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The top 5 weird ways to travel on holidays
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Purple 10: Ten Days in Havana Cuba
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Purple Hearts: Cuba Travel Guide
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A first-timers guide to Hammam
5
Cream of the Crops
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Purple Hearts: Benidorm holidays
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Happy words from happy customers
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Purple Hearts Mexican Food
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Around the world in five aftershaves
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Off the beaten track: Getting high (tea) in Amsterdam cafes

The top 5 weird ways to travel on holidays

If you want to stock up on cool points then of course a convertible or helicopter would be a top choice for travelling, but if you want real fun, then we think ‘the weirder the better.’ So, we’ve put together a little list of some of the more unusual choices of holiday transport. Stranger than a camel, faster than your two legs, here are our top 5 weird ways to see your destination.

Segway

Ok, so no one is ever going to look super cool on a segway, but don’t let that put you off. No, really, don’t!! These electric powered bike/unicycle hybrids have been bringing the energy deficient around since launching a couple of years ago. You’ll find them in lots of sun destinations and are really popular with kids who love whizzing around in circles. Plus they’re really simple to use, so you can breathe a sigh of relief that they want a go.

However, we’ve got a warning for you… if Justin Timberlake can’t even make it look good, you might just have to accept you won’t win any cool awards!

Gondola

When in Rome… or in this case Venice, a gondola trip might seem pricey or touristy but it’s well worth it. The good news is gondola fares are set by local officials, which means you can usually find a better price if there are a couple of you together. But, in our opinion, a trip with just you, your other half and your driver around the canals under the moonlight is a truly magical experience. Ps. Singing is not obligatory for gondoliers, but you might just get lucky!

Zorbing

It might not strictly fall under the category of travel, but zorbing is about as much fun as you can have in an enclosed plastic sphere. It’s sort of built like a bubble of plastic inside another, you get strapped in and hold on for dear life. So, hop in and you’ll be rolled down hill for a seriously adventurous and sometimes a bit of a bumpy ride. A quick warning, zorbing is not really for the faint-hearted, so remember this before you commit to it.

Beer Bike

Yes, you did read that right. The beer bike is basically a little caravan with seats that carries 30 litres of beer and up to 18 people. You’ll find it in Amsterdam and better get ready to put your pedal power to action, as you help driver Bob to cycle it around the city.

Kayak

Did you know New York City offers kayak tours? No, us either, but now that we’ve thought about it, we’re dying to go. Head down to Pier 40 on Houston Street and you’ll get hooked up with your very own kayak to take down the Hudson. Take in the sights like the Lady Liberty, and views of the Manhattan skyline as far as the Brooklyn Bridge.

Purple 10: Ten Days in Havana Cuba

When you think about Cuba what comes to mind? It’s probably the rhythmic lilts of Caribbean music that flows throughout the island, or the sugar-white sandy beaches that are a perfect escape from the rate race. Maybe it’s the 1950s cars that are so popular on Pinterest these days or the long, lazy days taking in the colonial architecture. Well, you’ll be pleased to hear there is all that and lots and lots more. Read our top 10 things to do in Havana Cuba.

