Archive - October 2012

1
9 things to do in Luxor (besides the pyramids)
2
Worst Hotel in the World
3
Purple 10: Worlds creepiest places
4
Purple Hearts: Luxor Travel Guide
5
A Night Less Ordinary: The Stanley Hotel
6
Get Inspired: A Goths Guide to Gothenburg
7
Where to travel in 2013
8
Get Inspired : The Worlds Most Beautiful Resorts
9
Going to Live in Australia: Part 4 The Blue Mountains
10
Purple 10: Weirdest streets in the world

9 things to do in Luxor (besides the pyramids)

The ancient ruins of Luxor are admired the world over (yay, go pyramids!) and visiting them can be a profound and awe inspiring experience. But their not the city’s only attractions, here are nine of our favourite things to do when you’re all templed-out.

Alternative Things to Do in Luxor

Rent a bike

Work off one too many kebabs while seeing the city. Hiring a bike is perhaps the most exhilarating way too see the East Bank, and when you’re done you can catch a ferry over to the West Bank and do it all over again.

Drink tea

Tea is by far the national drink of Egypt and they drink it strong, black and very sweet. There are a number of hotels that offer a full afternoon tea, and even an English tea room on St Joseph’s Street, but the best way to drink tea in Luxor is to wander into a local cafe and ask for glass of ‘duty.’

Visit the animal sanctuary

Away from the hustle and bustle of the main tourist trail, ACE animal sanctuary is a charity dedicated to caring for animals. Keep kids entertained for hours with this loveable lot -donkeys, horses, camels, dogs and perhaps even the odd tortoise. Visitors are offered a guided tour and if you time it right, you might even catch a Thursday morning lesson in animal welfare.

Caleche at night

Experience the city at night by horse drawn carriage. Perfectly romantic and also a jolly good way to get around.

Swim at the Maritim Jolie Ville

Take a load off your aching feet and cool off in one of the Jolie Ville’s outdoor pools. Relax in luxury and when you start to wrinkle, there’s a great balcony for taking photos of the stunning bird life that lives in and around the Nile. For a truly unforgettable experience, try the infinity pool at sunset.

Take a balloon ride

See the city from a whole new perspective – get a bird’s eye view of one of the most famous landscapes in the world. Expect tranquility, unbelievable views and stunned silences. For the ultimate wow factor, take an early morning flight and catch the sunrise.

Spend, spend, spend

Luxor is a great place to pick up a bargain. Carvings, Egyptian cotton, gold and silver are just a few of the goods on offer, but don’t forget to haggle.

Cruise the Nile in style

Glide down the river on a felucca, a type of sailboat. Feel the breeze in your face as you pass banana and mango trees, local fisherman and grassing animals. Trips are by the hour or, for even more of an adventure, a three-hour trip will take you to Aswan, the ancient Egyptians ‘gateway to Africa.’

Go Veggie

Unlike many Western countries, fresh seasonal produce is plentiful in Egypt. A great way to take advantage of this is at one of the large fruit and vegetable markets. However, if you don’t fancy cooking, the local restaurants are more than happy to oblige – we have to warn you though, once you’ve tried Egyptian falafels your meat-eating days could be numbered.

All these tips kindly shared with Purple Travel by Liz Cookman. Go visit her lovely blog here or follow her on the twitter machine @lizonomy

 

Worst Hotel in the World

Usually in our series of weird and wonderful hotels from around the world, A Night Less Ordinary, we focus on the good ones. Or at the very least, the quirky ones. This week, we take a look at the hotel that is proud of its reputation as the worst hotel in the world! 

Cheap, dirty, cold and poorly lit. Not the words you’d usually associate with somewhere you actually want to stay, but it seems to be working for the self-named ‘worst hotel in the world.’ Amsterdam’s Hans Brinker Budget Hotel has been (proudly) disappointing people for years.

It actually lists itself 15th on its own places to stay in Amsterdam, well behind a friend’s couch, the back of a burned out car or an abandoned mine shaft. It does admit it offers slightly more comfort though than an unmarked grave (!!)

