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, Hotel Silken Puerta América in Madrid.
What’s the gimmick? The Hotel Silken Puerta América is a masterpiece of architecture and design. A 5 Star luxury hotel, Hotel Silken ushers guests into innovative spaces, with each of the floors being designed by one of the 19 world-renowned architects and artists who were chosen to work on the hotel (these include including Norman Foster, Jean Nouvel and Zaha Hadid). The 12 guestroom floors were each created in the vision of the unique international architect they represent, giving the rooms individualized design and décor.
Why stay? For a truly different experience each time you stay.Guests choose from photos of available room designs on arrival, all of which have 1 queen-size or 2 twin beds, and flat-screen LCD TVs.
The Wow Factor: The Hotel Silken Puerta América Madrid is an eclectic, daring space that does not sell comfort short. Rooms with luxury in their finest detail entice guests to interact with them, to touch, to see, to breathe and smell. In short, Hotel Silken is a unique space that stands out especially for its quality and wide range of service, not just its futuristic design. Think indoor pools, a Turkish bath and a top-floor bar with incredible views of Madrid.
Prices start from £170 a night. Click here for details.
Part One of our new weekly series from guest blogger, Liz Bethell about going to live in Australia.
Everyday in life we are offered opportunities. Whether we choose to recognise or act upon those opportunities or just ignore them, is up to us as individuals. I believe that when an opportunity presents itself, we must not ignore it – if it is possible to take it, we should. It’s like learning to dance in the rain instead of waiting for the rain to stop. And God forbid those opportunities we could have done end up on the bucket list, and we later think “Why didn’t I try that?”, but it’s suddenly too late.
This happened to me in 2006. We came to Australia on a 4 month extended holiday with the idea of seeing if we liked it and possibly moving out here at a later date. We met some amazing people back then who have stayed quality, genuine friends as the years have gone by. One friend was an American girl, Kristen, over in Australia doing a teaching placement and through her we met a Canadian teacher doing a Teacher Exchange- actually swapping lives with an Australian counterpart for a year- house, job, car- only keeping the same partner and children! When I heard that I thought how awesome it was- what an amazing experience.
I went home to life as I knew it. I asked about the Exchange at work, but as I was then working in the Reception class and the exchange to Australia started mid-year for the British participants, it was felt that there would be too much upheaval for the little ones and would be better when I had an older class. So a few years later, when I had been teaching in Year 3 for a few years, I approached my head teacher and put forward an application through the Commonwealth Scheme to swap and move Down Under for a year.
It wasn’t as straight forward as usual. The tough year with the government meant that they withdrew a lot of funding for the organisation and there was doubt as to whether it would continue running- a shame as this has run now for 100 years. Then finally CYEC Commonwealth Youth Exchange Committee took it over and everything started moving fast in the last few months. My Australian Exchange Teacher, Fiona had her application sent to my school where it was considered by the head and the governing body and likewise mine was being done by the Principal in Australia. Fiona and I spoke a lot on the phone and got to know each other and emailed and set up networks of people to help us both settle in on either side of the world! We researched the area and I couldn’t believe it- if I could have chosen the area I would have loved to go to it would have been Byron Bay- the place where we met Kristen- our American friend and through her, Bob and Chris and other friends. People who now live 15 minutes from where we are living this year. Pretty amazing when you consider that you can’t choose where you want to go- and the size of Australia! I knew it was meant to be. Visas had to be sorted and police checks and housing had to be sorted out. People usually swap the houses they are living in but as my partner, Ralph works offshore in the diving industry I knew he wouldn’t be able to give up his job for the year and so would need to go home for some of the time. So I decided to rent a house for Fee, Eric and her girls, Ellen and Adi. This worked out well as it was near school for them.
Finally the end of December came. I hung back so I could actually meet the Aussies as we had got on so well on the phone. They arrived Christmas Day. We had a big Welcome/Leaving Party on December 28th in Liverpool and then on 29th December my son Jack and I hopped on a plane bound for Sydney, Australia. We would be met by Nicolette and Ross, some more fantastic friends we had made back in 2006 and were going to spend New Year with them before heading up to our new home and life up on the East Coast of Australia. I didn’t know it then but this was going to be the start of an experience that was more awesome than even I could have imagined! And I haven’t finished it yet!
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!
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.
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.
It might be this year’s biggest literary hit, but 50 Shades of Grey is also the most put downable book. According to budget hotel chain Travelodge, around 7,000 copies of the EL James penned bestseller have been found discarded in rooms. The first release in the saucy collection, is the first non chick lit or celebrity biography to top the list in a while, in 2009, it was Katie Price’s autobiography Pushed to the Limit.
Other books on the ‘Left Behind List’ include The Millennium Trilogy – lead by The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo makes up the rest of the top ten, along with the Hunger Games trilogy and The Help by Kathryn Stockett.
Barbie’s hitting the high seas!
