Archive - January 8, 2013

Running around the world: the top marathons around the world
7 Cool and Unique Hotels in Portugal

Running around the world: the top marathons around the world

New York City MarathonImage of the New York City Marathon via @ Saucy Salad

City running: The New York City run is one of the top marathons around the world, with plenty of space for spectators. Around two million people throng the city streets each year just to cheer on their favourites. Entries are by lottery, so get your application in by April for your chance to run through all five boroughs. (November 10, 2013.)

Ice, Ice, Baby: The Antarctic Ice Marathon is one for the hardcore. Running on ice with temperatures dropping below 0, it’s certainly one for the absolutely committed… and a little crazy! (November 20, 2013.)

Desert Running: From one extreme to another, how about a six stage trek through the Sahara in Morocco. Temperatures can top 100 degrees, sandstorms can temporarily blind you and there are no shops to stop and pick up a handy bottle of water, all your supplies go on your back. (March 17, 2013)

Safari Marathon: A double loop around Kenya’s Lewa Wildlife Conservancy will take you past zebras, giraffes and plenty of other wildlife. Try not to worry too much about lions and tigers – rangers and helicopters are on hand to rescue any runners that might come a cropper. (June 22, 2013.)

Great Wall adventure: How often will you get to walk on the Great Wall of China, let alone race along it? You’ll certainly feel like you’ve completed a workout over the gruelling but picturesque 5164 steps and paths. (May 18, 2013.)

The classic: The Athens City Marathon is the stuff of legend, literally. The home of the first ever marathon, it follows the route of a messenger who was delivering the news of Greece’s victory in the Battle of Marathon. It’s told he made his winning cry before collapsing on arrival in Athens. Today, the epic run finishes in the historic Olympic Stadium in the centre of the city. (November 10, 2013.)

Rookie runners: The Walt Disney World Half Marathon weekend is a good place to start for beginner runners. You can take the kids for an adventure of a lifetime and get a family run in at the same time. (February 22-24, 2013)

Rural running: The Connemarathon in Ireland will take you over mountains, glacier lakes, bogs and rolling hills and countryside of the West Coast. A great way to discover the Emerald Isle running a marathon with a difference. (April 7, 2013.)

Visit Purple Travel now to find out more about holidays with a difference.

7 Cool and Unique Hotels in Portugal

As purveyors of “cool,” we at think we know a thing or two about what’s hip, contemporary and unique in the realms of gastronomy, style and travel.  So, we were up for the challenge when Turismo Central de Portugal suggested we take a road trip to discover some of the cool and unique hotels across their region. We have to admit, we were pleasantly surprised and delighted.

Central Portugal is the area north of the capital city of Lisbon, but south of the second largest city Porto, with the Atlantic Ocean on the west and the Spanish border to the right.  Historic hilltop villages dot the landscape, while city-life can be found in Viseu, Guarda, Coimbra and Aveiro.  The region epitomises the perfect blending of laid-back traditional Portugal lifestyle with that of 21st century design and amenities.  A fine example of this aesthetic can be found in these Seven Cool & Unique Hotels of Central Portugal.

Passado de Pedra is a small rural hotel in the centre of the eastern village of Caria.  The early 19th century home was recently transformed into 6 guest units.  One bedroom is in a former wine press room; a small apartment is now in the old stable.  The main house has four more rooms which can be rented separately or configured for groups and families.  Ask owner Graça for a walking tour of Caria, a village rich in Portuguese, Moorish and Jewish history.

Portugal Confidential - Passado de Pedra

Imagine a medieval village transformed into a boutique hotel. Former village houses are left intact on the exterior, but renovated for 21st century guests on the inside. At Casas do Coro in Marialva, the feel is rustic, but the accommodations are modern, the amenities are luxurious and the service is exemplary.  Select from individual rooms or multi-bedroom houses at this chic hotel.

Portugal Confidential - Casas do Coro Aerial

Sitting on top of one the highest peaks in the Serra da Estrela mountain range, Casa das Penhas Douradas is a high-altitude nature retreat as well as a design hotel.  Mid-century modern elements are reinterpreted in the decor, with birch the predominant material in furniture and cabinetry, while traditional Burel wool fabric, manufactured in a factory down the hill, adds softness and warmth.  Outside, numerous mountain trails offer amazing views of unique rock formations and the valley below.  Inside, relax by the fire in the guest lounge or slip into a sauna in the hotel’s spa.

Casa das Penhas Douradas

Casa de Sé is a small luxury hotel in the centre of historic Viseu.  This sumptuously renovated 18th century building has 12 rooms, each uniquely decorated with antique furniture and decorative objects.  Should guests fall in love with a particular item, everything is for sale.  At Casa de Sé, history, art and luxury cohabitate in harmony.

Portugal Confidential - Casa da Se

Aveiro is often called the “Venice of Portugal” for its canals winding through the city centre.  “Moliceiro” is the name given to the ornately-decorated “gondolas”. With a romantic view to these canals is the boutique Hotel Moliceiro. 49 rooms are available, but we recommend asking for one of the distinctive theme rooms ranging from Chanel, Provence and Lavender to Manhattan, Cosmopolitan and Marrakesh.  Our favourite is the Oriental room with long private terrace.

Portugal Confidential - Hotel Moliceiro Oriental

Villa Pedra Natural Houses, just south of Coimbra, is quiet old-world Portuguese village life completely redefined for the 21st century.  The hilltop village of Aldeia da Cima was literally abandoned for 70 years, until recently discovered by a Lisbon-based designer and architect team.  They gave new life to the village by constructing modern, artfully-designed houses set amongst richly landscaped gardens, pool and even an aviary.  Villa Pedra is perfect for short- or long-term escapes.

Portugal Confidential - Villa Pedra Natural Houses

Think trendy urban boutique hotel snatched-up from the big city and placed perfectly on a large sandy beach in Portugal, and you’ve got Furadouro Hotel & Spa in Ovar.  This modern hotel of 27 rooms features a gourmet restaurant and large full-service spa.  But, of course, the best amenities are the view to the ocean and the sound of waves crashing to the beach.

Portugal Confidential - Furadouro Boutique Hotel Beach & Spa

Learn more about cool and contemporary Portugal at

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