An absolutely spectacular sight, Vikos Gorge or Vikos Gap is located in the mountainous area of Epirus, in the Northwestern part of Greece. In fact, it is the second deepest Gorge in the world, after the Grand Canyon in the USA.
The steep walls of the Gorge rise to a height of 1,040 metres in several places, providing breath-taking views of this unique natural phenomenon. The Voidomatis River crosses the Vikos Gorge providing a beautiful natural backdrop. This part of Greece hasn`t changed in hundreds of years and is a really amazing place for wildlife and hiking.
The Gorge of Samaria
The Gorge of Samaria is the longest one in Europe, after the French gorge of Verdon. It is an area of stunning natural beauty. Rare flora and fauna have survived in this area and are protected. The mountains that have formed it are wild, high and steep. You will pass through forests of ancient cypress trees and pines and descend between vertical cliffs.
The path starts from Xyloskalo (near Omalos) in the White Mountains at an altitude of 1,230 meters and comes to an end at the village of Agia Roumeli at the Libyan sea. Walking through the gorge usually takes anything from 3 to 5 hours, without breaks.
Paris – je t’aime. You are the ultimate city break, a haven of girlish fantasy, a macaroon paradise, a swish, sassy, chic enclave of all things hip and fabulous. Dive in our posh girls guide to Paris.
It’s a given that Paris is every girl’s dream getaway, from the shopping to the eating to the dancing the night away. But the posh girl in Paris is looking for that je ne sais quoi, which isn’t found in most guides to Paris. We assumed that you fine ladies may have better things to do than trawl the Internet looking for establishments that cater to your er… calibre (filing nails, sipping from teacups etc etc), so we created this list of Paris’ best posh girl must-do’s. Don’t mention it.
This new hotel, part of the Elegancia group, was designed by Paris it-boy Ora-Ito and inspired by Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Rather than typical hotel rooms, Hotel O comprises 29 cabins, in a space vessel style, cutting guests off from the hectic Parisian streets and and Etienne-Marcel shopping meccas at its doorstep. Each room has a unique colour scheme, built with four materials: wood, cork, felt and Corian, to create a harmonious blend of clean lines and smooth curves. The breakfast room doubles as a bar, serving a short range of cocktails using quality, often organic spirits.
The history of Parisian tea salons is lovingly linked to the history of the Ladurée family. In 1862, Louis Ernest Ladurée opened his first a bakery at 16 rue Royale in Paris. The decoration of the pastry shop was entrusted to Jules Cheret, a famous turn-of-the-century painter and poster artist, who sought inspiration from the painting techniques used for the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and the Garnier Opera. Now with salons all over Paris and beyond, Laduree have become famous for their macrons – small, round cakes, crisp on the outside, smooth and soft in the middle, in various colours and flavours. No posh girl could complete their trip to Paris without having a macaron or two at the original tea salon on rue Royale. Decorated in original wood paneling, with a cascade of angels and gourmet fairies on the ceilings, this unique café is a symbol of the French art of living.
Gallic gastronomic grandeur meets old school glamour at Hotel Meurice in the heart of Paris. It has the skeleton of all typical Parisian fine eateries – mosaic floor, crystal chandeliers, heavy damask curtains – but has recently had a super-modern overhaul by designer Phillipe Starck. Chef Yannick Alléno bagged a third Michelin star in 2007, due to his brilliantly inventive cooking, which is based on a deep knowledge of classical Escoffier vintage culinary technique. Flex your posh girl muscles with a course of In addition to crispy green ravioli with a fricassee of snails and wild garlic.
It would almost be a crime to stay in Paris and not take a visit to staple French fashion house, Chanel. The masters of timeless luxury, their window displays at the rue Cambon location are particularly beautiful.
It’s true that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but in Paris, costume diamonds are the posh girl’s. Bijoux Burma offers the best of both worlds, presenting a variety of colourful precious gems in bracelets, rings, necklaces, earrings and broaches, as well as costume jewellery that is arguably even more spectacular.
THE TASTE OF PARIS
Drink tea with a difference at W Lounge
A place to don your new purchases and dance to Paris’ hottest DJs spin, while sipping one of W Lounge’s signature cocktails. This innovative cocktail menu, crafted by W Hotels Worldwide Director of Cocktail Culture, Joseph Boroski, contains only the most fabulous drinks in Paris. Managed by one of the city’s top bar experts, Aurélie Panhelleux, the W Lounge even offers Do It Yourself Cocktail Sessions on a Tuesday and a unique twist on teatime with their exclusive Cockteals tea-infused drinks.
