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Foodie Corner: Eat Crete food like a local
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Purple Pick: Crete Family Holidays
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Off the beaten track: Enagron Ecotourism Village in Crete
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Foodie Corner: Food Ibiza Spain
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Purple Tips: Best Hotels Crete
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Group holidays: the whys and wheres
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Family holidays in Greece: The best islands to visit!
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Meet the Easter bunny by the beach: the best Easter Break Destinations
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2014 Travel Bucket List – 14 Holidays to book now
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Purple 10 Where’s Hot in September

Foodie Corner: Eat Crete food like a local

Who doesn’t absolutely love Crete? Once you’ve been we’re sure you’ll fall in love with it, so here’s a little extra inspiration, especially for you expert foodie types (and beginners) on what to eat in Crete.

Cretan food is not just food, it is mouth-watering temptation, it’s twice baked breads and oozing cheeses, honey drenched sweets and rich flavours, slow cooked meats and the freshest fish you can imagine. It’s more than just food, it’s Cretan food!

Cretan food is entrenched in the culture, Greeks themselves talk about Cretan food in haloed terms, and sharing as you eat is a big aspect. Families tend to gather and enjoy many plates over many hours, as they talk, eat, laugh and drink. It’s a really wonderful experience whether you want a whole sit down feast, or simply snacking for a few hours in the sunshine. So, here’s our beginner’s guide to Cretan gastronomy.

Perfect Greek Salad from PurpleTravel.co.ukImage via @ Curious Food Lover

Dinner

Dakos: This is a very typical dish, kind of like a bruschetta. It’s a traditional dried bread, baked several times. On top you add some chopped tomato, high quality Cretan olive oil, lots of cheese and oregano and hey presto! It’s the perfect snack on those hot days.

Dolmades: These are probably one of the most famous dishes in Greece, stuffed vine leaves. They are a little tricky to make, but when you get the good ones, they are really good. It’s usually prepared with a mix of rice, herbs and meat, wrapped inside grape leaves. Totally delicious.

Cheese: There are so many types; you could say Crete is famous for its cheese. How about kefalotiri, a firm goat’s cheese, graviera, a slightly salty cheese made of sheep milk, mizithra, made from sheep’s milk or anthotiro, that changes from mild and soft when fresh and becomes saltier as it hardens. A great idea is to walk through one of the locals and get some samples in. Of course a simple Greek salad, horiatiki will always tickle your tastebuds.

Meat: Crete is food heaven for meat eaters. Lamb, kid and pork cooked in a myriad of different ways until utterly tender and delicious are some of our favourites, while a local special you shouldn’t miss is kohlious boubouristous (snails), fried in tomato sauce for a delicious treat.

Vegetables: Although Crete might not be the first place you think of for vegetarian fare, the variety of absolutely fresh, locally grown produce is a real treat, and many dishes (e.g. dolmades) can be served in meat free versions. The kolokythokeftedes or fried zucchini dipped in a mountain of tzatiki will impress the most hardened carnivore.

Dessert

Loukoumades: these are little handmade donut balls, fried in oil and served with lashings of honey and cinnamon. They are divine and possibly my favourite Crete food!

Bougatsa: you’ll find lots of pastries on offer in Crete and this simple filo filled with cream and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon makes an indulgent breakfast treat.

Kalitsounia (sweet): The sweet version of kalitsounia or lyhnarakia is made of home made pastry filled with mizithra or anthotyro, cinnamon and sugar.

To drink

Krasi or Cretan wine: Crete is one of the biggest producers of wine in Greece. It goes back 2000 years, and is essential with meals where you order by the kilo. That’ll certainly keep you going over a couple of courses!

Raki (or Tsikoudia): You couldn’t go to Crete and not sample at least a little drop of the local firewater, Raki. This potent but smooth little number will knock your socks off and makes a delightful digestif after a big meal.

To check out just how good fresh bougatsa or buckets of Raki can be, check out Purple Travel’s cheap holidays to Crete.

Purple Pick: Crete Family Holidays

Chania

Family beaches

Marathi Beach is ideal for Crete family holidays with small children. It’s very protected, the water is calm and even in August when the famous Meltemi winds are high, this stays more sheltered than most. Grab your bucket and spade and head for the beach!

