Pairing together the words ‘sun’ and ‘cream’ can arouse a minefield of beauty faux pas, from patchy, streaky tan lines to oily, sandy gloop-covered skin to that lingering potent scent that’s reminiscent only of nappy creams and Sudocrem.
And up until a few years ago, choosing a good sunscreen just meant looking for the correct SPF (sun protection factor), which rates how well the sunscreen protects against UVB’s – one type of cancer-causing UV ray. However, newer research shows that ultraviolet A rays can also increase skin cancer risks, despite not causing sunburn. They penetrate deeply into the skin, causing wrinkles and damaging skin below its surface. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that up to 90 per cent of skin changes associated with aging are caused by a lifetime’s exposure to UVA rays. Read More
No matter how excited you were, you’ll most likely find yourself in one of those persistent gazes, where although you’ve spent a good 5 minutes staring blankly at the same spot, you have no idea what you were looking at or how long you were gone for. Your wife gives you a swift nudge in the rib. You’re back. Embarrassing…
Arm yourself next time you’re in Cairo with these 10 facts about the ancient pyramids of Egypt that even the tour guide won’t know. Brownie points to you.
The first in our new bi-weekly series of the best holidays reads. This week, we’re obsessed with the French and their chic, innovative style of writing. Impress your fellow holidayers with some of the best Parisian exports around, all you need know is a black coffee, un macaron pistache and a high-held nose. Ooh la la…
Still struggling with ideas for a family getaway this summer, or even for next? Surely every child’s (and we’re sure some grownup’s) dream holiday is to a theme park. Whether it’s Mickey or Minnie Mouse, a space adventure, more water slides than you can shake a stick at, or becoming a giant for a day, we’ve put together our top choices for this year. As always, if we’ve missed some great theme parks for kids, let us know in the comments below and for more information or to book great family holidays, visit our Purple Travel cheap holidays website.
#1 Were you a fan of Asterix and Obelix when you were a nipper? Now you can introduce the kids to the same fun, at France’s Parc Asterix. Found just outside Paris, you can travel through six worlds of wonder, including ancient Greece and Egypt. The piece de resistance must be the Ozlris; an inverted rollercoaster that will leave your little ones shouting for more!
Are you looking for a holiday that’s a bit different? why not find out more about the myths of the ancient worlds in some of these mystical places…This week we decided to spookify and mystify! There’s a reason for it. In our regular Purple Pick feature, we’re focusing on the beautiful African country of Gambia. We learned they have a Holy Forest so we decided to do a bit of a roundup of mystical or unusual places to visit, so you can go home scared out of your wits or quietly intrigued. Enjoy some of the most magical and mythical places in the world.
Gambia Makasutu Holy Forest
Makasutu is a stunning breath of fresh air, just a few miles from Brikama, it is filled with lush green vegetation, towering palm trees and long stretches of savannah and grasslands. But what really makes it special is its unforgettable history. Established by a pair of English expats, Makasutu is walking with the ghosts of the past. At first the local villagers did not want to sell the land, as it’s haunted by ‘Djinns’ and a kind of pre-historic dinosaur called the ‘Ninkinanka’. It was a very important space to the local tribes, where their wars took place as well as their ancient rituals and sacrifices. Legend has it one poor king who died there was separated from his head, which was buried with his crown and throne within the forest confines. The ‘sacred forest’ is still home to the indigenous people, who may share their palm wine with you if you’re lucky. Image via @ Flickr
The Great Pyramids, Egypt
Perhaps the most photographed and famous ancient site in the world, the Pyramids have been perplexing people for years. The Great Pyramids as they are known are found near the Egyptian capital Cairo, on the Giza Plateau.
But, why were they built? Most people believe they were huge mausoleums for the ancient pharaohs. People believe some of his soul, or ‘ka’ stayed with the dead body. To ensure they carried on to the next life, their body had to be taken care of and so were entombed inside the huge structures for protection and safety.
The crazy thing is, even after thousands of years, no one is even sure how they were made! Most of the theories surround the idea that the rock was dragged there to build the huge sites, much of it carried across the Nile. And think about it, ensuring the Pyramid appears correctly and symmetrical, all the blocks had to be the exact same size. Imagine the precision involved. Not only that, but the sides of the Great Pyramid are aimed nearly exactly true north and probably took at least 100,000 men to construct.
