1
Going to Live in Australia: Part 1
2
Purple 10: Weird things stolen from hotel rooms
3
Holiday like the X-Factor
4
The new foodie museums
5
Purple Hearts: Marrakech Travel Guide
6
A Night Less Ordinary: Roar and Snore
7
PurplePassport: kids kicked out of quiet zones and Ryanair goes back to basics
8
Weird and wonderful: World Chicken Festival
9
Purple 10 Most WTF weird theme parks in the world
10
Yetis in Siberia?

Going to Live in Australia: Part 1

Part One of our new weekly series from guest blogger, Liz Bethell about going to live in Australia.

Everyday in life we are offered opportunities.  Whether we choose to recognise or act upon those opportunities or just ignore them, is up to us as individuals. I believe that when an opportunity presents itself, we must not ignore it – if it is possible to take it, we should. It’s like learning to dance in the rain instead of waiting for the rain to stop. And God forbid those opportunities we could have done end up on the bucket list, and we later think “Why didn’t I try that?”, but it’s suddenly too late.

This happened to me in 2006. We came to Australia on a 4 month extended holiday with the idea of seeing if we liked it and possibly moving out here at a later date. We met some amazing people back then who have stayed quality, genuine friends as the years have gone by. One friend was an American girl, Kristen, over in Australia doing a teaching placement and through her we met a Canadian teacher doing a Teacher Exchange- actually swapping lives with an Australian counterpart for a year- house, job, car- only keeping the same partner and children! When I heard that I thought how awesome it was- what an amazing experience.

I went home to life as I knew it. I asked about the Exchange at work, but as I was then working in the Reception class and the exchange to Australia started mid-year for the British participants, it was felt that there would be too much upheaval for the little ones and would be better when I had an older class. So a few years later, when I had been teaching in Year 3 for a few years, I approached my head teacher and put forward an application through the Commonwealth Scheme to swap and move Down Under for a year.

It wasn’t as straight forward as usual. The tough year with the government meant that they withdrew a lot of funding for the organisation and there was doubt as to whether it would continue running- a shame as this has run now for 100 years. Then finally CYEC Commonwealth Youth Exchange Committee took it over and everything started moving fast in the last few months. My Australian Exchange Teacher, Fiona had her application sent to my school where it was considered by the head and the governing body and likewise mine was being done by the Principal in Australia.  Fiona and I spoke a lot on the phone and got to know each other and emailed and set up networks of people to help us both settle in on either side of the world! We researched the area and I couldn’t believe it- if I could have chosen the area I would have loved to go to it would have been Byron Bay- the place where we met Kristen- our American friend and through her, Bob and Chris and other friends. People who now live 15 minutes from where we are living this year. Pretty amazing when you consider that you can’t choose where you want to go- and the size of Australia! I knew it was meant to be. Visas had to be sorted and police checks and housing had to be sorted out. People usually swap the houses they are living in but as my partner, Ralph works offshore in the diving industry I knew he wouldn’t be able to give up his job for the year and so would need to go home for some of the time. So I decided to rent a house for Fee, Eric and her girls, Ellen and Adi. This worked out well as it was near school for them.

Finally the end of December came. I hung back so I could actually meet the Aussies as we had got on so well on the phone. They arrived Christmas Day. We had a big Welcome/Leaving Party on December 28th in Liverpool and then on 29th December my son Jack and I hopped on a plane bound for Sydney, Australia. We would be met by Nicolette and Ross, some more fantastic friends we had made back in 2006 and were going to spend New Year with them before heading up to our new home and life up on the East Coast of Australia. I didn’t know it then but this was going to be the start of an experience that was more awesome than even I could have imagined! And I haven’t finished it yet!

Read more from Liz Bethell on her personal Blog.

Read part two of Going to live in Australia here.

Purple 10: Weird things stolen from hotel rooms

It’s not just bathrobes that are ripe for the picking, people take all sorts from their hotel rooms… You’ve got to wonder, how did they hide some of these?

