Archive - March 2013

1
The most amazing staircase in Germany
2
A Night Less Ordinary: The Cake Hotel in London
3
6 second postcards
4
It’s Official: Istanbul is the Best European Destination 2013
5
Purple 10: UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in Greece
6
Happy in Hampi: an insider guide to Goa
7
Off the beaten track: an infographic
8
Off the beaten track: Funnel Wall, a music playing building
9
A night less ordinary: Sleep in a Silver Mine
10
In pictures: Amazing Places to Eat

The most amazing staircase in Germany

It turns out the most amazing staircase in Germany, is one that doesn’t actually lead anywhere. This mind-bending spiral staircase in Munich by artist Olafur Ellison is well worth a visit.

Amazing staircase 1 Amazing staircase 2 Amazing staircase 4Via @ bitrebels

 

A Night Less Ordinary: The Cake Hotel in London

We go around the world to find the most beautiful, weird and wonderful hotels. From Underwater Lodges to converted Airplane Suites, expect the unexpected. This week a hotel made entirely of cake. If you can make it through this post without drooling, you’re better than us. Ladies and gentlemen, let us present to you the Cake Hotel in London… and get ready to drool just a bit.

SWEET DREAMS… WORLD’S FIRST CAKE HOTEL OPENS TO THE PUBLIC

What’s the gimmick? For most of us, eating out and treating ourselves is part of the fun of holidays. You might check out the hand made pasta in Rome, the cheese in Paris or the Mediterranean cuisine in Greece. However, this is something a little different. A hotel for one night only made entirely of cake. The Cake Hotel in Soho is filled with bright pops of coloured cakes, frothy confections and macaroons as far as the eye can see.

SWEET DREAMS… WORLD’S FIRST CAKE HOTEL OPENS TO THE PUBLIC

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Why stay? The Hotel has eight tasting rooms with different themes including Pirates of the Caribbean, Mardi Gras and more. The brainchild of a sugar cane manufacturer, it certainly set our tastebuds tingling just at the thought of it. The best part is, each lucky guest can eat everything, carpets, decorations, lights and windows. The bedside tables house edible books and the bathtubs are filled with caramel popcorn.

EDIBLE HOUSE OPENS TO THE PUBLIC

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All images via @ designtaxi.com

The WOW Factor? Did we mention everything is edible? The walls are made with 2,000 macaroons, the rugs are made of 1,081 meringues, there are edible pearls in treasure chests and a two-metre-high Easter Island chocolate statue.  14 bakers slaved for 2,000 hours using 600 of sugar to make this hotel taste as delicious as it looks. However, sadly this special hotel was open for one night only, but we can always dream.

6 second postcards

The latest social media kid on the block has offered up a brand new kind of postcard.

Thanks to Tnooz for first highlighting how Vine allows users to post six second snippets of anything and everything, with just one rule, it can’t be edited. Six seconds seems tiny doesn’t it? well, there’s actually a lot you can tell in that time, and travellers are jumping in on the action with amazing postcards from all over the world.

Here are some of our favourites so far in Vietnam, New York and Italy,  tell us yours in the comments below!

 

 

It’s Official: Istanbul is the Best European Destination 2013

The results are in! If you’re looking for a European City Break, then why not go to the official, Best European Destination 2013: Istanbul. The fabulous city has taken spot in a public vote, with just 439 votes ahead of its nearest rival, the Portuguese capital Lisbon.

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The famous city is right on the dividing line between two continents and has an amazing mix of culture, cuisine and good times. Filled with clubs and restaurants, there are live gigs, cafes and street art to impress younger people, and a variety of museums and galleries culture vultures will love, it truly is a city that offers something for everyone.

Istanbul 22013 is set to be a landmark year for the city too, with the Istanbul Biennial, pop concerts, special exhibitions and Orhan Pamuk’s recently opened museum of Innocence. It’s also the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic by Ataturk, with huge celebrations on the cards. With so much happening and a bit of a reputation as a city that doesn’t sleep, it’s not surprising Istanbul took the top spot with 12.4% of the vote.

Istanbul 3

 Here are some of the nice comments people shared about Istanbul:

Hatice aus Berlin: Istanbul is the best city of the world and sooo nice i love turkey <3

Otfire: I S T A N B U L – the ONE and ONLY! :))

Mark: If new york was in europe, guess we call it istanbul.

Nikos: Vote for Istanbul, it is the best city in the world!

