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Ayubowan!

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Ayubowan! ( A form of greeting, much closer to ‘Hello’ or ‘Namastey’).

There’s a land blessed with aquamarine beaches, excellent ancient history, centuries old architectural marvels, immense natural beauty of the hills, amazing hospitality, culture and sumptuous food. On the first look this land looks puny, located in the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent. But it give us more as we dive in! Yes, I am talking about Sri Lanka; the special land where ancient history blends so well with modernity without a crease!

The day began with a walk into the largest fish market in Lanka; the Negombo fish market. As the day dawned, shop owners were prepping up their little shops, displaying their catch from the early morning, cats waking up from their slumbers and a tub of live crabs being cranky, cackling to get out!

Eeek! live crabs

Eeek! live crabs

 

A bunch of big fishes are transfected to be sold

A bunch of big fishes are transferred to be sold

 

Fishing it out!

Some customers have come earlier bargaining a good price for the fishes displayed. A fisherman chops up the large tuna and packs it up into black polythene bags. Just behind him, the sea is calm, occasionally waves roaring big.

 

A find vendor sits in front of his catch

A find vendor sits in front of his catch

Moving into the town of Negombo, I stop for a light breakfast; fish dumpings, onion buns, aaloo stuff buns and fish+ egg bun downed over a pack of Milo drink, from Perera and Sons, a snackery that has a number of branches all over Sri Lanka.

light breakfast – Fish dumping and fish+egg rolls

From Negombo, we move towards one of the prime attractions of this country, that always shows up in tourism blogs and photos of Lanka; The Pinnawala Elephant orphanage. This orphanage caters to elephants who have been mistreated, injured and aims at the wellbeing of these gentle giants as they show up generously in the cultural fabric of Lanka. Spread over a vast land, this centre offers elephants a lovely loving home, with proper food, medication, the Oya river for bathing and fun, and enormous funds from well-wishers. As I look on, smaller elephants play with onlookers, seeking attention with trunks and their gimmicks! Some smaller elephants roll over in the muddy river, and defecate directly on. A few chew on palm leaves as baby elephants attract attention of every animal lover around! Just being cute as they are!

The Oya River and the elephants

 

Attention seeker

Attention seeker

Elephant galore

Elephant galore

A tiny fellow

A tiny fellow

A tourist gets up close with a tusker

 

A good one and half hours spent with these beautiful creatures gave me an opportunity to understand why Srilankan culture has such high values of this animals. And yet, we see them being rides to the tourists, being paraded for the fancy of the foreigners on many occasions. However, I hope that the condition of these animals improve everywhere in the world.

Off Pinnawala, the ancient Rock temple of Dambulla was not so far away. The rock temple is very interesting as it is said to have been built in the first century BC. With beautiful architecture, statues and paintings inside, the cave temple is a place of worship, pilgrimage, and tourist interest. A huge golden Buddha statue sits high just at the entrance. Owing to the extreme ancient art inside, photography is not allowed inside the temple.

The Golden stupa of Dambulla

The Golden stupa of Dambulla

From in front of the Dambulla Temple

From in front of the Dambulla Temple

However, the cave temple is beautifully lit with lamps, surrounded by a number of ancient paintings on the walls, apart from centuries old statues of Buddha and his disciples.

Off Dambulla, as we move towards Sigriya town, the sun lends its last few rays of the day; leaving back the twilight. Sigriya comes in, as a smaller town, with winding roads between lush green landscape and a fortress in the far, my destination for tomorrow.

Sigriya fort is a rock fort and a finest example of ancient art and architecture. This is a UNESCO heritage site as of now and the maintenance of this art is well done! The fort is built on a huge rock with grooves and cuts that serve as steps, and a treasure of ancient paintings on the inside walls. A flight of over 300 steps serve to take one to the top of the fort. Young kids to senior citizens, everyone shows equal enthusiasm to climb up the fort. The fort is surrounded by shrines amidst lust green trees and shrubs. Macaque monkeys jump on the trees and shrines, with little ones tightly hugging their bellies.

