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Purple 10: holidays for art lovers
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Purple Hearts: Free things to do in New York City
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A Night Less Ordinary: What is Glamping
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Christmas in June

Purple 10: holidays for art lovers

From the Greek Islands ancient art to the imposing Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain, we take a look at the 10 best holidays for art lovers to impress and delight.


  1. Florence, Italy Home to the famous Uffizi Gallery, you can feel art flowing through the veins of Florence. Dating from the 16th century the museum houses the world’s most magnificent collection of Italian Art. Of course a stop in this stunning city wouldn’t be complete without visiting Michelangelo’s famous statue of David.
  2. Paris, France One of the best known museums in the world and home to masterpieces like the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo, the Louvre is a jaw dropper. But it’s not the only top class museum in the French Capital. The Musee d’Orsay is home to works by Degas, Renoir and Rodin while the Pompidou Centre houses classics by Picasso and Magritte.
  3. Bilbao, Spain You might recognise Bilbao from the imposing Guggenheim museum. An architectural wonder, its 32,500 food undulating walls and curves was designed by Frank Gehry. It is home to some of the most famous avant garde art in the world.
  4. Greek Islands A Greek Island art holiday is a wonderful way of getting lost in the culture, the beautiful landscape and the rich heritage. It makes a really relaxing getaway, perfect for relaxed painting excursions, eating like your life depends on it and creating wonderful memories.
  5. New York City The colours, the vibrant atmosphere, that whole feeling you get when you arrive in the Big Apple is different to anything before. It’s like a city built for art. There’s 5000 years of paintings, sculptures and exhibitions at The Met, (the Metropolitan Museum of Art) MoMA and the Guggenheim plus dozens if not hundreds of fashion, design and science museums to inspire you.
  6. Favara, Sicily This is a small town in the Italian island that’s been transformed from quaint to contemporary. Thanks to an initiative by the Farm Cultural Park  it’s seen an explosion in visitors from all over the world. Walls have been used as huge canvasses, sculptures and paintings dot the streets in a town where unemployment is rife.
  7. St Petersberg, Russia Museums in Russia have benefitted for centuries from the royal family’s love of art. You’ll find works from the big guns like Leonardo, Poussin and Picasso and everything in between. Not only famous for its art, it is home to a wealth of historical and cultural artefacts and is home to a buzzing contemporary art scene.
  8. Vatican City The architecture and Renaissance masterpieces of Vatican City have been inspiring people for generations. Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and Raphael’s frescoes are probably the most well known in the collection of renowned art you’ll find in the tiny city. And, of course beyond the walls, you’ll find Rome stretching out below you, another art treasure trove.
  9. Barcelona, Spain The awe inspiring Sagrada Familia will surely make your jaw drop. The hugely detailed church has been under construction since 1882, with building work set to continue until 2026. Designed by architect Antoni Gaudi, it’s just one of his stamps that you’ll notice throughout the city. Park Guell, with its bright, mosaic sculptures will impress even the pickiest youngster; while a stroll through the streets of late night BCN will provide houses such as Casa Mila or Casa Batllo that look like they belong in museums instead of the street.
  10. Berlin, Germany One of the hippest places to get your art on, over the past 20 years, Berlin has grown to become one of the biggest names in contemporary art, exhibitions and architecture. Try the Berlinische Galerie, or the Sammlung Boros Collection (if you can get in there!) It’s also home to art throughout the ages. Museumsinsel, or Museum Island is the biggest complex in Europe and is home to five separate institutions.

You should read… Purple 10 film inspired holidays

Purple Hearts: Free things to do in New York City

There are a million and one things written about New York, but we wanted to focus on the budget side. Although NYC is the home of Carrie Bradshaw and her Manolos, it is possible to get a great city break or summer vacation on the cheap, as long as you’re a bit savvy about it. Read on and get the best in cheap and cheerful, budget and value on New York Holidays.

