Archive - August 2012

1
A Night Less Ordinary: Prison Hotel
2
Purple Passport: Secret confessions of hotel staff
3
The Bikini Files Part 5: Bikini for Body Shapes
4
The Most Beautiful Natural Places in the World
5
Purple 10: holidays for art lovers
6
Getting married in Portugal, a bride’s guide
7
Sweet Tooth in Portugal: A guide to Portuguese desserts
8
Purple Hearts… Albufeira Portugal
9
A Night Less Ordinary: Three Farthings Naturist B&B&B
10
The Bikini Files Part 3: How to Beat Razor Burn

A Night Less Ordinary: Prison Hotel

Our semi-weekly series: A Night Less Ordinary is all about finding the most weird and wonderful hotels all over the world. From a James Bond hotel room, to sleeping underwater expect the unexpected. This week, we have a night less ordinary at the Giraffe Manor in Kenya. This week, check in a the Karosta Prison Hotel where your inn jailbird can shine and we advise you to go to jail, go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

If you’re a monopoly addict or you simply get a bit excited about the idea of a night behind bars, then Latvia’s Karosta Prison Hotel will be right up your street. But, this place is more 50 shrieks than 50 shades, so beware!

The former KGB prison hasn’t actually changed all that much since it stopped taking prisoners. You can simply tour the former Soviet military jail, or you can do the real deal and go for an ‘Extreme Night’ package.

Once you get there you’ll get the full treatment; finding out what it was like to be an inmate, you’ll get handcuffed and escorted to your cell for the night. You won’t find any home comforts here with some stale rye bread and Russian tea for room service. After that you’ll have to haul your own pallet, laid with a thin mattress before you can lay your head down. And that’s after you’ve dressed it to military standards. You’re given four minutes to use the bathroom (a hole in the ground) while the rusting tap leaks just enough water to brush your teeth. It’s all done in the spirit of good fun (I think) and is meant to be a real experience and something different.

If that’s not enough to freak you out a bit, the former prison is known for its ghostly, mysterious activity. Lightbulbs unscrew themselves. Doors open and close, seemingly of their own free will, and footsteps echo throughout the prison halls. Yikes!

So, don’t say I didn’t warn you! For a real night less ordinary, this place takes no prisoners (groan) but at the bargain price of around £7 per night, it’s hard to beat for value. If that sounds like your cup of tea, (maybe you’re part of a particularly intense Stag party group!) the hotel is always ready for their next victims… I mean guests!

You should read… A night less ordinary | Giraffe Manor

All pictures courtesy of Karostas Cietums

Purple Passport: Secret confessions of hotel staff

We bring you the latest travel news so you know what you’re doing when booking your next holiday!

Hotel confessions

Ever wondered what hotel staff are really thinking? Well you can wonder no more! Reddit, the user generated site has been asking its members ‘what are things that are disturbing/interesting/unsanitary about hotel rooms?’ The term eye opening barely covers it. At last check there were 5,580 comments, from hotel staff all over the world. Here is just a selection: (you can read the full thread here.)

  1. We give free toothbrushes, deodorant, slippers and rubber ducks to anyone who asks. If you go to the front desk late at night when the auditor is working and ask, “can I have some free stuff?” They will probably give you something.
  2. Stay at places with all white linens. There’s no hiding. *Source: I work at a hotel with white linens.
  3. As an ex housekeeper we used to wash the glasses in the bathroom sink and dry them with a clean pillow case. If they looked unused they wouldn’t get washed.
  4. Just to clear this up, duvets are NOT meant to be slept on. I know many people are grossed out that they aren’t always changed but again they are not meant to be used as a blanket. There is a large warm blanket underneath with the sheets that are supposed to be used. Every single person who travels knows the horror stories accompanied with bed covers, so the right thing to do is to fold it and place it on the floor or chair.
  5. We really try our best getting it as clean as possible (our supervisors check the rooms before the guests arrive). Plus there is some sort of competitions between us maids – nobody wants to be the ‘bad maid’. I am aware that this doesn’t count for every hotel though.
  6. Please do not try to sneak your horse into the building, the horse does not want to be in here either.

