In a nutshell: January

You may have noticed that I began doing monthly goal posts, I wrote one for November and then December but never got round to doing one for January. I was also doing separate posts about whether I'd met any of these goals. I enjoyed writing these posts but decided to do it slightly differently this year (it still sounds weird referring to a new year, it's too soon to call 2016 last year!). Instead, I want to do a post that combines these goals, as well as a reflecting upon the goals from the previous month and a brief summary of what I got up to in that month. I guess this makes the post more than just the month 'in a nutshell' but the posts will most likely vary in length depending on how exciting the months been.

So here's to my first 'in a nutshell post'. Also I apologise if anyone already has a series on their blog called this. I haven't intentionally copied anyone I just wanted something different than 'summary' or 'reflection' so came up with this! 

Seeing as I didn't set myself any goals for January I can't reflect on any so I'm moving straight on to setting some goals for February.

February Goals

1. Interact more

I wrote about this in my 2017 goals post, so far I've been slacking on this. I need to take more time out to actually talk to people on twitter and comment on posts I read.

2. Finish my TEFL course

I'm currently completing the 120 hour online course. I've working my way through the assignments and really want to get it done by the end of February so I can put my focus on travel plans and blogging which are currently taking a bit of a back seat.

3. Read a book 

Another thing I've been slacking with this year. I haven't even made it half way through a book yet! In fact, I gave up reading one book and started another. I'm hoping this one will be one I can get into and enjoy.

January Round up

January has been quite a slow month. I always found January a weird month, after the excitement of Christmas and New Year January always seems a bit bare and cold (literally and metaphorically!). Even work has been very quiet. I work in a coffee shop and a lot of the days I've cleaned the kitchen about five times because there's been hardly any customers!

One good thing that's happened this month is that we got an exercise bike and I'm actually using it. I'm so bad at exercising, you may be aware of this as I kept adding it as a monthly goal and then failing miserably. However, now I can exercise without leaving the house! I can't really afford a gym membership at the moment and even when I had one my motivation to get to the gym was always lacking. Now it so much quicker to workout, I can cut the journey to and from the gym and just put on my gym gear and walk downstairs.

January was also quite a social month. I was able to see some of school friends, some who I haven't seen in about six months. I also visited one of my uni best friends to do some travel planning and say goodbye before she heads off to Hong Kong for six weeks.

I've had a bit of a blogging slump the past week or so. I felt pretty unmotivated and like I wasn't making much progress. However, I checked my DA today and it's finally gone up. After being stuck on 1 it's gone up to 10! I know numbers aren't everything but this was just what I needed to get my motivation back as I feel like I am doing something right!

Have you set yourself any goals for February? How was your January?


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Polonnaruwa | Sri Lanka

                                                             Polonnaruwa was our second stop on our three week adventure around Sri Lanka. The town is home to the ruins of the ancient city of Polonnaruwa which are apparently the second capital of Sri Lanka. It is now a UNESCO world heritage site. There is also the ancient city of Anuradhapura but we could only visit one on our trip and decided to go to Polonnaruwa.

                                                               After spending a day in Colombo we got a train up north to the ancient city. Our train left Colombo at around 7 pm and arrived at around 2.15 in the morning. It took longer than expected which caused problems about accommodation. We had booked accommodation for that night imagining we'd arrive at 1pm at the latest. We did tell the guest house owner that we would be arriving late but things didn't quite work out.

We got a tuk tuk from the station to our guest house. Thankfully, there were tuk tuks outside the station. They were charging quite an expensive price but it was 2 in the morning. He quoted us 550 rupees which we accepted because we wanted our beds.

We got to our guest house and the place had a massive gate that was locked up for the night. Our tuk tuk driver knocked on the gate and called over it. He even tried to jump over to get the owner to let us in. We then got him to phone the guest house. We saw him put the number in so we're pretty sure he called the guesthouse rather than pretending to. We were there for a good 15 minutes. Our tuk tuk driver then told us that his brother owned a guesthouse so we could stay there for the night. At this point we were thankful as we were stranded.

Turned out his brothers guesthouse was right next door! That's why I say I'm not sure whether he phoned our original guest house. We thought he might just be trying to get us to stay at his. But he did shout and knock so he was either very good at pretending to help or actually was.