On its website, it already boasts that it’s been “proudly disappointing travellers,” offering slightly watered down beers, an elevator that almost never breaks down, a rusty bed and awkwardly shaped dormitories. But, with rates starting at just 22.50 it’s easy to see why people do still go through with it. Plus, if expectations are low it means that they’re usually exceeded!

So, we want to know what you think, would you be willing to spend a night in the world’s worst hotel, or does a night in jail sound more appetising? We’d love to know what you think in the comments below.

Just watch out for their terms and conditions… “Those wishing to stay at the Hans Brinker Budget Hotel, Amsterdam, do so at their own risk and will not hold the hotel liable for food poisoning, mental breakdowns, terminal illness, lost limbs, radiation poisoning, certain diseases associated with the 18th century, plague, etcetera.”

Purple 10: Worlds creepiest places

Not content with sharing our most haunted hotels, our Halloween theme continues, there are still plenty of places to visit in broad daylight that’ll still give you the chills. Here are some of our top picks.

Read More

Purple Hearts: Luxor Travel Guide

Not to be confused with the stunning Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas, (which is also amazing) this is the one in Egypt, perched right on the banks of the Nile offering the ultimate in history, holidays and sunshine. Either on its own, a stop off on a Nile Cruise or on your way to one of the stunning Red Sea Resorts like Sharm el Sheikh, Luxor is a city just waiting to be discovered. Enjoy Egypt this year with our Luxor travel guide.

Luxor’s been named the ‘world’s greatest open air museum’ with its stunning complexes of temples, tombs and history. Perched right on the banks of the infamous Nile River, its Indiana Jones appearance feels completely exotic and its show stopping antiquities are well worth the visit.

The city is more or less divided in two. On the West Bank sits major ruins including the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens, that’s where you’ll find the likes of the tombs of Tutankhamun and Nefertiti, still standing vibrant against the blue sky after a 3000 whopping years. The town proper sits on the East Bank, home to the Luxor and Karnak Temples as well as tonnes of Hotels, restaurants, and nightlife.

It’s not just the history that draws people in, but the extensive city, that is absolutely made for exploring. It’s a group of districts that come together to create a bustling environment of nightlife, accommodation, eateries and sightseeing. It’s ideal for families who want to share the discovery of ancient times, couples who are looking for romance or anyone looking to simply soak up the sunshine.

Read more: Purple Hearts Sharm el Sheikh

What to see in Luxor

Valley of the Kings archaeologists are *still* finding new tombs in this vast complex. The Valley of the Kings is where you’ll find the extraordinary tombs of the boy king Tutankhamun and Ramses the Great.

Sound and Light show at Karnak Temple The aim of this is to bring the ancient city of Thebes to life through the magic of sound and lights. It’s also said to be one of the largest religious sites in the world. Everything is lit up and it’s a great way of viewing the historic monuments in a different way way, plus the reflection of the temple on the Sacred Lake makes a great finale.

Memnon Colossis these are two huge figures depicting the famous god Amenhotep III and featured in front of his temple.

Museum of Mummification This is a small museum but is devoted entirely to the mummification process. So, if that’s something you’re into, this is the place to go.

Read more: top 10 facts about the pyramids of Egypt

What to do in Luxor

Go to the Egyptian Museum Kids will absolutely love this and mum and dad will get some preparation for years worth of school projects here. Luxor is where the ancient capital of Egypt Thebes once stood and the museum is home to the great finds from the (cursed?) tomb of Tutankhamun and the Royal mummies of the pharaohs Ahmose I and Ramesses I. There’s even a double statue of the crocodile god Sobek. If that doesn’t impress the kids, nothing will.

Afternoon tea Agatha Christie style at the Winter Palace Hotel Agatha Christie stayed here while she was working hard on her famous Poirot detective story Death on the Nile. So what better place to indulge in a little tradition, than in her footsteps with tea and sandwiches? There are macaroons, fruit scones, assorted cakes and custard along with proper brewed tea. It really is a home away from home.

Horse drawn carriage These cost about £1 and kids will love it. A great way to rumble around the city, stop and get your picture taken or just take in the breathtaking sights.