After a survey of 500 hotels, 95 percent say they’ve had items stolen by guests, and around one in every ten traveller will take at least one thing that doesn’t belong to them.

A piano like this was taken from the reception of a hotel.

Here’s the weirdest:

  1. A grand piano. Yes, a whole piano was carted down the street by three people dressed in overalls who casually strolled by reception.
  2. A stuffed boar’s head. A hotel in Birmingham went without its billiard room’s main feature, until friends of the shamed guest actually bought it from the hotel as a wedding present.
  3. A Vegas Hotel said entire carpets had been cut and take from one of its rooms.
  4. The sofa and a mini-fridge were taken from a five star hotel in Dubai.
  5. A five star hotel in Madrid went without a whole mattress after a stay by one sticky-fingered guest.
  6. Sex Toys, a hotel in Bath which offers kinky accessories as part of its package, says they often go walkabouts after visits from amorous guests.
  7. Televisions. They have a tough time in hotel rooms, what with getting thrashed by rockers, they’re also one of the most stolen items.
  8. One unfortunate hotel owner had their pet dog stolen! Who would do that!?
  9. Every accessory from an Istanbul hotel room was taken, apart from the bed, the desk and TV, basically everything that wasn’t nailed down.
  10. Miscellaneous: according to reports that have surfaced over the years, there are lots of other, hard-to-categories bits taken from rooms, including a medieval sword and a 4ft wooden bear. Sounds a bit Anchorman, doesn’t it?

Holiday like the X-Factor

It’s our second favourite bit of the X Factor, after the first auditions of course, when all the contestants are brought to the judge’s house for that final round of tears, tantrums and triumph. In a last minute phone call from boss man Simon, the judges were told which groups they were mentoring. Gary Barlow is in charge of the Over 28s, Louis Walsh has the Groups, Nicole Sherzinger has the Boys and Tulisa the Girls. The big news came that after the departure of Rough Copy, Louis has seven acts in the Judges’ House, while all the others have six. We can sense some tense times ahead. Last weekend was the Judges’ houses round, where Nicole, Gary, Tulisa and Louis whisked away their contestants for some top secret, last minute tuning up. Nicole was in Dubai, Tulisa was in the Caribbean on St Lucia, Louis was in Vegas while Gary was in the English countryside.

So where to go to holiday like the X-Factor? Read on to find out…

From the tiniest detail, holidays in Dubai are pretty mind blowing; even its fountains are impressive. Drenched in sunshine, your jaw will drop like the X Factor Boys at the ornate hotels, indoor ski resorts, white knuckle rollercoasters, exotic pools and unbelievable food. The biggest draw is likely to be the World’s Tallest Building, the Burj Khalifa, which you simply have to check out. Reaching 2km into the sky, it can be seen from miles away, and has everything you could possible want on a holiday. It’s even got an Armani Hotel! If you’re trying to figure out where to stay, The Four Points by Sheraton, Downtown Dubai and the Melia Dubai are well worth a look.

Sunshine, perfect beaches and sparkling blue waters, it’s the simple things that impress in honeymoon favourite St Lucia. The tiny island is a favourite with celebs, so it’s no surprise really that the X Factor Girls will get a taste of the good life with Tulisa. There’s plenty to do, like rainforest hikes, or climbing the Gros Piton (it’s a bit of a walk, but well worth it) and snorkelling. However, our favourite thing is to feel the powder soft white sand between our toes, maybe take a quick dip in the warm Caribbean Sea, before retiring to a hammock for the afternoon. The Anse Chastanet, Soufriere and The Bay Gardens Hotel in Gros Islet are two of our top hotel choices.

