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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
10 WTF weird theme parks that you’ll either love or want to avoid forever.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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…
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.
Carnival is perhaps the biggest and best known festival in the world. Most of the islands have their own events but the most hotly anticipated is the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival. The huge street party is held on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. It revolves around Calypso rhythms which start to pulsate early on the first day. Revellers bathed in oil and paint take to streets in elaborate costumes, decked out in feathers and beads and hit the streets to dance and move their hips to the calypso and soca music. Tuesday sees the parade itself with huge floats built to different themes each year. If you’re not on the parade route, you can head for one of the many other activities like steel drum concerts, community gatherings and calypso tents. Preparations start months in advance and it’s said that if islanders are not celebrating it, they are busy preparing it, or reminiscing about last years. Don’t expect any sleep for at least a few days as soon as carnival kicks off.
St Lucia Jazz Festival, May
Since its very first instalment in 1991, the St Lucia Jazz Festival has grown into one of the most well known festivals in the Caribbean and throughout the world. Every May the whole island dances to the jazz rhythms that fill the air. Massive, fantastic concerts are held at Pigeon Island, in an open air auditorium as well as in several other venues around the island. It draws huge names not just from the world of Jazz but lots of R&B and Calypso performers like Wyclef Jean, Smokey Robinson, Lauryn Hill and Santana.
Crop Over, Barbados, July
Usually during July and August, Bajans gather to celebrate the end of the sugar cane harvest… which becomes a 5 week party. The final delivery of cane sees the crowning of King and Queen of the Crop and the party really starts. There’s Cohobblopot, a massive carnival show with local music and Calypso is a main feature, with various prizes and titles on offer like Pic-O-De-Crop Monarch. The cherry on top is the Grand Kadooment, a huge parade with vibrant costumes and thousands of people dancing to Calypso rhythms, finishing with a swim at the beach. As they say themselves: ‘A grand end to a grand festival.’
Festival de Merengue, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, July
Name checked in that famous Barry Manilow song, meringue has been a staple of life in Dominican Republic since… well, forever. The quick up-tempo rhythm is found everywhere, from the supermarkets to the capital and kids learn to meringue almost before they can walk. This is why the annual Merengue Festival is unsurprisingly such a hit. It sees the capital Santo Domingo come to life, with open air stages, huge sound systems, and thousands of people dancing in the street. A must dance festival!
St. Patrick’s Day, Montserrat, March
It’s not just the Irish who throw legendary parties in honour of St Patrick. The tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat likes to forget about its hurricanes and throw a week long party to mark all things green. St. Patrick’s Day in Montserrat has a special importance, not only to the large Irish Catholic population that settled there in the 1630s, but also as the commemoration of the slave uprising on that day in 1768. There you’ll find Calypso music mixed with Ceili dancing, children decked out in green, and a festival atmosphere, as well as guest lectures and historical tours.
Reggae Sumfest, Montego Bay, July
The sun soaked country of Jamaica is famous for its contribution to music; it’s the birthplace of Reggae after all, made famous by Bob Marley. And what better place to enjoy it than in the sun drenched city of Montego Bay that throws a 4 day party to celebrate? Every July crowds gather to dance, sing, and enjoy the sounds of reggae and its variations, ska, dub and dancehall at the huge Reggae Sumfest. Drawing the biggest Jamaican names like Toots and the Maytals, Damian ‘Junior Gong’ Marley and Beenie Man as well as international headliners like Sean Paul, Nicki Minaj and Rihanna, the 4 day blowout is the summer party.
Book your cheap holiday to the Caribbean festivals with (ABTA member) Purple Travel
With its traditional fishing villages, exclusive five-star resorts and lush vegetation, Christ Church Barbados blends the exotic with the familiar. Known as the Little England of the Caribbean, Barbados is an island that prides itself on its British customs and yet can’t help but embody the authentic spirit of the Caribbean.
When to go to Barbados
Barbados has a tropical climate, meaning it’s hot and sunny all year-round. The best time to go however, is between December and May when there’s less humidity and rainfall.
