Category - Destination Guides

Purple Travel gives you the best tips about what to eat, drink and do on cheap holidays across the globe

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Purple 10 Haunted Hotels
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A Night less Ordinary: Spitbank Fort
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Book now – Half term holidays
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Purple Tips: 6 Family Holidays in Spain
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A Night less Ordinary: Bubble Hotel
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A Night less Ordinary: Exploranter Overland Hotel in Sao Paulo
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Purple Tips: A little Romance in New York City
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Purple 10 Worlds Best Party Towns
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Purple Tips: Top Bulgaria Holidays
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Purple Pick: Customs of Crete

Purple 10 Haunted Hotels

Like a scare at bedtime? If things that go bump in the night and strange noises are things that you actually enjoy, then read on for our top 10 most haunted hotels. But, be warned, you’ll be staying here at your peril!

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Image via @ Nomadic Lass

Karosta Prison Hotel, Latvia: This recreates that delightful experience of staying behind bars. Not only that, but it is said to be haunted by the ghosts of prisoners past whose footsteps echo the hallways at night.

Hotel Burchianti, Florence, Italy: This might be the most haunted on the list. It’s said that a ghost of a child skips down the corridors, while an apparition of a maid still carries out her cleaning duties in the early hours.

The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai, India: The late chief engineer of the building is reported to roam the halls of the old wing of the hotel. W A Chambers apparently died of a broken heart, after he found out the palace wasn’t built to his original design.

Castle Leslie, County Monaghan, Ireland: A whole bunch of the Leslie family continue to haunt this 300 year old castle, including young Shane Leslie, who died in a war but returned to watch over the lake. The famous perhaps isn’t a person at all though; it’s a dog called Punch.

Langham Hotel, London, England: This may be a top quality 5 star hotel, but even that can’t stop ghostly carry on. Room 333 is the famous one, with a terrifying reputation. It’s said that zombie type ghosts approach guests with their arms outstretched. No, we don’t fancy that either.

The Stanley Hotel, Colorado, US: Seen The Shining? Did it give you the creeps? Yep, us too. Apparently, the Stanley was the inspiration behind the original Stephen King novel after he stayed there the night before it closed down for the season. The piano in the ballroom plays music, although there’s no one sitting there, while ghosts have appeared in various rooms at night.

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Banff, Canada: Lost your room key? Well it’s not so bad here as the vision of a former bellhop Sam Macauley roams the corridors, even going as far as carrying guests’ luggage for them.

Ostrich Inn, Colnbrook, England: This one might put you off hotels for life. The owners installed a secret trap door under the bed in what they said was the best room in the house. It was right above the kitchen. When guests fell asleep, the door would be opened and the bed tilted, so the guest would slide into a cauldron of boiling water. Many of these unfortunate guests still haunt the corridors today to warn current travellers.

Hotel Provincial, New Orleans, USA: The Provincial is haunted by a former soldier; the site was once a military hospital which burned down in 1874. Recordings made in the hotel revealed ghostly sounds, while one female guest said she was dragged from her bed kicking and screaming when she stayed there.

The Roosevelt Hotel, California, USA: If you like your ghosts high profile, there might not be a better choice than the Roosevelt, said to be haunted by the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift.

A Night less Ordinary: Spitbank Fort

We go around the world to find the most beautiful, weird and wonderful hotels. From panda-themed hotels to converted silvermines, expect the unexpected. This week, the Spitbank Fort luxury hotel in Portsmouth if our night less ordinary.

spitfort

What’s the gimmick? Suitable for a James Bond villain, this luxury hotel off the Portsmouth coast is essentially a rentable island. One of four sea forts built in the 1870s, it was once a main line of defense against attacks, but over time was renovated to become one of the most comfortable and luxurious hotel-islands you could imagine.

spitbankWhy stay? There are eight luxury suites to choose from, with any number of amenities depending on your budget, we’re talking swimming pool, sauna, lighthouse with viewing platform.

The WOW Factor? Along with a lot of original features, the Spitfort also offers some great packages like cigar training and cocktail making.

spitbank 2Rooms start at £495 per room per night.

