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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Helena Ascough: Trip to Madeira

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    30 Sep

    During the Summer, I spent a week in Madeira with 5 of my friends from college. We had a great time exploring the island, finding a new activity to do every day.

    Before Madeira I had never been away without my family, and so this was a new challenge. It allowed me to be involved with the planning of the trip and the activities we did and gave us the responsibility when catching our flight and transfers to the hotel. This helped strengthen my organisation and teamwork skills.

    On the first day we took some time to get our bearings and figure out the best ways to travel to and from the centre of town. Whilst exploring we decided to take a cable car up to some botanical gardens. 

    Before going to Madeira, we had a couple of pre-planned activities. Firstly, we went on a catamaran trip to try and spot pods of dolphins. It was amazing how close the dolphins were swimming to the boat and we all loved being able to see them so clearly, literally a metre below where we were sitting. At one point we were allowed to jump off the boat into the sea and snorkel, which was fun despite the water being rather cold.

    Our second planned activity was a jeep expedition of the island. This took us from where we were staying in Funchal all the way to the North of the island. We stopped off for the chance to swim in some volcanic pools, before the driver took us off-road allowing us to stand up and enjoy the views and rather bumpy ride over rocky paths and through many wandering cows! We all absolutely loved this experience as it was something none of us had ever had the chance to do before.

    On one of the days we found our way to a waterpark on the island. Despite the rep telling us it wasn’t worth a visit, we had a fab day trying out all the slides and they even had a parrot and a birds of prey show! During the stay we also got the chance to go tobogganing. This was essentially us, in what looked like a wicker basket, being pushed down the steep, winding hills of the island.

    On the final day we made our way to a man-made beach, which was a great way to finish off an amazing week.

    Whilst in Madeira we also took the opportunity to try some of the local cuisine in restaurants and bakeries. One of the traditional dishes are meat skewers, which are presented in an impressive way, hung up in front of you and also taste incredible!

    Overall we all really enjoyed our trip to Madeira and I am very grateful for Gateway giving me the opportunity of experiencing travelling with my friends and trying lots of new activities.