DSC_0323

Climbing atop Sigriya

Climbing atop Sigriya

Paintings in Sigriya fort – dating back to 1st BC

 

 

Paintings in Sigriya fort – dating back to 1st BC

 

Ancient fountains and great baths just like the Harappan ones are constructed on the front garden of Sigriya fortress. From atop the fortress, at a height of 660 feet from the ground, a major part of Sigriya town and Dambulla statue can be seen.  It’s a beautiful view and that’s the highlight of this enormous climb.

During the fortress climb

During the fortress climb

After Sigriya being hungry was beyond doubt. So, I head over to a cozy lunch shack for an authentic Srilankan lunch. For a meagre amount of 250/- Srilankan rupee, I get a good mount of white rice, sided by fresh vegetable curries including dal, spinach, bottle gourd and a fine slice of fish. It’s sumptuous and so nutritious, all made on a coconut base.  The food so has similar flavours as that of Malayali food, that I just feel right at home!

The yummy lunch of rice, fresh dal, bottle gourd curry, spicy fish! Mmm

The yummy lunch of rice, fresh dal, bottle gourd curry, spicy fish! Mmm

Polonnurawa ancient city was my destination after the fabulous meal as the city of the Polunnaru kingdom is much talked about for its art and architectural beauty. As a world heritage site, this city is constituted by architectural relics over an area of 10 kilometres in periphery. Stupas, minarets, palaces, halls, temples, statues and mini-fortresses make this site as impressive as it claims. Neatly manicured shrubs adorn the gardens in front of these buildings.  Monkeys thrive alongside komodo dragons who bask in the sun on the lawns.

Palace - Polonnaruwa

Palace – Polonnaruwa

Ruins- polonnaruwa

Ruins- polonnaruwa

Ancient Polonnaruwa city and its ruins

 

 

Stupa ruins- Polonnaruwa

Stupa ruins- Polonnaruwa

Ancient Polonnaruwa city and its ruins

Ancient Polonnaruwa city and its ruins

Some tourists can access cycles to roam around the ancient city, thereby reducing their carbon footprints. Hawkers and shop keepers sell SriLankan masks, stone statues and fresh king coconuts. I bargain for an exquisite art piece made of clay, make my purchase and carefully toss it into my bag.

Curios on display

Curios on display

Kandy is located amidst the hills of the Kandy plateu located in the central region of SriLanka. As the second largest town, this city boasts of lakes and gardens topped with a great hill view. Slightly cold the city is, during mornings, but by the evenings, its charm just doubles. Neat roads and shopping malls, hemmed by tradition, temples and restaurants are the main attractions of this city for a foreigner.

Kandy Lake  in the evenings

Kandy Lake in the evenings

 

City of Kandy

City of Kandy

 

 

The Temple of the Tooth Relic

The Temple of the Tooth Relic

 

Kandy City

Kandy City

 

The sumptuous meal at Kandy Muslim Hotel

The sumptuous meal at Kandy Muslim Hotel

From Kandy, Nuwara eliya is a couple of miles away. Called the tea-garden and Little England of SriLanka, this hill town was a much coveted town for the British rulers, after they were tired of the hot climate, throughout the rest of the country. With a picturesque landscape and chilly climate, Nuwara Eliya is a sought after destination for the honeymooners in Lanka.

The hills of Nuwara Eliya

The hills of Nuwara Eliya

Lake Gregory Park with Swan Boats for a short ride in the waters

Lake Gregory Park with Swan Boats for a short ride in the waters

The well kept Nuwara Eliya Gregory Park

The well kept Nuwara Eliya Gregory Park

A dad takes the photo of his princess on a horse

A dad takes the photo of his princess on a horse

 

Lake Gregory park is a great place to sip up the essence and beauty of the place during evenings. Small restaurants serve the tourists on the sides of this park. Horses trot around with customers on its back, through the green lawns. A bunch of people play golf not so far away. As the sun sets, the weather becomes cooler, the lake less bustling with swan boats and Nuwara Eliya’s mountains go to sleep.