Brangelina head for… the Lake District


When you think of Hollywood megastars on holidays it tends to be places like St Tropez, Miama or the Greek Islands. It’s not so for uber couple Brad and Angelina, now we can add Lake Windermere to that list.The Sun is reporting the couple and their brood are heading to Cumbria for th
eir holidays this year. Angie is said to have fallen in love with the place while filming Maleficent nearby, while Brad has been busy in Glasgow with World War Z. Of course the Hollywood duo probably won’t be renting a caravan, but taking a few days in a boathouse and bringing the kids quad biking.

Ready, set, tomato!

If your idea of a good time is pelting your friends with ripe tomatoes (and who’s isn’t?) then read on. Every year the streets of Buñol, near Valencia in Spain are filled with thousands of people, who gather for the Tomatina festival. 120 tonnes of the red fruit (it is a fruit, right?) are brought in and the mass food fight begins. It happens the last Wednesday in August, and you can check out some awesome pictures from this years festival at the Guardian here. The only problem is, if you started out loving tomatoes, you might just end up hating them!

The Bikini Files Part 5: Bikini for Body Shapes

Bikini bodyHoliday season may be coming to an end, but if you’re jetting off to catch those last rays of sun some place tropical, then you’ll want to be looking your best. The fourth part of our bikini survival guide is a guide to finding the perfect bikini for your frame. Read on for our expert tips on how to find the perfect bikini for body shapes of all types.

The secret to finding the perfect bikini for your figure is firstly to know your shape. Which one are you?

Hourglass | If your bust and hips are about the same width, but your waist is significantly smaller.
Athletic |
If you’re thin all around, with no significant difference between your hips, waist and bust, and a muscular build.
Pear |
If your hips are significantly wider than both your waist and bust.
Apple |
If your waist is significantly wider than your hips, and equal to or nearly as wide as your bust.

Next – assess the situation.

If you’re hourglass | Hour glass figures benefit from fuller busts. However, these need support on the beach, so choose underwiring and full cups as you would with underwear.
Wider straps also help with uplift and prevent unsightly marks appearing on shoulders. Alternatively, halter necks can be adjusted for great shape and support. Be sure to balance the bikini so you don’t look top heavy. Don’t mix-and-matc! Wearing different colours on the top and bottom could make your body look disproportional.

DO: Get good support from underwired and cup-sized styles. DON’T: Spill out of ill-fitting shapes.

If you’re athletic | Feminine styles flatter an athletic physique. A halterneck will minimise large shoulders, while plunge fronts, tie tops and padding give a more glamorous shape. Pick the prettiest prints you can find – floral, animal, spots, tropical etc. High-cut legs divert attention from shoulders. Swap sporty styles and boy shorts for tie sides and mini briefs.

DO: Make yourself look feminine. DON’T: Pick functional, sporty styles.

If you’re pear-shaped | As pear shapes generally feature a smaller bust, you’re lucky to be able to wear triangle tops. Less fabric shows off more bust, while gel-filled or removable foam pads add shape. Avoid attention-grabbing big pants and stick with mini briefs to ensure the focus is up top. Luckily, having a triangular body shape usually means you also have a relatively flat tummy, so don’t be afraid to show it. Use colour and pattern to balance your body out visually; busy patterns draw attention, while dark, solid colours minimize attention. Try a patterned bikini top with a black bikini bottom.Play down fuller hips by choosing a very simple bottom.

DO: Always look for bikinis sold as separates, so you can get two different sizes for your top and bottom. DON’T: Drown your assets in saggy, ill-fitting tops.

If you’re an apple | If your tummy is a problem area, minimise it with larger bottoms, tankinis  or styles with control panels.  High-rise bottoms or shorts work best. Avoid fussy designs and opt instead for large prints or bold, colourful patterns. A tankini with padded cups will balance your shape and hide the tummy.

DO: Choose high-rise bottoms and tummy control. DON’T: Let it all hang out over skimpy briefs.
 