  1. Music and movement: Whether it’s salsa or jazz, rumba or reggaeton, you won’t go too far in the bustling capital of Cuba without hearing some amazing street music. Music is a religion in this city and a holiday here will quickly turn you into a convert. Grab a drink and relax to the stunning sounds of the tres guitar or head for some of the noisy jazz clubs to experience a night out like a local.
  2. Havana Street food: It’s well worth grabbing some pesos to get your hands on some delicious street food. Tuck into some deliciously fresh egg tortillas, or paper cones filled with fried banana chips or pork skin. Ok, it’s not good for your cholesterol but is so tasty, one or two can’t hurt, right?
  3. Old Havana: A hectic and crazy experience for some, Old Havana is where to go for a true Cuban experience. A tour in an old time Cadillac is a great way to round off a day. Usually available for an hour or too, it can be pricey by Cuban standards.
  4. Che shaped history: It’s well worth taking a step back in time and visiting the Mausoleo Che Guevara. The Santa Clara memorial houses a dedicated museum to the legendary revolutionary’s life and work and an eternal flame that was lit by Fidel Castro in Guevara’s memory.
  5. Writing tour: Havana’s been a Mecca for writers since… well, since they realised what a cool place it is. Check out Ambos Mundos, Ernest Hemingway’s old stomping ground. He lived at the hotel for seven years in the 30s, and wrote part of For Whom the Bell Tolls in one of the rooms which is preserved in pristine condition.
  6. The Tropicana: Really, you can’t head for Cuba without sticking your head in the gloriously tacky, world renowned, cabaret club. Set in six acres, the Tropicana’s history of mob involvement and showgirls (or flesh goddesses as they are known) is a jingle of colours, a riot of music and one helluva night out.
  7. Perfect beaches: While Varadero is the top beach jaunt, with lots of all inclusive options, don’t knock the beaches close to Havana until you’ve tried them. Playa Jibacoa is a little village about an hour from Havana. Renting a car is probably the best way to get to this idyllic, sundrenched paradise beach. Otherwise the gorgeous Santa Maria beach is a typical picture perfect tropical wonderland.
  8. Dance the night away: Cuba is certainly famous for its dancing. Think of those strong rhythms working your feet into a frenzy. There’s pretty much no bar or venue where dancing is frowned on, so bring your comfy flats and a bit of rhythm and get into the swing of it with the locals.
  9. Nights on the Malecón: You’re on holidays but you want to hang with the locals? Head for the Malecón, the seafront promenade that’s perfect for people watching. Just watch out for the ladies of the night, or their friends who like to befriend foreigners.
  10. Mojitos on the Malecón: Ok, you’ve found the famous locals hangout point, how about a mojito nearby. A trip to Cuba wouldn’t be right without sampling at least on. In fact, you’ll probably never settle for one at home after an expertly made version, with precisely the right amount of ice and rum. A trip to the historic Havana Club Rum Museum is top of our list, it is great post or pre your cocktails.

Purple Hearts: Cuba Travel Guide

Upon arriving at Cuba, Christopher Columbus remarked that it was “the most beautiful country human eyes have ever seen.” Yet for tourists, the country is a land of continuous confusion; its economy is struggling at best, yet its cultural history is rich and diverse; its landscape is filled with relic and dust, but its architecture is indisputably magnificent; it is considered dangerous and even saddening, yet at the same time, utterly compelling, like the moment when you pass by a car crash and cannot help but slow down to take a closer look. You may even say that these mysteries and parallels are what make Cuba an attractive destination choice. They map out its troubled history like wrinkles on an aged face – a product of years of genocide, slavery, invasion, counter-invasion and revolution – adding both a character and a melancholic beauty.

The words ‘Cuba’ and ‘politics’ have gone hand in hand for more than half a century now, headed by Fidel Castro and his communist regime. However, unlike the grey, barren dystopia of archetypal communist countries, Cuba is an exuberant, romantic milieu, where art, music, literature and creativity are the dish of the day. The Cubans themselves are a nation of artists; from doers to dreamers, sceptics to sages, poets to philosophers. To put things into perspective, here is a review from one of our customers:

“We visited (Cuba) some 18 years ago, and the most attractive and memorable aspect was the pride our guides had in their country and the things they were showing us. A simple doctor’s surgery was described as cutting edge, a somewhat decrepit university as the equivalent of Oxford, and so on. That aspect was enchanting, as they obviously had so little yet treasured what they had.”