Nuwara Eliya’s famous tea plantations have been making tea ever since the British set foot on this town. The tea from Nuwara Eliya is branded as Ceylon tea, to be exported and consumed all over the world. The very expensive white tea is also cultivated on these hills. I have a cuppa fresh brew from the Blue field tea factory with a wedge of squeezed lemon, to indulge myself in some shopping of exquisite tea produce.

The Blue Field Tea factory

The Blue Field Tea factory

Hot Cuppa!

Hot Cuppa!

White water rafting at Kitugala is a not to miss adventure at Srilanka. The Kelani river is a fast moving river with frequent gush of water through wedges of huge rocks here there on the fast riverbed. A trivial fact learnt here: the movie, ‘The Bridge on the river Kwai’ was shot from over this river, the highlight being the wooden bridge over this river, Kelani!

 

After the extremely engaging and fun White water rafting

After the extremely engaging and fun White water rafting

Winding down the hairpin curves of Nuwara Eliya, moving down to the plains of Tissamaharama which hosts the huge lake of Tissa was a pleasant change. After the Tissa river comes the towns of Akuressa and the seaport of Galle. Galle calls itself the Dutch town after the colonization by the Dutch.  The famous fort of Galle is situated here from atop which one could see the panorama of the town of Galle.

Galle - Fort

Galle – Fort

The Tissa Lake

The Tissa Lake

At Hummanaya

At Hummanaya

Drying the fish

Drying the fish

... and it's fried!

… and it’s fried!

From the town of Galle, the beach town of Hikkaduwa is not so far away. Hikkaduwa is one of the most famous beaches of the world, for its surf scene, after Arugam Bay. Hikkaduwa is a clean, blue beach, much like any other beach in SriLanka. Hemmed with coconut trees, the shallow beach is a great place for enthusiasts to surf. Little kids play in the gushing waves. A few youngsters play volleyball on the beach sand.

Bentota Beach

Bentota Beach

 

The calm beach front of Hikkaduwa

The calm beach front of Hikkaduwa

 

A kid runs to fetch his treasure

A kid runs to fetch his treasure

 

Boats wades lazily as the evening closes

Boats wades lazily as the evening closes

 

The Orange of the skies

The Orange of the skies

Boats are latched to the beach by anchors. As the sun sets, the rays lend an orange color to the sky, the water, the sands silhouetting the people and boats. The aquamarine water turns into a steady red, and the wind blows harder. The beach tide rises, as though to close the day.

The boats are waiting…

During nights the same wind rushes into the beach street, lightly swaying the colourful beach- clothes on sale in the shops dotted along the beach road. Music rises with flavorful aromas of great food in the making.

Yummy tasty date lunch

Windchimes cling and drums play, welcoming the night. I swoon, looking at the moon, rising over the dark cold beach. The waves are welcoming me, I know.

The beachside shacks of Hikkaduwa

 

Oh, SriLanka! What Magic you have in your hands!

 

highly expressive, roaring appetite for books, food and design; have occasional bouts of flippancy to all things needed. Always hungry for Biryani. Nomad. Binger. Lover.

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Have everything ready for your next trip

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aircraft flight travel packing

If there is one thing everyone loves is to travel. Whether we do it for business reasons or simply for pleasure, traveling brings us the opportunity of experiencing new alternatives and discover new places we would not be able to enjoy on a daily basis. But a lot of planning needs to be put into any travel in order for it to run out smoothly. Down bellow, you will be able to find some tips that could come out handy during your next journey. 

Moving around in a rented car

Renting a car is always an amazing option when it comes to moving around  a new and unfamiliar area. It gives us the option to move around freely, without the constraints or the language barriers that could be associated with public transportation.

A good example of this could be seen if you plan to visit the touristic island of Maui. This beautiful island has a lot of hidden gems that can not be reached using public transport. Rent a car Maui is an amazing affordable option to make sure you do not miss out anything on this marvelous island. They offer a big variety of rental cars, all with one of the best customer services in the island. 