If you’re a mum or dad to a ten year old, then be prepared to get into the Barbie Cruise Experience. Royal Caribbean International has teamed up with toymaker Mattel to offer the ‘Barbie Premium Experience’ right across its network of ships.
That means pink tea parties, fashion shows and rooms. Youngsters will be able to take part in themed activities like the mermaid dance class or fashion design workshop. The pink themed holiday even includes as many Barbie related keepsakes as you can possible imagine. Think Barbie blankets and pillows, toiletry bag and toothbrush. It’ll launch in January 2013.
Authorities in Rome are going against its image as a romantic city, by ordering the removal of dozens of love padlocks on an ancient bridge.
Couples from across the world have been declaring their enduring love, by placing padlocks on the Ponte Milvio Bridge in the city. Once locked in place, the key is dropped into the water, symbolizing young love and never ending romance.
However now bosses in the city say the rusting locks are causing irreparable damage to the ancient bridge and have started using the decidedly unromantic bolt cutters to take them down. Somehow we can’t see it putting off young love just yet!
Mini crime spree
Staff at New York’s JFK Airport were arrested this week, after allegedly stealing over 100,000 mini-bottles of alcohol meant for on board passengers.
The micro crime spree was uncovered after a nine month investigation known as ‘Operation Last Call’. It’s reported the staff had specific access to secure areas and they bribed security with pilfered bottles that they then sold on the black market.
Welcome to the the Bikini Files Part One: The Ultimate Bikini Diet Plan. With just two weeks to go, there’s no putting it off any longer; nutritionalist, Stephanie Preston has whipped up a meal plan to help you lose those extra pounds in no time. Find out more in the ultimate bikini diet plan.
You’ve booked your holiday, you’ve bought a bikini, maybe you’ve even started to pack your suitcase, but still you’re dreading hitting the beach. Sounds familiar? Don’t panic! It’s never too late to get into shape, particularly if you have the thought of stripping off on the beach to motivate you.
We’ve teamed up with top nutritionist Stephanie Preston to bring you a bikini diet plan that will make sure you look and feeling amazing.
1. Drink more water. Drinking plenty of water helps to keep skin well hydrated in the sun, flush out toxins, reduce the appearance of cellulite, and even helps the body burn its calories more efficiently.
2. Three meals a day, no snacks. There’s no flexibility on this.
3. No grains – that means no rice, pasta, oats, rye, couscous, wheat, quinoa, bread, pizza, pastries, biscuits or cakes.
4. No beans – so forget lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, baked beans, hummus and dhal.
5. Restrict fruit. Your maximum is one portion of berries per day.
6. No alcohol. None. Not even on weekends. And no caffeine either. Unless you want to keep that cellulite.
7. 50-100g lean protein at every meal, such as white fish, oily fish, skinless chicken or turkey, lean beef and lamb, eggs, cheese, tofu or Quorn. Try to add nuts,seeds etc into meals to ensure you get your trace elements.
8. Vegetables are unlimited, except for root vegetables such as potatoes, turnips and parsnips and those which are high in sugar, such as beetroot, sweetcorn and sweet potato, which are all banned. Increasing the amount of vegetables eaten overall will ensure you get essential vitamins and minerals as well as aiding weight loss. and try to have a wider variety of foods to ensure getting all the trace elements e.g. nuts,seeds etc
While this may seem quite difficult at a glance, we’ve come up with this meal plan to help you along your way. And remember, if you have more than two weeks, you can loosen up on the rules slightly (include some healthy snacks such as fruit, nuts, carrots with dip etc) and include some exercise to keep you toned and fit. But if you’ve left it to the last minute – check yourself into our bikini bootcamp:
Breakfast | Pick one one the following each day:
Mushroom Omelette Thinly slice 100g mushrooms and fry in a non-stick pan with a little olive oil. When the mushrooms are browned, remove and keep warm. Then mix together 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites and cook in the pan. Top half with mushrooms and 25g crumbled feta. Fold.
Yoghurt and fruit Stir 50g fresh fruit – either a combination of berries or melon (no banana) into a pot of live natural yoghurt. Add a squeeze of agave nectar to flavour.
No-grain pancakes with blueberries Mix 50g low-fat cream cheese with 1 egg, then add ½ tbsp vanilla whey protein powder and ¼ tsp baking powder. Pour the batter into a pan and brown underneath, flip, then top with blueberries.
Scrambled tofu with tomato Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a heated pan, and saute garlic and onions for about a minute until the onions start to get wet looking. Toss in some cubed tomato and mix everything together for about another minute so the tomato can get soft. Crumble some extra firm tofu into the pan and mix. Continue to cook until the tofu begins to look reddish from the tomato. Season with black pepper and serve.
Berry smoothie Whiz together 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder, 50g blueberries and a cup of water in a blender until frothy.