The Cubans have shaped their country into the captivating, impenetrable, paradoxical nation it is. However with tourism on the rise, and therefore a huge injection of capitalism pumping through Cuba’s socialist veins, now is the time to travel to this unique country, before its beauty fades into an increasingly globalized world. And if you need some inspiration? We’ve created this Cuba travel guide to ensure your holiday is the best it can be:

Food
Cuba is inhabited mainly by people of African and Spanish origin, which is reflected in the cuisine. Food in Cuba is therefore unlike the rest of the Caribbean, relying heavily on onions and garlic for its flavourings, rather than spices. To find delicious food, head to the casas, rather than the restaurants, which can be somewhat hit and miss and where service is generally quite poor. The real adventure however, is eating at peso places (the national money), which serve the cheapest and most interesting food around. A meal for three people with beers will only cost around $4. Just look for a line of Cubans and jump in it – there’s sure to be something delicious at the end.

Places to go
Havana
Cuba’s sultry capital is one of the finest examples of a Spanish Colonial city in the Americas. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982, Havana was once one of world’s most beautiful areas, but as the city deteriorates and tourism influxes, the city is in a state of change; now, behind the crumbling colonial façades, are hidden boutique hotels, cocktail bars and fine dining eateries.  Head for Old Havana to explore the original churches and reconstructed mansions, or to Malecon road for a lively meeting place. or try one of these fantastic new restaurants for a slice of modern Havanan culture:

Atelier: ForCaribbean and European dishes; Good
for groups and well-priced.
Café Laurent: Spanish cuisine with other European influences; the speciality is seafood.
Doña Eutimia: Traditional Cuban food; one of the specialities is the classic ropa vieja (pulled beef in a tomato sauce). About £15 for two.
San Cristóbal: Cuban and international cuisine; pork in mustard sauce is a speciality.

Guardelavaca
Thepeaceful region of Guardalavaca is home to some of Cuba’s most idyllic, powdery beaches. Crystal clear waters, filled with an abundance of marine life, make it a popular destination for snorkelers and divers, while swimming with dolphins is a not-to-be-missed opportunity. Traditionally famous for its sugar production, if you venture away from the beach, you can drive through roads lined with fields of sugar cane plantations. Although its main industry is now tourism, Guardelavaca has retained an authentic Cuban feel and you never feel too overcrowded.

Varadero
Varadero is Cuba’s largest beach resort, set on a 12-mile long peninsula of stunning white sandy beaches and clear Caribbean water. Despite being a beach resort, the area is still not as commercialised as many other Caribbean locations. After it was first visited in 1870, Varadero rapidly grew into an exclusive resort for the Havana elite, visited by many celebrities, including Al Capone.
This tourism boom, which has never wavered since, has meant that Varadero is a long way from being the ‘real Cuba’, but for a great beach holiday, this is surely one of the best in the entire Caribbean.

Cayo Coyo
Cayo Coco Cuba is occupied by one of the world’s largest coral reefs – second only to the Great Barrier. Like Varadero, Cayo Coyo is a magnificent beach resort, boasting fifteen miles of virgin beaches and azure seas, perfect for indulging in a spot of Cuban deep sea fishing. If you prefer to stay on dry land, the dramatic mountainous backdrop offers some fantastic hiking or horse riding opportunities, rewarded by spectacular views. If you travel by car through the linking causeway, you can make a stop off at Parador la Silla, about half way across, which is home to hundreds of bright pink flamingos. Hotel-wise, we recommend Playa Coco, a modern, spacious hotel set right on the beach or Tryp Cayo Coco, designed like a traditional Caribbean village. For something even more luxurious, Melia Cayo Coco hotel has everything you could ever want – perfect for honeymoons or romantic couples break.

Trinidad
Founded in 1514, Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is home to an extensive colonial history. Expect to see locals riding on horseback down cobbled streets, past rows of houses painted in pastel pinks, yellows and blues. The renovated elegant mansions of the past are now enchanting museums, whilst original church windows are like works of art.

Santa Clara
Santa Clara is the home of the monument, museum and mausoleum of revolutionary, Ché Guevara, whose body was only returned from Bolivia in 1997, some 30 years after his capture and execution.

Things to do

Jardin Botanico Nacianol, Havana
A well-kept collection of tropical plants that includes poinsettias the size of Christmas trees, hibiscus, bromeliads, coleus and bougainvillea. Open daily.

