We had a good flight from Dubai to Budapest, a large part of the journey took us over the snow-covered mountains of Iran; the skies were clear and we had a fantastic view the mountains themselves and lakes and villages scattered through them.
We arrived in Budapest in mid-afternoon and took a taxi to our hotel on the Pest side of the river; the outskirts were quite bleak with derelict buildings and lots of drab soviet era housing blocks, not very promising for a city break! Once we had checked in and freshened up we put on our jumpers and coats (strange to be wearing socks again!)and went for a walk in the immediate vicinity of the hotel looking for somewhere for an early supper. The neighbourhood felt more historic and we found a small, traditional restaurant opposite the Academy of Music where we tucked in to Goulash and noodles. We had had an early start, and had gained 4 hours so back at the hotel we admitted defeat and went to bed. Continue reading Budapest→
From Colombo we flew to Dubai for a very brief stopover, we arrived late at night, had one full day and were due to leave early the following morning. After breakfast we headed up to the 15th floor to have a look at the rooftop pool, the view across Dubai Creek and out over the city was amazing even though the weather was quite hazy. In the distance we could see the Burj Khalifa Tower, the building that supplanted the Petronas Towers in KL as the highest building in the world, it appeared like a needle stretching high into the sky. We had some admin to do for our trip across Europe sorting out hotel vouchers and train tickets and planned to print them out in the hotels business centre, unfortunately that took much longer than we planned because the hotel Wi-Fi was on the blink and kept dropping out. Eventually, after much frustration we got it all done and turned our attention to Dubai. We asked the hotel concierge to recommend a restaurant where we could get an authentic, Arabic meal; we also mentioned that we would like to see the fountains at the Dubai Mall, he killed two birds with one stone and booked us a table at a restaurant overlooking the fountain, perfect. Continue reading Dubai→
Our final stop in Sri Lanka was Bentota a holiday centre on the coast between Galle and Colombo. After two busy weeks exploring the country we were looking forward to a couple of days R&R at the Club Villa hotel, a small boutique hotel promising a good restaurant and a pool in the gardens.
Odi picked us up from Galle mid-morning for the drive to Bentota, on the way we stopped at a centre specialising in wood carving to look for some souvenirs we wanted; after some hard bargaining, we got what we wanted and the salesman threw in a box of teabags as a gift!! From there we headed up the coast road, along the way we saw a lot more evidence of the impact the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami. There were graves along the side of the road, memorials and a lot of houses that had been destroyed by the force of the water and never rebuilt, presumably because there was nobody left alive to need them or repair them. Continue reading Bentota→
After all the outdoor excitement of the National Parks our next destination was the historic town of Galle on the south west coast. Originally founded by Portuguese and then taken over by the Dutch and eventually the English the old town is sited inside Galle Fort an imposing stone fort situated on a peninsula of land with ocean on three sides. Our hotel, the Fort Printers was right in the middle of the Fort. Galle Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage site, we are beginning to think we may have seen them all on this trip! Continue reading Galle, Sri Lanka→
From Nuwara Eliya we were heading through the central highlands and down on to the coastal plains of southern Sri Lanka, safari country. We broke the journey to the coast for one night at Uda Walawe National Park, famous for its elephants. Because of the delay getting the car repaired our afternoon safari in Uda Walawe was rescheduled for the following morning with a 5.45 start to catch the animals at sunrise; so we headed straight to the hotel for an early night. The Grand Uda Walawe Safari Resort was the first hotel on our trip that we weren’t happy with, not a bad hit rate! Although it is a relatively new hotel all the public areas were very dark making it difficult to use the stairs or read any of the signage, even in daylight! We were shown to our room which on arrival reeked of petrol (who knows why!), we were advised to turn up the air conditioning and it would clear in 10 minutes, over an hour later, after a walk around the hotel to explore it still smelled the same so we asked to be moved, the next room was much better but there was still a whiff of eau de gasoline. Dinner in the restaurant was distinctly average and it was hard to see what you were eating. We were really glad we were only there for one night. Continue reading Safari Country, Sri Lanka→