Click the links for the rest of our bikini files posts: 
 
Click here for PART ONE: THE ULTIMATE BIKINI DIET PLAN
 
Click here for PART TWO: HOW TO SURVIVE A BIKINI WAX
 
Click here for PART THREE: HOW TO PREVENT RAZOR BURN
 
Click here for PART FOUR: HOW TO GET RID OF CELLULITE
 

The Most Beautiful Natural Places in the World

Narrowing down the most gorgeous spots on the planet is no easy feat; we’re certain there are tons of places we’ve missed out that are equally awe-inspiring. While other lists of the world’s most beautiful places often contain man-made sights such as the Pyramids and the Taj Mahal, we wanted to show you just how impressive the world is, all on its own and urge you to protect our enchanting planet.

Here’s our pick of the most beautiful natural places in the world…

  • Hope Bay, Antartica.
  • Amazon Rainforest, Ecuador.
  • Carslbad Caverns, New Mexico.
  • Cliffs of Moher, Ireland.
  • Danxia Landforms, China.
  • Grand Canyon, Nevada.
  • Himalayas, India.
  • Iguazu Falls, Brazil.
  • Jiuzhaigou Valley, China.
  • Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.
  • Niagara Falls, Canada.
  • Hot Springs of Pamukkale, Turkey.
  • The Great Barrier Reef, Australia.
  • Plantation Island, Fiji.
  • Sahara Desert, Egypt.
  • Yosemite Valley, California.
  • Lake Kodaikanal, India.

 

Purple 10: holidays for art lovers

From the Greek Islands ancient art to the imposing Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain, we take a look at the 10 best holidays for art lovers to impress and delight.


  1. Florence, Italy Home to the famous Uffizi Gallery, you can feel art flowing through the veins of Florence. Dating from the 16th century the museum houses the world’s most magnificent collection of Italian Art. Of course a stop in this stunning city wouldn’t be complete without visiting Michelangelo’s famous statue of David.
  2. Paris, France One of the best known museums in the world and home to masterpieces like the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo, the Louvre is a jaw dropper. But it’s not the only top class museum in the French Capital. The Musee d’Orsay is home to works by Degas, Renoir and Rodin while the Pompidou Centre houses classics by Picasso and Magritte.
  3. Bilbao, Spain You might recognise Bilbao from the imposing Guggenheim museum. An architectural wonder, its 32,500 food undulating walls and curves was designed by Frank Gehry. It is home to some of the most famous avant garde art in the world.
  4. Greek Islands A Greek Island art holiday is a wonderful way of getting lost in the culture, the beautiful landscape and the rich heritage. It makes a really relaxing getaway, perfect for relaxed painting excursions, eating like your life depends on it and creating wonderful memories.
  5. New York City The colours, the vibrant atmosphere, that whole feeling you get when you arrive in the Big Apple is different to anything before. It’s like a city built for art. There’s 5000 years of paintings, sculptures and exhibitions at The Met, (the Metropolitan Museum of Art) MoMA and the Guggenheim plus dozens if not hundreds of fashion, design and science museums to inspire you.
  6. Favara, Sicily This is a small town in the Italian island that’s been transformed from quaint to contemporary. Thanks to an initiative by the Farm Cultural Park  it’s seen an explosion in visitors from all over the world. Walls have been used as huge canvasses, sculptures and paintings dot the streets in a town where unemployment is rife.
  7. St Petersberg, Russia Museums in Russia have benefitted for centuries from the royal family’s love of art. You’ll find works from the big guns like Leonardo, Poussin and Picasso and everything in between. Not only famous for its art, it is home to a wealth of historical and cultural artefacts and is home to a buzzing contemporary art scene.
  8. Vatican City The architecture and Renaissance masterpieces of Vatican City have been inspiring people for generations. Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and Raphael’s frescoes are probably the most well known in the collection of renowned art you’ll find in the tiny city. And, of course beyond the walls, you’ll find Rome stretching out below you, another art treasure trove.
  9. Barcelona, Spain The awe inspiring Sagrada Familia will surely make your jaw drop. The hugely detailed church has been under construction since 1882, with building work set to continue until 2026. Designed by architect Antoni Gaudi, it’s just one of his stamps that you’ll notice throughout the city. Park Guell, with its bright, mosaic sculptures will impress even the pickiest youngster; while a stroll through the streets of late night BCN will provide houses such as Casa Mila or Casa Batllo that look like they belong in museums instead of the street.
  10. Berlin, Germany One of the hippest places to get your art on, over the past 20 years, Berlin has grown to become one of the biggest names in contemporary art, exhibitions and architecture. Try the Berlinische Galerie, or the Sammlung Boros Collection (if you can get in there!) It’s also home to art throughout the ages. Museumsinsel, or Museum Island is the biggest complex in Europe and is home to five separate institutions.