So we ended up next door being shown a room. We opted for no air con as it was a lot more pricy. That's something we found in Sri Lanka; the price of non air con compared to air con was quite a big difference compared to the difference in India.

Day One 

The idea of getting up early and heading to the ruins after getting to bed way after 3 am was not particularly pleasant. Instead, we decided we'd explore other parts of the town and do the ruins early the following day. For ease we ate lunch at our guesthouse. It was while we were eating our lunch that the owner of the guesthouse we'd originally booked poked his head over the fence and started shouting at our host. He wanted us to go round and talk to him. He demanded we pay him money. Because our booking had been made on booking.com he had lost out by us not staying. However, we refused to pay since it was not our fault that we were no longer staying at his. He told us he had been awake and no one had called. However, considering how loud we had knocked this seemed slightly suspicious. We left his guesthouse and headed back to ours where he continued to poke his head over the fence and yell.

Not long after we decided to escape and go for a wander. We began to walk towards the town, heading for the lake. This was around a ten minute walk from our guesthouse. The lake was quite large so we decided we wouldn't walk the whole way. Instead, we walked along one side and then down a small street where the locals came to bath and back round to our guest house.

                                                                                   If you're in Polonnaruwa for more than a day then the lake area is worth checking out. I think there's a museum and restaurant but we didn't stop at either. There were plenty of monkeys around the lake and also a lot of dead bats. We saw them hanging on the phone wires and wondered why one earth they were just chilling in the open in the middle of the day. It wasn't until we got back to the hostel and I googled bats that we discovered that all the bats we had seen were in fact dead. They go to hang from the wires and end up getting electrocuted! The poor things! Apparently it happens quite a lot. So that was probably the most morbid discovery of trip.

                                                                   In all honesty the rest of the day was spent chilling and looking in the local supermarket. We went out again for dinner. The guesthouse offered a buffet dinner, however, Kate is vegetarian and there wasn't much on offer for the price. We only wandered the same way we'd gone in the afternoon to the lake and struggled to find food. We eventually found a shop which seemed to double up as a cafe. I had my first egg hopper of the trip, while Kate had her first Kottu. These are both traditional Sri Lankan dishes. I'm afraid I have no pictures but you can give them a google. A hopper is a bit like a pancake but in a bowl shape with the egg cooked within the bowl. Kottu is chopped up roti with vegetables and egg. My descriptions probably don't paint the best picture but both were pretty yummy and cheap. My hopper was around 41p, I wouldn't class it as a proper meal as it's not that filling but for that price you could even get two or three if you were still peckish.

Day Two 

On our second day in Polonnaruwa we hit the ruins. We got up early but not as early as we would have liked and headed to the ruins. We rented bikes from our guest house and rode to the ruins which were around a 15 minute ride away. There are a number of ways to get to and around the ruins. We'd opted for bikes as they seemed to be the cheapest option. Technically, walking would be the cheapest but I would not recommend this and don't think anyone actually walks around the ruins because there is a lot to see and it is quite spaced out in some areas. Some come in tour groups so have a mini bus or coach, others seemed to have a private car and some hired a tuk tuk. I can't tell you how much a private car would be but someone from my guesthouse was quoted 1500 rupees (just under £8) to hire a tuk tuk for three hours which I think would be plenty of time to see the ruins.

If you've come to Polonnarawu on a day trip then a tuk tuk would probably be the best way to get around unless you're already part of a tour group as this will save you time and not break the bank. I'm sure you can hire bikes from somewhere even if you're there for a day trip but again I can't advise on where you could rent them from because we were staying there for a couple of nights.

One thing I can advise you on, however, is where to buy your ticket. We made the mistake of riding to the entrance and having to go back down the street to buy our tickets. The tickets for the ruins must be bought at the museum and not at the entrance. The tickets are checked here but you cannot purchase them here. We assumed we could and this meant we wasted time. The museum is located further up the street, near the lake. It's best to google map it beforehand. I'm not sure if this was just the case for the entrance we used or if there even are other entrances but it's something you should be aware of if you're planning a visit. 

Once we purchased our tickets we headed in, the signs lead us first to the bathing pool and royal palace. Because we got to the ruins a little later than planned around 9.30/10 am it was already starting to get busy. There were a couple of tour groups. However, once we headed towards the other ruins it became quieter as the ruins became more spaced out. I would recommend going earlier than we went to avoid the build up of crowds and to avoid the heat! 