Elafonisi is a bit of a trek, but the water is clear and perfect and it’s great for swimming. About two hours from Chania, it’s well worth the day trip and the kids will love it.

Stalis Beach is very clean and just a short drive from Heraklion. Boasting the softest of sands and very clean waters. Just watch out if the wind picks up as the water can get a bit choppy.

You should read… The best family friendly beaches in Crete

Time travel

The old town in Chania makes for a great afternoon of exploring. It’s a little touristy, but we’re willing to bet kids will enjoy watching the boats come in at the harbour, stopping for ice cream in a cafe and wandering the winding streets.

Knossos Palace is a huge site where kids can learn about life dating as far back as 1900 BC. The best option is to get a tour guide to show you around and enthral you and your kids with the legends of ancient Minoan society.

Food in Crete is a way of life. Cretans take their food very seriously. So why not head out for an evening enjoying local favourites like dakos, dolmades or bougatsa for breakfast.

You should read… What to eat in Crete

Days Out

There are thousands of caves dotted throughout the island; Head for Dikteon Cave, on the Lassithi Plateau in the east of Crete, where legend has it Zeus was born. It’s open every day, so if you get fed up of the beach, it’s an obvious choice.

The Museum of Sea Life in Rethymno is located in a former abbey and has a huge display of all kinds of fish, fossils and shells, offering a good afternoon out.

Hike a gorge definitely one for more active or older children, Crete is actually home to several spectacular gorges. There are routes right along the coast and although some of them can be tough, it’s well worth it for the views out to see. Head for the Samaria Gorge, one of Europe’s longest at 18km.

The Aquaworld Aquarium and Reptile Rescue Centre in Hersonissos is the perfect way to discover the underwater world. Learn about the marine life of Crete with hundreds of fish and reptiles, get your picture taken with an unusual reptile and get up close and personal with a shark.

Water Parks

Aqua Plus in Hersonissos has tonnes of water rides to suit all ages. Just check out the names they’ve given the rides, how could anyone resist giving the Acquaslalom, Black Holes, Kamikaze Hydrotube or Crazy River a go?

WaterCity in Heraklion is the largest water park on the island. Offering 36 different slides, pools and amusements, as well as a couple of bars and restaurants, you can spend all day long here and not get tired.

Image via @ gterez

Off the beaten track: Enagron Ecotourism Village in Crete

If you’re looking for a holiday that’s totally “off the beaten track” and disconnected from your usual hustle and bustle, you’d be pushed to find a nicer experience than at the Enagron Ecotourism Village in beautiful Crete.general_view4

High up on a mountain, slap, bang in the middle of the island, you’ll find a throwback to a simpler life, where olive trees grow and the air is filled with the scent of herbs and plants. Not exactly a hotel, but more a place to really get in touch with nature, Enagron is a working farm, where you can do as little or as much as you like.

ΕΝΑΓΡΟΝ ΑΠΟ ΔΥΤΙΚΑ

If you’re on a foodie adventure, you couldn’t ask for a better voyage of discovery, it’s a great opportunity to head to the kitchen and find out the tricks for preparing the best in Cretan dishes like dolmades, or the difference between kefalotiri or graviera. (They are cheeses!) Our favourite part is to try a flaky bougatsa pastry in the morning as we soak up the sunshine.

general_view pool

If you’re feeling a bit more energetic, there are plenty of events and day trips to try out, from nature walks to sightseeing, either on foot or by donkey. Of course there’s always a ‘driver’ on hand to keep you on the straight and narrow around the Psiloritis mountain, and take you to the stone houses, where you can try out cheese making and indulge in a ‘herder’s meal.’

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Something a little more laidback tickles your fancy? Then there are a whole heap of chilled out options; like reading on the terrace, snoozing under a tree, grabbing an chilled coffee, or lounging in the pool, with the company of the birds and the wind.

outdoor_activities

image by NH53

And it being a traditional Greek getaway, there’s always room for a little bit of letting your hair down. The owners are renowned for their raki dixies, or raki nights, with love music and dancing until the wee small hours.