Mikey: İstanbul is the most beautiful city of the WORLD 😉

Busra: I think Istanbul is the nicest city of Europe because there are many things with History which are very important and there is a big nice blue sea which creature a good atmosphere at nigt but normal days too. You can see different cultures and many other persons of the world. There are many modern buildings too which is interesting too. Everybody have to visit Istanbul it is only perfect !!!

Adam: Istanbul is an unique city and not only in the europe but also in the world. It is the oldest city of the old world. Other cities in the list are new and more or less same cities compare to istanbul.

Susan Gurz: After travelling most of the world, ISTANBUL is my favorite

That list in full is:

  1. Istanbul, Turkey
  2. Lisbon, Portugal
  3. Vienna, Austria,
  4. Barcelona, Spain
  5. Amsterdam, Netherlands
  6. Madrid, Spain
  7. Valletta Malta
  8. Nice, France
  9. Milan, Italy
  10. Stockholm, Sweden

All images via @ Best European Destination 2013.

Purple 10: UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in Greece

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1.
Pythagoreion and Heraion (Πυθαγόρειο και Ηραίο Σάμου) Samos Island The remains of the ancient fortified port Pythagoreio, as well as the Heraion, temple of the Samian Hera, have been listed among UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 1992.

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2. Metéora (Μετέωρα) – Metéora, literally means “in the heavens above,” and you’ll realise why the moment you arrive. It consists of six Greek Orthodox monasteries built on huge natural sandstone rock pillars in central Greece. Metéora was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1988.

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3. Corfu Old Town (Παλιά Πόλη της Κέρκυρας) – The Old Town of Corfu Island features two forts designed by renowned Venetian engineers and is filled with neoclassical, as well as Venetian influenced buildings. It is considered to be home to some of the best and most authentic remaining ruins in the world. The Old Town of Corfu has been included among the UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 2007. 

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image by Tsouratzis Giannis

4. The Acropolis of Athens  (Ακρόπολη Αθηνών) – Quite possibly the most famous of the lot, the Acropolis is a huge collection of architecturally perfect buildings, natural landscapes, the historic and dramatic Parthenon and was the scene of some of ancient Greece’s most important moments. You shouldn’t leave Athens before you see one of the most important expressions of Greek architecture, listed among UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites since 1987.

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5. Olympia (Ολυμπία) – The ancient sanctuary of Olympia is famous for giving the name to the Olympic Games and as a sanctuary of the gods, Zeus in particular. In the Peloponnesos region, it was listed in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 1989.

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6. Mycenae (Οι Μυκήνες) – Thanks to the famous Lion’s Gate and Treasury of Atreus, the archaeological site of Mycenae has been listed as a UNESCO’s World Heritage Site since 1999. Found in the Peloponnesos region, it’s an important site dating back to the 15th and 13th century BC.

Delos - Lion street
7. Delos (Δήλος) – Greek mythology tells us Delos was the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis; so, the sacred island was one of the most important pan-Hellenic sanctuaries. Listed among UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 1990.

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8. Ancient Theater of Epidaurus (Αρχαίο Θέατρο Επιδαύρου) – The excellent acoustics and almost perfect condition gave the ancient theater of Epidaurus a place among UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 1988. It’s a highlight to visit and enjoy a performance with the crowds in summer.

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9. Delphi (Δελφοί) – In 1987, the sanctuary of Delphi, where the oracle of Apollo spoke, and was once called the ‘naval of the world’, was included among UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

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10. Rhodes Μedieval Town (Μεσαιωνική πόλη της Ρόδου) – The Medieval Town of Rhodes, also known as the Town of Knights, was once a great stronghold where knights fell and bitter battles fought. It is an outstanding example of an architectural heritage illustrating the island’s history. Rhodes Town was listed in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 1988.

Get the best deal for cheap holidays on your favourite historic holiday of discovery right now from Purple Travel. Call today on 0207 993 9228 for more.

Happy in Hampi: an insider guide to Goa

Thanks to the lovely writer Rosalie Cruz, who spent the past few months in Goa, experiencing all that life had to offer there. You can find her online on Facebook.

sanapur lakeThe experience of arriving in Hampi in Karnataka State next to Goa, after a ten hour, slightly bumpy bus ride in the dead of night is one that you will likely never forget. I know I won’t. The bus journey itself was unremarkable. The group I was travelling with chose to go by sleeper bus for the convenience since taking a train would mean a costly taxi ride to the bus station and another rickshaw trip from the town of Hospet to Hampi since the latter does not have a train station. The bus would take us straight into Hampi. After ten hours, we had arrived and I was excited to see the Hampi my fellow travellers raved about.