Lunch | Pick one of the following each day:
Greek salad Unlimited cubed cucumber, tomato, red onion, black olives and green peppers. Add 50g feta and mix, before serving on a plate. Splash with olive oil and black pepper to taste.
Brocolli with soy and Brazil nuts Break the broccoli into florets and steam for 4-5 minutes. Toss with raw baby spinach leaves once cooked. Crush garlic and whisk with sesame oil and soy sauce. Drizzle over warm broccoli and add 5 crushed Brazil nuts.
Raw vegetable crudites with chickpea-free hummus Put 1 medium courgette (peeled and chopped), ½ cup tahini, two cloves garlic, 1 tbsp lemon juice and ¼ tbsp cumin powder in a blender and whiz until smooth. Serve with capsicum, celery and carrot sticks.
Bread-free goats cheese open sandwich Toast a slice of bread-free bread (mix 150g ground almonds, 1 tsp baking powder, 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 eggs; microwave on high, uncovered, for 2-3 minutes or until firm to touch). Top with 50g slice of goat’s cheese and melt under a grill. Serve with spinach and baby tomatoes.
Chicken and avocado salad Shred a cooked chicken breast (or 50g cheese if you’re vegetarian) on top of ½ bag of mixed leaves. Serve with half a sliced avocado, a generous sprinkling of celery, chopped black olives and balsamic vinaigrette.
Salad nicoise with tofu mayo Cook 100g tuna steak for 3 minutes on each side in a hot pan. Or, if you’re vegetarian, cook 50g of halloumi. Serve on top of ½ small bag of mixed salad leaves, 6 quartered cherry tomatoes and a 3cm chunk of cucumber (sliced). Tofu mayo: in a blender, put 250g tofu, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, juice of ½ lemon and ½ tsp cayenne pepper; whiz until smooth. Serve 1 large tbsp.
Carrot and Cabbage soya salad Grate one large carrot and ½ large Japanese radish into a bowl. Add shredded cabbage and toss thoroughly. For the dressing, whisk 1 tbsp mustard, ½ clove garlic, 2 tbsp red wine vinegar and 3 tbsp soya milk together. Pour over the salad and serve.
Dinner | Pick one of the following each day:
Moroccan lamb with fennel Trim the fat from 200g lamb fillet (or use a Quorn fillet if you’re vegetarian) and marinate in dressing (¼ tsp cumin, ¼ tsp thyme, small bunch mint, juice of ½ lemon, ½ tsp agave nectar and 1 tbsp olive oil – save a little for later). Cut 2 fennel bulbs into chunks and boil for 2 minutes. Drain, coat with remaining dressing and roast at 160°C for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, coat lamb with cooking spray and fry for 10 minutes. Serve with wilted spinach.
Green chicken curry Blend cauliflower to rice texture then cook in bamboo steamer. Fry ½ chopped onion. Add clove of garlic (crushed), 1 tsp grated ginger, ¼ tsp ground turmeric, 1 tsp curry powder and ½ tbsp fish sauce. Add chicken breast cubes (or Quorn), brown, add 200g coconut milk and broccoli. Simmer for 15 minutes.
Fillet steak with cauliflower mash Cut a cauliflower into florets and cook in boiling water until tender, then mash. Add pepper and 1 tbsp natural yogurt. Set aside. Heat a griddle pan, spray 100g fillet steak on both sides (vegetarian option: large portobello mushroom) and cook for 3 minutes each side (or to suit). Onions optional.
Chilli and lime squid with zucchini ‘noodles’ Use a vegetable peeler to make long ribbons from two medium zucchinis. Wilt in a pan of boiling water, drain and set aside. Fry 100g squid rings (or tofu) in a non-stick pan until tender and opaque. Squeeze the juice of 1 lime on top and stir in zucchini noodles with ¼ deseeded and chopped red chilli. Serve with parsley.
Prawn and vegetable spring rolls Mix ½ clove garlic (crushed), ½ red chilli (chopped), 2 tsp agave nectar, juice ½ lime, small carrot (grated), ½ cup beansprouts, 100g prawns (or tofu) and 1 bunch each mint and coriander. Take a sushi wrapper, add 2 tsp prawn mixture and roll. Seal with hot water. Repeat. Serve with dipping sauce.
Tandoori chicken kebabs with sides Cut a skinless chicken breast (or tofu) into chunks, smear with a low-fat marinade and chill for 1 hour. Serve with cauliflower ground to couscous texture with 1 bunch each parsley and coriander, juice of 1 lemon, pepper and 1 tsp cayenne pepper. Grill the chicken on skewers and serve with a dollop of raita.
One of our favourites bits of the week is sitting down to do PurpleHaze, because the only thing that is more fun than going on holidays is listening to holiday music! We like to theme it a little bit too. Today we’re thinking of songs about travelling – whether it’s a place name, or a general feeling of travelling. We’d love to hear your travellin’ tune too – let us know in the comments below.