On top of that, the Great Pyramid is the only one of the ancient wonders of the world still standing, so what are you waiting for? Image via @ Flickr
Easter Island Statues
This is probably an easy one. Tucked away in the middle of the South Pacific, you’ll find a tiny island filled with huge heads. Yes, you did read that right. Easter Island’s statues are legendary. Over 800 of the stone carvings dot the Polynesian Island, one of the most remote places on the planet.
The original islanders are thought to have landed on the island 1500 years ago in tiny canoes. They then started furiously carving away by hand, creating hundreds of giant heads that they placed in lines across the island. Go figure.
No one is really sure what it’s all about; some of the statues weigh up to 82 tonnes, why were they transported around the island and how? There are, of course, plenty of theories: one legend tells the tale of an ancient ruler who was able to make statues move using his kingly powers.
New excavations over the last few months have revealed the statues are much bigger than originally thought, with head, shoulders, knees and toes included! Image via @ Flickr
Mexico/Caribbean Cenote in Mayan Civilization
A cenote is a naturally occurring formation that is found across the Mexican Caribbean. It’s actually a sinkhole, or pit of spring water. Ok, a pit of spring water, what’s so special about it? Well cenotes were often used as a place for sacrificial offerings from the ancient Mayan people. It might sound a little Indiana Jones, but many people in the Mayan civilization believed these cenotes to be doors to the underworld and channels to communicate with the gods. Plenty of gold, precious stones and pottery remains have been found there. At the Cenote Sagrado, (sacred cenote) they’ve even found evidence of human sacrifices! It was believed young males were the most common sacrifice because they represented strength and power.
Only some of these places are open to the public, a few are close to Cancun and Playa del Carmen and swimming in them is considered a true holiday must do in the Mexican Caribbean. Image via @ Flickr
It’s probably fair to say Athens is sort of one of the overlooked places in Greece. The islands are where everyone goes and it’s true they are stunningly beautiful. However the historic city has plenty to offer. With the ancient acropolis standing head and shoulders above the city, you can practically feel the history in the air. Everywhere you walk; there are historic sites, teeming with mystical stories from the ancient markets, the original marble stadium, home to the first Olympic Games and temples dedicated to the Gods.
Our favourite story is of how Athina, the Goddess of the city came to be born. The story goes that Zeus ate Metis – Athina’s mother while she was pregnant. A while later, Zeus was troubled by a huge headache, and asked Hermes to fix it. So, he did what any good friend would and swung an axe furiously at his head splitting it open. From Zeus’s forehead leaped Athena, fully formed. That’s pretty cool however you look at it. Image via @ Flickr
That’s our wrap of mythical and mystical hot spots, as always we’d like to hear from you. Do you have any other suggestions? Have you found some place a bit closer to home? Let us know in the comments below.
Fashion Hunter: What to Wear to Low Cost Benidorm Festival
Fringed tops abound and naff headbands aplenty, festival dressing isn’t exactly chic. But with low cost Benidorm Festival round the corner, we want to know what you’re going to be wearing?
Get inspired below with our top clothing picks for this summer’s festivals and amp up your look with some old favourites…
Acne kex skinny jeans
No festival wardrobe is complete without a pair of well-fitting, super tight, skinny jeans. These ones from Acne Studios are the best around and are currently being flogged for a cool 40 per cent off from theAcne site.
Hunter wellies in Original
An oldy, but a goody, Hunter wellies have been the festival footwear of choice for many a celebrity fashionista, including Kate Moss and Alexa Chung at Glastonbury. We like the originals the best, available from ASOS.
Ralph Lauren patch denim jacket
This Ralph Lauren patchwork Isabel Marant-style jacket is a go-to, particularly for the temperamental British weather. And let’s face it, you can’t go to a festival without at least two pieces of denim.
Amplified Pink Floyd tee
Ok, ok, so its not as good as your Dad’s beat up old Zeppelin tee, but if you just can’t get your hands on an original, then this long-sleeved Pink Floyd faded tee from Amplified is an excellent alternative. And if you pair it right, no one will ever know its not the real deal.
Converse Confetti Hi-Tops
Gracing the feet of many a musician, Converse have long been the stamp of a rock ‘n’ roller. Make yours stand out from the rest of the festival foot tappers with these cream hi-tops, printed with colourful confetti. Available from selected Converse stores and ASOS.
Benidorm holidays are a firm favourite with British holiday makers and have been for years. It’s easy to see why, with fantastic beaches, plenty of nightlife and activities for anyone from two to 92, it’s one of our absolute favourites.