Entertainment capital of the world in Las Vegas, otherwise known as Sin City is an inspired choice for the Judge’s House. It’s seen *the* big names in the world of music play, from Frank Sinatra to Tom Jones, Elton to Celine, so why not Vegas? While the groups are busy fine tuning their performances, we’re daydreaming about having a go at some of the casinos, watching the fountain show at the Bellagio, visiting the massive shark tank at the Golden Nugget and maybe taking a trip to one of the little chapels, well, you never know do you? Stay at the budget friendly, Americas Best Value Inn Hotel, East of the Strip or go wild at the 5 star Trump International Hotel, West of the Strip.

Lord of the Manor in the English countryside: We don’t need much of an excuse to indulge in a long weekend, and nothing impresses us more than lording it over the countryside at our own fancy manor house. Ok, it might not be ours, but we can dream right… just like the X Factor Overs. Gary was definitely on to something, with that gorgeous rolling countryside, a quick stroll in the great outdoors, before retiring by the fireside with a glass of port. When in Rome and all that. We like the luxury Ellenborough Park in the Cotsworlds or the country hotel, the Three Horseshoes Inn.

The new foodie museums

At Purple Travel, we’ve noticed a trend emerging around the world and it’s about as random as you can imagine. Without further ado, enjoy the new foodie museums.

For those who turn your nose up at the high-brow artefacts on display the Louvre, the Vatican or the Hermitage, these museums may be just the thing for you. Enter the food museum, an unexpected answer the prayers of women all over, who want nothing more than to enjoy their food without gaining weight.

The story begins in Italy; located just outside of Bologna, a €1.5m ice-cream museum details the rise of gelato. Taking visitors on a tour from gelato’s initial incarnation as a chilled delicacy for Roman emperors, to the sweet treat we know today that’s seen on every corner of Italy, this free museum is located at the headquarters of Carpigiani, a gelato machine maker founded in Bologna in 1946.

Across the pond, in the neighbourhood of Fishtown (!) in Philadelphia, America’s first pizza museum has just opened its doors. A veritable shrine to the popular fast food, ‘Pizza Brain’ is part museum, part restaurant. “We thought it was a funny idea, and we started doing some research,”owner Brian Dwyer believed, “And when we discovered that nowhere on earth was there a physical place, a monument built to pizza, we said, “This is going to be huge.””

While you may have already sectioned Dywer under the Mental Health Act, strangely enough, there are a number of like-minded individuals who have opened similar museums around the world in recent years, ranging in focus from currywurst to Jell-O, from a museum of burnt food to one about vinegar. There’s the International Banana Club and Museum in California, which claims to be the world’s first and largest museum dedicated entirely to the banana, and is home to some 17,000 banana items (and also Ken, the “Top Banana” and Glenn, the “Banana Man”). If bananas aren’t your thing and you’re not so keen on fruit-suited men either, head to the Spam Museum in Minnesota.  This 16,500-square-foot museum is dedicated entirely to canned-meat enthusiasts. If you’re curious as to why SPAM (which turns 71 years old this year) deserves its own museum, let us refer you to the website: “SPAM is the cradle of civilization. It is the ultimate culinary perfection. Within these walls, all of life’s questions will be deliciously answered.”

Riiiiiiiiiight.

And if you thought that was weird, check out this of food (word of warning: do not peruse on an empty stomach).

Museum of Burnt Food, Arlington, Mass.

Bionic Burger Museum, Online

The Currywurst Museum, Berlin, Germany

The Jell-O Gallery, LeRoy, N.Y.

International Vinegar Museum, Roslyn, S.D.

The Potato Museum, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Also check out FoodMuseum.com, which has a great roundup of food museums around the world.

Purple Hearts: Marrakech Travel Guide

Make the most of your holiday with our Marrakech Travel Guide. Everything you should see, do, experience and stay in one handy place! Enjoy the Purple Travel Marrakech Travel Guide.

It might seem like an exotic, bustling place to go and, well, it is! But Marrakech is a lot more than that. The Moroccan city makes an amazing autumn holiday and here’s why: it’s got fantastic weather, great atmosphere and lots of budget friendly options and it’s just over three hours away. You’ll feel like you’re worlds apart after just a couple of hours.