Felucca rides These are traditional Egyptian sailboats that float up the bustling banks of the Nile. It’s a great way to see the cities that dot the shore. Just one thing to remember, it’s best to haggle over a price, it’s totally expected.

For something extra special (honeymoon anyone?) a hot air balloon trip is a stunning way to enjoy the beauty and history of Luxor. Flights usually start before dawn and last about 40 minutes, so you can totally indulge in the beautiful surroundings of this ancient city.

Buy stuff The old Luxor market is great for an afternoon out. Here it’s all about the ritual, find a seller you like, sit down, have a cup of tea and put your bartering hat on. It might seem a little intimidating at first, but haggling over the price of even the smallest item is all part of the experience. There are spices, scarves, and sheesha (water pipes) to be had here.

Read more: Opera in El Gouna

Where to stay in Luxor

For a honeymoon Maritim Jolie Ville Kings Island this 5 star is proper luxury, set on its own private island and surrounded by lush gardens. There are ten restaurants on site andevery possibility amenity you could imagine.

For a little luxury Iberotel Luxor, The 4 star Iberotel Luxor is home to a heated floating pool on the Nile and overlooks the Theben Hills for a great holiday, with spacious rooms and a relaxed atmosphere.

For all the family Gaddis Hotel Luxor The 3 star Gaddis offers hotel and apartment accommodation and is in a peaceful neighbourhood as well as within walking distance of the main sites.

For something a bit different Bob Marley House Hotel Bob Marley might not be synonymous with Luxor, but this relaxed hotel has a certain charm. This budget friendly hotel is within walking distance of lots of amenities and even offers horse riding lessons.

Read more: Top 10 holidays for history buffs

What and where to eat in Luxor

Luxor is a paradise for vegetarians. Restaurants usually offer whatever they have in season, so you get beautiful extra fresh tomatoes or cucumbers. Mezze dishes are a big deal in Luxor, these are small dishes that give you a taster of Egyptian style food. It’s usually traditional pieces of pita, with baba ganoush or taboule. You can of course get meat in the form of simple kebabs in plenty of the street shops and if you’re really missing home there are plenty of chain restaurants downtown to pick up a Big Mac.

Jamboree Restaurants on Market Street, inside the souk. This one is child friendly, with lots of choices and is great value.

Sofra has a great terrace where you can enjoy delicious, traditional Egyptian food.

El Kebabgy Reasonably priced, decent quality food, offering pasta, kebabs or mousaka. Snobs in the East Bank. Worth it for the name alone really, Snobs servers Western style food at great prices.

The Lantern, Al Roda Sharifa Street, good quality English style and Egyptian food at good value prices.

Read some our customer reviews of Luxor.

A Night Less Ordinary: The Stanley Hotel

A Night Less Ordinary: The Stanley Hotel

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 guest rooms  you can expect only the unexpected. This week The Stanley Hotel in Colorado.

What’s the gimmick? Have you ever watched or read Steven King’s The Shining? If, so, then you’ll know all about this imposing and mysterious hotel! Well, in case you fancy some Halloween getaway this year just head for The Stanley, as, there, guests can also join the world-famous Shining Ball and the Murder Mystery Dinner for a super spooky experience.

You should read… Top ten most haunted hotels.

Why stay? Guests at this world-charm hotel have the chance to unwind amidst immaculate nature and admire the stunning views of the surrounding Rocky Mountains. What’s more, all rooms exude luxury and style, featuring sumptuous furnishing and fabrics. For more action and “fun”, just make a reservation for a tour on a spooky sojourn through time or get a psychic consultation from Madame Vera.

You should read… A Night Less Ordinary: Boot Bed ‘n’ Breakfast

The Wow Factor: All of the hotel rooms have had paranormal experiences reported, such as items moving from place to place or lights turning on and off. Guests staying on the fourth floor, might get to hear the children of long ago running up and down the halls, laughing and giggling. Sometimes sleeping guests will be tucked-in at night, as that was the duty for the nannies to perform for the young children.

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

While enjoying this historic hotel, keep in mind that you may possibly have an “extra” experience here, as it is not unusual for guests and staff to catch a glimpse of a ghost walking the lobby, or hear Flora Stanley still playing her beloved piano in the Music Room. However, there are never any reports of sinister or evil events happening here, because there are only happy ghosts at the Stanley Hotel!

