Excited about Game of Thrones Season 4? Ahead of its premiere on Sky Atlantic on April 6th, we’ve got some pictures of the best filming locations for the new series. For anyone living under a rock, the TV show based on the hugely popular G.R.R. Martin books centres around the fight for power amongst seven feuding families who plan to win the right to the Iron Throne. Featuring the Starks of Winterfell, Lannisters of Casterly Rock, the Greyjoys of the Iron Islands nad House Targaryen it is a fantasy epic with locations that match its incredibly dramatic story lines. Game of Thrones is filmed mostly in Iceland, Ireland, Morocco, Croatia and Malta where rugged landscapes stand in for Winterfell and sun soaked streets play host to the Queen of the Dragons. Here are some of our favourite Game of Thrones locations.
The bulk of Game of Thrones filming season 1, 2 and 3 took place in Northern Ireland, where Castle Ward in Downpatrick became Winterfell and introduced viewers to the Starks, Lannisters and King Baratheon. McComb’s Coach Travel provides Game of Thrones day trips from Belfast where you can also visit the Kings Road and the Cave of Cushendun where the shadow baby was born to Melisandre. Ballintoy Harbour played host to Theon Greyjoy’s homecoming to the Iron Islands and near Bushmills is the avenue of trees known as The Dark Hedges, where Arya Stark escaped King’s Landing. There’s even a GoT exhibit in Belfast where you can take a seat on the Iron Throne.
There’s no getting away from it – summer holidays are expensive especially with kids in tow. Even if you get a great deal on your package holiday there is still spending money to think of and the cost of living in another country for a couple of weeks. But there are ways to save money before you go and whilst you are away. All it takes is a little ingenious planning.
1. Get Frugal With Your Flights
If you are travelling abroad, flights can take a huge chunk out of your holiday budget. The good news is that even during the summer holidays and other peak times, it is still possible to get a better deal on your flights. If you have the luxury of travelling during off peak times, you’ll make even bigger savings.
Choosing unpopular times and days for example can net you some good deals. Usually Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday can be the cheaper days to travel. Take a look at your smaller local airport too to see if they fly to your chosen destination. Many smaller airports are adding to their flight destinations and could be a cheaper option especially if you don’t need to pay for parking.
Forget about a years of saving, get these top tips for cheap luxury holidays from Purple Travel.
1. Book your tickets as soon as possible. That way, you can benefit from online offers and early bird discounts.
2. If you can’t book that early, go for last minute when companies are trying to get rid of the last few seats on a flight, or last few rooms in a hotel.
3. Be flexible in terms of date and time of your departure. It’s cheap to fly on a Tuesday, than at the weekend.
4.Off season bookings are also a cost effective solution. You can head to all Mediterranean destinations in September where the weather and sea are still as warm as in the middle of July. Plus, you’ll get cheap accommodation and most probably have the beaches for yourselves…not bad at all!
5. Consider reducing the length of your trip. Instead of dreaming a 10-day stay in a luxury hotel, why not opt for a five day stay, which might be a more realistic plan for your pocket.
6. Book your flight with a low cost airline, to save more money for a better standard hotel. After all, when you’re swimming in the pool of your 5-star hotel, the flight will be a faded memory.
7. Do not reject all-inclusive options that will save you big money from daily expenses such as food and drink.
8. The closer, the cheaper. Choose nearby destinations that require low cost travelling.
9. Read the reviews and comments of other travellers about the accommodation and airline you’re about to book and avoid unpleasant surprises.
10. DO visit our cheap holidays website Purple Travel for the best deal to wherever you wish. Your dream holiday is just a click away.
Arguably the biggest holiday of the US calendar, July 4th is a celebration of the Founding Fathers, the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Here’s why you should get in the swing and celebrate Independence Day!