Times Square

Image via @ hom26

Free Things to do in New York City

Staten Island Ferry: One of the most popular free things in New York City, the ferry is renowned as a top tip. Escape the fare of the Statue of Liberty Ferry but keep the views on the commuter version. Find it at the east end of Battery Park in Lower Manhattan.

Take a walk in Central Park. It’s not just your average patch of grass is it? There are usually free events, statues to visit and sites like Strawberry Fields that are well worth an afternoon’s wandering.

The Trinity Church on Wall Street has regular lunchtime concerts to perk up any afternoon. Usually held on Thursdays around 1pm, it’s worth getting in early for string quartets, sopranos and more.

High line park

Look to the skies: High Line is a gorgeous park built on a former freight rail line. It’s a great place to go and get away from it all for an hour or two. You’ll find opening hours and access information here.

Kayak I love you. There is free kayaking from a couple of different places in Queens such as the Downtown Boathouse. See Manhattan from another angle, down in a kayak!

Sing along at a Broadway Show. Ok, don’t *actually* sing along, your fellow ticket holders might not actually like it, but a night at a show is practically obligatory in the Big Apple. Head for the ticket booth in Times Square for tickets up to 60% off. Cinderella, Matilda, Kinky Boots and Aladdin are just some of the upcoming shows in 2013.

Go to a baseball game. Not strictly free, but if you can wrangle some tickets, a trip to NYC isn’t complete without this all American experience, and where better than watching the New York Mets in Flushing or the Yankees in the Bronx. Just remember not to mix these two up, or feel the wrath of fans! Grab a hot dog, wrap up well and root, root, root for the home team like a true American.

Get in on the act. TV and film play a big part in the cultural identity of New York, so why not be a part of it at a studio taping. Shows like the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, the Late Show with David Letterman and Saturday Night Live always have a studio to fill up, but these will definitely need to be booked in advance.

Free tour in a brewery Do we need to say more than that? The Brooklyn Brewery offers free tours at weekends between 1 and 4pm.

Walking is free! Big Apple Greeters are locals who offer free tours of their neighbourhoods, these friendly folks will show you the ins and outs of the city, in a way you might never discover otherwise. Other free tours include a 90 minute runaround of the Grand Central Terminal led by an architectural historian, someone who certainly knows their stuff! At Times Square, there’s an Expose Free Walking Tour every Friday from 12.

What to see for free (or cheap) in New York City

Check out Chelsea The galleries of Chelsea are famous (infamous?) and are mostly free. If you time you’re visit right you might even make it for the cheese and wine openings each Thursday. It’s where the beautiful people hang out, so you’ll fit right in.

Museums to savour There are so many museums with free entry in the city, we can’t name them all, but these are some favourites: (you can find more on free and sometimes free museums in NYC hereThe Museum of Fashion Institute of Technology, Socrates Sculpture Park, Tuesday only: Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Fridays between 4 and 8pm Moma, the Museum of Modern Art and for kids after 3pm, pay what you will at New York Aquarium or free Fridays between 2 and 5pm at the New York Hall of Science.

BUrgerImage via @ hom26

Eat… a lot for free (or cheap) in New York City

New York is hardly short of places to eat, but it’s the cheap street food and burger joints that really impress us. New York Street Food will help you find the best in food trucks from hot dogs to ramen to cupcakes and ice cream on the go.

For the best in burgers, well it’s hard to decide but mini burgers at Pop Burger, 58-60 9th Avenue or pop to an outdoor seat at Shake Shack on the corner of Madison Square Park, near Madison Avenue and East 23rd Street, for a tasty treat. The Burger Joint in the fancy Meridien Hotel is a bit pricier, but the queues around the corner really say it all.

For totally free deliciousness, head for Brooklyn where some smart marketing folks came up with free food for every beer purchased. The farmers markets that dot the city are a good choice too for healthy and tasty snacks and decent prices. You can find out where to catch one here.

