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Seize the Summer Moment:
August at The Purple Passport
Greetings!

 

Welcome to the August 2012 edition of The Purple Passport Newsletter! Read on to find out how you can "Put Your Stamp On The World" this month.

From the Pen of Emily and Jenn 

The Purple PassportThe holy month of Ramadan has begun here in Abu Dhabi, which means that the city has entered a time when the usual hubbub of the day is replaced with a focus on prayer and reflection. Those observing the holiday (which this year takes place July 19-August 18) fast from sunrise to sunset, and eating and drinking in public during the daylight hours is prohibited for all residents (and guests) of Abu Dhabi. Most restaurants are closed during the day, and offices and shops hold modified daylight hours. 


At night, however, Abu Dhabi comes alive.  The evening begins with the call to prayer as projected from all of the city's mosques precisely at sunset. Fast is then broken first with traditional dates and water, and the Iftar buffets can begin! The grandest of these buffets are held in specially erected Ramadan tents in the city's large hotels (think the Emirates Palace, the Shangri-La and the Hilton, among others). Food generally consists of regional favorites such as Arabic breads, mezze (hummus and the like), mixed grill (predominantly featuring lamb), rice dishes, and vegetable sides. A collection of Ramadan sweets is also consistently on offer. Because Ramadan is a time that families and friends come together (much like Christmas in my culture in this sense), it is common to see tables filled with large groups. It is also traditional that businesses hold Iftar dinners for their employees during this period, much like the holiday season in the US.


Shopping centers and malls hold extended hours (often well past midnight-if you ever wanted to go to The Gap at 12:30am, this is your chance!), the streets are packed with drivers, and coffee shops are bustling into the wee hours. If not for the night sky, you might mistake midnight for noon! 


But Ramadan goes beyond just food restrictions and after-dark shopping sprees. It is a time for reflection, togetherness, and service; local residents serve meals to the less fortunate, donate time and money to charity, and come together in frequent and intense prayer. It is a month to reflect, reset, and renew. For me, that means reflecting on a whole new side of my adopted home as well as my own experience as an expat. Living abroad, like Ramadan, can turn your daily routine upside down, and it is in those moments outside your comfort zone that you learn the most about yourself. 

 

-- Jenn, Co-Founder

 

Paris and New York, Sans Locals

Bateaux ParisienAs we turn the calendar to August, summer (at least in North America) is drawing to a close. It doesn't seem possible that soon the cool winds of fall will arrive to usher in autumn. Before it's time to break out your collection of cardigans, though, there're still a few weeks left to exploit summer's warm-weather pleasures with some end-of-summer travel. Two of our spur-of-the-moment picks would be Paris and New York, where the exodus of locals during August makes these fashionable cities prime tourist playgrounds.

 

Parisians tend to flee their city during the month of August, which means you'll encounter a good deal of restaurant and boutique closures. But the upside is that the crowds thin out a bit, traffic is nearly nonexistent, and the weather can be quite lovely (averaging a high of 75F, so not too hot-just pack an umbrella for the occasional thunderstorm). Cruise the city on a bike from Vélib', sunbathe on the Paris Plages (Seine-side beaches open through August 19), picnic in the Jardin du Luxembourg, take a breezy Seine river cruise with Bateaux Parisiens, hang out at a sidewalk table at literary legend Café de Flore, and imbibe under the stars in the trendy garden at Pershing Hall Bar & Lounge. 

 

Salon de NingNew Yorkers are also a fickle bunch in August, as many head out to the Hamptons and other coastal climes for a break from the heat and humidity. Yes, August can be hot and sticky, but those warm evenings sure are inviting for alfresco adventures. You can catch Shakespeare in the Park theater and SummerStage concerts in Central Park, Midsummer Night Swing dancing at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and the Bryant Park Summer Film Festival film screenings on "The Lawn" in Bryant Park. Or, just head to the city's best rooftop lounges for a cocktail cool-down, whether it's glam Plunge Bar & Lounge at the Meatpacking District's Hotel Gansevoort or refined, Shanghai-inspired Salon de Ning atop The Peninsula New York. As the sun sets on summer, you'll be able to slip into that cardigan without regret.

 

Photo of Bateaux Parisiens courtesy of Fabrice Terrasson on Flickr Creative Commons; Photo of Salon de Ning courtesy of Salon de Ning

 

Purple Updates - Foursquare "Best of " Lists

Foursquare ListsAll of our Purple Passport resources are our way of "dropping breadcrumbs" on the travel trail to help you find your way to the world's finest. In that spirit, the dazzling collection of "Best of" Lists on our foursquare page compile the top venues that have earned our stamp of approval around the world. Some of these are de-facto neighborhood guides, like our New York's Midtown East list (with 54 of the best sights, shops, restaurants, and more) and London's West End list (31 of the best hotels, museums, cafés, and more). Others are themed guides to suit your activity of choice, everything from Shopping Paris (44 of the best places to get fashionable) to Eating Beijing (51 of the best places to stuff yourself silly) to Celeb Spotting in Los Angeles (23 of the best places to make like the paparazzi). We invite you to save the lists, share them with friends, and keep track of where you've been so you can drop those breadcrumbs for others.

 

Venue of the Month - Olympic Park in Beijing

Olympic ParkAs we watch the 2012 Summer Olympic Games unfold in London, we're feeling a bit nostalgic for the grand Olympics spectacles in Beijing in Summer 2008. Luckily, you can still glimpse the grandeur of the structures built for the Games in Olympic Park, where the "Bird's Nest" National Stadium and "Water Cube" National Aquatics Center are nestled together in the south end of the expansive forested park. Though many of the venues in the park are now closed to the public, you can tour the National Stadium and scope out the exhibits at the National Sports Museum, which focuses on the ancient history of sport in China. It's also a nice spot for a scenic stroll in the evening when the buildings are lit up and the fountains in the park are spouting, an image of enduring glory.

 

Photo of Olympic Park courtesy of marklyon on Flickr Creative Commons

About The Purple Passport
The Purple Passport was born out of a passion for travel, a love of the world's great cities, and a desire to spread the word. Our founders, best friends Emily and Jenn, have been traveling internationally together for over a decade-with purple-colored passport covers in tow. Now they've created this one-stop-shop, web-based city guide for all your urban travel needs, from researching a trip start to finish to creating an itinerary shared with your own favorite travel companions.

 

In keeping with our founding spirit, The Purple Passport personally visits every single spot that we review. And we always pay our own way, never taking compensation for covering a venue on the site or in our newsletter, which means you'll get the most honest, unbiased travel information for the world's most exciting cities. It's a portal to a world well-traveled, and we invite you to PUT YOUR STAMP ON THE WORLD!

 

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