Prices start from £143 a night. Click here for details.

Get Inspired: A Goths Guide to Gothenburg

Gothenburg, as its name may suggest, is vastly infested with activities for the darkly inclined. While as a goth, you may prefer to explore at night, there are plenty of places where you can seek refuge from direct sunlight in Sweden’s second city.

Gothenburg in winter

Begin your gothic getaway in the defunct, graffitied power station situated beside the giant Älvsborgsbron. Now known as Röda Sten, this is one of Sweden’s coolest art centres. Here you’ll find many of your own kind amongst it four gritty floors, along with a number of modern art exhibitions. Wear head-to-toe black and stand ominously in a corner, shocking unbeknown tourists who will only assume you’re part of some morbid, avant-garde installation.

The building also houses an indie-style cafe with summertime riverside seating (avoid), weekly live music (enjoy) and offbeat one-offs like punk bike races, boxing matches and stand-up comedy (definitely avoid – cracking a smile is not good for your image).

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was based in Sweden

Hungry after a day’s hard gothing about, why not head over to the Salrosen restaurant. Unfortunately, they do not serve fresh blood or bat’s heads, but they do serve up some mean vegetarian cuisine, which is pretty much second best. A 1970s survivor, this laid-back student haunt is a Haga institution (note the photos of passed-on regulars above the counter). Or if that’s not your bag, head along the leafy Vasagatan Boulevard, to Java Kaffebar, a café thick with dreadlocks, dyed hair and nipple rings.

Gothin’ about

Where else would you find a goth than in… a cemetery, of course. The Eastern cemetery in Gothenburg was designed by architect J. H. Strömberg and is one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Scandinavia (n.b. we mean this in the way a dead bird is beautiful, not a glorious sunrise – that’s just sick). The huge hill on its west side hosts some magnificent mausoleums, perfect for doing some après-dinner Ouija boards.

Next hot foot it to Barbarella, which opened in 1991 as a store for fetish clothes and shoes. After frequent requests from customers and some appearances on MTV, Barbarella decided to stop selling clothes and became a full-time piercing studio. The studio is now located at Lilla Drottningatan in the city center of Gothenburg, offering our customers the largest and widest collection of piercing jewellery in the whole of Scandinavia. Get yourself sufficiently perforated with as much metal as you can fit in your face, then take your transformed image on a Gothed-up night out.

Home to Swedish death metal bands such as Nihilist and Carnage, Gothenburg offers an excellent after-dark scene for the goth crowd. The street Andra Långgatan has become a hub for the alternative and creative occupation of Gothenburg, with new bars, cafes and unusual shops popping-up all the time. Truckstop Alaska is an underground rock bar in the heart of the former industrial districts of Hisingen. Although you have to be a member to get in, the hassle of joining will only add to the feeling that you’ve stepped into some dark enclave of the occult, where all kinds of sordid affairs take place…

Enjoyed our goths guide to Gothenburg? Check out a posh girls guide to Paris.

Where to travel in 2013

It’s out! Lonely Planet’s annual destination guide is hot off the press, with some surprising picks in its top 10 locations list for Best in Travel 2013.

This year’s volume, compiled by self-proclaimed travel geeks, includes categories such as, the word’s top countries, regions and cities for 2013, along with themed lists, ranging from best-value destinations to top spots to get tattooed.

“We look for timeliness – not just what’s hot and trending now, but what’s ahead,” says U.S. digital editor at Lonely Planet, Andy Murdock.

View the top ten places to travel in 2013 here:

10. Madagascar – Democratic reforms have made this unlikely entrant on the list much more welcoming. Go before everyone else does, the authors advise.

9. Dominican Republic – As a number of new resorts are opening in 2013, more and more flights are going to the island.

Read our guide to Punta Cana here

8. Turkey –Beyond Istanbul and the coastal resorts, Turkey offers many top destinations for travellers, along with low-fare airlines that make a welcoming addition.

