For those of you thinking that alien places only exist in Spielberg’s imagination, the island of Socotra stands as solid evidence of a true outer space land right here on Earth.
Actually, Socotra is an archipelago of four islands close to the Horn of Africa. Thanks to its geographically isolated location and purely tropical climate, it is no wonder that the fauna and flora of this hidden gem are unique in the world.
Socotra’s unearthly images will certainly amaze even the most experienced globetrotter. Once you get there giant mushroom-shaped Dragon’s blood trees, trees that look like an elephant’s foot, and cucumbers, as well as more unusual species of birds, mammals and fish. It’s all so unusual you’ll have to pinch yourself to make sure you’re not dreaming.
We go around the world to find the most beautiful, weird and wonderful hotels for our series of posts on a night less ordinary. From panda-themed hotels to converted silvermines, expect the unexpected. This week, a plane hotel in Teuge, Netherlands.
What’s the gimmick? This one is for all the airplane appassionatos who dream of travelling and staying business class! This 1960 Ilyushin 18 was once the pride and joy of governmental transport, now it’s been converted into a luxury suite made just for two. At 40 metres long and filled with as much luxury as you can think of, a night in the plane hotel is really a high-flying experience.
Why stay? The Airplane Suite offers great views of the platform and runway at Teuge Airport. So it makes a great treat for any engineering fanatics in your life. Although it’s in an airport, privacy is a major priority. Guests can enjoy the whole plane to themselves, with on site jacuzzi, sauna, mini bar and all sorts of appliances and entertainment facilities.
The WOW Factor? If you fancy being a pilot but can’t face the hours, then this is the choice. The cockpit is left completely intact, so you can play pilot or cabin crew as much as you like. What’s more, guests can take an extra plane tour, helicopter trip or flight lesson. If you’re really making it something special, get yourself booked in for a parachute jump or ride on a stunt plane.
Anovernight stay for 2 persons, including luxury breakfast costs about £300.
Getting there doesn’t have to be difficult with excellent prices for flights and accommodation from Purple Travel, while our guides to free stuff to do, means there are city breaks for everyone that won’t break the bank. Here are some of our picks for great city breaks this year.
Amsterdam is a great year to visit the Dutch city famous for its canals and cafes. The city’s stretches of canal make the ideal accompaniment to an afternoon stroll, a bit of window shopping, or a stop in one of the ‘brown cafes’ named for the cigarette stained walls, hmm! The centre of the city at Dam Square is a people watching paradise; while the Red Light District, well it is worth a look, just don’t take any pictures while you’re there or you might end up spending more than you bargained for.
If you time it right, Paris is far more cheap ‘n’ cheerful than you first might have imagined! The first Sunday of the month, sees the Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay and Centre Pompidou open their doors for free. Street art is one of the most popular pastimes, with painters indulging their talents on the well worn boulevards. Finish up with a stroll through Parc des Buttes, Chaumont. It has some of the best and free (of course) views of the city. If you really run out of things to see, you could always visit the infamous Pere Lachaise cemetery where Edith Piaf and Jim Morrison are buried.
New York, well, we’ve covered the Big Apple in detail before, but our favourites are the High Line Park built up on a former freight rail line, free kayaking on the Hudson, lunchtime concerts at Trinity Church on Wall Street and free tours by the Big Apple Greeters.
The ultimate in cheap city and sunshine combos has to be Malaga. On the Costa del Sol, it’s long been a firm favourite with travellers from across the UK. The legendary sun drenched Spanish Coast is filled with great value hotels to suit every budget. You can have free fun in the Smurf village of nearby Juzcar, hit the beach of Benalmadena or the city’s own beach of Malagueta. Of course the nightlife is brilliant throughout the region, with plenty of drinks promos and free entry to clubs in Torremolinos or Fuengirola and it’s the top choice for a cheap stag or hen do.
You won’t want to say arrivederciRoma after a weekend in the gorgeous Italian City. It might not strike you as the cheapest city on earth, but there’s lots to see and do if you get a little research in first. Head for the Pantheon, the ancient Roman temple that once honoured the gods, it is free to visit. An ice cream at the Spanish Steps or an espresso by the Trevi Fountain are delicious ways to enjoy the city and many of the city’s museums are free on the first Sunday of the month, now that’s a great idea for city breaks that won’t break the bank.
So with all that action going on, for free, what are you waiting for? Talk to the experts at Purple Travel to book your next cheap city break.
PurpleTravel.co.uk wants to find you a cheap holiday that you’ll never forget. Check out our top 10 best free attractions in the world before you decide on your next break away.
1. Kensington High Street Roof Gardens, London – It’s the biggest roof garden in Europe and is home to three different themed gardens, Spanish, Tudor style, English garden. What’s not to like? Image via @ Arripay
2. Park Guell, Barcelona – The lively Catalan city’s park is a feast for the eyes, with coloured lizards, tiled walkways and Gaudi’s inimitable style everywhere to see.
4. St Peter’s Basilica, The Vatican – The symbol of the Pope and one of the holiest sites for Catholics across the world, St Peter’s is also home to some of the most breathtaking collections of art in the world with works by Michealangelo. Image via @ RandyOHC.