The iconic city of Marrakech dates back to the 11th century. It probably looks a bit familiar since it’s been used as a backdrop for tonnes of movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark and even an episode of the Apprentice, while it’s become intertwined with The Rolling Stones who fell in love with the ‘anything goes’ atmosphere in the 60s.

Read More

A Night Less Ordinary: Roar and Snore

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, enjoy a Night Less Ordinary Roar and Snore in Sydney, where you sleep in a zoo.

What’s the gimmick? Fancy waking up next to a lion? At Roar and Snore in Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, guests can do just that. Find yourself sleeping in one of the architecturally designed tents, with views of the Sydney harbour to one side and lions, snow leopards and meerkats on the other.

You should read… Top weird ways to travel on holiday

Why stay?  For animal enthusiasts, it doesn’t get much better than waking up to the roar of a lion or an elephant trumpeting as you prepare to experience the Zoo before the crowds. Feed a giraffe or pat a seal as you go behind the scenes to learn the secrets of this famous and fascinating Zoo.  And if that wasn’t enough, experience sunrise at one of the world’s most famous views from one of the best possible positions to see it.

The Wow Factor: Your incredible overnight Zoo experience begins with refreshments on arrival, followed by an opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the Zoo’s most friendly creatures. After a buffet dinner you hike through the zoo on a night zoo safari led by a zoo educator, where you can see the animals relax after their daylight duties. Then settle in for the night in a cosy, fully-furnished tent.

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

Price includes guided night Zoo Safari, tent accommodation, dinner, refreshments, breakfast, two back of house tours and admission to the zoo the following day. Prices start from $436.50AUD for one adult and one child.  Click here for details.

PurplePassport: kids kicked out of quiet zones and Ryanair goes back to basics

Middle of the World not quite in the middle of the world

The Middle of the World theme park has been shockingly exposed as not being in the middle of the world after all. A report by the New York Times revealed the Ecuadorian govenmernt owned park which features a yellow line claiming to be 0 degrees latitude is actually a few hundred feet away from the actual middle of the world. Drawing up to 500,000 tourists per year, the park says it will now rectify the mistake. Not only that, but it plans to throw in the building of the world’s tallest man made structure to make up for the error.

Quiet zone kicks kids out

A Malaysian low cost airline has decided to kick children to the back of its planes in a bid to let passengers avoid screaming babies or small children. AirAsia X is introducing a ‘quiet zone’ which incorporates the first seven rows of seats on its Airbus A330 and even features soft lighting to really help you relax.  The new booking system means passengers can reserve a seat in the designated area at no extra cost and any group with travellers younger than 12 years old will not be able to book them.

Wi-Fi on the go

If you simply can’t go without Wi-Fi when you travel, check out Mashable, which has some handy tips for 1) booking flights with Wi-Fi on board and 2) if you’ve already booked, where to find out if you can get online on your flight. It’s a great way to catch up on work emails, or simply check in to show off to your friends that you’re on holidays!

Low Cost Back To Basics

Ryanair has decided to go back to basics, by opening its first shop. The low cost airline has opened a unit in Manchester, which will operate for four weeks. Bosses say if a customer finds a cheaper flight to or from the city; it will pay double the difference back to the customer. If you fancy seeing it for yourself, head to Unit C, 111, Piccadilly.

Check in, without checking in.

British Airways says it’s running a trial version of a new check in system that will revolutionise checking in. For anyone who is signed up for the trial course, passengers will be automatically (automagially!) checked in without even lifting a finger, or clicking a mouse. Twenty-four hours ahead of flying passengers will be checked in and will receive their boarding card electronically. If the trial run is successful, it could be rolled out to all customers by the end of next year.

Weird and wonderful: World Chicken Festival

If a bucket of KFC in front of the TV is your idea of heaven on earth then read on. Today sees the launch of the annual World Chicken Festival, paying tribute to the colonel and all things that cluck.