Sip champagne at The Ritz
With a hardcore following of young and trendy Parisians, The Ritz Bar Terrasse, weather permitting, is the place to be in Paris. With a collection of chic and comfortable outdoor lounge chairs, which overlook the interior courtyard of this legendary hotel, when you’ve made this kind of mark on the world of luxury, there’s really no other option, but to have your own champagne label. Enter the Ritz Brut and Ritz Brut Rose. Perfect for spending a Parisian evening nibbling on fresh strawberries, and drinking bubbles with a loved one, if you don’t want to go for their delicious own brand, you can of course indulge in some Cristal (995 Euro), Perrier Jouët Belle Epoque (500 Euro) and Dom Ruinart Brut Rosé (600 Euro) by the bottle.
Another astonishing interior under the belt of Philippe Starck, this hotel is a decadent, art-filled rebellion of colour, pattern and texture. Stark’s own interpretation of 1930s Paris. Then came the spa: an ethereal, snow-white world of plush lounging spaces, the longest swimming pool in any Paris hotel and fabulous treatments by Clarins. Try the Balance of Power face treatment by My Blend (€295 for 105 minutes), which uses a combination of eight creams and seven boosters, chosen by the therapist from a possible 400.
Get done at Doux Me
The Doux Me beauty room at Hôtel Costes offers personalised facials, body treatments and massages, using only organic products and vegetable-based oils that will leave your posh-girl skin feeling, soft, smooth and revitalised. Created for women, by women, this is ever Sloane Ranger’s dream pampering sesh.
Chewing gum is a bit yuck, right? WRONG! Well at least if you’re in Seattle, USA, where a wall absolutely plastic with the sticky stuff has become an unlikely tourist attraction.
In a place called Post Alley, you’ll find the Seattle Gum Wall. It all started in the 90s, when people who were bored waiting in line for tickets to the theatre starting sticking their used gum to the wall. When it started, they stuck coins on top of the gum, but that part of the ‘tradition’ died away, simply leaving the mangled plastic stuff behind.
Then the idea got even weirder. After theatre bosses organised for the wall to be scraped clean (twice) and the gum kept reappearing it became something of a city tourist attraction. In fact in 1999 local market bosses officially named it as something to see in Seattle.
Now you can find names written with gum, love hearts and even peace signs. It’s featured in a movie (Love Happens with Jennifer Aniston, if you’re really desperate to know) and has topped TripAdvisor’s Worlds Germiest Attraction list. Ireland’s Blarney Stone is its closest competition.
The Victoria’s Secret 2012 show was perhaps one of the most impressive in the history of the brand. Barbadian singer, Rhianna provided a live-music soundtrack as scantily-clad models paraded down the catwalk at the Lexington Armory in New York. The fashion show has become a pre-holiday season tradition for the retailer, with an emphasis on glitz, skin and dramatic production. The tanned, svelte figures, the decadent swimwear and lingerie, the glowing long locks – how do they do it? Here we take a look at the places where an Angel goes to rejuvenate mind, body and soul (we’re not saying you’ll look like one after, but it’s damn worth a shot).
Where does a Victoria’s Secret Angel go on holiday?
Make like Miranda Kerr in Bora Bora
The Kerr-Bloom family got away for a holiday to the Four Seasons in Bora Bora Kerr donned a sexy white bikini to hang out on the beach with their son Flynn, and the duo later met up with dad Orlando for a swim in the hotel pool. The trio spent a few days in Tahiti and continued their trip with a stop in New Zealand, meaning they missed the annual Met Gala. Kerr tweeted, “So sad I can’t be with you all tonight at the MET Ball! Sending love from New Zealand.”
Travel to Miami like Adriana Lima
When Adriana Lima is off-duty, she is back in her bikini in the Atlantic with her husband, Marko Jaric, and their daughter Valentina. The family spend their time frolicking on South Beach, with Lima causing quite a stir, we’re sure.
Head to St Barts like Candice Swanepoel
Showing off her fabulous form, Candice Swanepoel was spotted prancing around on the beach in St. Barts in the Caribbean this year. From the sound of it, Candice has been thoroughly enjoying her time on the tropical island according to her Twitter page. She tweeted, “Beautiful st Barts!!! I love this place! An extremely early morning but worth it when you land in paradise.
Go to Anguila with Rosie Huntongton Whiteley
Victoria’s Secret babe and Transformers star Rosie Huntington-Whiteley spent an island holiday with action movie star Jason Statham in Anguilla in the British West Indies. The 23-year-old model also stepped out the beach with a knitted beach bag, a straw hat, purple sarong and a pair of Ray Ban Wayfarer sunglasses.