Smack, bang, right on the Med, holidays in Benidorm holidays have grown a lot since humble beginnings in the 60s. Its miles of coastline are packed full of beaches, cafes, a promenade and restaurants and it’s one of the top tourist destinations on the whole of the Costa Blanca. Although it’s developed a bit of a reputation, in the last few years the focus has shifted to a more family friendly approach. There are still plenty of clubs and bars, but you’ll also find lots of cultural walks, theme parks, water sports and great food and nightlife. Whether it’s a day at theme parks like Terra Miticia, a night on the tiles or long, lazy days of relaxing on the beach, Benidorm holidays have it all.
Originally built between two beaches, Benidorm was once a little fishing village, standing in the shade of a church called San Jaime. Now everything you’ll find is geared towards giving you a great holiday. Its growing skyline means it’s often referred to as the “Manhattan of Spain”, or, our personal favourite “Beniyork.” (The Gran Hotel Bali found downtown, stands at a whopping 186 metres high and is the tallest hotel in Europe.) It’s made up of tree lined avenues and is one of the best served cities from the UK, with over 30 low cost and scheduled airlines flying there direct every day. Because there are so many seats, there are plenty of competitive prices to suit every budget.
Places to go: Benidorm’s beaches are one of the top draws, with long, fine soft sandy stretches and crystal clear waters. Of course, it is home to outstanding weather year round. A perfect urban beach to kick off your holiday is Levante Beach. It is right in the town, so it’s packed full of facilities and is so handy if you fancy going straight out in the evening. In the south Poniente beach is another great choice, while the relaxing Mal Pas cove is a quieter option.
Benidorm’s skyline represents the paradigm of mass seasonal tourism in Spain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Take the boat trip to the Island of Benidorm, where you’ll find spectacular diving opportunities. The seabed is packed full of colourful fish. The island is also home to the Benidorm Wildlife Sanctuary. After a dip, you can take the time to hear about the legend of the island’s origins. It’s told that the brave warrior Roland cut off a piece of the nearby Puig Campana Rock with his sword, during a raid by Charlemagne and from there the island grew.
There are plenty of natural attractions to see on the mainland too, like cliffs, mountains and paths towards the sea. The nature reserve of Serra Gelada is picture perfect and ideal for hiking. The small town of Calpe up the road is lovely for a day’s stroll and maybe a lunch out, for a change from the beach. While the beautiful old town of Altea with its historic domed churches is just a few miles away by bus.
Things to do: As holidays in Benidorm are fully geared up for escape there are tonnes of activities for all ages. For the kids, the 4kwatro, Aqualandia and Terra Mitica will keep them busy for hours on end, with rollercoasters, water slides, picnic areas, playgrounds and live shows. There are regular buses from the town and it makes a nice change from the beach too.
For a proper holiday bit of fun, the Benidorm Palace is a 2,000 seater theatre, with live shows everyday which range from movie glamour to disco glam to flamenco fusion. It’s the best place to go for a laugh, before moving on for an evening out. Its latest addition is the Benidorm circus, with clowns and acrobats that will impress all the family.
English: Benidorm by night from Gran Hotel Bali (floor 33) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Of course, in Benidorm, it’s hard not to get caught up in the party spirit. With a heap of bars and clubs, you could almost go to a different spot every night of your holiday. Club Manssion opens its doors to 5000 clubbers from all over Europe every Saturday night. It hosts the best in Hardcore if that’s what you’re into. If you’re looking to party, you could always start there! KU Benidorm is a little more laidback, but you’ll have an equally awesome night out there. The whole city centre comes alive at night and the cabaret acts start around 9. You can almost guarantee a night out in Benidorm won’t end until the early hours.
There are plenty of alternatives to nightclubbing too. Try the Benidorm International Song Fest every summer which draws plenty of celebrities like Julio Iglesias (Enrique’s dad!) There’s also the Benidorm Low Cost Festival, which makes our pockets very happy. 2012’s line up includes Kasabian, Suede and Placebo.
Español: Tapas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Food: You won’t go hungry in Benidorm, there are over 1,000 places to eat! Our top choices are always delicious Spanish cuisine and tapas dishes are a top tip. Tapas are little dishes of finger food that can be almost anything. You’ll usually see olives, little meatballs, omelettes or patatas bravas, potatoes with spicy tomato sauce.
Of course, being a holidaymakers hot spot, Benidorm is home to restaurants from every corner of the world, from French and Dutch to Chinese and of course if you’re missing a fry or a cuppa, there are plenty of English breakfasts to be had throughout the resort.