All images via @ www.spitbankfort.com

Book now – Half term holidays

Extend your summer or get in early for half term. The kids are back to school and a new (school) year is starting. Why not have something to look forward to, like an autumn tan, a spring in your step and a good injection of vitamin D in some of our favourite half term holiday picks. We take a look at where is hot during half term and what makes a great choice for children of all ages. If you fancy water slide parks, history lessons or just plain, old sandcastles and paddling in the sea, find out where to go with our best value destinations for half term holidays.

Half term holidays from Purple Travel

Where to spend your half term holidays

1. The Canaries – With an abundance of beaches, scuba diving, family bike rides and fantastic weather, cheap half term holidays in the Canaries are an obvious choice. Why not spend long, lazy days working on a winter tan on a black sandy beach in Tenerife, hike up the side of a volcano in Gran Canaria, or take a glass bottomed boat tour in Playa del Ingles? There is something to suit every type of family in the Canaries. Stay at Barcelo Lanzarote in Costa Teguise which offers adult and children’s swimming pools, playgrounds, kids club, giant monopoly and water slides as well as a spa for mum and dad.
2. Algarve – The Southern area of Portugal is still warm in October and there is plenty for children of all ages to keep busy with. Albufeira is a good family friendly hub, with plenty of child friendly restaurants, a sandy golden beach and nearby water parks. Stay at the Monica Isabel Beach Club in Albufeira, where you’ll find a great welcome, great rooms and great value.
3. Crete – The southern Aegean is ideal in October. Prices have dropped, but temperatures are still high and Crete is a perennial choice for family friendly holidays. Stay at the Knossos Beach Bungalows and Suites, right on a sandy beach, with lots of loungers, umbrellas and children’s activities available.
4. Marrakech – is an exciting, exotic holiday choice all year, but especially good around October. It’s still warm and at only three hours flying time, it’s not too far to get somewhere very exotic. Children and adults can enjoy hiking in the Atlas Mountains, visiting the colourful souks or exploring the Kasbahs. Stay at the Aqua Fun Club – All Inclusive. This 5* accommodation has extensive spa facilities as well as water slides, adult and children only pools, a rafting river and children’s aqua tower.
5. Rome – If you want to get some learning in during the half term break, why not choose a city break in Rome. The weather should still be ok, in the early 20s and you and your children can enjoy seeing the Colosseum and some gladiators up close, head for the Time Elevator Roma (a high tech history lesson made with some very special effects) spark imaginations at the Explora children’s museum and munch on pasta and pizza. Stay at the RSH Spanish Steps Apartments, centrally located near the Trevi Fountain and with plenty of space for all the family after long days exploring the city.
6. Florida – has over 1,000 miles of sandy beaches, is the home of theme parks and has some of the best shopping in the world. Then of course there is Disney World to think of. Meet Mickey Mouse, see the fireworks and parades and generally have the time of your life and a half term holiday you’ll never forget. Stay at the Disney Area Superior Homes for a home away from home experience in Orlando and all the amenities you want within easy reach of the World Disney World Resort.

Tell us your choices for the best half term holidays and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Kate Power is community manager for Purple Travel.

Purple Tips: 6 Family Holidays in Spain

Looking to impress the kids and keep mum and dad happy? Then check out our Purple tips for six of the best family holidays in Spain. For great family holidays in Spain, you’ll need sunshine, child-friendly accommodation and restaurants and a tonne of things to see and do, not to mention a top notch beach. Here are some of our tips for family friendly fun in the sun for holidays in Spain in 2014.

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Ιmages via @ Kevin Poh, Juan Ramon Rodriguez Sosa

1. Malaga on the Costa del Sol is one of our top choices. With Nerja Caves to explore, Aqualand Torremolinos or the botanic gardens and cable cars at Tivoli world, as well as great value accommodation and kid friendly restaurants by the bagful, it’s a good choice for a late summer break.

2. If you fancy all year sunshine Lanzarote and specifically Puerto Del Carmen is the place to go. The beaches are to die for and it makes a great base for exploring the island. Lanzarote has plenty of fun activities for kids of all ages including Costa Teguise Aqua Park, go karting in San Bartolome or the Rancho Texas Theme Park.