Named one of Kentucky’s top ten events, the festival prides itself on links to Colonel Harland Sanders, founder of the chain of restaurants. The very first one was established in the 1940s in Daniel Boone National Forest and it’s where the secret recipe is said to have originated.

The festival kicks off today, and is held every September in downtown London (USA, not UK!) The highlight has to be the world’s largest skillet, a frying pan measuring over ten feet. It’s operated by dedicated world chicken festival volunteers and has served over 120,000 pieces of fried deliciousness since 1992. It operates throughout the festival churning out hundreds if not thousands of crispy, chicken.

The whole festival, as you can imagine revolves around chicken, from the Chicken Invasion Sculpture Competition and a whole pile of chicken related contests. You’ll find, somewhat ironically, a 5km run as well as a hot wing eating contest and the Chick-O-Lympics, (just for kids though.) There’s also something called the Doubles Cornhole Tournament, although we haven’t actually figured out what that’s all about!

For more info, check out the official World Chicken Festival Page.

Purple 10 Most WTF weird theme parks in the world

10 WTF weird theme parks that you’ll either love or want to avoid forever.

  1. Harmonyland, Japan If hanging out with a whole bunch of life size versions of Hello Kitty is your idea of a good time, then read on! There are Hello Kitty live shows, a “rhythmic rollercoaster” the Kitty Castle and something called the Hello Kitty Black Wonder. We think this definitely deserves a place the weird theme parks list.
  2. Grutas Park, Lithuania You won’t find any rollercoasters, or even a swing ride, but you will find a gulag experience and lots of Soviet era sculptures. It even has its own zoo, complete with ostriches, while every April 1st there’s an annual comedy festival with impersonations of Communist party bigwigs. Grutas Park’s founder built the park to remind people of past oppressions.
  3. Loveland, South Korea If adults only is your way of thinking, then this park is for you, it’s completely based around “enjoying a harmonious sex life.” It’s easy to see why it’s becoming more and more popular with honeymooners. Prudish types need not apply as this park takes the hands on approach, with attractions like Breast Mountain; huge intimate works of art and ahem, DIY exhibitions.
  4. BonBon Land, Denmark A few miles south of the Danish capital you’ll find this park, which is home to some delightful amusements like the Farting Dog rollercoaster and the Skid Mark. Not only that but dotted throughout the park you’ll find lovely cartoons characters like giant rats, half naked cows, hungover turtles and seagulls pooping on alligators. So, that’s nice.
  5. Tayto Park, Ireland (Disclaimer!) We Irish are known for some mad cap ideas, but how about a theme park dedicated to crisps? Tayto are synonymous with the potatoey-tasty treat and the company has set up its own crisp theme park. In the wilds of county Meath you’ll find a factory tour to see how the crisps are made, visit the animals (which may or may not be fed on crisps) or have a go on a Tayto jumper or Mr Tayto’s Wacky Rodeo.
  6. Shijingshan Amusement Park, China It might look a bit like Disney, it feels a bit like Disney but it’s definitely not Disney. The park blatantly rips off some of Walt’s greatest creations with the odd change here and there. So watch out for an extra tall Snow White or a strange looking Mickey Mouse.
  7. Hacienda Napoles, Colombia At the entrance to the Hacienda Napoles, you’ll find an area decorated with an old plane. But, it’s not just any old plane; it is actually the one that transported the notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar’s first batch of cocaine to the USA. The whole park is found in the grounds of the former drug baron’s ranch. Before he was shot and killed in 1993, Escobar filled his home with life size dinosaurs, old cars and a bunch of hippos. A group of businessmen came together to turn it into a tourist attraction and it draws around 50,000 visitors per year.
  8. Dollywood, USA Yes, the Queen of Country, Dolly Parton has her own theme park and what else would it be called? A proper extravagance, you can ride Dolly’s Demolition Derby, meet wild eagles, go on the Barnstormer or visit a replica schoolhouse from the 1890s. Even Dolly herself says her theme park is “one of the greatest dreams she’s ever had come true.”
  9. Dig This, Las Vegas Ok, Dig This is not really a theme park, more of a huge sandbox, where you can live out your Bob the Builder fantasies. Once you get in there, you can choose between hulking bulldozers or excavators, you get an introduction to how to use it and you’re off. The park centres around challenging you in cab, so you’ll get to indulge in a little Excavator Basketball or Bulldozer Teeter-Totter.
  10. Zero Gravity, USA For around $30 you can have a go on a ride so scary, that it’s been used by scientists to simulate near death experiences. The ride goes up 16 stories, then you’re dropped, with no tie lines, completely unattached for a 130 foot free fall. Lucky for you a huge net is there to stop you from going splat.

