Thursday, February 25, 2016

Time to scratch our itchy feet! Sri Lanka here we come!

Sunday 14/02/16

After a lovely family lunch at the Rose & Crown in Pucklechurch we had an easy drive to Trumbles B & B where we spent the night before our morning flight to Dubai.

Monday 15/02/16

We arrived at 8.30pm local time and we were through Passport control quite quickly. Unfortunately, after waiting for almost an hour our bags failed to arrive and we found out that they were already packed for the next day's flight to Colombo!! Not deterred we picked up the shuttle bus to our hotel (Holiday Inn Express), and managed to get a few Z's before our early morning alarm call at 5.45am! 

Tuesday 16/02/16

After a quick breakfast we took the shuttle bus back to the airport and sailed through security in no time thanks to the fact that we had no bags!! We were very pleasantly surprised at the gate when we were asked if we would like to upgrade to Business class.....we said yes of course!

Business Class was a whole new and fabulous experience! We had champers before take off, a wine list and sumptuous lunch menu! The 'seats' were out of this world not only in terms of size but with automatic controls that reclined the seat into a flat bed! A personal iPad and huge personal entertainment screen added to our comfort. Lunch was silver service on linen tablecloths and the food really was exceptional. Overall, it was a great way to start out trip!
We arrived in Colombo just after 3.30pm local time and had a nightmare taxi journey of over 2 hours to our hotel in downtown Colombo. Apparently, protests in the centre of town caused the traffic chaos. However, because our driver had to take an alternative route we got to see so,e of the neighbourhood, not all of it pretty. We saw some very poor people and housing not to mention scabby, mange ridden dogs. It was a sobering sight.
Once at our hotel (Cinnamon Red), we unpacked and crashed out!

Wednesday 17/02/16

We both slept reasonably well given that our internal clocks are all over the place and headed out after a leisurely start to the day at around 11ish. We had previously decided to do a walk of the old fort area and then head to the National Museum in the afternoon.
We made our way to the old fort area by taking the first of many three wheeler rides, an experience in itself! We spent the next couple of hours taking in the sights and sounds of the old fort area starting out at the Old Parliament House 

and stopped for a welcome watermelon drink part way round at the Old Dutch hospital.

 We saw the lighthouse and port area and also the dagoba (shrine) perched on stilts over the road. 

We continued our walk taking in the World Trade Centre, Cargills (Colonial-era department store), a brief visit inside the now faded Grand Oriental Hotel ending at  tiny St Peters Church.

 Although not too hot the humidity was high and we decided on a late lunch at the Paradise Cafe near the National Museum. Refreshed we made our way to the museum which due to major refurbishment was a bit of a disappointment. Still, we did manage to see some interesting artefacts and learned a little about the Buddhist and Hindu religions along with the history of the Tamils and the Sinhalese.
After a pretty full day and a tad jet lagged we were flagging by 5pm so had a little nap before heading up to the rooftop pool to watch the sunset on our first full day in Sri Lanka. Supper was tapas and beer at the rooftop bar and we were earlyish to bed as we had a train to catch at 7am the next day!

Thursday 18/02/16

After a restless night we checked out of the hotel at 6am and took a Three Wheeler to the railway station. We had to exchange our email confirmation for tickets so made our way to the Resevation window only to find a queue and no one at the window! We waited until 6.40am before anyone opened up and then it was a mad crush to get tickets! An experience we would prefer not to repeat!

Armed with our tickets and with minutes to spare we found our train and settled into our First Class compartment! We left on time and for the next couple of hours we 'enjoyed' a bouncy journey to Kandy in the Central Province. 

We were fed and watered during the trip and the food which consisted of an onion and spice stuffed bun, a samosa and cake was surprisingly good. Holding a cup of hot coffee proved to be quite the challenge! We arrived on time and found our Three Wheeler waiting for us outside the station. On arrival at the B & B we were pleased to find it was all we were expecting and some! 

The owner explained that there was a good local eatery where we could get local food for a very good price. We went into town in search of the place and got caught out in a torrential downpour! However, by the time we were back (under an hour), we had completely dried out! We enjoyed our meal of vegetable roti and vegetable noodles washed down with a local beer all the more as it only cost £2 for us both!

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