Where to stay for free (or cheap) in New York City

Stay on budget, stay for cheap Although there are plenty of options for cheap hotels and hostels in the city, you do have to be careful that it’s not some dodgy place that’ll have you awake all night worrying.

A couple of good options include the Harlem Flophouse, an atmospheric choice, with shared bathrooms and themed rooms at 242 West 123rd Street, the 3* Milford NYC in Times Square. It’s in a great location close to everything and with nice touches like iPod docking in each room. Trendy and central, the 3*Yotel, also in Times Square is modern and funky, with flat screen TVs in every room and a moving bed. The 2* Gershwin Hotel is cheap and cheerful in midtown, in the Flatiron district and within 10 minutes walk of the Empire State. Simple rooms make it a good value choice. On the other end of the scale, you’ll get extreme luxury at the historic Waldorf Astoria, but it’ll cost you!

If we missed any top tips on cheap or free things to do in New York City, let us know in the comments below!

A Night Less Ordinary: What is Glamping

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, we find out what is Glamping at the Canonici di san Marco.

What’s the gimmick? Ever heard of glamping? Glamping, made famous in The Only Way is Essex series, is glamorous camping a.k.a. all the fun and closeness to nature that camping offers without the worry of creepy crawlies, endless days without a shower and not so endless rolls of toilet paper. Cononici di san Marco in Venice offers a series of beautiful camping lodges, situated in 15,000 square metres of parkland.

You should read: Top weird ways to travel on holiday

Why stay? Each Lodge sleeps 2-6 guests, with a a spacious bedroom and a lounge area. Stay to enjoy beautiful 360 degree views over wheat fields, with enthralling countryside, native trees and stupendous flower displays at your doorstep. Here  you will feel immersed in nature without having to give up modern comforts. Aside from the experience, the Lodges, created on a raised wooden floor, are ideally located for a day packed with adventure in Venice or the nearby cities of Padua and Treviso. Your holiday here can be a cultural, social, gastronomic or sporting stay – the choice is entirely up to you.

The Wow Factor: Inside the Lodges you will find soap necklaces from perfumed Provence, candelabras and candles for romantic moonlit moments, crystal champagne flutes and DOC Prosecco wine. Swap uncomfortable sleeping bags for charming four-poster beds with white tulle mosquito nets and colonial style fans. Forget tents and enjoy stunning antique sofas and armchairs that once graced the houses of Italian grandparents, now transformed into original and unique seats.  And most importantly, instead of smelling like a farmyard animal, enjoy long, hot soaks in big bathtubs from England, transformed into modern shower fittings with antique cast-iron heaters.

You should read: A Night Less Ordinary: Boot Bed ‘n’ Breakfast

Prices start from 120 euros per person a night. Click here for details.

Christmas in June

It may seem a little early to start thinking about Christmas plans, but if, like us, you’d prefer to leave town for the holidays, then you’ll need to book now to get the best prices. If you’re staring at this post with a blank expression, you’re probably a first-timer, but for many of our customers, Christmas is just not complete without a passport, a suitcase and a warm, relaxing sunbed that’s as far away from home as Timbuktu.

A Christmas abroad brings with it a variety of factors – whether good, bad or just plain ugly. Local customs such as the 13 Santa Clauses of Iceland, a black St Nick in Holland and the masked musicians of the Caribbean can be a pleasant cultural awakening, while unexpected seasonal closings and minimal flight availability can be an irritating addition to the holiday – bear in mind, if that twenty-strong family of obese Americans are all competing for the last seats on a flight to sweet potato pie at Big Momma’s House, you’re probably going to lose out.

Yet the real challenge it seems, comes in deciding where exactly is the best place to celebrate this supposedly joyous, but often stressful time of year. Fares skyrocket, offending recession-strapped budgets and deciding between a white Christmas and a golden one can be a pretty tough call.

Rather than worrying your little, paper-hat clad head, why not just book a trip to one of these five destinations that we think are perfect for the Christmas season? Read More

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