3. Lloret de Mar in the Costa Brava is a great place to mix city break with sun, sea and sand, in other words the ideal mix of things for kids and mum and dad. Close to Barcelona it’s ideal for a day out at the Museum of Ideas and Inventions, the CosmoCaixa, or simply a walk down the Ramblas, while the beaches are just a stone’s throw away.

4. Alcudia Beach in Majorca is perfect for a relaxed few days on the beach. You’ll find a relaxed pace of life here, so it’s good for a peaceful getaway. There’s lots of space for relaxing on the beach, enjoying long, leisurely meals in child-friendly restaurants and there are a lot of historical sites and the S’Albufera Natural Park.

5. Costa Adeje in Tenerife is a firm family favourite. For little ones there are water parks, clean and shallow beaches and for older ones there are surfing or diving lessons and organised day trips. The whole family will enjoy whale watching trips, while the selection of hotels suits every budget and every kind of holidaymaker.

6. Portinatx in Ibiza is not about partying all night. Away from the noise and clubs you’ll find a haven of facilities for you and your family. From quiet sandy coves, relaxed local restaurants and kids clubs at plenty of hotels offering entertainment and games programmes, it’s a good choice for kids up to 12 years old.

Are there any resorts we missed? We’ve love to get some readers tips on family holidays in Spain.

A Night less Ordinary: Bubble Hotel

We go around the world to find the most beautiful, weird and wonderful hotels. From ship-shaped hotels to underground suites, expect the unexpected. This week, we look at a night less ordinary at the Bubble Hotel, otherwise known as the Mullihotell in Saaremaa, Estonia.

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What’s the gimmick? A bubble-shaped room practically surrounded by nature. The room is partly transparent and has a curve that’s maintained by air constantly blowing towards it.

Why stay? The bubble is like a typical hotel room, apart from the fact that it’s a bubble and completely surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of Mother Nature. Although as comfortable as any accommodation you could ask for, the bubble doesn’t actually offer a bathroom, so visitors can use the toilet and washing facilities of the neighbouring guesthouse.

The WOW Factor? Located in the magnificent fields of Aadu Touristic Farm in Saaremaa, the Bubble hotel offers its guests the chance to enjoy a night in nature, with the starry sky as their roof.

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All images via @ mullihotell.ee

The cost for an overnight in this alternative hotel is €89-€99 from Sunday to Thursday and €107-€119 from Friday to Saturday. Book now or visit Purple Travel for regular hotels all over the world!

A Night less Ordinary: Exploranter Overland Hotel in Sao Paulo

We go around the world to find the most beautiful, weird and wonderful hotels. From ship-shaped hotels to underground suites, expect the unexpected in our series: A Night Less Ordinary. This week, Exploranter Overland Hotel in Sao Paulo.

Exploranter-Overland-Hotel

What’s the gimmick? Join a tour on this, pretty incredible hotel on wheels. Inspired by the huge overland expedition trucks you see on safari trips, this one is a little bigger. With room for up to 32 people, three fully equipped bathrooms, a lounge, and kitchen it has all you could ask for from hotel, with more – it moves! It’s got huge windows to enjoy the panoramic views, a small observation deck and when the weather’s good (which is probably will be) it’s a pleasure to lunch in the great outdoors.

Inside-the-trailer-bedrooms

Why stay? Based in Sao Paulo, the Exploranter is available on routes throughout South America from northern Brazil to Patagonia, Chile. You can book the travelling hotel to suit your own schedule; trips last between three days and three weeks. There are many advantages to travelling by truck: You’ll get to rarely-seen-parts, close to nature, find out more about local cultures and enjoy some of the most beautiful parts of the world.

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All images via @  localnomad

The WOW Factor? More than simply a way to get around, this is an experience. A truly different way to see the world, and maybe the start of a brand new kind of tourism all over the world.