Museo De La Revolucion, Havana

Refugio 1, between Avenida de las Misiones and Zulueta, Habana Vieja, Havana. To learn a bit about the country’s history, visit the housed in a huge, ornate, dome-topped building which was once the presidential palace. The spirit of the greatest revolutionary of them all, Che Guevara, lives on in posters, statues and murals such as the one on Plaza de la Revolucion.

Partaga Cigar Factory, Havana
Industria 520, Habana Vieja, Havana. A national treasure that hides behind the Capitolio in Havana’s main square, Partagas – formerly the second largest cigar factory in Cuba – is worth a visit.

Muse Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana
Opened in its current location in 1954, the National Museum of Fine Arts 50,000 strong collection of artworks has been divided into two separate buildings: the Cuban art collection (Arte Cubano), and the international collection (Arte Universal). The international collection is a passable survey of world art but the main draw is the building itself.

Call Purple Travel on 0207 993 9228 to find out more about holidays in Cuba.

A first-timers guide to Hammam

English: This is how most Hammams look like

Hammam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Or how to avoid embarrassment when naked in a foreign country…

This week we’ve discovered the multiple souks, the ancient ruins and even the camel-wrestling tournaments that Turkey has built its reputation upon (please see Purple Hearts… Bodrum for more on that). However, any mention of Turkey would be incomplete without some acknowledgment that it is also the European capital of overly-aggressive exfoliation. You cannot visit Turkey without adding a Hammam to your itinerary. And by that I mean a Turkish bath, not a theatrical Irish mother. In fact, you may say that life itself is never truly fulfilled until you’ve had a good ol’ scrub-down from a hairy, half-naked Turk!

The problem then lies in knowing what exactly to expect. A quick Google search churns up dozens of stories of awkward moments, frightened old ladies and slapped cheeks (n.b. the Turks’, not the customers’). Take this American woman in a bath in Istanbul, for example: “Of all the women in the room — at least 40 — I was the sole person wearing a bra. I originally thought keeping on my bra would help me blend in and be more comfortable, but it was immediately apparent that it did nothing but make me awkwardly stand out. I shamefully slithered back to the locker room and succumbed to Turkish tradition as I shed my black brassiere and my modesty, and I reentered the room full of bare breasts.”Another women’s account from a PR review followed suit: “With three of us to be scrubbed down and only one lady to wash us, everything had to be done in turn. This meant the other two women either played a limited game of ‘I spy’ with the tiled interior of the Hammam or watched the third member of our group being covered in black soap, washed down and then scrubbed vigorously with an abrasive pad while lying down completely naked on the floor.”

Forget Hammer Horror – this is Hammam Horror. The tales of embarrassment are vast and often off-putting and its common to leave feeling like a castrated house pet. However with this Purple Travel guide to Hammam, you’ll know what to expect and can avoid all those red-faced moments:

The turkish bath (hamam) constructed by archit...

1)      Yo mamma’s so old, when she was young, the Dead Sea was only sick.
First of all; knowing which Hammam to go to is half the battle. In Turkish, cockroach literally translates to ‘hamam insect’, so you’ll want to avoid the grimy ones. The most famous is Çemberlitaş Hamamı in Istanbul, built in 1584, but as one of the older establishments, it’s relatively pricey. We recommend Mihrimah Bath in Edirnekapi, Oruculer bath next to the grand bazaar or Kadirga bath, not far from the little Hagia Sophia.

2)      Yo Hammam’s so stupid, she cooked her own complimentary breakfast.
Knowing some Hammam etiquette is vital – take swimwear with you to be prepared. More often than not, the bath will state a ‘dress code’, but it’s best to stand on the side of caution. And although most people do go naked, uncrossing your legs like Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct is not advised. On the contrary, avoid lap-eye contact with the other bathers.

