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10 of the best cultural monuments in Europe Part 2
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The best 5 castles to visit in Spain
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Get inspired: Fireworks festivals around the world
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Purple 10 Hotels in Turkey
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Purple Tips: 6 Terrifying Roller Coasters
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Where to go in 2013: Groups
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Purple Pick: Ancient Castles
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Purple Hearts… Paris for Lovers
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Purple Passport: Faking it to skip the queue and big plans for Dubai

10 of the best cultural monuments in Europe Part 2

European Monuments

The continent of kings and explorers, Europe, is home to countless important cultural monuments. As those couldn’t be covered in one installment we have decided to present 5 more to see and get a taste of the best historic cultural displays which have survived during the passing of ages. From the wonderful Colosseum in Rome to the immensely imposing Schönbrunn Palace, all are wonderful and all of them unique. So go ahead, get informed and have one or more reasons to have your next holidays somewhere in Europe.

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The best 5 castles to visit in Spain

castles-spain

The rich history of Spain is something beguiling to most as the Moors, Romans and Celts have all left their distinctive mark, making the Iberian Peninsula and Spanish islands a thing of legend. Home to the most castles of any European country, Spain is the prime destination to witness some of the most majestic defensive structures that have been the home of mighty warriors and powerful kings in their days of glory. Holidays in Spain  a great opportunity in learning about medieval history overall and even if you are not so into history, here are some of the most spectacular castles that could be considered as stone jewels adorning the Spanish land.

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Get inspired: Fireworks festivals around the world

We may be the only country to celebrate the fact that a king survived an attempt on his life by lighting bonfires and fireworks, and continue to celebrate this over 400 years later, but we aren’t the only ones to commemorate a historical event using fireworks. Guy Fawkes Night is fast approaching and while you’re probably prepping for a big bonfire and making sure you have plenty of sparklers to go round, let’s take a lot at some fireworks  festivals throughout the world which could provide you with inspiration for your next holiday.

Fourth of July Celebrations – U.S.A.

Fourth of July is a holiday that celebrates the founding of America, therefore it’s fitting that some of the best fireworks displays happen in the capital, Washington, D.C. There are also many, many superb displays in New York. Grab a free view of fireworks from Brooklyn Bridge Park, or book yourself on a cruise and see the firworks from the water. Let’s not forget the family firm favourite that is Disney World, Florida. Fourth of July celebrations there capture the true spirit of America, their fireworks celebration is not simply a fireworks display but is hailed as a “concert in the sky”.

Fireworks_Disney_Purpletravel.co.uk Image via @Tom Bricker Read More

Purple 10 Hotels in Turkey

barbaros bay

Image via @ rhyndman

Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay, Bodrum

This lavish, 173-room resort makes its focal point an expansive terrace with an infinity-edged pool. The Six Senses Spa is another major attraction, offering traditional-style hammam, as well as an array of top-standard treatments. The rooms at Barbaros Bay follow the motto ‘living spaces are an expression of our souls’, each one designed to channel space, colour and form to enhance the beauty of the view from your floor-to-ceiling windows. On your walk-out balcony or terrace, you can drink a glass of champagne, while the turquoise blue Aegean embraces you peacefully. In the restaurant, garden-fresh ingredients are cooked with pure inspiration, from Barbaros Bay’s top chefs, whose innovation and mastery is clear in the gourmet breakfast cooked for you each morning. Understated elegance is key in this hotel, and you can’t fault them there. Certainly one of the top Purple Travel choices for hotels in Turkey.

delphin palace

Image via @ Corendon Vliegvakanties

Delphin Palace Hotel

Palace is surely the correct word here. The Delphin Palace Hotel, situated on Lara beach has its own 230 metre private sandy beach with clear blue waters. Its 390 rooms, including one special Pink Moon Honeymoon Suite, one King Suite and one Presidential Suite, each have a mini bar refilled daily, a direct telephone, satellite TV, balcony and parquet floor. Though the food is all-inclusive, choices are not limited choices and the highly-rated food ranges from sushi to barbecue and champagne breakfasts. In addition to the a la carte dining and main restaurant options, there is a 24-hour lobby bar and juice bar at no additional cost. Even the mini-bar can be accessed for free. You only have to read a few reviews to get a grasp of the level of this hotel – the only complaint you will find is that A couple of plans for sightseeing were ruined because there was almost no reason to leave the hotel. There are computer games, free Internet, tennis, water slides, a movie theatre, discos and more on site.

