Escaping the Serbian winter we have headed off to Sri Lanka in search of whales, trains, jungles, ancient temples, palm fringed beaches and a decent cup of tea.
  • Day15

    Farewell to a Paradise Island

    March 6 in Sri Lanka ⋅ 🌙 29 °C

    Our last day has arrived. We're almost out of dosh so all that remains is to catch as much sun as possible, have a couple more swims and bid a sad farewell.

    It could have been a little dramatic actually as we tried the final snorkel in a different area and got swept around by quite strong waves. It was a bit scary in fact but we made it back to the beach safely having seen many more fish, so all is well that ends well I guess.

    We also managed to squeeze in an Ayurvedic massage treatment at the last moment.

    Now at the airport and discovering that everything on sale here is three times more expensive - we bought some tea anyway! Instead of having a Burger King for $15, we ate our last bananas and lemon puff biscuits. This has in fact been out standard meal when on the road so I guess it's most appropriate!
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  • Day14

    Beach life

    March 5 in Sri Lanka ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    We seem to be losing steam! Either that or the beauty of this place has concussed us. Today we did very little other than lie in the sun, snorkel, read and generally mooch around. We ate all our meals in the hotel and the most adventurous we got was to go for a sunset stroll 😍

  • Day13

    'Looming crazy

    March 4 in Sri Lanka ⋅ ☁️ 31 °C

    On the road again, creeping towards the airport and the end of the holiday. 😞 We took a tuktuk towards Galle and then up to Hikkaduwa, but not before stopping in at the hand loom factory!! It was brilliant - for me, maybe less so much for Zoran and the tuktuk driver who waited impatiently as I admired the work, tried comparing notes with the ladies weaving and negotiated for some yarn!

    We arrived at the sanctuary of Serendip Italy, a beachside spa hotel. It's as good as it sounds! Great private beach,great snorkeling and a huuuge room.

    The staff, as ever, are lovely! I'd strategically let slip about our 30th anniversary and they made up a cabana on the sand for a romantic dinner, including candles and a bottle of cava delivered by the hotel manager!
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  • Day12

    Jungle book

    March 3 in Sri Lanka ⋅ ☁️ 30 °C

    What a wonderful place! Yes, I felt a lot better after a good night's sleep! We are in a little house called Lemongrass, in the hotel's amazing jungle garden. It feels utterly private and beautifully wild. We woke to a band of monkeys running across our roof, jumping into the palms and grabbing bananas from the trees! Amazing!

    We decided to make it a very easy day, we were both tired from quite a lot of full-on traveling. So Zoran had a good lie in, and I settled down with my Lee Child thriller by the infinity pool and lazed. The day away reading and watching the birds and monkeys.

    We ate at the Spice House that night and it was pretty fun and sociable, other than for Zoran who was stuck next to some rather boring Russians.
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  • Day11

    Melissa in Mirissa

    March 2 in Sri Lanka ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    We were fully intending to catch the bus to the coast but it's a 5+ hour drive and when we were offered a seat in a mini bus costing half the standard taxi fare we decided to jump at it. A good move.

    We were sharing with a couple of 25 year old British boys and a very urbane Danish doctor who told us tales of his travels and kept us entertained for the journey.

    Eventually we arrived at Mirissa and checked in. I was very disappointed by everything, especially the beach which was crowded, a bit dirty and very small.

    I seriously considered checking out and moving us on, but Zoran took charge, calmed me down, bought me a beer and supper on the beach (red snapper and chips) and things started to look better. A case of being hot, tired and hungry.
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  • Day10

    'Ella of a train trip

    March 1 in Sri Lanka ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    The Kandy to Ella train is famously regarded as one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world, so we thought we would give it a whirl. Everyone was right!

    The platform was packed with scruffy tourists and a thousand backpacks. As the time approached the atmosphere became febrile.. like the minutes before Harrods opens its doors for the sale.

    Sensibly we had booked our reserved seats weeks previously so all was easy going for us - not so for those without a reservation, many stood for the entire 7 hours, crushed together and with no view. Pretty much like the Northern line.

    Heartlessly, we enjoyed every minute!. Time spent on reconnaissance (or internet research) is seldom wasted - so said Napoleon!

    The train was quaint and each station on the way was more adorable than the last and the scenery...!
    Nevertheless we were glad to disembark at Ella. We walked to the nearby waterfall intending a swim, but changed our mind when we saw all the farm waste going into it.

    Dinner and bed, to the sound of the waterfall - just like air con!
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  • Day9

    Sweet kandy

    February 28 in Sri Lanka ⋅ 🌧 27 °C

    The big deal here is the Temple of the Tooth which houses one of Buddha's teeth. The relic also confers a divine right to rule Sri Lanka and has changed hands many times. We headed down to town to discover more.
    Our first stop was the flower stalls where you can buy an offering for Lord Buddha, these are mainly jasmine or lotus (much like a water lily) so you can imagine the scents and colours! The flowers were covered with bees so I kept my distance until the flower seller explained that they can't sting ..hmm?