Hawaii is where it’s at for Alessandra Ambrosio
Alessandra Ambrosio was seen paddle boarding in the warm waters of Maui, Hawaii this August.The 30-year-old Brazilian model took the family to the tropical island for some quality time.
Book the Bahamas like Chanel Iman
The life of a top model isn’t all work and no play. Chanel Iman recently treated herself to a ten-day holiday in the Bahamas. “It’s paradise,” she told Teen Vogue. “The best experience ever! I went scuba diving and jet skiing, and swam with the dolphins.” You can follow the adventures of the jet-setting glamour girl on her Twitter page.
The Handlebar, the Freestyle, the Fu Manchu, who knew there were so many types of moustaches? Well if you’re taking part in the Movember, you probably did. And we’re betting British Airways did too, since they managed to fix up an Airbus A319 with a temporary ‘tache to celebrate November’s moustache dedication.
Unveiled by BA cabin crew Kyle Patchett, who was already sporting some fine facial fluff, the aircraft’s makeover is just in time to celebrate what is rapidly becoming a November tradition.
The airline is hoping to raise around £80,000 for Prostate Cancer Charity this month.
Liz Wilkinson, British Airways head of health services, said: “We’re always delighted to support Movember, it’s a charity that is very dear to our hearts here at British Airways, especially as our former CEO Lord Marshall suffered from the disease.
There’s still plenty of time to find some info about Movember on the official site here.
If you’re off on a city break to Rome, don’t spend the time ‘fiddling while Rome burns’, instead discover the art beat of the capital. In this of the ten best museums and galleries in Rome, you’ll journey from a Renaissance palace to Mussolini’s cinema studio…. Enjoy the best museums and galleries Rome from Purple Travel.
The original sculptures and paintings in the Borghese Gallery date back to Cardinal Scipione’s collection, the son of Ortensia Borghese , Paolo V’s sister. Cardinal Scipion was drawn to any works of ancient, Renaissance and contemporary art which might re-evoke a ‘golden age’. In the Borghese, you will find a whole array of antique sculpture and painting, housed a grand villa, whose architectural features are to be attributed above all to Flaminio Ponzio, an extraordinary architect in whom the Pope and the cardinal placed absolute trust.
Nestled among 19th-century apartment blocks, the Macro is the newer and bigger of two spaces that combine to make up Rome’s municipal contemporary art museum (the other is in Testaccio). The main part of the museum was created by the French architect, Odile Decq from a disused Peroni beer plant. Providing a home for the postmodern painter and collagist Mario Schifano, Macro aims to be a more daring and controversial version of Maxxi (the National Museum of Art from the 21st Century). Take the toilets for example, which have mirrored walls and translucent plastic sinks that flash different neon colours as you use them.
Palazzo Altemps is a Renaissance palace opened as a museum in 1997. It remains one of the capital’s best-kept secrets, with a beguiling collection of classical sculptures. They include the Ludovisi Ares, a Roman copy of a 4th-century BCE Greek original, and the Ludovisi Gaul, part of the same group. But for sheer technical genius, visitors should see the 3rd-century sarcophagus, carved from a single block of stone, showing the Romans fighting the Ostrogoths – it is known as the Grande Ludovisi.
Cinecittà Studios was founded by Mussolini and due to this, the studio and set complex was bombed by the Allies in the Second World War. However in the ‘50s, the Studios became highly famous when they were used to make a series of costly classical epics, including Ben-Hur and Cleopatra. The 40-hectare site, which is claimed to be continental Europe’s largest film and TV production facility, was also where Federico Fellini shot most of his films.
The church of illusions was built between 1626 and 1650 and dedicated to Ignatius of Loyola. The trompe l’oeil ceiling mural by Andrea Pozzo uses foreshortening to create a realistic vision of the founder of the Society of Jesus soaring towards paradise to be welcomed by Christ. A disk in the floor marks the ideal spot from which to experience the illusion.
The Auditorium was designed by architect, Renzo Piano, who called his building a “factory of culture”. Its three concert halls, which stage all manner of productions, hold between 700 and 2,800 people. There is also the Cavea, an open-air theatre reminiscent of a classical amphitheatre, an art gallery and an archaeological museum within the building.
Santa Maria in Trastevere
The Basilica of Our Lady is one of Rome’s oldest churches, dating back to around 340 AD. It is thought to been the first church in Rome dedicated to Mary. In the nave are two rows of columns – 22 in all – that were taken from ancient Roman sites. Embellished with six mosaic panels of scenes from the life of Mary and a gilded octagonal ceiling painting by the Baroque master Domenichino, the basilica is extraordinarily decadent.