Foodie Corner: Food Ibiza Spain

We’ve already mentioned one of the best things to do on holidays – eating (!) and introduced you to two well known traditional delicacies, in the form of paella and souvlaki, as well as some others.

PaellaImage via @ Guillo75

So, you already know they are mouthwatering and easy to find once you’ve been to their homeland, but why not enjoy a genuine and tastier version than those found at first glance. Check out our guide to food Ibiza Spain.

Imagine, for example, that you are in downtown Ibiza, having spent the whole day on the beach, soaking up all that sun, sea and sand. Last stop would definitely be a night full of Ibiza-style entertainment, but before that… or afterwards?

We’re sure that your palate would be asking for some delicious paella. The first thing to do is head to the port of Ibiza. There you will find numerous local restaurants serving this savoury treat.

However, paella is best eaten by the sea, so try the Bar Flotante on Talamanca beach by Argos or if you have a car drive to Sa Caleta beach, where you will find Sa Caleta Restaurant, one of Ibiza’s most famous paella restaurants.

Yemanha in Cala Jondal is home to not just amazing paella but an amazing view too. Finally, for the best paella in town you should pay a visit to Formentera Restaurant in the port of Ibiza, where you’ll have hearty, great value portions.

Stay tuned for volume two of our top places to eat like a local soon.

Purple Tips: Best Hotels Crete

We came up with a brilliant list of hotels in Crete, the southernmost and largest island of Greece, to discover with your favorite travel companion(s). We chose these hotels because of their high quality standards of service and the great feedback we get from you – our customer.

These properties are really something to get excited about, especially with the great prices we have on offer. If you like what you see, take a look at our website to get the holiday from your local airport. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Give our expert travel advisors a ring on 02079939228 for more of the best hotels Crete now.

Crete beach
Image via @ Michalis Polakis

Porto Elounda De Luxe Resort 5* Elounda

The ultimate in luxury, set in the stunning resort of Elounda, the Porto Elounda Deluxe Resort is the place to spend an unforgettable holiday. Exceptional service is combined with an array of high-quality facilities just steps away from the most beautiful resort in Crete.

Customer Rating: 5/5
Restaurants: Buffet, Mediterranean & Cretan, Seafood & Greek Tavern
Bars: Piano Bar, Beach Bar
Activities: Spa, Golf, Water sports, Tennis, Gym, Indoor Heated Pool, Entertainment
Children: Kids Club, 2 Children’s Pools, Children’s Entertainment, Babysitting

Louis Creta Princes 4* Chania

Right on the beautiful beach of Maleme Bay, the Louis Creta Princess offers bright and elegant rooms positioned around its lush gardens and pool, all with sea views.

Customer Rating: 4/5
Restaurants: Show Cooking Buffet, Italian, Chinese
Bars: Lobby Bar, Beach Bar, Disco
Activities: Entertainment, Varied Sports, Tennis
Children: Children’s Pool, Mini Club, Playground, Mini Golf, Kids Buffet, Mini Disco

Aegean Sky Hotel & Suites 5* Malia

Get away to the lively resort of Malia without compromising on great quality service and fantastic facilities. Just a short distance to the nightlife and to the beautiful beach, the Aegean Sky provides the ultimate accommodation for your lively holiday.

Customer Rating: 5/5
Restaurants: Snack Bar
Bars: Pool Bar
Activities: BBQ Nights, Pool Parties

Minos Hotel 4* Rethymnon

Just a stone’s throw from the beautiful Blue Flag beach, the Minos Hotel offers tranquility and excellent service that’s right next to the historic centre of Rethymnon.

Customer Rating: 4/5
Restaurants: Buffet, Mediterranean
Bars: Lobby Bar, Pool Bar
Activities: Entertainment, Varied Sports, Water Sports*, Tennis

Amazones Village Suites 4* Hersonissos

This boutique all-suite hotel is the perfect setting for any type of holiday you are looking for. Set in a good location with easy access to all the favorite Cretan resorts, the Amazones Village Suites offers you incredible service and luxury.