Because we do not have why to miss out anything when we travel. 

Starting a new life in a new country

Sometimes, when we travel to a different country, it is not something temporal, but a permanent change. Starting a new life in a different country can seem like a scary experience at first, but with the right preparations, it should be a smooth transition.

A popular destination that people are choosing to move to permanently over the last decades has been Spain. But you may be wondering, how to move to Spain

Moving to Spain is a relatively easy process, but there is a series of steps you need to take in order to do so

  1. Check out the different types of resident permits and Visas and choose the one that better suits you.
  2. Check the requirements for said permit.
  3. Find out if you can submit the paperwork before moving to Spain or you need to do so once you arrive to Spain as a tourist.
  4. Prepare all the documentation needed for the paperwork.
  5. Get your Visa and start enjoying your new life in Spain.

Choose an option for your stay according to your needs

One of the key aspects of every travel is to decide where we are going to be spending our stay in our destination. Nowadays, there is a wide variety of resorts available on the main tourist destinations, so spending time to decide on which one would be a better fit for us is always a good idea.

Take for example the beautiful city of Cancun. Cancun is one of the most visited cities in the world. There are a lot of luxury resorts in this city, but if you are looking for an original and exciting experience, we can not stop recommending Temptation Cancun Resort

Temptation Cancun Resort is an exclusive resort that only admits adults +21 on their installations. They have recently reopened their doors with a timetable full of fun and sexy events you can not miss out. Because life is too short to spend it on traditional family destinations, try something original like Temptation Cancun Resort and live an once in a lifetime experience. 

Save money by using public transport

Public transportation is an affordable option available wherever we decide to travel. A fast and safe way to travel around any country has traditionally been the train. Thanks to websites like Trenes.com you can check the schedules of all the trains available, buy your ticket online and get amazing discounts on the final price. This makes moving around a different country easier than ever.

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6 Things you can do in Tijuana

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tijuana mexico

Tijuana is one of the largest cities in Mexico. Located in the northern part of the country, its proximity to the US border has make it a popular tourist destination among American citizens looking to experience all the recreational activities this beautiful city have to offer. If you are planning to visit Tijuana, we have a list of our six favorite spots in the city, so make sure you do not miss them.

1- The Caliente Xoloitzcuintles Stadium

Soccer, simply known as football in Mexico, is the country’s favorite sport. And there is no football team with more devoted fans than Los Xolos. It does not matter if you like football or not, visiting the Caliente Xoloitzcuintles Stadium while you are in Tijuana is a must . On the days there is a football match scheduled, you definitely need to go to the stadium a few hours early, since there is a big party going on on the parking lots of this stadium. People park on the parking lots and eat roasted meat while drinking beer with their friends. Then you can head to watch the football match. Los Xolos enthusiasts are known to be among the most friendly football fans out there, and will make sure you feel welcome and have an experience you will never forget.

If you want to stay close to  the Caliente Xoloitzcuintles Stadium, we recommend you check out in a nearby hotel like Tijuana Marriott Hotel since its proximity make it pretty convenient.

2- Morelos Park

Morelos Park is one of the best destinations in Tijuana if you are traveling with kids. This park is the biggest in the city and features a lot of green areas, a huge artificial lake where you will be able to see ducks and fish, and even a small zoo featuring native animals like iguanas or jaguars. 

There is a small train that will take you for a ride around the lake. On this lake you can also find a small dock with small boats for rent. 

On weekends, you will also be able to enjoy public performances especially created for children, like clowns shows or puppet theatres.

3- Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe Cathedral

The cathedral Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe is also known as Tijuana’s Cathedral due to it being the most important one in the city. Although this cathedral dates back only to 1909, its beautiness immediately made it one of the most visited tourist spots in the city. This building design used as inspiration Mexico’s traditional temples, which made the local authorities give it the accreditation of historical monument.  

