunch as you know it would of been fresh out the sea only that morning.

Not only is ground level the best place to be, or the most recommended but take a cable car up to the mountain tops and you can see the whole south of the Island with the sun lit up. The island had the craziest climates. Down by the Marina and our hotel it was sunny hot, up in the mountains it was so so humid and muggy and even rained a bit and they were only a few miles apart.  The cable cars take you to various gardens, houses and cafes. We went to the botanical garden which was slowly coming out of season but was fun all the same.

And lastly, I cannot fail to mention how good the food was. We never had a bad meal. We got lunch out everyday and we would explore the little alley streets to find hidden gems. Boy did we, the coffee bar was visisted twice, it was an amazing home made, niche cafe that had specials of the day and amazing food and drinks. We loved it there as it wasn’t your typical snack bar. We also had a running joke of the whole holiday that we were ‘Prego’ which in Portuguese is a garlic steak sandwich. We saw this first on a McDonalds advert and then when we tried them we were really impressed by how simple it was yet so tasty. It had ham, cheese, lettuce, steak and tomato in the traditional Bolo de Caco bread and was so good. We will definitely be making these for our lunches at the weekends.

Overall, I had the most amazing holiday. I loved everyday and we got to spend more time together than we have done before. We did lots of exploring, caught a glorious tan, drank lots of wine, ate a shed load of food and enjoyed the beautiful island. I fully recommend this if you’re a big explorer but looking for the option of chilling by the pool and sea too.