You should read… Purple 10 film inspired holidays

Getting married in Portugal, a bride’s guide

Weddings abroad are becoming more and more popular. You can top up your tan before the big day, you’re surrounded by family and friends in a beautiful destination and it will usually cost you a fraction of a big wedding in the UK. Las Vegas, Sri Lanka, France and Spain are all popular choices. But, getting married in Portugal is something special!

We spoke with one bride, Deirdre who married hubby Barry in Albufeira, Portugal last year. From handling the heat in a wedding gown, to waterparks in the days before the ceremony, she gave Purple Travel the lowdown about getting married in Portugal.

Purple Travel: Why did you decide to go abroad to get married?

Deirdre: We decided to get hitched abroad for a couple of reasons mainly; we had been to a lot of weddings. Although each wedding was special they all followed the same format and tended to blend into each other a bit. Barry also works in a wedding band so he has seen so many weddings we decided we wanted to do something a little different and personalise our experience.

We both wanted somewhere where all our friends could really enjoy themselves and somewhere we could all hang out for a week instead of just a day. A place where young and old could enjoy themselves and make a holiday out of it. The weather was another big factor; we were hoping to find a place where the weather would be nice. Also we were on a budget so a wedding abroad seemed like a fantastic option.

Purple Travel: What was it about Albufeira that made you choose it? Did you have to make a few trips before you decided?

Deirdre: I had been on many family holidays to Albufeira so the place for me was very special and held a lot of very special memories for me. Albufeira is also a fantastic place for people to enjoy themselves on holiday. The weather is usually good, the people are very friendly, there are gorgeous beaches, the food is amazing and atmosphere is second to none. It’s a fantastic place for families as it is very child friendly and there is lots to do on the beaches, waterparks etc.

It is also a fabulous place for single people or couples as the nightlife is hopping. It seemed to have something for everyone and when we looked at it, it seemed like an ideal place for our friends and family to enjoy themselves at our wedding.

Purple Travel: Did hubby take any convincing about the idea?

Deirdre: I am very enthusiastic about Albufeira but brought Barry on a trip to Albufeira to show him what I meant. We had an amazing time and have never come home from a holiday so relaxed and unwound! We were sure at that stage it was what we wanted. While we were there we hooked up with Algarve Wedding Planners, two amazing girls Paula and Karina, who showed us many of the hotels and options for getting married in Portugal. It was fantastic after a few showings we found our perfect location.

Purple Travel: It sounds very romantic, where was the wedding itself?

Deirdre: The wedding itself was in the main church in the old town Albufeira followed by a reception in the Grande Real Santa Eulalia. The place was fabulous we had a rooftop cocktail reception overlooking the sea, we were then led to an outdoor balcony where tables were decorated fabulously, the food was to die for, atmosphere was fantastic and we had a beach down a few steps to take some nice photos.

Later on that evening we had a place called Le Club to have the night part of the wedding. Barry and his friends are musicians so it was great, they played music and that was followed by lots of dancing with an amazing playlist and D.J. The staff were fantastic, we danced until at least six, the bar stayed open and we were never told to leave. That’s the great thing about a foreign wedding; the regular opening hours and curfews don’t apply. That was another big plus for us.

 Purple Travel: How did you handle the heat on the day? In a wedding dress, we can only imagine it got a little toasty!?

Deirdre: Wearing a wedding dress in the heat is everything you would expect it to be, very hot and a little uncomfortable. I wasn’t one of those brides who didn’t want to get out of their dress. I couldn’t wait to get out of it! It was probably a bit too heavy so bear it in mind if you decide to get married abroad.

