A day trip to the Valley of the Nuns (Curral das Freiras), Madeira

A day trip to the Valley of the Nuns (Curral das Freiras), Madeira | PACK THE SUITCASES

Getting the bus up to the Valley of the Nuns, Madeira (or Curral das Freiras in Portuguese) was one of the first short day trips we did from Funchal, back on our first ever visit to Madeira. Since then, we’ve been back to the valley several times and always enjoyed it. There’s not much there, but the views are spectacular.

So I thought I’d put together this little guide on visiting Curral das Freiras in case anyone else is thinking of exploring the area…

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What to pack for a spring city break

What to pack for a spring city break | PACK THE SUITCASES

Here’s a few tips for what to pack for a spring city break. Typically, it’s going to be warm-ish in the day and bloody cold at night and RyanAir somehow expect you to cope with this MADNESS within 15kg. I don’t normally do packing guides but I was just pondering what a faff packing is in changeable spring weather.

You know that thing when it’s the week before you go away and you empty the entire contents of your wardrobe all over your bed yet still you have NOTHING to wear? So you end up chucking all sorts of mismatched crap into your suitcase? And then you get to where you’re going and nothing is right?

Yeah, that.

That’s something you don’t need to do. I promise. Sort of. To be honest, I still find packing hard in spring (or autumn, TBH). But we always tend to do a city break in April/May so I’ve learned some things over the years. If this helps anyone with packing, I’ll feel I’ve done some kind of heroic good deed for the world.

Right. Here are my tips…

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40 things to do in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

Things to do in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal | PACK THE SUITCASES

Here are 40 of my favourite things to do in Funchal, Madeira. I’ve been there enough times now that I feel I can give plenty of tips on how best to spend your time in this beautiful island city.

I’ve tried to avoid anything too obvious like the Monte toboggans and I’ve only focused on the city of Funchal itself and day trips you can easily do from it without a car rather than looking at the entire island of Madeira… Otherwise, this will turn into 40 million things to do and no one will have the patience to read it. I’ll be impressed if anyone actually reads all 40 things to be honest…

Anyway, read on if you want some tips from a self-confessed Funchal addict. Enjoy.

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10 things to do in Stockport: a town of vegan eats and vintage treats

Things to do in Stockport UK | PACK THE SUITCASES

I thought I’d put together this little list of some of my favourite things to do in Stockport, one of the 2 nearest large towns to where I currently live (the other is Macclesfield, which I also recommend). Stockport is often overshadowed by the city of Manchester being so close to it, but it actually has some brilliant places to eat and drink as well as some lovely vintage shops worth seeking out. Unfortunately, it also has a fairly run down shopping area, a generic retail park and a brand new chain restaurant/cinema complex, so this can give a negative first impression. I wasn’t taken with it at all when we first visited. It wasn’t until we ventured to one of the food events on that I found all the little hidden gems round the old town and lovely market area and started to see a different side to Stockport.

So here are a few things to do in Stockport that I take friends to when they come for a visit or that I recommend to people who are in the area…

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How to pack a suitcase in 10 steps – without crying or screaming

How to pack a suitcase in 10 steps | PACK THE SUITCASES

Okay, here it is: a guide to how to pack a suitcase efficiently, without wanting to give up on life and burn all your clothes. Running a travel blog called Pack The Suitcases, this was always an inevitable post for me wasn’t it?

I’d like to think I’ve nailed the best way to pack a suitcase over many, many years of trips and I really don’t pack light at all so I have had to learn how to cram it all in. Nine times out of 10, I manage to do it without crying/screaming these days, which must mean I’ve learned something. I even got a full 2 weeks’ worth of every-temperature-covered clothing into my suitcase for Japan and nobody died.

So here are my packing tips and what to do…

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The best bars in Funchal, Madeira: in search of poncha and craft beer

The best bars in Funchal, Madeira: in search of poncha and craft beer | PACK THE SUITCASES

Here’s my pick of the best bars in Funchal, Madeira. The city is full of bars serving delicious poncha and even has an emerging craft beer scene (craft beer as in the hoppy American hipster kind). So while Madeira isn’t your place for crazy nightlife, there’s somewhere to get ratarsed round every corner.

Obviously, while in Madeira you’ll be wanting to knock back a poncha or ten. Poncha is a unique and rather strong alcoholic drink from Madeira, made with boozy sugar cane rum, honey, sugar, orange/lemon juice and other fruit juices. The traditional lemon one is my favourite because I’m all about that sour life, but lesser beings might enjoy the maracuja (passion fruit) one, which also seems to be pretty popular. Apparently, they (they being the locals) say that if you drink three poncha, you’ll be able to speak fluent Portuguese. I can confirm this is very much not true, but you will be far too confident in giving it a go.

You might die if you only drink poncha for your entire trip in Madeira, so hunting out some craft beer should also be on the agenda. Madeira is awash with the generic Coral lager, a Heineken brand. It’s not vile but it isn’t something you’d seek out. We were stuck with it when we first started going to Madeira a few years ago, but things are looking up now as Madeira seems to be growing its own little hipster craft beer scene. V exciting. More on this later.

So here’s our selection of where to get your drink on in Funchal…

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