Drink: Happy hour doesn’t get any better than in Benidorm. With tonnes of bars, we counted around 800, you’ll surely find some tip top tipples. There are themed bars, late bars, clubs, and promotions like two for one, cocktails and other deals to get you in the door. Because of the competition, there tends to be plenty of good offers to find and take advantage of. Choose from small, local Spanish bars that sell bottles at €1 each, or head for the reliable British pubs. There are also Dutch and Irish bars and most show football on large screens. Plenty offer karaoke and nightly entertainment too.
The Benidorm Debacle: Alcoholic’s paradise or family-friendly haven?
Once a beautiful, quiet Spanish town, you may say that Benidorm’s perfection was also its downfall. The minute we Brits stepped our flip-flop clad feet onto its sandy, white shore, the old town was transformed into a major resort. Less quaint Spanish town and more heaving Manhattan madness, its loveable fishing village facets soon became no more than relics, replaced by a skyline of unsightly tower blocks. And as for the natives? Kicked out by a bunch of cheap booze-seeking British lager louts, Nuts mag in hand and sandal/sock combo in tow.
Yet before you click away in horror, this embarrassing black cloud does have a silver lining. Over the past few years, authorities have made it their mission to shake off this ill reputation and restore Benidorm to its former glory. Now attracting all kinds of visitors, from families with young children to graduates looking for a wild time, this bustling resort aims to cater to everyone. And this it does well – the key to its success understandably lying within the phrase: ‘low-budget holiday’. And while you may not exactly find cultural refinement in Benidorm, you will most definitely find a good time.
According to James Reid of The Benidorm Guide, “Benidorm is perfect for both families and those looking for a boozy holiday. For families, the beach is fantastic, there is plenty of entertainment and some great excursions (Terra Mitica and Aqualandia to name a few)- not to mention the neighbouring towns of Altea, Alicante, Javea, Calpe etc. On the other side of the coin, Benidorm is truly a great place to let your hair down – plenty of pubs, cheap beer and a diverse scene to dance the night away.”
In fact, for those of you who fear the rough and ready Benidorm of ten years ago, rest assured that millions of families return time and time again, knowing that they will find inexpensive accommodation that is clean, comfortable and well-equipped for their individual needs. Of course parts of Benidorm have remained noisy – be warned of Avenida de Mallorca, where drink is cheap and bars are open all night – but with these expert tips, you can avoid the more boisterous areas and keep your sanity intact.
1) Choose Poniente beach over Levante
If you want to lose your kids to a stag party or you particularly enjoy a background music of 50-year-old men chanting ‘ooh ah ye’ at the tops of their voices, then Levante is the place. However, if you weren’t planning on either of these, we recommend Poniente: a much quieter, bigger and far less stressful stretch of sand. Poniente is also cleaned every night meaning by the time you and your family arrive, it’s completely free of all those cigarette butts and beer bottles that the night revelers tend to leave behind.
2) Do not stay too close to the Square
This is stag and hen central. It’s not uncommon to find a few yobbish Brits conversing with each other across the street through megaphones picked up at one of the Chinese shops. AVOID.
3) Avoid all-inclusive resorts
Unless you want some tanked-up twerp stuttering something along the lines of ‘cheer up you’re on holiday’ to your two-year-old daughter, with a breath so alcoholic it could get an elephant wasted – we’d say choose a family-friendly hotel such as Flamingo Oasis, Benidorm Plaza or Belroy. The solely all-inclusive hotels understandably attract an entirely different audience.
4) Do not do your food shopping at Lidl
On the one hand it’s the cheapest place to shop in Benidorm, but on the other, and this may seem a little harsh, the store is racked with rage-inducing pensioners, who seem to think a trip to Lidl is some kind of afternoon out. And they’ll run down anyone who stands in the way of the till with a trolley full of wet ones and denture cleaner.
5) Be careful where you eat
It could be your last. Avoid Top Road and head for the Old town. The Winnie the Pooh-themed café, Honey Pot, offers a full selection of food all day long as well as a Tigger menu for kids. There is also The Cellar, a ‘kid’s pub’, near Levante beach, which offers great entertainment, including clowns every night from 8-10pm and a parrot show on Sundays and Tuesdays at 11pm. The nearby White Horse family pub is another good one, allowing parents to have a drink while children play games in the back.
Benidorm Sunset (Photo credit: Berts @idar)
To read our latest blog guide to Benidorm, just click here.
Beaches! You love them, we love them, who doesn’t love a day by the seaside? It’s particularly nice when the weather is actually decent enough to take off our coats and scarves. With that in mind we’ve done a four part series on the beaches on the glorious Canary Islands, so you can plan your perfect sun, sea and sand holiday.