cigaran

Image via @ Travelive

Ciragan hotel Istanbul

Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul was once the residence of the last Ottoman Sultans. Now, restored to its former glory, the luxury hotel prides itself on a marriage of traditional Turkish hospitality with up-to-the-minute five-star standards. The architectural grandeur of the palace is enhanced with all the modern comforts a deluxe hotel should possess, dramatically situated on the shores of the Bosphorus. A peaceful resort ambience in the centre of the city, this 315 room ‘palace’ is also within close walking distance of the harbourside district of Ortakoy, a fascinating area full of seafood restaurants, specialty antique, ceramic, jewellery shops and a colourful street market at weekends. And if you can drag yourself out of the lavish surroundings of the hotel for long enough, there are some of Istanbul’s most famous open-air restaurants and nightclubs close by too.

sumahan

Image via @ Hg2Hedonist

Sumahan on the Water

Sumahan on the Water was once the industrial factory that distilled the high proof ingredient for “Raki” – the famous Ottoman drink. This restored nineteenth century construction is an uncommon example of what really is a solicitous transformation of an historical building, particularly for Istanbul. The hotel combines exceptional design with a respect for the sites’ historical context; Suma is the word for unadulterated spirit, whilst han was the word for inn in Ottoman times. Situated on the waterfront of the Bosphorus in Istanbul, the Sumahan has just 20 rooms. However, each accommodation is accredited with its own, individual design, sensitively done to showcase the architectural style of the building itself. Along with its own special character, each room has a spectacular view of the river Bosphorus, the divide between Asian and European Istanbul.

Istanbul edition

Image via @ emerge into view

The Istanbul EDITION

The Istanbul EDITION is an exclusive hotel, which boasts a fifteen-story tower with 78 guest rooms and an outstanding, full-floor penthouse. Its multiple venues include a three-story spa by ESPA, the Cipriani restaurant, the Lobby Bar, a drawing room and even a screening room and in-built nightclub. Constructed in the form of a intricate jewel-box, each room includes an entrance vestibule, bedroom area, work station and seating area with wall-to-wall windows overlooking the city. The guest rooms feature Bang & Olufsen state-of-the-art oversized flat screen LCD televisions with integrated stereo; custom imported linens; complimentary high-speed wireless internet; fully stocked mini-bars and 24-hour room service. At Istanbul EDITION, you will find serious luxury.

villa denise

Image via @ wasapninworld

Villa Denise

Arnavutköy (meaning Albanian village) has to be one of the most beautiful suburbs in Bosphoros. Its shore is lined with pretty, wooden art-nouveau style houses and a row of excellent eateries gaze onto the waterfront. Tucked shortly behind these is the bijou Villa Denise, a hotel that charms its guests with luxurious, colourful, Topkapi Palace-inspired fabrics. Small kitchens and microwave ovens inside the rooms mean you can still make yourself at home and feel comfortable, even amid the grandeur. Although you probably won’t be cooking much once you discover the unexpected Spanish restaurant on the ground floor, an amazing, hidden treasure, well away from the tourist rush.

letoonia

Image via @ Madjap

Letoonia Golf Hotel, Belek

A supreme escape in a pin-drop peaceful countryside location, the Letoonia Golf Hotel overlooks the Acisu River and the glistening Belek Sea. Boasting top-notch facilities that extend the hotel’s own private golfing range, guests will find it hard to leave the fabulous pool complex that’s set inside the hotel’s lush lawns and swishing palm trees. That’s fine though, as there are five impressive pools to choose from, including the tropical lagoon-style pool along the hotel’s front, the rectangular pool that’s perfect for swimming laps and if you want to escape the heat, there’s even a peaceful indoor pool. The service is unbeatable; guests can even take free lessons from golf pros on the hotel’s own driving range or putting green. Or if golf’s not your thing, try your hand at watersports, tennis, and basketball or drop in at the fitness centre where you can work out, take a yoga lesson or join in an aerobics class. After burning all those calories, you can then lavish in one of the three atmospheric restaurants, serving seafood, Turkish and Asian dishes.