Purple Travel: Did you have local help, e.g. a wedding planner, hotel manager something like that?

Deirdre: As I said, we had a wedding planner, Algarve Wedding Planners. We really could not have done it without their help. They were fantastic! I looked online, wrote to them, told them the type of budget we had and asked what we could get for it. They wrote back with loads of options. We arranged to meet up with them when we were on holiday. After that we met them at home. They come over for a wedding fair every year and they bring lot of people to help with your wedding in Portugal. You name it, they can tell you about it, hotel managers, musicians, florists, makeup artists hairdressers etc. all with portfolios of their work. In one day we had booked hair, makeup, flowers, reception location, menu, music. It was super!

Purple Travel: Was there a lot of paperwork involved, e.g. did you need to sort out licences etc at home first?

Deirdre: There was lots of paperwork involved but there is lots of paperwork for any wedding. You needed to get all the same letters of freedom etc you need for home. I also remember that you needed a solicitor over in Portugal to translate documents but that was all set up by the wedding planners. They knew exactly what we needed to do so it was a relief having them for that part.

Purple Travel: So, would you recommend getting married abroad?

Deirdre: I absolutely would recommend a wedding abroad. We had such a memorably, magical day. I’m not great on organisation but having wedding planners there to make sure everything runs smoothly was fantastic. We had a great time but not only with the day but the whole lead up. Meeting up with friends and family on beaches, in pubs, for dinner, at water parks was so much fun. It can at times be stressful, it’s very hectic and there are so many people to meet and hang out with it can be exhausting but very, very exciting. The excitement of meeting your best friends, on a holiday before your big day is just unforgettable.

The day was perfect, the experience amazing, we would do it again in a heartbeat!

A huge thank you once again to Deirdre for her bride’s guide to getting married in Portugal. If you’re thinking of a wedding abroad, firstly, congratulations and why give Purple Travel a call to find out more on 0207 993 9228.

Sweet Tooth in Portugal: A guide to Portuguese desserts

The Portuguese sure like their food. Although a relatively small country, their cuisine is somewhat diversified and distinctive in each of the different regions. They value their meats, their seafood is some of the freshest in the world and their vegetables are cooked to perfection, but most of all – the Portuguese love their desserts. You will never have your plate cleared in a Portuguese restaurant without being asked, “What would you like for dessert?”

For those of you that have visited Portugal, you will have probably noticed that every street has at least one pastelaria (pastry shop), usually occupied by a line of locals and tourists alike who have followed the sweet smells of fresh bread and toasted almonds. Dessert specialities include more than a whopping 200 different types of pastries. This national penchant for sweets seems to have originated during the Moorish occupation; in the 15th century, there was the sugar cane planted in Madeira. Then, sometime in the 17th and 18th centuries, Portuguese convents began to be known for their sweet pastries, including specialities such as “toucinho do céu” (heaven’s lard) and “barriga de freiras” (nun’s belly). The convents would frequently compete to see which could produce the best sweets and desserts. There are even stories of the famous Belém pastries, whose recipe remains a closely guarded secret, or the ‘Abade de Priscos Pudim’, dating back to a 14th century legacy from one of the best Portuguese cooks.

There are simply too many desserts to list them all, but if you have one week in Portugal, this is a list of the best seven Portuguese desserts – one for each day of your stay:

The seven best Portuguese desserts

Toucinho do Céu | Translating to ‘Heaven’s Bacon’, this dessert was originally made with pork lard by convent nuns. These were women who understood the intrinsic ingredients of any good dessert: ridiculous amounts of sugar, a boat load of egg yellows and of course, more calories than you can imagine.

Differing from modern almond cakes, Heaven’s Bacon is extremely moist, rather than battery. You can find Toucinho do Ceu anywhere in Portugal, but for a more traditional (and delicious) version – head north to the city of Guimaraes.