The last part of our 4-part series on the best beaches of the Canary Islands brings you to beautiful Fuerteventura, home to hundreds of the most stunning beaches in all the Canaries.
Because there are so many amazing beaches here, choosing only a few is a very difficult task. Since we absolutely must narrow it down and you have another must-see spot not listed, please let our readers know about it! Enjoy our guide to the best beaches Fuerteventura.
This is a stunning white sand beach with turquoise water that stretches for miles – or 13 miles to be exact. Running from Morro Jamble to Costa Calma, this beach is separated into sections with something for everyone along its coast. However, the length of the beach takes about 6 hours to walk, so you may want to choose a spot that’s right for you from the start. Because you can easily spread out and get away from the crowds, naturists enjoy this spot as well!
The blue-flag beach of Costa Calma is a large, fine sandy beach, approximately half a mile long. If you’re looking for beachfront hotels, the hotels and apartments along the beach in Costa Calma have direct access and are not separated by a promenade or road. This beach is an ideal place for families with children, as the waters are usually very calm. All along the beach you will find sun beds for hire, a beach bar, water sports and other facilities to make your stay comfortable.
Corralejo Town & Beach
Corralejo beach is just south of the town and is an incredible fine white-sand beach stretching for six whole miles. This beach is part of the National Park and offers fantastic views of nearby Lanzarote and Los Lobos. It can get a bit windy, so it’s best to shelter behind the stone castles. The beach here has some waves as well, so it’s perfect for water sports, especially kite surfing. Families will love the stretches of gorgeous sand and activities available, particularly in the parts of the beach which are slightly less wavy.
Corralejo has several small coves right in the main town as well, which are very accessible and home to beautiful fine sand. Many facilities are also available depending on which beach you choose. The great location, close to the town ensures you never run out of shopping and restaurant options when taking a break from the sun and sea.
The beach in Costa Caleta is man-made and well maintained. The beach is fine sand with some pebbles leading into the water. Mostly for tourists, it has all the facilities needed for an excellent family day on the beach, especially since there are hardly any waves in the water. The beach itself is about 600 meters long and very wide, offering some room for movement even on busy days.
The beach comprised of many small coves separated by lava rocks. It is very new to tourism and usually is quiet compared to the other beaches on the island, making it an ideal spot for tranquility and relaxation. Families generally love it here because of the calm, shallow water and fine sand. There is a beach bar along the coast but no other facilities – bring your towel and a book!
More a tourist attraction than a beach for bathing, this beach offers a stunning contrast of pitch-black pebbly sand and blue water. Not suitable for bathing or children due to the high waves against the rocks, this beach is nevertheless very beautiful. A short stroll will take you to a cliff with a stunning view to the beach. A little restaurant in the area gives the perfect relaxation point for your day trip.
Who doesn’t feel a little out of it on arrival in a new place? Whether it’s for a long stay, a big move or a few weeks soaking up the sunshine, it can be hard to get a handle on it. So this is my own little list to help you feel at home and get the absolute most out of your holiday! Don’t forget to add your own at the end, I’m always on the lookout!
Teabags: The first thing I want when I arrive is a cup of tea. I know that may sound silly, but I want to really enjoy my holiday and it’s a good way to relax and feel at home! So usually I throw a few in my bag, or hand luggage, maybe a couple of sugars too. Usually hotels and apartments have a kettle somewhere, so you can have a relaxing cuppa straight away.
Explore: Finding the pool, the bar, the breakfast room are a must. Knowing the quickest route to the beach too is one of my favourite things, it helps save precious minutes of sun soaking opportunities. After unpacking (see below!) you can find the time to go a little further afield and figure out where the nearest bars and restaurants are. That way, even if it’s your first night, you’ll still be able to figure out how to get home!
Make friends: Whether it’s the locals or other holidaymakers, why not get chatting to your neighbour, on the beach or beside your apartment. I think there’s nothing better than being able to share the highs of your holiday with someone else and who knows, lifelong friends have been made in stranger places!
Find the market: There are usually shops near to apartment complexes, hotels or self catering, and supplies will be needed sooner or later. Whether you’re planning on eating out every night, or cooking at home, you’ll need to know where to buy the bare essentials like milk, bread and butter!
Unpack: It is a pain in the behind, but you’ll feel so much better knowing you won’t have to live out of a suitcase for half the day. Hang up any clothes that might be a bit creased, use the drawers and space on offer and you’ll be able to find everything as you need it. No need to waste a minute of your holiday!
Those are just a few tips I use, let me know yours in the comments below!