kusadasi

Image via @ jenando

Kusadasi Aqua Resort Hotel

You won’t find bigger luxury than here, literally. Kusadasi Aqua Resort Hotel is set in seriously extensive grounds, equipped with numerous swimming pools, slides, loungers, parasols and pool bars to enjoy. As if this wasn’t enough, there is also a full programme of day and evening entertainment, including beach activities and a large theatre to enjoy shows in; there is a games room with snooker, bowling, playstation, kids club, toy room, indoor and outdoor playgrounds; and there are numerous sports facilities including tennis courts, table tennis, mini football, basketball, beach volleyball and a pony club. A pony club! This place is huge. For when you need to chill out from the constant bombardment of entertainment, there is a spa offering Turkish baths, massages, various other treatments and a gymnasium.
Guests can enjoy a bite to eat in one of the two main restaurants or one of the five a la carte restaurants serving Turkish, Exotic Asian tastes, Italian specialties, steaks and fresh seafood. Think Disneyland in Turkey.

kemer

Image via @ Gilad Benari

Orange County Hotel

A mini Amsterdam in Turkey, the Orange County Resort Hotel mimics the unique Dutch architecture of the sixteenth century. Set on the coasts of Kemer, between the magnificent natural view of the Taurus Mountains and the Mediterranean, Orange County takes its theme from the fishing village of Volendam located near Amsterdam. Inside charming Volendam houses designed for families with children, are 513 luxury rooms, including some specially decorated Van Gogh rooms. The grounds also boast a pool area of 5000 m2,a magnificent private beach and wharf, exceptional international cuisines, nightly entertainment and daily activities, including poolside aerobics.

kremlin

Image via @ setenay-s

Kremlin Palace Hotel

If you’re looking for one of the most unforgettable hotels in Turkey, meet the Kremlin Palace. Built on a sandy beach, the hotel boasts some magnificent architecture, modelled on the original Kremlin Palace in Moscow, which was intended to emphasize the greatness of the Russian autocracy. The entrance, named the ‘Gate of Resurrection’, is a near copy of its original which is situated at the entrance of Kremlin Square in Moscow. Likewise, the main building which comprises a stylish lobby, main restaurant, reception and conference centre, is almost a perfect copy of the ‘Museum of History’. All rooms are situated in 4-6 storey building blocks equipped with 10 elevators, a la carte restaurants, a spa and a fitness centre, pools, beach and unique convention saloons. You’re certain to feel like royalty in the ‘wow factor’ hotel.

For more on hotels in Turkey, call Purple Travel now on 0207 993 9228.

Purple Tips: 6 Terrifying Roller Coasters

Purple Tips: 6 Terrifying Roller Coasters

What does it say about the human race that we are prepared to pay good money to scare the wits out of ourselves? We have our bodies thrown around the sharp corners, tunnels and twists at high velocity, while strapped in with little more than a glorified seat-belt. The adrenalin rush that each trip provides is surely addictive, and with coaster designers becoming ever more innovative in their sadistic desire to scare us half to death, the roller coaster stakes are higher than ever. Here are the world’s top six scariest roller coasters.

Shambhala

Shambhala image via @ Jodi Playa

Wind Shear at Divo Ostrov Amusement Park, Russia

This Russian roller coaster was supposedly designed to make its passengers throw up on themselves. Located at a theme park set deep into woodland, it spins, flips and rocks passengers in all directions for the ultimate stomach-churning effect (just make sure you don’t eat too much before boarding). The ride is one of Vekoma’s Waikiki Wave Super Flip rides (of which there is another in Mexico and one in Australia). The roller coaster can bend in all directions, allowing for diagonal twists and turns rather than just horizontal. One side of the ride moves in a clockwise direction, while the other moves in an anti-clockwise direction, meaning passengers are swung back and forth, hung upside down and tossed around in a vomit-inducing random fashion.

