Where to go in December?
Where to go in the winter when you don’t want to travel too far, but you’d like some warmth? I ruled out the Canary Islands, only because I feel I’ve done the islands to death in my 20s. I loved Cape Verde when I was there a few years ago too, but I like to explore new places. I recalled a conversation with a work colleague who had told me they holiday often in Madeira and they love it. I googled to look at the pictures and I was shocked how pretty it looked; decision made!
I Love Doing Research!
As always I love doing my research on where I’m going; for me it’s all part of the holiday. My requirements for a hotel are pretty simple, first and foremost as a solo traveller I need to ensure that I am safe and that I feel safe. I needed internet, as my evenings would be fairly restricted I decided I’d take my laptop and stream videos. I know people say, go out and enjoy the new place you are in of an evenings but I just want to stay safe. Generally if I know I’m going to be alone for a trip, I plan to do as much as I can in daylight hours. It’s common sense, even in countries that are proclaimed as safe, I think it’s better to stay in a safe location than be looking over my shoulder all the time.
So I found the hotel I wanted to stay in. Of course it ended up being a 5* hotel, as I have expensive taste. The prices I was getting for the hotel on all well known hotel booking sites was expensive! Out of curiosity I checked package holidays to see what hotels they had. Bingo! They had the hotel I wanted and it now worked out at almost half the price. Top tip: check out all of your options! I know there are travellers who never even consider a package holiday, whilst preaching that booking separately is cheaper. Mostly it is, but like I say no harm in looking.
Really? A Package Holiday?
Package holidays can have their benefits: transfer included, a friendly rep on hand, an emergency telephone number and help with tours. The nice thing about a 5* hotel is the included transfer option is often a taxi and not a coach.
The Cliff Bay Hotel, Funchal
My research paid off! The hotel was amazing!
I was greeted by lovely reception staff who went through everything, after she’d gone through it all she said ‘one minute, I have something for you’, she disappeared into the back office and returned with a glass of bubbly. I have to say it was a nice touch. I headed to my room, and couldn’t believe how huge the room was. I opened the windows to the huge patio window and I was hit smack bang in the middle of my face with an amazing beautiful view of the harbour.
I wasn’t intending on writing a review for the hotel, but I loved it so much that I couldn’t go past without saying how good it is. The restaurants were great. I even had afternoon tea one of the days. The pool areas were great, although the weather wasn’t quite hot enough for me to sunbathe.
I did one of the tour operator’s tours of the island, and I fell in love with the island, it was so beautiful and so interesting to hear the history.
Another day I went on a catamaran to go whale and dolphin watching. I was surprised just how much we got to see and what a highlight of the holiday it turned out to be.
I have to admit, I was shocked that Funchal felt very much like a European city. I know it is, but having been to the Canary Islands a number of times, I expected it to have a similar feel to that. I was not expecting to be in a bustling town with very European architecture. I loved it. I loved all the artwork scattered throughout the city also.
All in all Funchal and Madeira was not as I expected and it was such a pleasant surprise. For me to take a suitcase away with me and to stay in one hotel for more than a few nights is not usual, but it’s always nice to do something different now and then, and just go somewhere to recharge the batteries.