Read our guide to Bodrum here

7. Iceland – Its otherworldly landscapes captivates visitors, forming a holiday like no other.

6. Solomon Islands – This laid-back  getaway boasts eco-resorts that are a breath of fresh air from mass-market franchises and upmarket hotels.

5. Slovakia – Slovakis turns 20 in 2013 so there’s no better time to travel to this beautiful country. Skiers will enjoy test-running one of the newly-revamped resorts.

4. Ecuador – After being  devastated in the 1990s by flooding, Ecaudor’s railway is set to be back up and running in 2013, making it easier to explore this Andean nation.

3. South Korea – 2013 sees three international sporting events arrive in the country. Visitors can expect high-level energy, particularly in the capital, Seoul.

2. Montenegro – The pearl of the Mediterranean, visit Montenegro, meaning black mountain, for its rugged interior with a growing number of hiking and biking trails, or stick to the coast, site of new, high-profile developments.

1. Sri Lanka – Top of the list goes to Sri Lanka, a country that, after a 26-year civil war and a devastating tsunami in 2004, is now one of the best-value destinations around.

Give us a call today on 02079939228 to book one of our excellent packages to these ten destinations.

Going to Live in Australia: Part 4 The Blue Mountains

Part four of the series from our guest blogger, Liz Bethell on her decision to  live in Australia. This week, she talks about visiting the Blue Mountains.

The Blue Mountains

On one April morning, we headed off a place called Leura to meet our friends,  Shane and Janette. We rented a three-storey house, with beautiful views across the Blue Mountains. I kept watching to see if any wallabies appeared but no joy! We headed out to the Jenolan Caves and went into the Lucas Cave on an hour and half tour. The caves were breathtakingly beautiful and the guide was excellent. Then we headed out to Katoomba (meaning place of shiny water) where we went on a skyride across the mountains and the floor cleared so you could see right below. We saw the Three Sisters and went down in the world’s steepest cog train down the mountain – although we had done that last time we were here in 2007, it was great to do it again.

The sunsets and sunrises are beautiful in the Blue Mountains, but it was pretty nippy- much more like a brisk spring morning in the UK. After a week, we headed back up north to the warmer climate (thankfully!). We picked Rachel up in the morning at Sydney airport- another exchange teacher who is working at Broken Hill, which is pretty isolated so we are going to show her around Byronshire and Ballina area for a week.

We did a road trip – you have to do at least one when you are in Oz – from the Blue Mountains and through Sydney back up home, which took a whopping ten hours.  The next day we got up early and went to Shelley’s Beach cafe again. This was in East Ballina and was just a beautiful spot on the beach with water dragons around in the courtyards. Then we went out for the day with Dave and Tiffany, friends from school. They took us around the local area and we really explored. We met Dave’s parents who live on a beautiful 30 acre farm and there were two gorgeous owls in the tree in the garden. We had stopped in Bangalow for a lovely lunch and then headed back home early evening after a wonderful day. A nice way to finish off the last day, my husband Ralph was with us before we had to drop him off at Brisbane airport.

Anzac Day

It was Anzac Day on 25th April 2012 I went to the very moving Anzac Dawn Service at 5:30am. There were a lot of people there, including four soldiers and a bugle player, and the service was lovely. At the end everyone sang the Australian National Anthem, which started with God Save the Queen.

Lest We Forget

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.

Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.

They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,

… They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Then we had a quiet couple of weeks. I was busy at school and Autumn was coming in. The temperature dropped to 23 degrees which seemed fresh and cool and had everyone reaching for their jumpers! Funny as in England we would be taking the jumpers off, guess we really acclimatised.

It’s also funny how everything we take for granted after being here for five months. The rainforest trees that we had awed at when we first arrived now just seemed normal and everyday. And the views across the hills as I drive to work with the low mist each morning are still beautiful, but it feels like we have always been here so are just used to them.

Beef Week

We went to Beef Week at Casino on 26th May with two of the girls from work. Jan said I needed to experience Beef Week as Casino is the capital of Beef for Australia and was a week long festival. We met Deb George there and her husband Thomas George, the Lismore Councillor. He was presenting a lot of the day. The cattle were amazing – gleaming and so healthy looking. It was a bit sad when they got auctioned off for meat, but it didn’t stop us tucking into steak sandwiches… Afterwards I was going to stay for the rodeo but decided to wait until Ralph comes out, especially as the other thing on offer was a trip to the Thomas’s brother’s local pub Hotel Cecil with Deb, Thomas and their friends.