Batman The Ride at Six Flags, Georgia, USA

Batman The Ride has a particularly dark history. A teenager on a church trip was decapitated after entering a restricted area below. The 11-story-high ride was closed after the incident, but re-opened a few days later, only to take the life of a 58-year-old park worker in 2002, when he was in a restricted area while the coaster was operating. The man was kicked in the head by a passenger, who herself was hospitalised, though she ultimately survived the accident.

Shambhala at PortAventura, Spain

As well as being the tallest ride in Europe, Shambala is also the ride with the tallest drop (78m) and longest hyper coaster track (more than 1,650m). Its drop is enough to turn your stomach inside out and choose some of the other roller coasters around the world.

Formula Rossa at Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi

Formula Rossa is currently the fastest roller coaster in the world, reaching a staggering 240km per hour in less than five seconds. The velocity is such that passengers in the front seats are required to wear goggles to protect their eyes from the potential damage caused by a high speed impact with a flying insect.

Expedition Everest at Disney World, USA

This relatively new and relatively tame roller coaster at Disney’s Animal Kingdom still managed to kill a passenger, at least indirectly. A 44-year-old Florida man was unconscious when his cart pulled into the unloading station, and an employee and a park guest immediately tried to revive him. He was later pronounced dead, the victim of a heart attack, at a local hospital. Disney officials determined that the ride was operating normally when the man died. Maybe the surprise near the end of the coaster’s run startled him to death?

Cobra at Tivoli Friheden, Denmark

This amusement park in Aarhus, Denmark opened its new Cobra coaster in June of this year, only to shut it down eight days later after a section of track fell apart, sending a car off the rails and injuring four passengers. The ride’s now closed, as the park decides what to do: scrap it entirely or rebuild it. If it does re-open, we don’t think we’ll be signing up to ride it.

You Should Read… Top 10 Haunted Hotels

Where to go in 2013: Groups

Get a gang together whether it is your mates, extended family or a work thing, PurpleTravel.co.uk has the rundown of the best places to holiday as a group.Hanging on the beach

Cheap clubbing breaks We’ve covered party cities fairly extensively here at PurpleTravel.co.uk so you can be sure we’re into clubbing all night long (and a bit of the next day!) We reckon hitting up clubber’s paradise Ayia Napa, with brilliant hotels and buckets of sunshine is a good choice. The Greek favourite Faliraki is a good one, it’s got the hottest beach clubs and practically no closing time. For a bit of a change, Sunny Beach in Bulgaria, has cheap flights, awesome bars and great choice of hotels.

You or a friend has announced their leaving singledom behind forever. What’s the next step? A whopper party somewhere great with a gang of your mates, that’s what! Stag and Hen parties are becoming more than just shagaluf Magaluf, with spa packages, limo hire and VIP nightclubbing, along with the staples of strippers and red light tours. So head for an all nighter Hen in Benidorm or a red light adventure stag in Amsterdam.

Golfing holidays Whether you’ve got a handicap of 55 or you’re a total pro, a golf holiday is the perfect way to soak up the sunshine and practice your swing. It doesn’t matter what level you play at, there are resorts all over the world where you can head for the greens. Portugal’s Algarve is practically made for golf. Fly to Faro and within a few minutes you could be out on the course. We like the Balaia Golf Village in Albufeira, or Quinta do Vale Resort, designed by golf legend Seve Ballesteros.

Festivals are better enjoyed with friends, so why not head for the sunshine and rock out in style. Mallorca and Ibiza Rocks have already announced headliner Jake Bugg and we’re practically drooling at the thought of who else will be announced over the next few weeks. Last year Kasabian, Bloc Party New Order and Tinie Tempah rocked the stage. A bit closer to home, Barcelona’s premier festival Primavera has just announced its lineup; Hot Chip, Kurt Vile & the Violators, My Bloody Valentine and loads more are heading for Catalonia 22-26 May.