Because… New York City’s Fourth of July celebration fireworks show uses 22 tonnes alone. That’s pretty cool to us
Islands in Croatia. Why? Hvar, Brac or Rab (nudist beach paradise) are just a couple of the island gems off Croatia’s magnificent coastline. The pine tree studded islands are just a short ferry hop from Dubrovnik or Split and offer jaw-dropping beaches, cute little restaurants, a wealth of accommodation options and some brilliant beach bars. No need for a super yacht here, you can simply sit back, relax and enjoy great value holidays in July in stunningly beautiful Croatia on the Dalmatian Coast. Stay at the 3* Bluesun Hotel Borak, Brac Island.
Riviera Maya, Mexico. Why? Heading towards the end of the season, holidays in the Caribbean are at really good prices, so you should be able to bag a bargain. Riviera Maya has those tropical white sandy beaches, sparkling jewel coloured waters, coral reefs, underwater caves, Mayan temples and the most delicious enchiladas. That’s why we love Riviera Maya and why you should too. Stay at the 5* Dreams Tulum Resort and Spa.
Crete, Greece. Why? The biggest of all the Greek Islands is the obvious choice for families, and there’s a reason for that, or should we say many. Elafonisi and Marathi beaches are well protected from the wind, are shallow and have great facilities, so you and the kids can spend all day on the sand. There are lots of historic sites to discover, while water parks and a reptile centre will impress even the most fussy child. Stay at the 4* Star Beach Village Hotel and Waterpark. The weather in Greece makes it an unforgettable addition to our list of July holiday ideas.
California, USA. Why? It’ll be the 4th of July, what better time to visit the states? We reckon taking to the highways of California for a road trip is just the ticket. Rent yourself a convertible, stock up on Beach Boys records and hit the road for guaranteed sunshine along Pacific Coast Highway. Stop at Solvang, a slice of Holland in California, take some pics by Big Sur and finish in Morro Bay by a 23 year old volcano. All that will make for a classic road trip holiday. Stay at the 5* Solage Calistoga (renowned for its spa.)
Kenya. Why? July (and August) is migration season for many animals including the majestic wildebeest. A safari holiday is a natural paradise where you can get up close and personal with wild animals through the sweeping plains, have breakfast with some giraffes, watch out for lions and get a photo taken with an elephant! Stay at the 4* Southern Palms Hotel in Diani Beach.
Dubai, Emirates. Why? If you want guaranteed sunshine, and we mean seriously guaranteed, Dubai is the obvious choice. Temperatures hit an average of 40 degrees in July but if there was ever a place that catered for sun worshippers, this is it. Dubai has masses of great value luxury hotels, incredible views, spas offering the best in beauty and relaxation treatments, sky diving above the Palm Jumeirah, scuba diving inside the mall, dune buggying through the desert or formula one racing at Ferrari World. What more could you ask for? Stay at the 4* Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel and Towers.
Paphos, Cyprus. Why? The beautiful beaches and pretty harbour offer the perfect location for sunbathing, swimming and people watching. The resort in July is absolutely bustling, with lots going on from bars and restaurants, classical music festivals, hiking through the countryside, visiting Aphrodite’s Rock, horse riding on the beach or simply lounging all day. Stay at 3* Mayfair Hotel Apartments in Paphos.
Ayia Napa, Cyprus. Why? If you want a completely boozey, dancey, party all night kind of holiday, then the obvious choice is the opposite side of Cyprus, where Ayia Napa still dominates the late night, early morning scene. Stay at the 5* Adamas Beach Hotel or the 3* Anesis Hotel.
For more information on holidays in July or to book a sunshine break, give Purple Travel a call on 0207 993 9228.
Brilliant summer holidays are rolling around again and there are plenty of to-do lists… what to bring to the beach, where to go. But, we wanted a quick reminder of what NOTtoDO on your next summer holiday. If we’ve missed any glaringly obvious ones, let us know in the comments below.
1. Don’t fall asleep in the sun wearing your sunglasses to avoid ridiculous tan lines on your face. A little add on to this, don’t get sunstroke on your very first day either!
