In 2016 I spent a month and a half in southern Europe, where we would spend long hours in the car driving through the countryside, visiting small towns in Algarve in Portugal and Andalusia in Spain. It was my first time traveling as an adult and I grew up a lot on that trip.
For the last leg of our trip we flew to the Portuguese island of Madeira off the coast of Africa. This was by far my favorite part of the trip - the perfect island getaway to round off my adventures. We stayed in an apartment in the Old Town of Funchal, Madeira's capital.
There was a lot to do on the island, and many of my favorite travel memories come from the time I spent there. Whether it was hiking through the mountains along old water canals called 'Levadas' or driving on the ring highway all the way around the island to explore the small towns and unique geographical features, there was so much to see and do!
My absolute favorite memory was swimming in the Atlantic Ocean in a designated swimming area. There was a concrete platform built into the cliffside that jutted out into the water, allowing for sunbathing next to deep, calm waters. The water was a dark, sapphire blue color, and it was so clear and warm.
We spent hours swimming and relaxing, watching and talking to the locals. There was a floating plastic platform anchored a ways out that you could swim to and lay on, soaking in the sun. With the vast expanse of the Atlantic to one side and the sheer cliffs of the island to the other, I remember feeling a measure of calm, contentment and presence that I had never felt before. It was truly wonderful.