A Firm No

I was the first one of our group to exit the bus. I wish I had been the last. Having that many men shout and pull at you in different directions trying to get you to hop on their rickshaw for a tour of the city or down to the river is an intimidating experience for even hardened travellers. I learnt that day that a firm “no” will go a long way in India. At the time, I was so overwhelmed I nearly missed the stunning scenery around me. Nearly.

Dawn at Hampi

The first thing you see as you step out of the bus and manage to get past the group of drivers is the police station. There’s nothing special about a police station or so you might think, but this one is housed in what appears to be very old ruins of a building that was once part of the city of Vijayanagara. The city was once the capital of an empire with the same name.

Up, close and personal with Hampi

Behind the police station, a range of tall hills constituted solely by massive boulders made a stunning visual. Hampi is nestled between the complex of ruins of what was once one of the greatest cities in the subcontinent (it’s said that in the 1500’s, more than 500 000 people lived there) and the ruin complex is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you’re looking for a landscape photographer’s dream destination, you’ll find it here.
Hampi landscape

After checking in and getting some breakfast (arrival was at about 7am), we rented some mopeds to explore all that there is to see in Hampi Island (also known as “across the river”). It was easy to see that there was no shortage of things to do on this side of the river.We had been told that the best place to stay in Hampi is across the river since there is very little happening in the town at night-time and the tiny boat that ferries people between the riversides stops at 6pm. So we made a booking for a guesthouse on the other side of the river. We made our way down to hop on the ferry only to realise that the distance from the bus stop to the river does not warrant a rickshaw ride at all. Since it was my first time on a rickshaw, I didn’t begrudge the driver the fifty rupees I paid him. On the way there, I caught a glimpse of the imposing Virupaksha Temple, a Hindu temple built in honour of Virupaksha, one of the many forms of Shiva. It became one of the ‘must-sees’ of this trip.

Hanuman Temple

I particularly enjoyed the Anjaneya/Hanuman Temple. Although the 600 step climb up the hill to reach the monkey god’s temple (which I attempted in the blistering Hampi sun) is a somewhat less attractive prospect, the views of the valley as you make your way up will take your mind off the heat. The sunset here is also renowned to be worth the sacrifice. Surrounded by the wondrous beauty of the scenery and the mischief of a bunch of playful monkeys, it’ll be a memory to treasure.

Mopeds_best way around Hampi

Despite all the wonderful things we saw on the island, Hampi town and the ruins of the Vijayanagar city is where the culture and architecture fan in you will truly feel like you’ve arrived. The many ruins of the city are spread across a 25 km radius and are best seen by renting a bike or motorcycle. Walking is also possible but with the hot a dry climate and distances of 5km dividing some of the structures, not to mention the climb required to see some of the buildings, I found the motorbike option to be the best one. A close second favourite is Sanapur Lake, a large body of water surrounded by beautiful rock formations of piled up boulders. At some point, the crowd that is drawn to the area will congregate here for diving off the boulders into the cooling waters of the lake (rumour is that there are crocodiles but I couldn’t see any and they haven’t scared off the tourists) and chill out with other travellers with the same idea. The sunset here is the most magical I have ever seen. On that side of the river, you’ll also find a small waterfall, a handful of temples spread across the countryside and the Pampa Sarovar, a Hindu sacred pond filled with lotus leaves.

Musical Columns

In Hampi town and around the ruins of Vijayanagara, there are quite a few ‘must-stops.’  Hampi bazaar is the heart of the town and is dominated by the Virupaksha Temple (also known as the Pampapathi temple). With its 160-foot (49m) high tower entrance, statues of Shiva and shrines with of the erotica statues, this is place where you could easily spend half a day. The bazaar is a great place to shop for textiles, jewellery and fill up on delicious street food.

Virupaksha Temple

Perhaps one of the most impressive monuments of Hampi, Vithala Temple is bound to remain on its visitor’s minds. It is a thoroughly sculpted building with, ornate pillars and breathtaking carvings. The structure is also renowned for its musical pillars. The group of 56 pillars carved in stone produce an echo of a note when tapped. The back lawn of the temple displays an impressive stone carved chariot with rotating wheels.