Aletria | You will be surprised to hear the main ingredient for this dessert – a very thin kind of noodle (like vermicelli) that was brought into Portugal when the Moors settled. The Portuguese, sweet-toothed by nature, then turned these noodles into a sugary treat by boiling them in milk and adding butter, egg yolk, lemon zest and a sprinkle of cinnamon, creating something a little similar to rice pudding. A very traditional dessert, no Christmas table in Portugal is complete without a generous tray of Aletria.

Ovos Moles | Another dessert that centres on Portugal’s favourite ingredient combination: sugar and eggs galore. Ovos moles means ‘soft eggs’, which pretty much sums up what this dessert is. Portuguese nuns once used egg whites to iron their garments and create this recipe accidently – so as not to waste the remaining egg yellows. Ovos moles come in rolled cakes, inside traditional clay pots or, more famously, inside light wheat dough in the shape of items that symbolize Aveiro and its river.

Azevias de Mertola | Another dessert with origins inside religious institutions, Azevias de Mertola originates from the southern town of Mertola, where nuns devoted themselves to God and to making heavenly treats. The dessert is made up of fried dough pockets, filled with a smooth and creamy paste made of mashed chickpeas. Don’t worry, it tasted nothing like humous; Azevias are super sweet and extra delicious.

Egg threads from Purple Travel

Image via @ Wikicommons

Bolinhos de Amendoa | Aside from sun, white sands and crystal waters, the Algarve is famous for the creative use of almonds. 
Marzipan is taken to a whole new level by Algarvian sweet makers, filling the almond paste with an egg and sugar concoction known as “fios de ovos” – egg threads. Bolinhos de Amendoa is one of the most attractive sweets in the entire country, being most popularly presented in fruit shapes.

Blog Pastel

Image via @ Wikicommons

Pastel de Belem |These egg custard tarts are probably one of the most popular desserts amongst tourists. Originating from the area of Belem in Lisbon, Pastel de Belem is found all over Portugal, under the name Pastel de Nata. Pastel de Belem has been elected one of the “7 Wonders of Portuguese Gastronomy” (yes this is a real thing!); people queue up in Belem to taste this cake where it was originally created, served warm straight out of the oven, with a burnt crust on top, a crumbly pastry base and a sprinkle of cinnamon on top. This take-away treat is the perfect companion to a cup of coffee or tea.

Bolo Rei from Purple Travel

Image via @ Wikicommons

Bolo Rei (King Cake) | A traditional Portuguese cake that is typically made at Christmas and eaten up to Dia de Reis (the day of Kings). Its shape resembles a king’s crown. Made from soft, white dough, raisins, nuts and crystallized fruit, it is not so dissimilar from an English Christmas cake. When families bake this cake, they usually include a little prize within it and whoever slices the piece with the prize has to either bake or buy the next cake the following year.

You should read… Purple Hearts… Albufeira

Purple Hearts… Albufeira Portugal

When you think of Albufeira Portugal the tourist capital of the Algarve, you first think of its golden beaches and pulsating nightlife. These features attract droves of holidaymakers from all over Europe, particularly during the summer months when you can’t swing a lilo without banging into another tourist. Coming under the municipal area of Faro, Albufeira covers an area of approximately 140 km², with more than 40,000 resident inhabitants including a whopping 4,000 foreigners who have chosen to live here. But how has Albufeira earned so much popularity and yet retained its traditions? Read on to find out why, this week, we heart Albufeira Portugal…

The history of Albufeira

Back in Roman times, bustling Albufeira was called Baltum, up until in the 8th century when the Moors who occupied the town renamed it Al-Buhera – The Castle on the Sea. Today, vestiges of aqueducts, roads and Roman bridges can be still be seen in Paderne and Guia. Much later, in the middle of the 19th century, the fishing industry did much to revive the economy of the town, soon becoming the principal means of income for the region. Tourism only began to flourish from the ‘60s onwards, providing a new breath of air for the locals, leading to the town becoming a city in 1986. Thanks to an ever-growing tourist industry, Albufeira has become one of the most desired holiday destinations in Europe.