    We negotiated the queues, handed in our shoes and entered the shrine. Fantastic atmosphere was created by some impressive drummers. Upstairs I added my lotuses to many others and was in line of sight of the inner shrine when the doors were opened - gold, gold, gold!

    After we went to get more vests for Zoran (!) and look for souvenirs but they were hard to find. We visited the central market where I got strong armed into ordering a silk tunic - much to Zoran's disgust. We bought some spices and bakery items and had a picnic next to the lake. It wasn't quite as we had intended as a skinny beggar got half my lunch - how could I refuse?! And we were mobbed by a huge pack.(murder) of crows, wanting the other half.

    After returning to the villa my tailor turned up with a predictably badly made tunic. 😂. We walked along to river to Cinammon Citadel and had a glass of WINE!! The first in more than a week!
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  • Day8

    Kandy can do

    February 27 in Sri Lanka ⋅ 🌧 26 °C

    Zoran had a dream to drive a tuktuk and it nearly came true! We spent much of yesterday trying to convince every tuktuk driver we met to let us drive to Kandy whilst he took the bus and then we would hand it over, with lots of money. Nalin, Mr Tuktuk as he is immortalised in my contacts, agreed and after protracted negotiations all was set, until this morning when he changed his mind! C'est Sri Lanka!

    So instead, we took the bus which was brilliant! Full of people, music, colour and noise. We only had to wait 5 minutes and even got seats with our suitcases being stowed in the boot.

    Kandy feels like a proper city and is teeming with people, gridlocked with cars, deafening with horns, stinking with drains and stifling with pollution - well that's how it seems to us having spent so much time in the wilds. The bus terminal was utter hell! Luckily my research has led me to book a homestay in the hills above Kandy in a Tara lookalike villa (Gone with the wind). Peace, fresh air and everything spotlessly clean! Our room is huge and looks over the river and jungle - we were told not to leave our balcony door open as the monkeys will get in!!

    I couldn't resist more steps - so good for you! - so we went to view the Bahirawakanda Buddha which overlooks the city. The views were misty in the rain and it was a bit sad, neglected yet very atmospheric.

    Then we hit the town and wandered around looking for vests! Zoran is s connoisseur of fine quality cotton vests and bought 10 😀. I'm considering a few purchases but no money has changed hands yet. We had dinner at the villa - what a good idea that was.
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  • Day7

    Stepping up the culture

    February 26 in Sri Lanka ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    Untill today it's been all about the animals and nature, now we are getting into Sri Lanka's culture. We are in Dambulla at a lovely homestay run by the nicest old lady, her garden is full of butterflies and birds.

    Dawn saw us heading off to Sigiriya hoping to beat the crowds and the heat. We didn't! Lion Rock, the ancient fortress and palace surrounded by jungle, is truly breathtaking. We brought tickets and proceeded to climb all 1200 steps to the top. Now, I was already red from the sun beforehand but after the climb I achieved a unique kind of neon red, but it was worth it - the view was out of this world!

    We climbed down, which was far worse in now some ways - dose of vertigo anyone? - and headed back to our room to recover for a bit.

    At around 3.30 we felt sufficiently recovered to catch another tuktuk to the famous cave temples. These were absolutely stunning and a mere 365 steps up. For a while I followed a French group who had an English speaking guide they couldn't understand so I translated his Singlish them when he wasn't watching!

    On the way down we enjoyed a king coconut - so silky! - and visited the giant golden Buddha. An early dinner was lovely at Sapura, watching the sun set, turning the clouds all pink above the paddy fields.
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  • Day6

    Safari, so good

    February 25 in Sri Lanka ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    The earliest alarm yet at 5.30 am - we need to be waiting at the park's gates for them to open at 6.00! We have our own jeep and driver but all the guides were booked unfortunately so we will just have to keep.our eyes peeled!

    It's wonderful to see and, mainly, hear the animals and birds waking up to a new day. The jungle is huge and very wooded with many lakes and is packed with birds. It smells lovely too! By the end we stopped taking pictures of peacocks as we saw soo many!

    The best thing was to see an elephant! He was knee deep in a lake eating weeds and we stayed to watch for a long while. Elephants are special - each time a jeep came round the corner and people saw him, their faces broke into childlike smiles, regardless of age.

    We also saw water buffalo, a crocodile, many spotted deer, wild boar, mongoose, monitor lizards, frogs and monkeys but the only leopard we spotted was on the gate!
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