Hammam Caretaker

Have you seen this Hammam? Caretaker (Photo credit: upyernoz)

3)      Yo Hammam’s so hairy, Bigfoot is taking her picture.
Before you go, make sure you’ve had a pre-preen. And by this I mean a ‘tidy-up’, unless you’re sure you won’t be offended when you are stared at and offered a wax. Men may not mind this, but women – the Turks are not afraid to tell you if you’re a little unkempt, so wack out the Veet or things may get a little awkward.

4)      Yo Hammam’s so greasy she used bacon as a band-aid.
Swallow your pride, it’s time for the massage. Ladies – don’t go in there expecting some sort of relaxing spa treatment with twinkling candles and white-coated beauty technicians; the Turks will kick your ass. And guys – if this whole endeavor seems homoerotic, think happy thoughts; it is as masculine and normal as a post P.E. communal shower.

5)      Yo Hammam’s so dirty she has to creep up on bathwater.
After the fifteen minute massage, let the cleaning commence. Most of this part will be later blanked out and stored in that part of your subconscious that’s usually reserved for gynecology visits and waiting to pay in Ann Summers. You’ll be maneuvered this way and that, spun around until you can’t stand straight, soaped up like the dirty cocker spaniel and then rinsed down with bowls of hot water. When you come back around, it’s off to the shampoo station for a final, neck-cracking rinse. It’s at this point that you may be solicited for a tip, but this is not necessary and if it comes down to it, just shrug your shoulders and pat your pocket-free hips with a look that says ‘sorry, I would, but I had nowhere to put my change.’

To wrap things up, let’s be blunt about it. It’s clear that youwon’t feel like an adult here, and you definitely won’t feel a man. In fact, it’s difficult to even feel like a human being after being stripped, emasculated and cleaned down like a wet dog. However, no two experiences are alike, and women will be pleased to find that the female bath attendants are far more chivalrous than the men. And all things considered, this is just one of those things you have to do if on holiday in Turkey. You don’t want to return home and tell all your family and friends of how you chickened out on the most defining facet of traditional Turkish culture. So suck it up and get soapy with the best of them.

Cream of the Crops

The latest self sun creams tried and tested

Pairing together the words ‘sun’ and ‘cream’ can arouse a minefield of beauty faux pas, from patchy, streaky tan lines to oily, sandy gloop-covered skin to that lingering potent scent that’s reminiscent only of nappy creams and Sudocrem.

And up until a few years ago, choosing a good sunscreen just meant looking for the correct SPF (sun protection factor), which rates how well the sunscreen protects against UVB’s – one type of cancer-causing UV ray.  However, newer research shows that ultraviolet A rays can also increase skin cancer risks, despite not causing sunburn. They penetrate deeply into the skin, causing wrinkles and damaging skin below its surface.  The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that up to 90 per cent of skin changes associated with aging are caused by a lifetime’s exposure to UVA rays. Read More

Purple Hearts: Benidorm holidays

Benidorm holidays are a firm favourite with British holiday makers and have been for years. It’s easy to see why, with fantastic beaches, plenty of nightlife and activities for anyone from two to 92, it’s one of our absolute favourites.

Benidorm holidays from purple travel

Smack, bang, right on the Med, holidays in Benidorm holidays have grown a lot since humble beginnings in the 60s. Its miles of coastline are packed full of beaches, cafes, a promenade and restaurants and it’s one of the top tourist destinations on the whole of the Costa Blanca. Although it’s developed a bit of a reputation, in the last few years the focus has shifted to a more family friendly approach. There are still plenty of clubs and bars, but you’ll also find lots of cultural walks, theme parks, water sports and great food and nightlife. Whether it’s a day at theme parks like Terra Miticia, a night on the tiles or long, lazy days of relaxing on the beach, Benidorm holidays have it all.