Purple Tips: A little Romance in New York City

Central Park - Horse

When you talk about romance, the cities that first come to mind are probably Paris and Venice. New York City however is a very popular destination for couples who want a romantic getaway or even to celebrate their honeymoon.

It’s no surprise though as New York has been the setting for a lot of famous love stories. Like Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan’s characters in ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ who meet each other at the top of the Empire State Building. And who doesn’t know the famous New York TV-couples like Ross and Rachel (Friends) and Carrie and Mr. Big (Sex and the City)? To top it off: New York City even has its own LOVE sculpture!

So what makes New York so romantic? What is there to do on a romantic getaway? Well the list is pretty much endless but this is our top six tips to make sure your holiday is one neither of you will ever forget.

‘Meet me at the top of the Empire State Building’

Made famous by movies like ‘An affair to remember’ and ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ as one of the romantic spots in New York City, the Empire State Building is a popular place for popping the question among couples from all over the world.

The beautiful iconic art-deco building, the amazing view from the observation deck across the entire city, it is something that just screams romance. The most romantic moment to visit the Empire State Building is late in the afternoon. You’ll get the clear day view, a beautiful sunset and shining night lights of the city.

Romance in the sky

With millions of lights shining brightly at night in the city, it’s no wonder New York City’s nickname is ‘the city that never sleeps’. The lights of New York are one of the things that make it perfect for a romantic getaway. The best way to take advantage of this is by taking a helicopter tour in New York. There are lots of day time tours but the one that tops them all is the night helicopter tour.

You’ll be picked up at the harbour by a boat have champagne on the way there and then you’ll fly above all the New York City sights which sparkle in the night.

Central Park

 Let’s take a stroll

No matter what the season is Central Park is the perfect place to take a long stroll holding hands with your other half. The park has a lot of spots that are perfect for a little romance like the Bow Bridge, Belvedere Castle, Bethesda Fountain and the Conservatory Garden. It’s even becoming popular for actual wedding ceremonies and the most beautiful photographs. If you get tired of walking, why not snuggle up in a carriage ride where you can see the Park’s famous sights, rent a boat on the lake, or relax in a quiet spot with a picnic?

A skyline dinner

New York City has a very famous skyline; it’s a mesmerizing sight to see during the day as well as at night. The best view is  by one of the many boat tours in New York around (part of) the island of Manhattan. There are scenic boat tours during the day or for something special a romantic evening dinner cruises by the light of the moon. Some boats even have a dance floor on board so the two of you can dance the night away.

Snuggle up at the movies

On a bit of a budget but still want a romantic night out? Bring a blanket and grab some snacks for a picnic at the movies. During the summer every Monday night you can watch a free film in Bryant Park. Imagine this: watching a great American Classic under the New York sky, while snuggling on a blanket and enjoying some of your favourite snacks. It’s personal, thoughtful and super romantic. Whoever said romance had to be expensive!

New York at night

The Blue Box!  

If you are planning on popping the question in New York, whether it’s at the Empire State Building, in the sky in a helicopter or at Central Park, don’t forget to pay a visit to Tiffany’s & Co. Almost every woman, New Yorker or not, dreams of one day getting that blue box with the iconic Tiffany’s engagement ring in it! No New York proposal will be complete without that little blue box!

BIO – Eric Lang

Eric Lang was born in Amsterdam but fell in love with New York at an early age. Between 2003 and 2008, he visited the Big Apple 11 times and in 2008 his dream to live in Manhattan became a reality! Because of his love for New York City he decided to start VisitNewYork.co.uk to share all his knowledge about New York City!

Purple 10 Worlds Best Party Towns

the best parties from Purple Travel

Images via @ DavidDennisPhotos @ Markiza @ Jirka Matousek @ k0a1a.net

Find out where to let loose, let your hair down and go wild in our Purple 10 World’s Best Party Towns. If we’re missing something, head for the comments and let us know what it is and why.

