Burano

We’re off to one of my absolute favourite places ever (again). The jewel bright island of Burano.

Hop on a vaporetto from Venice out to this little delight and experience the feeling of living in an actual rainbow.

Burano is known for its multitude of small, brightly painted houses. The whole island is like a manic child’s craft box.

Casa Bepi is the most famous home in the city and this multi coloured delight boasts an array of colors and geometric shapes.

The colours of the houses in Burano follow a specific system – despite the evidence to the contrary, residents can’t just paint their homes willy nilly.

If someone wants to paint their home, they need to send a request to the government, who will then let the owner know which of colours are permitted for that lot.

 The island rose in importance in the 16th century, when women on the island began making lace with needles, they were introduce to the skills via Venetian-ruled Cyprus.

Gondolas galore

The San Marco basin is an area of the Venetian Lagoon where you can find the Riva degli Schiavoni the lively waterfront area and promenade in front of the Doges Palace.

It’s also a great place to gondola spot as it’s where lines of these iconic waterbourne vessels dock up.

You can also see the famous Bridge of Sighs that links the Doges Palace interrogation rooms to the New Prison.

The view from the Bridge of Sighs was the last glimpse of Venice that convicts saw before being locked away.

The bridge’s evocative English name was given in the 19th century by Lord Byron. It’s translated from the Italian “Ponte dei sospiri”, the thought that prisoners would sigh at their final view of beautiful Venice through the window before being taken down to their cells.

San Giorgio Maggiore is one of the islands of Venice. The island, and its Palladian church, is an important landmark.

Away from the main waterfront, there are plenty of other tiny waterways to explore.

St Mark’s Square

Piazza San Marco, also known as St Mark’s Square, is the principal public square of Venice.

It is home to some of the most iconic architecture in the city including The Doges Palace and St Mark’s Basilica.

The Doges Palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the former Republic and was built in 1340.

The Palace has an exquisite exterior with intricate brickwork

The exterior has two main façades facing the Piazzetta di San Marco and the lagoon.

The third façade faces the Rio di Palazzo canal, crossed by the Bridge of Sighs.

The other stunning architectural gem in the piazza is St Mark’s Basilica. The present version is the third iteration of the church and construction began around 1063.

The Western facade is one of the most photographed buildings on the square and boasts beautiful mosaics.

Cruising the canals

Our first day in Venice and we’re exploring the sights of the Grand Canal including the iconic Rialto Bridge.

The Grand Canal is 2.4 miles long with an average depth of five metres.

The banks of the canal are lined with more than 170 buildings, most of which date from the 13th to the 18th century,

Until the 19th century the Rialto Bridge was the only bridge to cross the Grand Cana.

Three more bridges joined it later, the Ponte degli Scalzi, the Ponte dell’Accademia, and the newest bridge Ponte della Costituzione was built in 2008.

Venice

We’ve headed back to Venice for the first time in 14 years and we’re straight back into the faded grandeur of this beautiful old city.

Venice was one of our first ever holidays together. so its a special place for us.

We’re staying in a lovely little air b and b just ten minutes from the bus station, just off one of the many side canals that crisscross the watery city.

Venice is built on a group of 118 small islands that are separated by canals and linked by over 400 bridges.

The islands are in the shallow Venetian Lagoon, an enclosed bay lying between the mouths of the Po and the Piave rivers.

The first of the iconic gondolier is spotted plying his trade on the Grand Canal.

Sheffield stop over

Girls trip time again! This time in the steel city itself – Sheffield!

This industrial northern city holds a special place in my heart as it’s where I did my Masters Degree and made some life long friends.

So grabbing my bestest friend in the whole world we’re off for some culture, shopping and boozing.

We stumble on the best vintage shop ever! Ryan’s Vintage is a cross between a jumble sale and Aladdin’s cave of old, preloved and vintage clothing, shoes and other delights to rummage through.

Kelham Island is an up and coming area of Sheffield so I haul us across the city to explore it a little more.

Once an industrial heartland it is now becoming revitalised as a residential area with traditional pubs as well as independent eateries and a smattering of boutique shops.

There’s also lots of street art for me to enjoy and pose against!

And also can force the human photo prop mark 2 (AKA the bestie) to post next to them too!

She loves it really . . ..

Another fun thing I force my dearest and nearest to do when travelling to new place is to find the sketchiest areas and explore them!

This run down, former industrial area has it’s own decaying charm. Not to mention some less than legal residents taking advantage o its impressive square footage.

Steep ride down

You will know by now that we LOVE a cable car ride and Madeira is positively bursting with them. From the huge slick operation in Funchal to some decidedly hair raising little ones originally just for farm transport.

One of the latter types is the notoriously steep Achadas da Cruz cable car which transports local farmers and visitors down an impressive 98% slope – it is almost vertical!

To add to the risky feel of the whole operation, when we first arrived the cable car was closed due to high winds.

But the operator then changed his mind . . I think it may well have been the growing queue of tourists with money that changed his mind rather than any noticeable change in meteorological conditions!

We’re second in the queue to board and if we’re worried then it certainly doesn’t show #grimaceoffear

The cable car terminates at the windswept, and completely empty agricultural hamlet of Fajã da Quebrada Nova.

Until 2004 the only way for farmers to get to tend their crops at the bottom of the cliff was via boat or an incredible long winded footpath of nearly three miles – so the tiny cable car provides a much needed service to locals (as well as thrill seeking tourists like us!)

Safely disembarked at the bottom we’re literally blown along the shoreline to explore the windswept hamlet.

Empty for now, this hamlet is sporadically repopulated by farmers tending their crops, and by occasional families looking for complete and utter tranquillity during milder, warmer days.

But for now we got to enjoy it completely alone – if somewhat wind whipped!

Floral heaven

Madeira is known as a floral heaven due to its unique mild climate and you can’t move for a riotous bounty of colour and fragrance.

The national flower of Madeira is the exotic and gorgeous ‘Bird of Paradise’, also called the Crane Flower and Strelitzia.

The island is strongly influenced by the Gulf Stream and Canary Current, giving it mild to warm year-round temperature but it also has several microclimates too.

When Portuguese settlers arrived on the island in the 15th century, everything was densely wooded. Hence its name Madeira which means wood in Portuguese.

Spring is the best time to visit in order to see the island in all its blossoming glory but even in July we can find a myriad of flowers including these incredible banks of agapanthus and hydrangeas on a mountain road.

Angel waterfall

Next up on our Madeiran trip is an unusual tourist attraction. A waterfall that flows directly onto the road and you can drive through it!!

So we’ve piled into the car and heading through yet more stunning scenery on route to finding this wacky sight seeing stop!

The Cascata dos Anjos (Angels Waterfall) is one of the most photographed (and Instagrammable) water features on the island. Hence the amount of posers we nearly drive into!!

The waterfall cascades over the rockface onto the old E.R.101 regional roadway, and spills into the sea below.

Acting as a natural car wash for locals, you can find this waterfall about 30 minutes drive west of Funchal.

Porto Moniz

Madeira is not naturally blessed with beaches so the locals, and visitors alike, use natural swimming pools instead.

There are several dotted around the island so we’re off to experience some natural sea bathing.

One of the most popular are the pools at Porto Moniz, formed by volcanic lava and naturally filled with crystal-clear sea water.

There are the paid pools at lido complex above which cover 3,800 square meters in total.

But skin flints that we are, we’re relaxing in the equally fab free pools at Piscinas Naturais Velhas which are at the other side of the town.

Merman hubby is straight in, after some initial grumbling about the stubborn cloud that has lingered throughout the first first days of our trip.

Here’s a little more footage from the complex.