Originally built between two beaches, Benidorm was once a little fishing village, standing in the shade of a church called San Jaime. Now everything you’ll find is geared towards giving you a great holiday. Its growing skyline means it’s often referred to as the “Manhattan of Spain”, or, our personal favourite “Beniyork.” (The Gran Hotel Bali found downtown, stands at a whopping 186 metres high and is the tallest hotel in Europe.) It’s made up of tree lined avenues and is one of the best served cities from the UK, with over 30 low cost and scheduled airlines flying there direct every day. Because there are so many seats, there are plenty of competitive prices to suit every budget.

Places to go: Benidorm’s beaches are one of the top draws, with long, fine soft sandy stretches and crystal clear waters. Of course, it is home to outstanding weather year round. A perfect urban beach to kick off your holiday is Levante Beach. It is right in the town, so it’s packed full of facilities and is so handy if you fancy going straight out in the evening. In the south Poniente beach is another great choice, while the relaxing Mal Pas cove is a quieter option.

Benidorm's skyline represents the paradigm of ...

Benidorm’s skyline represents the paradigm of mass seasonal tourism in Spain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take the boat trip to the Island of Benidorm, where you’ll find spectacular diving opportunities. The seabed is packed full of colourful fish. The island is also home to the Benidorm Wildlife Sanctuary. After a dip, you can take the time to hear about the legend of the island’s origins. It’s told that the brave warrior Roland cut off a piece of the nearby Puig Campana Rock with his sword, during a raid by Charlemagne and from there the island grew.

There are plenty of natural attractions to see on the mainland too, like cliffs, mountains and paths towards the sea. The nature reserve of Serra Gelada is picture perfect and ideal for hiking. The small town of Calpe up the road is lovely for a day’s stroll and maybe a lunch out, for a change from the beach. While the beautiful old town of Altea with its historic domed churches is just a few miles away by bus.

Things to do: As holidays in Benidorm are fully geared up for escape there are tonnes of activities for all ages. For the kids, the 4kwatro, Aqualandia and Terra Mitica will keep them busy for hours on end, with rollercoasters, water slides, picnic areas, playgrounds and live shows. There are regular buses from the town and it makes a nice change from the beach too.

For a proper holiday bit of fun, the Benidorm Palace is a 2,000 seater theatre, with live shows everyday which range from movie glamour to disco glam to flamenco fusion. It’s the best place to go for a laugh, before moving on for an evening out. Its latest addition is the Benidorm circus, with clowns and acrobats that will impress all the family.

English: Benidorm by night from Gran Hotel Bal...

English: Benidorm by night from Gran Hotel Bali (floor 33) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course, in Benidorm, it’s hard not to get caught up in the party spirit. With a heap of bars and clubs, you could almost go to a different spot every night of your holiday. Club Manssion opens its doors to 5000 clubbers from all over Europe every Saturday night. It hosts the best in Hardcore if that’s what you’re into. If you’re looking to party, you could always start there! KU Benidorm is a little more laidback, but you’ll have an equally awesome night out there. The whole city centre comes alive at night and the cabaret acts start around 9. You can almost guarantee a night out in Benidorm won’t end until the early hours.

There are plenty of alternatives to nightclubbing too. Try the Benidorm International Song Fest every summer which draws plenty of celebrities like Julio Iglesias (Enrique’s dad!) There’s also the Benidorm Low Cost Festival, which makes our pockets very happy. 2012’s line up includes Kasabian, Suede and Placebo.

Español: Tapas en un establecimiento de Barcel...

Español: Tapas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Food: You won’t go hungry in Benidorm, there are over 1,000 places to eat! Our top choices are always delicious Spanish cuisine and tapas dishes are a top tip. Tapas are little dishes of finger food that can be almost anything. You’ll usually see olives, little meatballs, omelettes or patatas bravas, potatoes with spicy tomato sauce.

Of course, being a holidaymakers hot spot, Benidorm is home to restaurants from every corner of the world, from French and Dutch to Chinese and of course if you’re missing a fry or a cuppa, there are plenty of English breakfasts to be had throughout the resort.

