If you read my previous post, 50 shades of wobbly, you will know that my solo trip to Madeira almost didn’t happen as I got an attack of freezing cold feet in the airport departure lounge! But I made it, and I’m home feeling glad that I went and feeling that I’ve learned a few things …
1. #JustDoIt … Procrastination is the enemy of the solo traveller. On my first day, I found it difficult to get going. I ‘explored’ the hotel and grounds, and sat wondering which of the many possible things to do I might actually do!! In the end, I just made myself leave the hotel and head for the city centre to do *SOMETHING* rather than ponder any longer. I walked over 5 miles that day, taking in the sights and sounds of the city, riding the Funchal cable car, strolling along the promenade. I came back to the hotel for an afternoon dip to cool off, and all in all it turned out to be a good day.
2. Fail to plan = plan to fail … Perhaps a little at odds with number 1, which is about going with the flow, but actually I was glad that on day 2 I had a pre-booked day trip. It meant that my timetable for the day was already set and that I had the company of a group of like-minded explorers too. I had a great day – saw lots, learned lots and chatted lots. Tired but fulfilled by the end of day 2.
3. Life’s too short … So said my friend, as she decided to join me for day 3 of my visit, flying in from The Canaries for 36 hours just because she could! It was lovely to have company and especially to enjoy a slap-up meal with her in the evening.
4. Carpe Diem … On my last day I had to check out of my room by midday with pick up for the airport not until 17:30. I didn’t really want to spend another day wandering in Funchal, and hanging round the hotel didn’t seem like the best way to spent the day either… So, at the last minute I booked another day trip to see another part of the island. It meant I had to be organised enough to check out by 9, and also left me fine margins between being dropped back to the hotel and heading to the airport. But there’s nothing quite like squeezing every last bit of juice from your last day, and that’s exactly what I did! Another really enjoyable day.
5. Trust in me … No, really. Not the song of Kaa, the snake in Jungle Book … Trust *myself*. I remember when I was studying for my coaching diploma, one of the most important things we learned was that we all have inside us the tools we need to succeed; sometimes we just need some help to find them and put them to use. In spite of my initial wobble, I found the tools within myself to make a success of the trip, and to enjoy my own company. I also learned that being totally solo is quite different from travelling solo to join a group like I did in Morocco, and that maybe I need to consider that when planning future adventures. However, my 4 night break allowed me time to relax, reset, reflect and refresh, with wall-to-wall sunshine as an added perk!
Postscript … Just in case you’ve landed on this post because you’re looking for a travel post about Madeira, here are my thoughts in a nutshell:
- A very lush island in terms of flora. I loved the prolific ‘Bird of paradise’ flowers and the wild agapanthus.
- Definitely an island of two halves – the south was drier, sunnier, and the sea calmer, whereas the northern climate was more humid and changeable, and the Atlantic waves much wilder!
- If you’re a hiker, this is a great place to visit as there are very many well-marked trails through stunning mountain scenery.
- As of November 2022, I was pleasantly surprised at how cheap food was! A sandwich and beer in a cafe for €6, coffee and nata for €2
- And on the subject of food, I’d recommend the Bola de caco bread (especially with garlic butter), the ‘Espada’ (black scabbardfish), and a glass or two of ‘Poncha’ to go with either!