Capital of a rich empire

No doubt Hampi is known for its many beautiful temples but it’s impossible to forget that this was once the capital of a rich empire. Kings and Queens lived lavish lifestyles here and as a memento of those times, there are still a handful of buildings that remain, telling stories of greatness. To call out a few: The Elephant stables (a majestic structure with 11 domed chambers for the royal elephants), the Queen’s bath, swimming pool to the royal family (part of the Royal Enclosure, the rectangular building with a  veranda inside wrapped around a square tank 6 feet deep) and the Zenana Enclosure (four buildings – the queen’s palace, two watchtowers through which the ladies of the court kept an eye on the outside world and the Lotus palace, a two storied palace that resembles a lotus flower and served as the meeting place for the royal females).

Hampi sunset over the lake

I left Hampi four days after arriving, feeling that I had not seen or explored half the secrets and treasures of this magical place. The city is beckoning me to return and I think that you Purple Travellers out there should add Hampi to your travel wishlist.

Read more about Rosalie’s Insider Guide to Goa here. All images via @ Rosalie Cruz

Off the beaten track: Funnel Wall, a music playing building

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image by attila acs

Located in Dresden, Germany and more specifically in the area of Neustadt Kunsthofpassage, also known as the student neighbourhood, this building is unique in the world!

The Funnel Wall is an architectural creation by three artists, Christoph Roßner, Annette Paul and Andre Tempel, who converted the exterior wall of the building into a band playing slow or fast track according to the weather.

To be precise, the entire surface is covered with funnels and gutters in the shape of musical instruments and when the rain begins to fall, this colourful drain system “captures” the water and turns the wall into a melodic music band envied by every conductor!

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image by Lichtdesigner

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image by UglyGuckling

141586077_769e8746b1_z Rainer Fritz

image by Rainer Fritz

Find out more about amazing places around the world, in our Off the Beaten Track series.

A night less ordinary: Sleep in a Silver Mine

We go around the world to find the most beautiful, weird and wonderful hotels. From caves to igloo styled hotels, expect the unexpected. This week, Sala Silvermine Underground suite in Sala Västmanland, Sweden.

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What’s the gimmick? If you fancy spending a night with your other half, 500ft underground in a room dug out of a cave, then this room in a silvermine is just the ticket. This little bit of luxury is so hidden away, you can only access it via a mineshaft lift.

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Travel all the way to the small town of Sala Västmanland in Sweden, and spend a night in the world’s deepest bedroom. The Silvermine of Sala is one of the world’s best preserved mine settings and your stay here begins with a guided tour. Although there are plenty of luxurious touches, it’s 14 storeys down, so if you need a phone, beware!

However it is the perfect balm to the stresses of life, not too many people can reach you down there, unless you choose to; through a personal intercom system. Before leaving for the night, your guide will leave a basket of goodies for you and then you are all alone to feel the peace and quiet of your new world. You’ll see the guide again in the morning when breakfast arrives. There is a toilet near your “room” however the showers are topside.

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Why stay?  You can sleep 155 metres underground, where you will see dark winding galleries, vast caverns and magical lakes. It doesn’t matter if you’re familiar with mining or not, the underground setting will amaze you. Oh, and you’re not alone with the idea, weekends are usually booked up all year round.

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The WOW Factor? The experienced guides tell you of a fantastic chapter in industrial history. During its heyday, production amounted to more than 3 tons of silver a year, and a total of more than 400 tons of silver and about 40,000 tons of lead were extracted – completely by hand! Most of the silver was used in manufacturing coins, but artefacts were also made.

A stay at this one of a kind single suite amounts to 3750 sek or about £287 per night.

See more unusual hotels in a night less ordinary.

Images via @ Salas Silver Gruva

In pictures: Amazing Places to Eat

Looking to really impress someone or maybe you’re in the middle of organising your honeymoon? Why not check out these amazing places to eat for a truly memorable holiday experience. Don’t forget to let us know which is your favourite!

Ngorogoro Crater Lunch

Crater Floor Lunch, Ngorogoro, Tanzania Image via @ andBeyond.com

Sunset View, Hydra, Greece Image via @ Sunset Restaurant

Sunset View Hydra

Skyline Bar, New Zealand image via @ Skyline Bar

Skyline Cafe New Zealand

This Dining Pod, at Soneva Kiri in Thailand Image via @ Soneva Kiri

Dining Pod

Lunch in the Eiffel Tower at the Jules Verne Restaurant

Jules Verne

Ithaa undersea Restaurant at the Conrad Hilton, Maldives

Image via @ Conrad Hilton

Ithaa

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