Customer Rating: 5/5
Restaurants: Main Restaurant
Bars: Main Bar
Activities: Fitness Centre, Tennis, Golf, Excursions

Marni Village Hotel 3* Hersonissos

Set just off the main area of Hersonissos, the Marni Village Hotel offers the ultimate combination of relaxation and great entertainment for the entire family. Enjoy the splendid sea views from the pool area or head over to the bustling town of Hersonissos for the sandy beaches and shopping.

Customer Rating: 4/5
Restaurants: Poolside Restaurant
Bars: Pool Bar
Activities: Sauna, Tennis
Children: 2 Children’s Pools, Playground, Playroom

Alantha Apartments 4* Agios Nikolaos

Located a few meters away from the city centre, the Alantha Apartments offer the ultimate in style and functionality. Featuring all the room facilities you need for an incredible holiday, the Alantha Apartments are not to be missed if you’re looking for a great place to stay in a central location.

Customer Rating: 4/5
Restaurants: Snack Bar
Bars: Pool Bar
Activities: Roof Terrace Swimming Pool, Games Room

You should read… Corfu Hotels Greece

Group holidays: the whys and wheres

group holidays

As with most things, holidays are something best enjoyed with good company. After all, few people haven’t dreamt of packing up their things, taking their mates along and embarking on a holiday that will make history. Nonetheless, most of times group holidays seem to be a daunting prospect. Be it the fact that most people have to worry about day jobs and paying their rent, life seems to get in the way of the perfect group vacation more often than not. In case however, that you decide to go, another set of challenges might arise and in order to overcome these, you have to be prepared. Since we ‘re always about helping you with your holidays, we have gathered some of the best advice and suggestions of places to visit, in order to help you organise your perfect holiday without breaking your friends’ hearts, bones and of course the bank.

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Family holidays in Greece: The best islands to visit!

An all-time favourite for vacationers, Greece is amongst the sunniest and friendliest family holiday destinations in Europe. The sun, sea, sand and magnificent sights all over are just some of the perks of having your family holidays in Greece and if you also count the fact that its rated as one of the safest countries in Europe, travelling there could be one of the best family experiences ever! As Greece has more than 2000 islands under its jurisdiction, it would be quite hard to find the perfect one for you and your family. However, in order to make your life a bit easier here are 5 islands full of things to see and do, along with why those are guaranteed to keep the whole family entertained.

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Meet the Easter bunny by the beach: the best Easter Break Destinations

Easter signifies two grand occasions. Beside the chocolate bunnies and week off work, the weather usually turns around and starts to bring a whiff of summer. However good weather is not always guaranteed on the shores of the Ol’ Blighty so our next best bet would be make good use of our leave, pack up and head to one of the following sunny beach destinations.

Tenerife

Amongst the most visited destinations in Europe, Tenerife is home to anything you might be asking of your Easter break. Spend a day or more relaxing by one of its golden sandy beaches while getting your tan on, or visit the highest mountain of Spain, Mt Teide and the immense natural park surrounding it. Bring a little culture to your holidays in Tenerife as well by venturing into town and witnessing the colourful celebrations and processions the locals organise to honour the holy week.

Easter break destinations

 

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2014 Travel Bucket List – 14 Holidays to book now

#1 Budapest The Hungarian capital is set to have a busy year amongst hipsters thanks to the release of Wes Anderson’s film The Grand Budapest Hotel (even though it was mostly filmed in Germany!) The city’s filled with architecture, baths, boutique hotels and laid-back cafes. It’s a must-do value city break. Makes a nice addition to our 2014 travel bucket list. 

Budapest

Budapest via @ Cost3l

#2 The Greek Islands We especially love Ikaria, where your holiday can make you live longer and eternal favourite Crete, where you can visit the hippie village of Matala or go family friendly in Heraklion.

Crete

Crete via @ El Mostrito

#3 Reykjavik See the Northern Lights, go to the Blue Lagoon or trek across glaciers and volcanoes. Iceland holidays will leave your jaw on the floor and your soul refreshed.

Northern Lights 1

Northern Lights via @ GuideGunnar – Arctic Norway

#4 New York The Big Apple is always a good choice and is a big seller for cheap holidays from the UK. Plan a summer of NYC shopping, cocktails and rooftop pools for an unforgettable US adventure.