Best beaches in Albufeira

Albufeira beaches are the most popular in the Algarve, yet with more than twenty golden, sandy beaches to choose from, many of which are blue flagged, they never get too overcrowded. The most well-known is Fisherman’s Beach, where many of the Algarve’s summer parties are held. Despite this, the beach has managed to retain its traditional appearance, of which the fishing industry is still very much a part – expect to see colourful Algarve fishing boats dancing on the waves both day and night. Falésia Beach, a huge length of fine golden sand running from Albufeira to Vilamoura, is another great spot, particularly if you’re bringing the kids as its blue flagged. Similarly, Olhos d’ Agua or “eyes of the water” as it translates to, is a safe beach that’s very popular with tourists due to its myriad resort places to eat and drink along the beach. It gets its name from the freshwater springs underneath the sands, which can sometimes be seen to bubble up at low tide. Praia do Túnel, is situated at the front of the old Albufeira town. It is a magnificent wide stretch of golden sand, embraced by soft golden-red cliffs and boasting striking rock formations in the water. Access is through a ‘tunnel’ in the cliffs under a hotel just past the tourist office with a few steps down to the beach – hence its name.

You should read… Getting Married in Portugal, a Bride’s Guide

What to see in Albueria

Albufeira’s old town centre has a charming traditional feel. White-washed houses and narrow, cobbled streets lined with cafés and boutiques lead to a picturesque central square. In the square, you will find yourself surrounded by bars and restaurants where you can taste some of the local fish-based gastronomy. The historic centre exposes Albufeira’s Arab past through its impressive architecture. The charming, meandering streets are narrow and the jasmine-scented air makes walking through the neighbourhood a pleasure. You can walk to the Castillo del Mar from here – the ‘castle by the sea‘ – a fortress built by the Arabs as a significant point of defence. Culture enthusiasts will enjoy discovering the rich heritage of Albufeira, particularly if they visit the Museum of Archaeology. The museum showcases fascinating artefacts from the pre-historic, Roman, Muslim, medieval and modern periods. The Church of São Sebastião on Praça Miguel Bombarda has an impressive Manueline doorway that provides an excellent photo opportunity. From there, Rua 5 de Outubro leads through a tunnel to the Fisherman’s beach, where you can see Albufeira’s colourful fishing boats surfing the waves. One of the best attractions in Albufeira is the Zoomarine Aquarium, where visitors can watch animal shows and even have a chance to swim with dolphins. Go-carting and horse-riding are also popular activities.

Where to party in Albufeira

And if you’re looking for some late night revelry, there’s plenty of it in fun-loving, lively Albufeira. The Strip is the place to head to – a succession of booming bars, restaurants and clubs – and the hub of Albufeira’s nightlife scene. The owners of the bars and restaurants are frequently expats, who make you feel at home straight away and enjoy nothing more than a good natter. For adult holidays there are happy hours, strip clubs and late night partying on balmy summers evening. And the best bit? Drinks are seriously cheap.

What to eat in Albufeira

In the foreground of Albuferia’s dining scene is its fishing industry.  Traditional Algarve dishes include the famous Cataplana, a seafood and shellfish dish, and grilled sardines. Tuna, sea bream, monkfish, horse mackerel or alimados, squid and many other delicacies are prepared mostly in stews, ragouts or grilled, or boiled – any of which is sure to be excellent. You won’t find fresher fish than here. Desserts are another strong point; cakes are mostly made from dried fruits, and other titbits are made from almonds, figs and carob beans. There is an ice-cream of carob, the Dom Rodrigo, and we recommend you try the Almond Liqueur, Alfarroba (carob) liqueur and Medronho.

You should read: Sweet Tooth in Portugal: A guide to Portuguese desserts

A Night Less Ordinary: Three Farthings Naturist B&B&B

In this weekly series, we scour the world in search of the most weird and wonderful hotels. From cave hotels to converted prisons, capsule pods to underwater guestrooms, you can expect only the unexpected. This week, the Three Farthings Naturist B&B&B (well this Sunday is National Topless Day, after all!).