This less visited museum displays finely decorated weapons, intricate tapestries and stunning earrings and necklaces. Other exhibits include an ancient metal dog chain and an entire hall, taken from an aristocratic villa in Ostia, adorned with designs created using a technique known as opus sectile in which coloured marble is cut and inlaid.
Visitors to Rome who try packing in a trip to Pompeii often leave disappointed by the neglect and disorganisation they find there. Ostia Antica, less than 30km from Rome and reachable by train, offers an altogether more civilised (and arguably more instructive) experience. This, after all, was the port city of the capital of Europe’s greatest empire. Scattered among the umbrella pines that now dot the site are a splendid amphitheatre which is still used for concerts, and the remains of schools, baths, temples and latrines, as well as Europe’s oldest synagogue. Ostia Antica also boasts some unusually well-preserved mosaics and frescoes.
Set in a Trastevere backstreet, Galleria Lorcan adds a touch of hip to an otherwise classical scene. O’Neill, has used his Britart connections to put on exhibitions by Tracey Emin, Sam Taylor-Wood and Rachel Whiteread. He has also shown venerable non-Brits including Anselm Kiefer and provided a space for talented young Italians like Luigi Ontani and Pietro Ruffo.
For beginners or the most seasoned of ski pros, we choose our top ski holidays Europe. Disagree? Let us know in the comments below.
Les Deux Alpes and La Grave Ski Resort, France
A great choice for experienced (and beginner) skiers, these are two practically tailor made just for you. Les Deux Alpes lies alongside the main pistes – so you are never far from one of the many lifts – which extend on both sides of the valley and finish in the village. Beyond these, high altitude skiing and magnificent scenery can be enjoyed from the top of the glacier. With the Grande Galaxie pass also offering a day’s skiing in neighbouring resorts.
Greece is a vast landscape of diverse experiences waiting to be discovered. Each of the Greek islands have their own quirks and contrasts, but all are equally stunning and the beaches spectacular. But the real reasons that we love this popular tourist destination are a little less obvious and only become known to a traveller after they’ve experienced true life in Greece.
Have a look at our infographic with some unusual facts about this fascinating country:
In essence, it’s the idiosyncrasies that we love the most. Here are just a couple of reasons why we love Greece.
The fact that they would rather have a coffee than do pretty much anything else in the world. If you thought that you liked coffee, speak to a Greek and you’ll feel like a total amateur. Frappes are like heroin for the Greek society. A combination of Nescafe, water, condensed milk and a boatload of sugar and ice, the chemical buzz they inflict is almost scary.
Imagine the warm breeze blowing through your hair as you speed to the beach… Mopeds represent a youthful freedom in Greece. As terrifying as they are invigorating, don’t expect to see the Greeks wearing helmets (ever) or even footwear for that matter. Who says you can’t ride a motorbike in your flip-flops?
The Greeks also love their balconies. Aside from in cafes, they will mostly be seen drinking their frappes at a blue-white table, on a balcony that overlooks the sea. But with such great weather almost all year round – who can blame them?
Whether it’s souvlaki, moussaka or just a Greek salad, you have to admit that Greek food is some of the best in the world (and the cheapest). The seafood is fresh, the vegetables are locally sourced and the plates double as smashing material when cleared. Hurrah!
Rapidly spinning them around their fingers, the men of Greece have used worry beads to combat their stress for centuries. You’ll find them outside most souvenir shops, or for something more luxurious, try Kombologadiko, where the beads are made from semi-precious stones.
Greek women are known for their impeccable skin, and this is generally due to an old quote that has been passed down through generations – “Never put anything on your face that you cannot eat or taste.” For this reason brands such as Korres and Apivita have become extremely successful, containing 85-100% natural ingredients. Their ingredients are not tested on animals and the materials used are kind to the environment.
Basically, when in Greece, you’ll find all sorts of comical and beautiful sights, not to mention delicious tastes, memorable smells of the ocean and a hospitality so warm you can almost feel it.
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, The Guy Fawkes Inn in York.
What’s the gimmick? Remember, remember, the 5th of November? Before gunpowder, treason and plot, Guy Fawkes’ story begins here in York. Guy was born on the very spot of this hotel in 1570, in the shadow of the Minster, and was baptised in the church across the street. Although centuries have passed, the building has been so well preserved you could be forgiven for thinking it was only yesterday.
Why stay? For the real ales, traditional pub meals, gas-lamps and timber floors, which along with the hotel’s rich heritage make it one of the most characterful inns in Britain.