Whether you’re a beginner, or more experienced diver, there’s always lots to learn. Try a hotel that includes introductory lessons in the pool, and bring some friends so you can look silly all together.  Some of the best diving holidays are found in the famous Red Sea Resorts in Egypt. Sharm el Sheikh is a no brainer here, with PADI approved instructors and schools, and famous diving sites like Ras Mohammed, Straits of Tiran, Thistlegorm or Dahab.

Really, there’s only one place to splash the cash with your girls and that’s NYC. The Big Apple around November (Thanksgiving weekend) has the best deals you’ll find anywhere.  Black Friday is not for the meek though. Get your shopping clobber on and stock up in Bloomingdale’s, Sak’s 5th Avenue or Macy’s or head for the huge Victoria’s Secret and Forever 21 stores.

A classic choice for the whole family is Disney World. Visit the Magic Kingdom Park in the heart of Florida and fulfill childhood dreams of hanging out with Mickey and Minnie. Any little princesses in the family will love meeting Cinderella, while future movie directors can yell ‘lights, camera, action!’ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Champions World in Kissimmee or Hampton Inn Pointe on International Drive are ideal choices to stay close to the action. Discover great group rates for hotels in Florida from PurpleTravel.co.uk.

Purple Pick: Ancient Castles

Functioning as both a connection to the past and an exhibition of architectural beauty, these mighty and somewhat unrealistic constructions are now ironically considered some of the most peaceful buildings around. From huge, solid strongholds to oriental fortresses and highly decorative palaces, here is our pick of the world’s most incredible ancient castles.

prague castleimage by mindriot

Prague Castle, Czech Republic

Prague Castle is one of the largest and oldest castles in the world – its surface is around 570 metres long and 130 metres wide. Most fascinating about the castle is its design; representing literally every architectural style of the last millennium, from Gothic to Romanesque and Baroque features, the castle’s first buildings emerged as early as in the ninth century.

The Potala Palace, Tibet

Situated upon Marpo Ri hill, above the Lhasa valley in Tibet, the Potala Palace is the greatest monumental structure in the country. Built by Emperor Songtsen Gampo in 637, the original structure stood until the seventeenth century, when it was incorporated into the foundations of the larger buildings, which still stand today. The present palace, known as Potrang Karpo, or the White Palace, was completed in 1648, during the reign of the fifth Dalai Lama. The Potrang Marpo, or Red Palace, was then added, requiring some 7000 workers and 1500 artists and craftsman for its completion.

Mont St. Michel, France

Le Mont St Michel is located on a small, rocky quasi-island on the Normandy coast, near Brittany. Only one narrow causeway links the island to the coastline, adding to the overall impression of this other-wordly castle. Unlike other castles in France, which were built for defence or to house royals, Mont St Michel began life as a monastery. Italian architect, William de Volpiano, designed the Romanesque church of the abbey in the 11th century, daringly placing the transept crossing at the top of the mount. Countless underground crypts and chapels were built below the structure to compensate for its weight. Today, it attracts over four million visitors a year and has been featured in several movies, cartoons, and even videogames.

Predjamski Castle, Slovenia

Do not be deceived by this castle’s small stature in comparison to other’s around the world – Predjamski is integrated into the second largest cave system in Slovenia and probably the only castle in the world incorporated into the landscape in such a way. It is also the only cave in the world with a double-track railway, meaning tourists can view the inner tunnels, galleries and halls of this unique architectural work.Although its name literally translates as ‘Castle in Front of the Cave’, the castle was actually built in stages, beginning in the twelfth century, with the middle added in renaissance, and the right wing built around 1570.