  1. Phuket, Thailand. Thanks to its ‘anything goes’ reputation, Phuket has become a must-stop destination on the backpacker trail. There are cabaret shows, go go bars, Thai boxing and plenty more. Just remember: what happens in Phuket stays in Phuket! Madness level: 8.9.
  2. Las Vegas, USA. Strippers, gambling and a getting totally wasted. No wonder The Hangover was filmed in Las Vegas. If you want to go to crazy partying, this is a city that will go crazy with you. Madness level: 8.
  3. Barcelona, Spain. Get off the famous avenue Las Ramblas and head for the late night parties in the north of the city that don’t start ’til 1am. Stick with the locals who’ll guide you the best clubs of your life. Madness level: 7.1.
  4. Berlin, Germany. Seriously, Berlin is mad. If you’re committed to partying like a maniac, then the hipster capital of the world has leather themed clubs, converted warehouses made for industrial nights out and everything in between. Madness level: 7.8.
  5. Dubai, United Arab Emirates. If you’ve recently won the lottery you might want to head for the gold plated chic of Dubai’s clubs and bars. The city is packed with champagne serving waiters, beautiful people and the most decadent of party experiences. Madness level: 5.9.
  6. Thessaloniki, Greece. Not the most famous, but one of the best on mainland Greece for nightlife, Thessaloniki’s a student city that offers great nightlife all year round, not just in the heady summer months. And, it’s no distance really from the UK. Madness level: 7.1.
  7. Miami, USA. Go to South Beach, relax in plush lounges or party in your bikini for hours on end. The clubs that line Miami’s art-deco streets are made for blinged out clubbing. Just beware: it can add up! Madness level: 8.6.
  8. Ibiza, Spain. It wouldn’t be much of a list of party cities if Ibiza wasn’t included. Despite the high price of drinks and clubs, party animals flock to the island and for party people, it’s a must visit at least once in your life. There are beach parties all day, and the best DJs in the world all night. Madness level: 6.9.
  9. Albufeira, Portugal. Thanks to its dedicated strip of bars and clubs, there are cheap drinks, all night dancing and loads of places to stay boozing all night, Albufeira’s a good, handy choice from the UK for epic partying. Also makes for a great stag or hen do. Madness level: 8.3.
  10. Prague, Czech Republic. Although not quite as cheap as it once was, the free flowing beer of Prague make it a consistently good choice. There are bars, pubs, locals, clubs, kiosks and restaurants, basically anything where you can buy beer they have it. Get detoxed now, so you’ll be ready. Madness level: 8.0.

You should read… Purple 10 budget stag and hen dos

To find out more about flights and hotels in the worlds best party towns, talk to the expert team at Purple Travel on 0207 993 9228.

Purple Tips: Top Bulgaria Holidays

Bulgaria holidays boast a wonderful mix of holiday fun, from beautiful beaches, extensive history and sense of adventure, find a cheap holiday on the shores of the Black Sea this year from Purple Travel. Here’s our top pick of resorts for summer Bulgaria holidays.

Bulgaria Beaches image

Sozopol: With heavy Greek influence and right on the Black Sea, Sozopol is a traditional Bulgaria holiday option. The town is right on a beautiful lagoon and makes an especially great choice for families who want to wander the tiny cobbled streets, take in the unchanged fishing methods and enjoy clean, safe beaches.

nesebarImage via @ pansy_burke

Nessebar: Set on a peninsula right out in the Black Sea, Nessebar is a resort of two halves! There is the historic ancient part of town with its picturesque churches and old-world charm, and there is a newer part with beautiful beaches and plenty of hotels offering great value accommodation. There’s plenty on offer for watersports enthusiasts, while swimming, diving or fishing are some of the top day time activities. By night Nessebar comes to life with bars, clubs and pubs where you can party until dawn.

sunny beachImage via @ Star Tour

Sunny Beach: If you want a singles holiday, you’re going with a gang of mates or your part of a couple who loves a good laugh, then the cheap resort of Sunny Beach is the best option for a summer getaway. There’s a great value selection of 4 or 5 star hotels, tonnes of decent bars and clubs and lots of other stuff on offer too: from the beach, to the summer festivals and fashion shows.

golden sandsImage via @ avramdeluxe

Golden Sands: One of the biggest and best resorts in Europe, Golden Sands as its name suggests has it all. With plenty of beach space, loads of family activities and great bars, clubs and casinos, families, groups and couples will love it.