The Wow Factor: Expect to find gas-lamps on the wall, wooden tables nestling in candlelit nooks and crannies, timber floors and huge, roaring fires. The restaurant is equally impressive, serving up simple, unpretentious pub food skillfully prepared to allow the quality of the fresh local produce to speak for itself. Favourite include steak & ale pie with mushroom & bacon and tagine of aubergine, lemon, cinnamon, chick peas & dates with cous cous and Harissa sauce (v). The thirteen gorgeous bedrooms are each unique, thanks to the age and character of the building, but all are beautifully appointed, with antique furniture, Italian fabrics and luxurious beds. Many rooms look directly out onto the Minster, offering some of the best views in the city. You may even be lucky enough to spot some special guests wandering the hotel….
Walking the Camino, the Way of Saint James, El Camino de Santiago, there are plenty of names for the pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Northwestern Spain. Traditionally the walk was one of the most important of Christian gatherings in medieval times, where indulgences could be earned, as they travelled from their home to the pilgrimage site. Today walking the Camino is popular and getting busier every year.
We spoke with Camino enthusiast and veteran Blaithin who gave us the details on what to expect.
Let’s start with the basics
There are more or less two types of walks along the route: The light version, where you stay in hotels, have your bag carried or walk the last 100km into Santiago, but that misses so much of walking the Camino.
You carry your bag so that you pack the minimum, and share the connection with others and are generally less material, you don’t have to dress up or buy anything. You stay in the hostels because that’s where you meet everybody and build a community. If you do the last 100k just to get to the end, you miss out on the more real part of the Camino.
Pack lightly, no more than two sets of clothing and maybe few more underwear. Everyone wears the same clothes every day because that’s how it goes. Pack plenty of plasters, padding, anti-inflammatory gels, pain killers, and any other medication you feel you might need. Quick drying towels are a really good investment, although an expensive initial outlay. Most places have blankets so all you need is a sleeping bag liner. Oh, and you’ll need boots for walking and a light pair of sandals for evening.
There are many routes that take you to Santiago, the main and most popular one is the French way – from St. Jean de Pied Port in France. You’ll find some more details here and here on the different routes available.
there are different levels of hostels, albergues, and refugios. Municipal hostels are generally €5 a night. Parish hostels and refugios are very often by donation where you can give around €5. Private hostels are a bit posher and charge €8 a night. Big cities might be a bit dearer. Hotels sharing would be €15 a night. In Spain you can’t book hostels, you just turn up. In France you have to book (not St. Jean though). Some places do communal meals which are always well worth booking into because you get to know lots of people and that’s part of the fun.
Everywhere along the 800km route provides the same pilgrim menu, generally €9, dearer in big cities. That usually includes starter, main, desert and wine. During the day small towns will have bars and cafes selling bocadillos (big baguettes) and tapas – mostly spanish tortilla. Food in shops is very cheap too.
The camino is a pilgrimmage and all the language and commerce of it is based on this. Peregrinos get special treatment. Everywhere does pilgrim menus that are cheaper than the day menu. Pilgrims have to get a passport which is stamped at each place you stay in. Bars, cafes, hotels, hostels, museums, all have their own stamp.
There are a few pilgrim hospitals along the route and if you get injured, treatment is free for peregrinos once you have your passport. In Santiago there’s an office that gives accreditation for walking the Camino to those who’ve walked at least 100km to Santiago. Your passport stamps prove that you’ve walked and this is the main purpose of the passport. The stamps also become a thing to collect and are pretty. When meeting others you can compare stamps and see if you’ve stayed in any of the same places.
Time to walk
The Camino is open all year round, but best times of year are May, June, September and October. July and August get very hot and very busy. At the start of summer the landscape is all green and there are rivers. At the end of summer the landscape is all yellow and all the rivers have dried up. It’s colder on higher altitude. France (the start) and Galaicia (the last 200k) are cloudier and rainier than the rest which is generally hot and dry.
Camino Frances starts with a very big mountain on day 1. There are small hills after that and Burgos is on a big mountain but generally a gradual ascent and descent. The middle few 100km is called the Meseta and is totally flat. After Leon there are a few more mountains.
Depending on where you start, there are flights into Biarritz, Bilbao, Santiago, Madrid, Santandar. ALSA are the main bus providers to get to your starting point. There are also trains to the big towns: St Jean de Pied Port, Burgos, Sahagun, Leon, Astorga, Ponferrada.
The guide books recommend around 20-25km a day. It’s generally 4-5km an hour. Many people will do up to 3km a day but not every day. The very fit and adventurous people can do up to 4km a day! More practice walking makes you faster and able to do longer days walking.