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle from Purple Travel

Neuschwanstein Castle via @ Wikicommons

Built for Louis II of Bavaria, often referred to as Mad King Ludwig, Neuschwanstein is a royal palace, located in the Bavarian Alps of Germany. The castle is a quintessential work of nineteenth century romanticism and a fantastical imitation of a medieval castle, complete with towers, spires and turrets – it’s no wonder that Sleeping Beauty’s cast in Disneyland was modelled on it. The castle was also extremely revolutionary at the time, equipped with all kinds of technical conveniences, including running water on all floors, automatic flushing toilets on every floor and a heating system for the entire building.

Matsumoto Castle, Japan

Matsumoto Castle, locally named Matsumotojo, is one of the most complete and beautiful in all of Japan and its origins go back to the Sengoku period (1500s). The castle is an example of ‘hirajiro’, in that it was built on a plain rather than on a hill.

Hunyad Castle, Romania

Although today located in what is known as Hunedoara, Romania, the Hunyad Castle was originally part of Transylvania, and is believed to be the place where Vlad III of Wallachia (aka Dracula) was held prisoner for seven years after he was overthrown in 1462. The castle is the most impressive relic of the Hunyadi dynasty, built in a Gothic style, with Baroque and Renaissance elements. Understandably intimidating, considering its history, the castle’s appearance is equally eerie; a large and imposing building makes up the castle, complete with tall, coloured roofs and myriad towers, windows and balconies, each decorated with stone carvings.

Pena Nationa, Portugal

The oldest palace inspired by European Romanticism, Pena National Palace in Portugal is perched on the top of a hill above the town of Sintra. First built in the fifteenth century as a palace, the building was later reconstructed and donated to the church as a monastery. The style of the palace is a diverse combination of the original and subsequent architectural styles, including Romantic, Bavarian, and Moorish.

Purple Hearts… Paris for Lovers

The city of lovers, the city of light, the city home of the Mona Lisa. Here’s the Purple Travel guide to Paris for Lovers: the ultimate guide on where to stay, what to see and how best to enjoy the French capital. Paris is a city filled with sights and sounds of hundreds of years dedicated to the arts and music, haute cuisine and haute couture and you’d be hard pressed in living there for many years to see it all.

Copyright by Moyan Brenn

For the big stuff, the Louvre, The Eiffel Tower, the Catacombs, Notre Dame and the Pantheon (among many others) we suggest the Paris Museum Pass. A pre paid ticket that gets you into over 70 museums across the city. It’s also worth remembering, most museums are closed on either Monday or Tuesday, so check before you go.

With so many sights it can get a little overwhelming, if you want to stay a little more off the beaten track, then here is our top five ‘other’ things to do in Paris.

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Purple Passport: Faking it to skip the queue and big plans for Dubai

Dubai draws

The UAE country is a top choice for seeing the sights, and it’s about to get even better. Over 100 crocodiles will be getting a new home in the state’s new zoo in Al Warqa to no doubt, impress visitors of all ages. Not only that, but bosses there are also planning a huge replica of the famous Taj Mahal, one of India’s most iconic buildings. The crocs and replica building will be in addition to the tallest man made building in the world, the Burj Khalifa Tower.

Faking it to skip the queue

New reports have revealed more and more travellers are faking disabilities to get through airport procedures faster. Free assistance is available to passengers with reduced mobility, allowing them to go through check-in and security a bit faster. However passengers are not required to present proof of a disability, and some able-bodied travellers have started to exploit it.

Airline staff have even coined a new phrase “miracle flight” to describe some travellers who arrive in a wheelchair but manage to walk off the plane at the other side.

Take a trip on the Titanic II

A mining boss in from Down Under has announced plans to build a complete replica of the infamous doomed ship and sail it along its original route, between Southampton and New York. The new vessel will be built to the original specifications and you’ll be able to buy first, second or third class tickets. We’re not sure how many people will be lining up to make that trip.

Disney Land style coming to Kent

Well sort of. Developers have been granted a licence from Paramount Pictures to use its name on a huge resort near Dartford. The project will see Europe’s biggest water park, theatres and live music venues. It’s hoped it will create up to 27,000 jobs. Just over 15 minutes from London, the local council says it’s a “tremendous economic growth opportunity” for the area.

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