Beaches in Christ Church Barbados
The beaches around Christ Church are the chief reason why this area of Barbados sees such soaring numbers of tourists. Snorkelling, surfing and windsurfing opportunities are infinite, particularly at Dover Beach due to its favourable conditions for body boarding. Rockley Beach, with its tropical palm trees, comfortable sun loungers and good choice of local shops is another favourite. Enterprise Beach, frequently referred to as Miami, is a sandy spot that’s very much favoured with the locals due to its sheltered setting, crystal clear waters and calm waves. Windsurfers should head to Silver Sands, widely considered to be the best place to windsurf spot on Barbados. Tropical Bottom Bay is lined with mature coconut palms and boasts outstanding views of the shore. Unfortunately, swimming is not recommended here as the waves can be strong. Close to Christ Church is Crane Beach, a remarkably beautiful spot, which deservedly ranks amongst the world’s most acclaimed beaches. Crane, which takes its name from the large crane that was once located here to load and unload ships, plays home to an historic cliff-top hotel that dates back to 1867 – an excellent photo opportunity. The New York Times says, “A wave can travel nearly three thousand miles in the open ocean, undisturbed by sandbars, reefs or land, before it breaks here — on an unlikely little island shaped like a teardrop, off the radar of all but the most devoted surfers.”
What to see on the island
Apart from the beaches and water sports of Barbados Resorts like Christ Church, there are some excellent tourist attractions, especially those concentrated around the lively Saint Lawrence Gap area. Here’s our pick of the best:
OISTINS FISH MARKET
Oistins Fish Market is a must-see attraction in Christ Church. Watch fisherman hauling in their daily catch and barter for some of the freshest, most delicious fish you will ever eat. Visit on a Friday or Saturday night to take part in the community fish fry, where you will enjoy the live Caribbean music, friendly atmosphere and a feast of grilled barracuda, dolphin fish, flying fish, marlin, snapper and tuna – to name but a few.
ST JOHN’S CHURCH
St John’s Church, on Hackleton’s Cliff, is not only one of the loveliest churches on Barbados, but it is also the burial place of Ferdinando Paleologus, last member of a family descended from ancient Greek royalty, who was a warden of the church and died in 1665.
GARRISON SAVANNAH HORSE RACING
A day at the races feels entirely different when sipping coconut water, tasting authentic Bajan cuisine, and basking in the Caribbean sun. “I hate horse-racing myself, but the atmosphere is great,” notes one Virtualtourist reviewer, “there are stalls selling Bajan food, parades, all sorts of activities, crafts stalls, etc. and the Bajans make a fun day of it.”
Located a little further away from the coast are some excellent attractions: the botanic gardens; a couple of nature reserves, including the wetlands of the Graeme Hall Swamp, which have attracted more than 160 species of bird, including some beautiful pink flamingos. In the middle of the island is Welchman Hall Gully, a kilometre-long walking trail through a sheltered and shaded ravine which hosts 200 flowering plants.
Holders Season is how the smart kids gets their cultural fix; held at Holders, a plantation house owned by Johnny and Wendy Kidd (parents of Jodie), this art and music festival is a glam event that presents the best of the island.
BAJAN ROOTS AND RHYTHM
This EXCELLENT dinner theatre takes place in the heart of the lively St. Lawrence Gap area of Christ Church. Staged at the Plantation Garden Theatre, this production showcases the culture and traditions of Barbados. Performers at ‘Bajan Roots and Rhythm’ don spectacular costumes, and a buffet and drinks are included in the price of admission.
Where to eat in Christ Church Barbados
St Lawrence Gap, Christ Church, Barbados (00 1 246 435 6564; www.piscesbarbados.com). A beautiful restaurant overlooking the sea. Good blackened fish and friendly service.
Overlooking the sweeping view of pretty Miami Beach, Café Luna offers alfresco dining on top of the Mediterranean-style Little Arches Hotel. This is spectacular at lunchtime and magical in the moonlight, serving up contemporary favourites from around the world, including fresh Scottish salmon grilled to perfection, oven-roasted New Zealand rack of lamb, fresh seafood bouillabaisse, and local chicken breast with mango chutney. Sushi is a specialty on Thursday and Friday nights; on Saturday night, a champagne and lobster option enhances the regular menu.