It’s a totally cool pub.  We met some more very friendly Australians, especially one very friendly Aussie man. He said I reminded him of his second wife, but that he has only been married once…. He also said I have a great Pommie accent, which was nice of him.

Actually, if you include the stranger outside the pub who hugged Deb and I and then came back for another hug before vanishing down the street,  two very friendly Aussie men!! Could definitely get used to this life.

Read more from Liz Bethell on her personal blog.

Click here for Part Three

Purple 10: Weirdest streets in the world

The shortest, the narrowest, the biggest, the widest….Each of the 10 streets included in this list with the weirdest streets in the world has its own long story, which is good to know if you ever find yourself there.

1.World’s Shortest street -Ebenezer Place – Scotland
Easy to walk, without being tired, either in high heels or wearing trainers! “The shortest” street in the world is a mere 2.06 meters and stretches in front of the door to No 1 Bistro of Mackays Hotel. The hotel cobbled it together in 1883 and decided to “street” it 4 years later. So, after your “long” walk you can have a refreshing drink there!

2.World’s narrowest street (Spreuerhofstraße – Germany)
Only gangly figures can walk down this street, whose narrowest section is 12 cm and the widest is 50 cm. What’s more, in case you find yourself there, you’d better forget tender embraces with your beloved one. You’ll meet again at the exit!

3.Most Complicated Interchange in US (Judge Harry Pregerson Interchange – Los Angeles)
The most complicated interchange is Judge Harry Pregerson interchange. Since 1993, it is known as one LA traffic solution. It composes layers of bridges stacked orderly and four level interchanges. If you find yourself on this interchange you’d better act as Tom Thumb and throw crumbs to find your way out.

4.US`s Most Crooked Road (Lombard St – San Francisco)
There are two crooked roads in the USA. The first road is at Russian Hill between Hyde and Leavenworth streets, San Francisco, and the other one is at Vermont Street between 20th St & 22nd St in Portrero Hill. In Russian Hill, the road is leaning 27 degrees and here, drivers cannot drive their car over 5 mph. Just in case, when driving in this street make sure you have your sea sickness tablets with you!

5. The World’s Steepest Street (Baldwin Street – New Zealand)
Drivers usually put stones under the car wheels to avoid losing them, while at the same time they use ice skates to walk down the street! The steepest street in the world is also found in the steepest residential area of the planet, where in winter, as you can imagine, things are even more dangerous.

6. Widest Street in the world (9 de Julio – Buenos Aires, Argentina)
This street is 300m wide and has a whopping 12 lanes of. However, traffic jams are common place too. When it comes to pedestrians though, it’s good to have their lunch with them when deciding to go this way, or just use their roller skates as the locals do!

7. Longest Street in the world (Yonge St – Ontario, Canada)
The 2nd longest street according to Guinness world of record is Yonge street (1,178 miles/1,896km), linking Lake Ontario and Lake Simcoe. In this street, you’d better avoid  shopping dilemmas!

8. Largest Roundabout in the world (Putrajaya – Malaysia)
This 3.4km-long street is in southern Kuala Lumpur, around a lush green hill. It’s one of the most impressive streets in the world, as long as you don’t drive it all around, or you’ll get lost. However, another option would be to have a walk in the park in the centre.

9. World’s Most Confusing Roundabout (Magic Roundabout – Swindon, UK)
The magic roundabout is more like a black magic for most drivers than a weirdest street. It composes five mini roundabouts and they are circled un-orderly. It was built in 1972 and is now known as one of the scariest junction in UK.

10. Longest National Highway in the world (Highway 1 – Australia)
The longest highway in the world is Australia’s Highway 1. It stretches from Canberra 9,000 miles/14,500 km outside the city. It’s also one of the most easy to drive highways, where travelling is a really unique experience.

Copyright © 2013. Created by Meks. Powered by WordPress.