2. Don’t forget your bug spray, unless you’d like to get a polka-dress look this summer from mozzie bites.
3. Don’t miss out on some local food. Part of the fun of holidays is to let loose and try new things, so don’t forget to try some Spanish paella, Greek moussaka or American hot dogs.
4. Don’t booze ’til you drop. We’re not ruling it out altogether, but you don’t want to come home with a killer hangover.
5. Don’t forget your swimwear! You don’t want to have to splash out on some dodgy bikini from a random tourist shop on arrival.
6. Don’t carry stuff you do not need. One of the oldest pieces of travel advice: pack light!
7. Don’tpick up any dodgy tropical diseases. That stray dog might look cute, but you should probably resist giving him a rub, unless, you actually want to come home with rabies.
8. Don’t drink the tap water. Depending on where you are heading on holidays, tap water can lead to dodgy tummies and in some cases, pretty serious illnesses. Keep a couple of bottles in your bag, it’s usually a pretty cheap option too.
But wait! Before you jet off, have you thought about how much you know about this tropical country? Here are some top tips on what to avoid in Thailand to stay safe and happy on your holiday of a lifetime.
No matter what the situation you won’t get anywhere or make yourself very popular if you yell. So, just stay cool and smile, it’s the only way forward.
Touching a Thai on the head
Never touch or pass anything over anyone’s head. The head is considered sacred in Thailand and must be respected.
Pointing with your foot
Feet are regarded as unclean and symbolically the lowest part of the body.
Nudity and public displays of affection
Thais find this very offensive so please keep your swimmers on and keep your slushier moments for your hotel room.
Being anything other than complimentary about the King and members of the Royal Family
The King is highly revered in Thailand so if you can’t think of anything good to say just don’t mention the monarchy, it could land you in jail.
Cover up in temples
Make sure you wear appropriate dress in temples.
For ladies, long sleeves and below the knee skirts
For men, shirts and long pants
Jet ski and bike hire
If you hire a jet ski or a bike, or a car, make sure you have a good look at it first, take pictures and document any scratches or damage already caused before you take it unless you want to pay for it on its return to its owner!
Dehydration and sun burn
This is very easy to achieve if you are on a boat that feels cool, but really you are in 100 degree heat. Drink plenty of water day every day, bottled only, and grab a packet of electrolyte powder from the chemist and definitely use your sun screen!
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 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 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.
Anyone who has flown before usually has some tricks for staying comfortable and distracted, so we decided to put them all together in one handy place, so you can print them out and have the best flight ever! As always, if you have any more, we’d love to hear them.
So, here goes, as always, we’d love to hear if you have anymore, just add your comment below.
Drink plenty of water; it’s the only way to keep hydrated in the pressurised atmosphere of a plane. Steer clear of coffee or tea and stick to water to stay feeling tip-top!
Reading material: always bring a couple of magazines or books with you and try to bring more than you think you’ll need. Inevitably there’s a little extra waiting around and there’s nothing worse than staring at the other passengers for excitement (unless that’s what you’re into!)
Bring something to entertain yourself. A great choice is a tablet computer, like an ipad, on which you can watch movies, listen to music, or play games (all with the aid of headphones, so you don’t upset your neighbours!)
Take a little stroll around the cabin; this is quite important especially on longer flights. There are some exercises you can do from your seat, but it’s hard to beat a walk around the cabin and a couple of stretches to make you feel a little better.
Bring a toothbrush! It’s always nice to give yourself a quick refresh and cleanup before landing; it’ll help you feel better and is quite nice for anyone you’re meeting at the other side too.
Don’t check the time! You can’t do anything to get to your destination faster and it will only make you feel a bit frustrated.
PS. We think it’s probably best to steer clear of outfits like the one pictured and don’t do like Joey in Friends when he wore every single item of Chandler’s clothes at once (remember that?)