Drink: Happy hour doesn’t get any better than in Benidorm. With tonnes of bars, we counted around 800, you’ll surely find some tip top tipples. There are themed bars, late bars, clubs, and promotions like two for one, cocktails and other deals to get you in the door. Because of the competition, there tends to be plenty of good offers to find and take advantage of. Choose from small, local Spanish bars that sell bottles at €1 each, or head for the reliable British pubs. There are also Dutch and Irish bars and most show football on large screens. Plenty offer karaoke and nightly entertainment too.

Happy words from happy customers

As a travel company, we pride ourselves on finding the best possible deals, at the best price. We want you to have an unforgettable holiday in the sun, (or the snow!) enjoy the beaches and maybe indulge in a few cheeky cocktails. The best bit is when we get nice words from some of our wonderful, happy customers. Here is just a sample, and you can read some more in our testimonials section here.

"Thumbs up" picture, mostly uploaded...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Purple Hearts Mexican Food

A few of my male friends even started their own ‘Burrito Wednesday’, touring the London Mexican haunts each week, with testosterone in abundance and Coronas in hand. Whilst I didn’t even know what an avocado was in my childhood, I now consider myself somewhat of a guacamole connoisseur and chips and dip is a regular ‘can’t be bothered to cook’ staple. Yet aside from the obvious burritos, enchiladas and huevos ranchos, how much do we really know about Mexican food?

‘New Mexican’ can be both gastronomically glorious and a culinary confusion. Is chile with an ‘e’ still chilli? Do you know your pintos from you black beans? Does the word chimichanga connote some kind of hallucinogenic to you? Get your head around the lingo, with our gringo’s guide… to the best Mexican Food.

Chili Peppers

Chili Peppers (Photo credit: camknows)

Achiote-Annatto: a spice used in the Yucatan region
Albondigas: meatballs.
Atole: a thick, hot gruel made from corn.
Biscochitos: an anise-flavoured cookie.
Burrito: a white flour tortilla, filled with meats, beans, cheese, or a combination of these, and rolled, served smothered with chile sauce and melted cheese.
Capirotada: a raisin and walnut pudding.
Carne Adovada: cubes of pork that have been marinated and cooked in red chile, garlic and oregano.
Chalupas: (little boats) corn tortillas fried into a bowl shape and filled with shredded chicken, and/or beans, and topped with guacamole and salsa.
Chicharron: pork skin, fried crisp.
Chile con queso: chile and melted cheese mixed together into a dip.
Chiles Rellenos: roasted, peeled and stuffed (often with cheese) chiles, usually dipped in a batter and fried.
Chimichanga: a burrito that’s deep fried, and smothered with chile and cheese.
Chorizo: a spicy pork sausage, seasoned with garlic and red chile.
Cilantro: a pungent green herb used in salsas, etc; the seeds are coriander.
Curtido: pickled vegetables, typically cabbage, carrots. similar to cole slaw
Empanada: a turnover, filled usually with a sweetened meat mixture or fruit.
Enchiladas: corn tortillas filled with meat, beans or cheese, and either rolled, or stacked, and covered with chile sauce and cheese.
Fajita: strips of grilled steak or chicken that come with tortillas, sautéed peppers and onions, and other side dishes to make do-it-yourself burritos.
Flan: caramel custard dessert.
Flautas: tightly rolled, fried to a crunch, enchiladas.
Frijoles: beans.
Guacamole: mashed avocado, usually with chopped onion, tomatoes, garlic, lime and chile.
Habanero: Extremely hot pepper
Horchata: a delicious rice beverage
Horno: outdoor, beehive-shaped ovens.
Huevos Divorciados: Two eggs, one covered in green salsa, one in red, with tortillas in between
Huevos Motulenos: eggs with black beans, cheese, often ham, peas, plantains and picante
Huevos Rancheros: corn tortillas, topped with eggs, usually fried, smothered with chile and cheese.
Jalapenos: small, fat chiles, very hot, frequently used in salsa.
Mancha Manteles: a stew with turkey, chorizo, pork, pineapple, apple, chiles cinnamon, lard, tomatoes
Menudo: a soup made with tripe and chiles (known as “breakfast of champions”).
Nachos: tostados topped with beans, melted cheese, sliced jalapenos, sometimes served “Grande” with ground beef, or shredded chicken, guacamole and sour cream.
Natilla: soft custard dessert.
Pico de Gallo: salsa with chopped fresh chiles, tomatoes, onions and cilantro.
Posole: a thick stew made with hominy corn simmered for hours with red chile and pork.
Quesadilla: a turnover made of a flour tortilla, filled with cheese or other ingredients, then toasted, fried or baked.
Refritos: beans that have been mashed and fried, most often in lard.
Salsa: generally an uncooked mixture of chile, tomatoes, onions.
Sopaipilla: Puffed, fried yeast bread, eaten split and filled with honey-butter.
Tlacoyo: toasted masa cakes stuffed with various items, similar to pupusas
Taco: a corn tortilla either fried crisp, or just softened, and filled with meats, cheese, or beans, and fresh chopped lettuce, onions and tomatoes.
Tostados: corn tortilla chips, also, a open face corn tortilla covered with refried beans, salsa, cheese, and chopped lettuce and tomato.