5. Smithsonian, WashingtonDC – The biggest museum complex in the world, this is a whopper – with 19 museums, a National Zoo and nine research centres. Image via @ Wikicommons.
6. USCapitol, WashingtonDC – Visitors can wander around the impressive outdoor area of the Capitol and admire the iconic façade of the building. Image via @ Wikicommons.
7. NotreDameCathedral, Paris – One of the most well known buildings in the world, Notre Dame Cathedral is a miracle of architecture right in the centre of Paris. Image via @ Wikicommons.
8. The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul – It’s one of the biggest covered bazaars in the world with 58 alleys and more than 4.000 shops. That’s definitely where you’ll find a bargain! Image via @ Wikicommons.
9. Central Park, New York – Spring, summer, autumn or winter, Central Park is a delight for the senses, and an escape from the (sometimes) high prices of the Big Apple. Image via @ Wikicommons.
10. Symphony of Lights, Hong Kong – A huge light show offers a stunning backdrop to the city every single night. Grab a good place to watch it and soak up the colours, lasers and atmosphere. Image via @ Wikicommons.
We’ve put together our list of the best April holidays to help you find the ultimate city break, some slightly off-season sunshine or where the kids will have the most fun on a midterm break holiday, and remember, this year Easter Sunday falls on April 20th, so book early to avoid missing out. If you have any other April Holidays ideas we would love to hear about them in the comments below. Enjoy!
Sunshine in springtime The Aegean coast of Turkey is usually pretty reliable for weather in April. Try Bodrum, or Kusadasi for days lazing in the gentle sunshine and sightseeing. Plus since it’s early in the season, it won’t be too crowded and there are plenty of cheap deals. Average temperatures: 17°
No rain in Spain The beautiful coastline of Costa de la Luz in Spain, is a top choice for a little early sunbathing, while the always reliable Canary Islands usually hit the early 20s and offer 10 hours of sunshine per day. If you want really hot in April head for Marrakech, one of the liveliest and most fun cities in Morocco, where temperatures usually hit around 26° in April.
Cities of Culture Umea in Sweden and Riga in Latvia are the chosen European capitals of culture for 2014. Umea in Sweden describes itself as a ‘window of Europe’, with a programme dedicated to co-creation, so expect a range of art, culture and music projects throughout the city. While the Latvian capital will host events like a human chain symbolically transferring books from the old city library to the Palace of Light and the Latvian National Operas performances of the Ring Cycle.
Cherry Blossom ceiling The Japanese city of Tokyo will be in the middle of its cherry blossom season so get moving for unforgettable April holidays. The whole city is filled with blooms which are celebrated with hanami, or parties in the park, which honour the flowers. April temperatures in Tokyo can rise to about 20°.
A night less ordinary Book a night in the Lego Hotel in Legoland California. On April 5th the hotel will celebrate its first birthday so there’ll be plenty of brick themed fun! As well as that it’s the perfect time to head for a holiday in sunny California, USA and make the most of a night hotel that is a serious treat for your inner geek. Average temperatures are around 17°.
Nothing but Sunshine For 2014 April sunshine holidays, we like Mexico. Ok, so the Caribbean is always reliable, but you can’t go wrong with an average of 27° everyday. In the area of Riviera Maya, you can take your pick of resorts with white sandy beaches, all inclusive hotels and brilliant sunshine. Or visit somegreat local scenery like the famous cenotes or the mysterious Mayan stronghold of Chichen Itza. What more could you ask for?
Hit the festival circuit April is more or less the start of music festival season – but as Easter falls in April this year, there are many cultural and traditional festivals that are well worth consider for April holidays. In Greece in April the weather is already mild and sunny and as Easter is one of the biggest dates in the calendar it’s the perfect time to visit. Crete is reliable for temperatures around 20°. Or you could try to visit a village – where whole families will work to hand-roast a whole lamb or kid-goat over an open fire. On the island off Chios a fireworks fight happens between rival churches, while Patmos is filled with devotees.
Go beyond the usual Sri Lanka is topping many of the must-see places to go in 2014 probably thanks to British Airways’ launch of regular flights between Gatwick and Colombo. The island country is, well, exquisite. The perfect white beaches, the stunning natural scenery, the thrilling atmosphere. All the ingredients you need for an amazing April getaway. The average temperature in Sri Lanka in April is around 25°.
Get Glamping glamour and camping are probably not words you expect to go together but that’s all set to change thanks to the gentle roughing it experience in Portugal. We don’t mean old tents with leaky roofs, this Glamping lark is state of the art, lounging balconies, luxury tubs and breakfast in a four poster bed. The average temperatures for the Algarve in April is 17°.
Stag and Hen If the tough job of organising a stag do or hen party in April has fallen to you, never fear for Purple Travel is here! Our dedicated team has been finding out the best and busiest destinations at any time of year for you and your hens or stags to have as messy a night out as you want. We like Benidorm (well, any time of year!) and Albufeira in Portugal. Just remember, what happens on tour stays on tour.