This monument is located just a few minutes away from the city centre, so if you are looking for accommodation in the heart of Tijuana, we recommend you check out Hotels like Fairfield Inn & Suites Tijuana due to its convenient location.

4- Wax Museum

Tijuana’s Wax Museum is one of its most original buildings. Across 10 different halls, you will be able to enjoy many wax figures, all divided according to different themes like Mexico’s historical figures or Mexico’s legends. One of the most curious things about this museum is that it has a Horror hall, where you will be able to enjoy the scary figures of Dracula or Frankenstein, although we do not recommend this if you are weak of heart. 

5- Tijuana’s Cultural Centre

Its modern sphere design has make this building one of the most visited locations in Tijuana. This Cultural Centre was created to try and promote art and culture in the area. On the different rooms of the building we will be able to find an art exhibition, an aquarium, an event room and a film library. 

6- El Trompo Museum

This amazing museum is the perfect mixture of science and fun, helping us to introduce our kids to new knowledge by using games and interactive activities. The museum also includes a 3D cinema and a concert room.

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The best places to stay during your holidays in Isla Mujeres

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isla mujeres mexico

When we dream about our dream holidays, we often picture ourselves in the middle of a Caribbean beach, letting the sand and the waves take away the stress of our daily lives. No place embroiders this ideal like Isla Mujeres. This small island is located near  the Mexican Caribbean coast and its white sand beaches with crystalline waters have make Isla Mujeres one of the most popular holidays destinations in the world. If you are planning to visit this island soon, then you should definitely check out our list of accommodation suggestions.

Staying in the island

Isla Mujeres may be a small island, but it features all the commodities you could wish for in a Caribbean island. But if you are looking for something intimate while luxurious at the same time, then you should definitely check out boutique hotels Isla Mujeres.

The main difference between average hotels and boutique hotels is their size. A boutique hotel features all the commodities a luxurious hotel could have while having a lower number of rooms available. One boutique hotel we can not stop recommending in this island is Hotel Casa Sueño. 

Hotel Casa Sueño is located between Punta Sur and and the center of the island in a truly idyllic location. The hotel is right next to the Caribbean Sea, which means that you will be able to enjoy some amazing views during your stay. The hotel is run by some of the most courteous staff members we have ever ever encountered and you will be able to enjoy an amazing gourmet restaurant and a Spa center among the services provided by the hotel.

Travelling on budget

While most people looking to travel to the Caribbean want to do so with all sort of luxuries and commodities within their reach, others prefer to discover the area on a more humble way.  One of the most popular ways to do so is by using the internet site Airbnb. 

This online portal allows people to rent someone else’s empty home for their next holiday. If you are planning to visit Isla Mujeres, you can use Airbnb to rent an apartment in the island or in a nearby city like Cancun. This will allow you to be more independent than if you stayed in an hotel. And if on top of that, you use a cupón Airbnb you will be able to save some extra money in a place that was already cheaper than a hotel. 

Discovering a foreign place does not have why to be expensive, and you can make your next travel the best example. 

Travelling with the family

Travelling abroad is always complicated, but it becomes especially tricky when we travel with kids. Traditionally, parents would need to sacrifice their own share of fun in order to find a place their kids would enjoy, but thankfully there are now luxury resorts for families. Resorts like ESTUDIO Playa Mujeres were designed keeping in mind the necessities of both, adults and kids alike. 

ESTUDIO Playa Mujeres is a luxury resort located in Playa Mujeres. This coastal area is the perfect location for your next holidays, since it is in the continental area in front of Isla Mujeres and near important cities like Cancun. 
This resort features everything you and your family could wish for in a summer vacation, making it by far one of the best luxury resorts for families. Kids will be able to enjoy themselves it the Doodle Land® program, which is full of funny activities created to incentivise our kids imagination. Adults also get their fair share of fun at ESTUDIO Playa Mujeres. This resort includes many facilities like a luxurious Spa or a fantastic 18 hole golf course. Then the whole family can spend time together visiting the art exhibitions host in this resort or enjoying one of its five different gourmet restaurants.

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