Friday, 24 March 2017

Sri Lanka - Negombo to Dambulla

A big day today with the weather being​ quite hot and humid. As today's activities involved being outdoors and walking, it was a tired group that arrived at Dambulla Jetwing Lake Resort at 6 pm. 

Once again time is against me in writing this blog so I will just post a few pictures.  Our day started with a wedding party being photographed in the grounds of the resort at 6.30 am!!! The traditional costumes were amazing, especially those worn by the men in the wedding party.

Early this morning we stopped at a Buddhist shrine where the colourful statues were overshadowed by a group of kinder children with the most infectious desire to communicate. With a number of retired teachers in our group it was a happy experience for all.

Throughout the day we have visited a number of shrines and ancient ruins, many from the B.C period. This one was home to a large number of monks and early written language is carved into the rock above the cave entrance.

We have experienced​ many new tastes and local specialities. We stopped at roadside stalls and tasted fresh coconut milk and rambutan fruit. Lunch at Anuradhapura was a delicious array of local foods including banana butt flower, brinjal and many other things whose names i can't recall. That meal was not as spicy as some we have had. Although the term curry is used I am finding it more chilli than the curry we are used to.

Our Lotus Holidays guide, Jessica.

After lunch we visited a temple where we could not wear shoes or hats. This was a temple complex and involved walking on hot sand  and climbing up hot rock steps in the midday sun. It wasn't for the faint hearted but to see the famous Samadhi Buddha, artifacts from the 6 -8 C., the sacred Bo Tree and the view was worth the effort. 

At the site of two water tanks / baths of great design and decorated with elephants we were excited to see lots of large monkeys moving from one large tree to another. The young ones didn't always make to big jump successfully but they caught a lower branch and quickly scrambled back to the group.

As the walk was too hot, we drove around past many ancient ruins and stupa, more monkeys and several interesting trees. Did you know that cashew nuts grow outside the fruit? 

On the last leg of our drive to Dambulla we saw rice being hand harvested.

We didn't realize that this tour would be gourmet food tour but it is proving to be so. This evening I was talking to the desserts chef who was standing in the cooled desserts room beside his amazing display of goodies. He was bursting with pride as we raved about all the treats he had prepared. I hope to get photos but we will be late getting back tomorrow evening so hope the display will still be amazing.

It is now more than 24 hours since I started this post so I am still behind the time... and I haven't taken the photos of the desserts either!

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Sri Lanka - Melbourne to Negombo

Our Travellers group of twenty two has arrived safely in Sri Lanka after an easy couple of flights. It did, however, see us getting to bed at 2.30 am. Our wonderful guide Jessica from Lotus Holidays has arranged an easy day for us today - a late start then a three hour tour around Negombo (which is our location out of Colombo) and a free afternoon before dinner together at our accommodation, the Suriya Resort.

When we arrived in Sri Lanka last night we were greeted with big, warm smiles and beautiful orchid necklaces. As it was after midnight that was a very welcome gesture.

Our mascot Aldo stowed away in a backpack and was up early checking out the beach and the resort pools.

Our morning tour took us to the fish market where they were selling fresh seafood and also drying salted fish.Our local guide Don, says he enjoys the salted fish cooked with onions and chilli.


After the fish market we visited the Catholic Cathedral, a wonderful mix of tropical architecture and traditional Catholic decoration.There are a large number of Catholic churches here.

Next stop was the regular Wednesday market in our area. The fabrics made a colourful display, the little bananas are delicious and the locals were going about their everyday lives as we snapped away with our cameras. It does make you think a lot about the way we live and the things we take for granted. We are privileged people!

The afternoon was spent in relaxation by some, and in frustration by me as I wrestled with the internet, the blog and millions of tiny insects. Luckily they are not everywhere - just where the internet connection is available!!

Friday, 3 March 2017

Museo Italiano Melbourne

Feeling in need of an Italian boost, we took the train to Melbourne.

First stop was the Forza Italia shop in Lygon St, Carlton where we browsed the many items for sale, then a short distance away we enjoyed very good pasta at Cafe Corretto - a penne Amatriciana and a fettucini Taormina. Cafe Corretto is a family run Italian restaurants of long standing in Carlton.

After lunch we visited the Museo Italiano Melbourne, just around the corner in Farraday St. The first thing you notice is the street art mural on the wall.

To quote the brochure: Museo Italiano Melbourne is a permanent exhibition that explores the experiences of the Italian immigrants in Australia, their influence on the Australian society and the particular Italo-Australian culture that has developed.

This is not a large collection but it is extremely interesting and well presented. I enjoyed La Cronologia, a wall of exhibits which takes you through Italian immigration since Cook's visit in 1770 and the first settlement and right up to current times. It links Australian, Italian and world history with the immigration patterns.

There are statistics, old film clips, collections of work tools, coffee machines, musical instruments, photographic equipment & photos and much more.

This Australian Football League team was comprised of champion players over the years, all with Italian heritage.

We really enjoyed our Italian outing but all too soon it was time to catch the train home. As we walked past CIS language school we remembered all the wonderful times we had had there and how the enthusiastic young staff gave us that necessary link between book learning and becoming literate in a foreign language. If only we could continue with those classes!