Fancy something really different on a holiday? Head for the simply stunning Waterfall restaurant at the Villa Escudero in San Pablo City, Philippines. Lunch is served on bamboo tables, as the crystal clear water runs underfoot. After indulging in a delicious lunch of local favourites, you can work off the calories with a little bamboo rafting, hiking or dancing. For anyone who prefers a more sedate afternoon activity, the bird watching is second to none.
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, Huettenpalast in Berlin.
What’s the gimmick? Situated inNeukölln, Berlin, Huettenpalast is a former vacuum-cleaner factory floor, where you can spend the night in an old caravan or a wooden hut. It’s camping, but without the mud, much and yuck of pitching a tent in a field. Instead, guests sleep in a renovated caravan or cabin, inside the building, and share a living room with other guests.
Why stay? For that summer feeling of camping all year round – even in winter – and a little bit of retro-happiness. Whether you crave numerous amenities, interesting design or just a cheap bed to crash on, Huettenpalast will deliver.
The Wow Factor: The sunny campsite contains a center dining area where little baggies of croissants, apples, and drinks are hung on a painted tree for breakfast each morning. Just outside the warehouse’s glass doors is a garden patio where guests can lounge on the hammock, and mingle with other ‘campers’. This cosy, original, eco-friendly and most importantly, cheap hotel, is the perfect base to wander around a district once called “little Istanbul” and now spotted by the New York Times as “one of the most creative places” in Berlin.
South America is famed for its cuisine, but the award for the region’s Leading Culinary Destination has been handed to Peru. Beating off stiff competitions from countries such as Argentina, Chile and Brazil, Peru was presented the accolade at the Caribbean and The Americas ceremony at the World Travel Awards, set up to ‘acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the tourism industry’. The winners are voted for by consumers, who nominate from a list compiled by travel experts.
Peruvian cuisine, which includes quinoa, a staple with health enthusiasts – is growing in popularity on the world’s gastronomic stage. The country’s eclectic cuisine has migrated to become favourites around the world, but the best Peruvian specialties are still found in their home country. Here are PurpleTravel’s top five dishes to try in Peru:
Due to the icy Humboldt Current that flows through the Pacific Ocean just off Peru’s coast, the country benefits from one of the world’s most bountiful sources of seafood. Ceviche comprises raw fish, citrus-cooked by marinating in Peruvian lime juice, raw onions, and chilli. . The acid in the fruit “cooks” the fish, giving it a delicate flavour and slightly chewy consistency. It is usually accompanied by some corn (on or off the cob) and a slice of sweet potato, which provides almost perfect balance to the acidity of the leche de tigre – the citrus marinade.
Visit any market in Peru and you are sure to find two things—hundreds of varieties of potatoes and piles of the biggest avocados you’ve ever seen in your life. A traditional Peruvian causa layers these two ingredients into what could be described as a sort of casserole, only sliced and served cold. Bright yellow mashed potatoes seasoned with lime and aji is layred with tuna, shrimp, or crab and topped with avocado and a creamy cocktail sauce, making for the ultimate comfort food.
AJI DE GALLINA
Aji de Gallina is a hearty chicken dish gets its enticingly yellow hue from the spicy ají amarillo chilli pepper, which adds its colour and mild kick to several dishes in Peruvian cuisine. This rich, velvety stew is made with chicken and condensed milk that is thickened with de-crusted white bread. The heat of the peppers is softened by the liberal dose of evaporated milk. For a vegetarian alternative, the ubiquitous papa a la huancaina, boiled potato is often used.
Anticuchos are skewers of grilled, marinated beef hearts (much like shish kebabs), which trace back to the days when Peru’s Spanish conquerors would consume a cow’s choicest cuts and leave the organs for their slaves. They are served all over Peru, from the high-end restaurants that offer them as appetizers to the street-cart vendors that sell them slathered in a garlicky sauce. These Peruvian kebabs are extremely rich – and tasty – but more than one might have your temperature rising through the roof.
Lucuma is a tree fruit that looks like a little like a mango, but tastes more like custard, with a hint of maple syrup. While Peru’s cuisine is mostly famous for its spicy and savory dishes mains, the Peruvians themselves adore desserts and often use this fruit as a flavouring in cakes and drinks. Try lucuma ice-cream, lucuma parfait or lucuma smoothies for the best of this delicious native fruit.