New York

New York via @ Ed Yourdon

#5 Corsica The gorgeous island off the South of France is home to striking mountain ranges, clear waters and untouched beaches as well as the world’s largest chestnut forest, Castagniccia.  

Corsica

Corsica via @ Massalim

#6 Brazil Book cheap holidays to Brazil right now because cities like Rio and Sao Paolo are set to see a huge influx of visitors thanks to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Instead of watching from your armchair, make 2014 the year you go there in person.

Brazil

Brazil via @ Lautsu

#7 Bordeaux, France A wine lovers paradise, Bordeaux is closeby, with decent hotels and a lovely atmosphere and a modern edge. Bordeaux is a good choice for a foodie adventure in 2014.

Bordeaux

Image via @ Grand Parc – Bordeaux, France

#8 Havana, Cuba It’s always been said, Cuba is a place to visit before it changes! Choose it for 2014 and get in there now before it’s too late and see the 50s cars, the old-time atmosphere and the eclectic accommodations on offer.

Cuba

Image via @ Flippinyank

#9 Cork, Ireland Not only is the city of Cork a hive of activity, but the surrounding countryside has some of the most spectacular scenery Ireland has to offer. Go to Clonakilty for black pudding, Inchydoney for the beach and island hop to Sherkin.

Cork

Image via @ zopdeep

#10 Gulet Cruise, Turkey Fed up with the idea of hitting the bars of Kusadasi or Bodrum? You could opt for a traditional wooden boat cruise instead on your holiday in Turkey. The boat takes you to tiny, hidden beaches, deserted bays and well away from the crowds.

Gulet Cruise

Image via @ TurkeyVision

#11 Sri Lanka Go on an elephant trek, climb 8000ft of mountains, or sunbathe on incredible white sandy beaches. Sri Lanka holidays will pack a punch in 2014.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka via @ HAS PhotoDesigns

#12 Balearic Islands With new routes from Heathrow and London City Airports in particular, the sun-drenched islands of Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca play host to perfect 2014 summer holidays. There are stylish hotels, boutique farmhouses-turned-villas and an incredible choice of things to do to suit any budget and of course, Ibiza is always a top 2014 party holiday destination.

Ibiza

Ibiza via @ victoriapeckham

#13 Mexico If you really fancy Mexico, but you’ve already been to Cancun, try Puerto Vallarta. Once a spring breakers paradise, the resort is now more famous for its boutique hotels, great beaches and variety of diving spots.

Puerto vallarta

Puerta Vallarta via @ stab at sleep

#14  Cape Verde The former Portuguese colony is a beaut. It’s got Latin spirit by the bucket load thanks to its close proximity to West Africa. Go to Boa Vista for stunning beaches and loggerhead turtles for an unforgettable addition to your 2014 travel bucket list.

Cape Verde

Cape Verde via @ Wikicommons

Visit www.purpletravel.co.uk for more on cheap holidays 2014 from the UK or call our travel team on 02079929228 now.

Purple 10 Where’s Hot in September

The kids are back to school, full season is nearly over, now is the time to get some of the best possible deals for cheap September holidays. Enjoy our Purple Travel guide to cheap September holidays and save money on your next break.

1. Paphos, Cyprus: Average temperature in September 31 0C. Cyprus in September is still hot enough to enjoy dreamy days on the beach or swim a lap around the infamous Aphrodite’s Rock.

Coastline

2. Antalya, Turkey Average temperature in September 32 0C. The ‘gateway to the Turkish Riviera’ offers a wonderful clutch of beaches along the coast and loads of bars, clubs and restaurants as well as the famous Efes beer. Image via @ Burntime

Antalya-Turkey

3. Tunis, Tunisia Average temperature in September 32 0C. Enjoy a taste of North Africa, with the souks, medinas, salt lakes and beaches that make Tunis holidays in September unforgettable. Image via @ WomEOS

Tunisia4. Valletta, Malta Average temperature in September 28 0C. The island’s capital is tiny – only 1km – but there’s plenty to see and do. Stroll down baroque-influenced streets, and wander narrow cobble-lined lanes or hop on the Sliema Ferry and work on your tan on the rocks. Remember, Valletta itself isn’t filled with sandy beaches, but makes a good base for discovering more. Image via @ Britrob

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