Kate Power is community manager for Purple Travel.

Yetis in Siberia?

While this week you may have heard about yetis being spotted in Siberia, PurpleTravel investigates where else in the world our customers can travel to see the creatures you thought were only a myth…

Yet

Clip from The Abominable Snowman (1957)

Travel to Siberia to spot the yeti

This week, three Russians claimed to have spotted a group of yetis on the prowl in a remote region of Siberia. The two fishermen and one forestry worker assert to have seen the legendary creatures three times in recent weeks, once mistaking them for people, due to the way they walk on two feet. One Russian commented, “We shouted ‘do you need help?’ They rushed away, all in fur, on two legs”, while another added, “Our binoculars were broken and didn’t let us see them sharply. They walked like people.” They were spotted in the Kemerovo region, where yeti expert Igor Burtsev claims more than 30 live. He will travel there next month to investigate.

Iceland’s answer to the Loch Ness Monster?

Head to Iceland to see the Lagarfljót worm

In February of this year, something akin to The Loch Ness Monster was spotted by a farmer in a lake in Iceland. Winding its way through the Jokulsa River in the Fljotsdal valley, the creature has been linked to a legend spanning seven centuries, that of the Lagarfljot river worm. Traced back through the country’s folklore to 1345, the legend goes that a small heather worm was put onto a golden ring so that the precious metal would grow and so in turn the ring. However, when the owner of the ring returned he found that the ring was no bigger, but that the worm had grown enormously. The owner threw the ring and worm into Lagarfljot River where the creature continued to grow and grow. Watch the YouTube video and let us know what you think.

The famous Feejee mermaid, which was later proved to be a monkey’s torso grafted onto a salmon’s tail.

Take a trip to Israel for some mermaid watching

Earlier this year, more than a dozen people have reported that they’ve seen a half fish, half woman creature in Israel. Shlomo Cohen, a former soldier, told Israel News that he and a friend “saw a woman lying on the sand in a weird way,” in Kiryat Yam, a city near Haifa. When they approached her, she suddenly jumped into the sea and disappeared. The small city even offer a prize of US$1 million for those who can prove the existence of the mermaid. “Many people are telling us they are sure they’ve seen a mermaid and they are all independent of each other,” Kirvat Yam town council spokesman Natti Zilberman told Sky News.

Still from the Patterson film that dumbfounds scientist to this day.

Book a holiday to sunny California to meet Bigfoot

Sasquatch, or Bigfoot, as it they have come to be known as, have been spotted all over the US, however the greatest Bigfoot footage of all time is the Patterson-Gimlin film, shot in California. Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin were researching Sasquatch reports near Bluff Creek on October 20, 1967,k when they came across an overturned tree. As the pair rounded the tree, they spotted a large figure beside the creek, which caused Patterson’s horse to rear. After untangling himself from the reins, Patterson spent about twenty seconds removing the camera from his saddlebag, meaning by the time he began to film the creature, Patterson was 37 m away. The most famous section of the film he then recorded shows the sasquatch look over its right shoulder at Roger, who then falls to his knees. The creature in the video matches the description offered by others who have witnessed a Bigfoot – most recent of which was by a student on a school trip in Idaho.

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