Around the world in five aftershaves

If you’re stuck on what to give Dad for Father’s Day — and his chest of drawers simply cannot accommodate one more pair of personalised ankle socks — this might be the year to give him the gift of travel, well kind of. Send him on a journey through the Middle East, the member’s clubs of old England or even to Timbuktu (if he’s really doing your head in), all at the wallet-friendly price of around 50 quid. You’re welcome. Read More

Off the beaten track: Getting high (tea) in Amsterdam cafes

Off the beaten track: Getting high (tea) in Amsterdam cafes

Slowly, slowly the Dutch are beginning to appreciate a good ol’ cuppa. If you’re over the brownies, hate the smoke of the coffee shops and just want to enjoy a proper cup of tea, then let Purple Travel help you out.

True tea rooms are hard to find in this, ahem, coffee focused country. Too often do the Dutch serve up some questionable green concoction in place of your well-deserved PG Tips. While tea in Amsterdam is may seem like the boring option, we can safely say that the below venues are helping to polish tea’s image and finally set it free from its dull reputation.

GREENWOODS
What:
A traditional English tea room offering a selection of Grand cru loose leaf teas from De Eenhorn.
Don’t leave without: Ordering Eggs Benedict, just because you can – Greenwoods are responsible for Amsterdam’s first ever cooked English breakfast.
Best bit:
Greenwoods can provide picnic baskets for customers on request. Either take out on a hired boat for the day or impress a date in one of Amsterdam’s many parks. All freshly made on the day and with a choice to suit your tastes.
Price:
Pot for one is €4,95, pot for two is € 7.95.

TEA BAR
What:
A cute spot in Haarlemmerdijk serving up real deal teas, all arranged in transparent boxes where you can scoop the tea of preference in a little bag.
Don’t leave without: Trying at least three of their 60 flavours, which range from the standard Earl Grey to the spiced grandma’s apple-pie. This place puts England to shame.
Best Bit: The organic cookies to dip in.
Price: Reasonable – but depends on which tea you would like.

English: The Amstel Hotel in Amsterdam, the Ne...

The Amstel Hotel in Amsterdam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

AMSTEL HOTEL
What: A royal setting to enjoy a proper high tea.
Don’t leave without: Getting a slice of cake too.
Best bit: The beautiful setting, the handmade shrimp croquettes and the excellent explanation provided about each of the teas.
Price: High tea will set you back a small fortune and even just a tea is pretty pricey at €7,50, but you do get a full pot..

HILTON HALF MOON LOUNGE
What: A large, traditional English-style living room that overlooks the Hilton Marina and garden.
Don’t leave without: Giving into the burgers – they’re something else, seriously.
Best bit: Proper tea with actual leaves and large sofas – a perfect place to relax, read or catch up on emails.
Price: It’s the Hilton, need I say more?

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