What’s the gimmick? Three Farthings Naturist Homestay B&B&B is a secluded hideaway, where guests can relax ‘au naturel’ in a five star pamper fest. The B&B&B stands for bed, breakfast and bubbles (or bare, bums and bellies as their website may tell you). Bare (!) in mind that this is no regular B&B; guests will be staying in a naturist household, in which age, gender, looks or sexual preferences are never judged and newbies are always welcomed.

You should read: Top weird ways to travel on holiday

Why stay? This is really a beautiful place to stay.The detached bungalow boasts a large, private garden with a wooden deck, sun loungers, dining area, hot tub and an outdoor hot shower and guest rooms are decorated in warm, attractive colours, with crisp, white bedlinen, thick fluffy towels and comfortable bathrobes. Even the bathrooms are fitted with underfloor heating and electronic eco showers. The piece de resistance is the Asian room, containing a deluxe four poster super king size bed. The room is decorated with Indian silk/woollen rugs, Thai silk curtains and cushions and includes a flat screen TV/DVD player, trouser press and fluffy Rhomtuft towels.

The Wow Factor: Two-thirds of the energy used is generated by solar panels and waste is mostly recycled. To keep the carbon footprint down all produce is sourced locally and organic where possible. Meals are always freshly prepared using seasonal ingredients and there is no need to ‘dress for dinner’! Relaxing naturist massages are also available, along with a series of other top quality treatments.

Three Farthings is a nonprofit venue. Profits are donated to charity.

You should read: A Night Less Ordinary: Dog Park Park Inn

The Bikini Files Part 3: How to Beat Razor Burn

Unsightly. Annoying. Difficult to avoid. While you may think this is a post about Kerry Katona, we’re actually on about ingrown hairs. A common problem after waxing and shaving, these pesky, little blemishes can drive you absolutely mad. If you get the urge to irritate, pick, or squeeze them – STOP – they could become infected and turn into nasty, oozing boils. Gross, right? And definitely not the beach babe look you were aiming for. Here are are tips so you ‘ll beat razor burn and never worry again!

What causes razor burn?

Shaving. While you may shave (in particular around the bikini area) to look smooth and sleek, this is precisely what causes that ugly rash, which often looks far worse than those few strands of hairs did in the first place. Razor burn occurs primarily because most women shave improperly, which irritates their skin, taking off the outer layer of skin and literally injuring the skin tissues.

The body then responds to this as it does with any wound – it sends blood to the wounded area in order to heal it. The blood vessels dilate, the skin develops a rash, and hey presto, you have razor burn.

What can I do to prevent bikini line razor burn?

  • Firstly, stop shaving. Allow your bikini hair to grow for around two weeks, then get yourself a bikini wax at a professional salon.
  • If you can’t brave a wax, hair creams can work just as well and they cause less trauma to the hair follicles.
  • If you absolutely must shave, trim the hair first so that the razor isn’t ripping out longer strands – hair should be no longer than ¼ inch.
  • Moisterise the area immediately after shaving with an unscented moisturizing lotion. This will reduce itching and dryness.
  • Shave after you bathe, not before or during as your skin must be supremely hydrated before you go at it with a razor.
  • DO NOT USE SOAP. Only use shaving cream, or if you have none left, hair conditioner. The best options contain aloe or other soothing ingredients.
  • Shave down, not up. This way you are less likely to irritate your hair follicles.
  • Reduce intense redness immediately by applying hydrocortisone cream, which works instantly.
  • Treat your skin with benzoyl peroxide, a common acne medication, which will minimize bumps and lumps.

What can I do to get rid of ingrown hairs?

Bikini blemishes are more commonly known as ingrown hairs. These small, irritated bumps develop when strands of hair curl and grow back into the skin after shaving. Thankfully, there is an answer for how to get rid of razor bumps. Treatment includes gently lifting out the ingrown hairs with a tweezer and applying exfoliating and soothing lotions to the area.

Click here for PART ONE: THE ULTIMATE BIKINI DIET PLAN

Click here for PART TWO: HOW TO SURVIVE A BIKINI WAX

Click here for PART FOUR: GETTING RID OF CELLULITE

Click here for PART FIVE: FIND THE PERFECT BIKINI FOR YOUR SHAPE

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