Albena

Image via @ romfey

Albena: Right on a nature reserve, Albena is a little more luxurious than some of the other resorts in Bulgaria. There’s a beautiful selection of charming seafront hotels, top notch restaurants and plenty for kids who want to splash about in the water. The town itself is made for evening strolls, discovering little narrow streets or the amazing Botanic Gardens in neighbouring Balchik.

Purple Pick: Customs of Crete

Tradition is an integral part of life for the Cretans in particular – even their dialect is considered the oldest in Greece, frequently becoming a study for university research.  Most Greek dances and music first appeared in Crete, the island where it is said that the mother of the Gods, Rhea, taught them to the Curetes (Cretan tribe). The most famous Cretan dance was the pyrrhic, while the violi, the lyra and the laouto remain the characteristic musical instruments. Customs of Crete are a serious business and you better get to know a few before you travel. Here’s our handy cut-out-and-keep customs of Crete guide. Just go easy on the raki on a fab Crete holiday from Purple Travel.

crete from purpletravel Image via @ Idleformat

Here are some of our favourite Cretan traditions and customs:

Tsikoudia (Raki)

This alcoholic beverage is a real part of Cretan culture. And take it from us, after a few shots of this fragrant, grape-based pomace brandy, you won’t be standing upright. Tsikoudia is sometimes served cold from a bottle kept in a freezer. Tsikoudia is commonly offered as an after dinner digestif, and in most taverns in Crete it is offered complimentary after the meal. It’s flavored using lemon rind, rosemary or honey.

Mantinades

Mantinades (derived from the Venetian mantinada, meaning ‘morning song’) are Cretan rhyming couplets, typically used in music to accompany dance. They usually have either love or satire as their topics. The production of mantinades in today’s Crete continues at much the same pace as it did in the 15th century, especially in the villages. Cretans combine tradition with modern technological developments in the mantinades, often with a great deal of humour, as you can see from the following mantinada:

“In the sheepcote I set up a modem to use,
For to sell on the Net the milk from my ewes.”

You should read… Purple Hearts Heraklion, Crete

Nameday

Most Greeks take their names from a religious saint (Nikolaos, Ioannis, Dimitrios etc). They then celebrate their name on that saint’s given day of the year, much as you may do a birthday. On the “name day” of someone, his friends and family visit him without invitation and offer their wishes and presents. In Greece, name days are more important than birthdays.

The Cretan Dagger

The Cretan dagger’s symbolic value survived even until recently. Its great metaphysical value in protecting humans against the fiendish powers of the invisible world and “ill-fated moments” was deeply rooted in Cretan culture. One example of this was in marriage. When a man and woman were married, it was custom in Crete that the groom offer his new wife a small silver dagger – the argyrobounialaki (yeah, try and pronounce that one). This small dagger was then worn by the Cretan girl on her waist, tucked inside a silk sash; the dagger indicated to other men that the girl was married and that she belonged to one man. It also served as a reminder to the girl that she was devoted to her husband and that the price she would pay for any infidelity would be her own life. Sounds pretty misogynistic, right? Yes, however, in addition to its symbolic significance, the dagger also had practical value, because the young Cretan woman would be able to defend herself and her dignity when in danger.

Daggers, always black-hilted, (as black-hilted daggers were thought to be feared by demons) played a leading part in the practice of magic. Tiny black-hilted daggers were used in making talismans for young children and for protecting epileptics from the bad influence of the moon and the possessed from the pernicious influence of demons. When a child died, the mother would hang small black-hilted daggers around her other children’s necks as talismans, so that the Grim Reaper would not take them too.

The Evil Eye

Many Cretans, especially in villages, believe that someone can catch the ‘evil eye’, or “matiasma”, from someone else’s jealous compliment or envy. This person would feel bad physically and psychologically.To avoid the matiasma, a little blue marble glass with an eye painted on it must be worn. Blue is believed to be the colour that wards off the evil eye but it is also believed that people with blue eyes are givers of the matiasma.

Read more: Holidays To Make You Live Longer

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