It got hot! I'm not great with heat (and yet I seem to go to lots of hot countries) so the heat definitely affected my experience of the ruins. I spent less time taking in the ruins and more time trying to find shade, I found a tree eventually and shared the shade with a stray dog. 

There are people selling souvenirs around the ruins. I normally avoid these but they had some really nice buddha statues which were very cheap. However, I didn't end up buying one as we still had three weeks of our trip left and didn't fancy carrying one around especially as it would probably get broken. 

There are also areas where you can buy drinks and fresh coconuts. My friend Kate ended up having a very strange orange juice. The orange was green but she thought she'd give it a go anyway. Let's just say green orange juice does not taste the same as normal orange juice.

In some areas you must show your ticket again for it to be stamped. When entering some of the ruins you must cover up. I wore a midi skirt and vest top but took a scarf with me to cover my shoulders when necessary. This meant that I could stay cool when riding around the ruins but still go into/ walk around those that required covering up. You also have to remove your shoes in certain areas so wearing some that are easy to take on and off is recommended.

We spent around three hours at the ruins, I would have stayed longer but the heat got to me. I'd say 3-4 hours is probably the best amount of time but if you had a car or tuk tuk you could probably see it all in two hours if you were short on time.


A breakdown

  • We paid 300 rupees (£1.64) for a bike (with basket) for the day from our guest house. Most guest houses should have bikes to rent
  • Entrance to the ruins is 3550 (£19.43) 
  • Tickets are purchased at the museum NOT the entrance to the ruins 
  • Bus to Dambulla costs 100 rupees (55p!) for the local bus. There is no air con but the windows are open so there is a breeze. This journey takes around 2 hours. 
Have you visited Polonnaruwa? What did you think about the ancient ruins?


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Visiting Lake Bled

                                                                  Sometimes you've heard so much about a place and looked at so many beautiful photos that when you arrive it's a bit of a disappointment. There was such a build up and now you're in the place it feels like a let down, sure it's nice but it just hasn't lived up to expectations. I'm sure we've all experienced this. Well, let me tell you Lake Bled is not one of these places. It does live up to expectations and is even more beautiful in person.

I spent three nights in Bled in September and loved every minute of it. A lot of people choose to do a day trip from nearby Ljubljana but we decided to stay in Bled to get the full experience. I definitely think this paid off. If you're short on time then do a day trip but if you have time stay in Bled. We walked around the lake both days and each time we saw different things, it's not somewhere you can get bored easily. It's the perfect place to just sit and watch the world go by (or the rowing boats on the lake, they're pretty fun to watch). 

I have to say that our arrival to Lake Bled wasn't great. It was cold, grey and raining. We'd also ended up at the wrong train station. I had no idea there were two stations so was just going with the one that my Interrail planner had given me. Turns out there's actually two. One which will cost you a €10 taxi journey to town and the other where you can hop on a bus for €1.10. It's not quite as bad as it seems because the €10 was split between three of us but if you were travelling alone this would be very annoying. We also arrived with no internet to download our address, there were no taxis outside the station because it was so small and empty (we were literally the only ones there) so we ended up in the pub next door to the station with a group of Slovenian men trying to figure out how to order a taxi. Luckily, the barmaid offered to order us one and we were on our way. 

We got to our hostel (the Queen of Hearts) and checked in. We had booked a four bed room as we hoped it would be a bit quieter as there would only be one other person in the room. We were lucky with our roomies even though we had a new one each night They were all in Bled for a night to travel back to the airport meaning they all left very early each morning. This meant we could get ready without the worry of disturbing anyone else and also without accidentally flashing anyone when trying to get changed after the shower! Our first night was an early one, we had a quick dinner at a Mexican place which offered a discount to our hostel then headed to bed ready for our first full day in Bled.

Day one 

On our first day we got up fairly late, the motivation for early mornings that we'd had at the beginning of our trip had began to fade. Unfortunately, the weather was very much the same as it had been when we'd first arrived. Really, we just saved ourselves from getting drenched by having a lie in! We got ready quite slowly because of the rain. There was a supermarket two minutes away from the hostel so we stocked up on some breakfast (I should probably say brunch because it was nearly 12!).  We then decided we couldn't wait for the rain to stop any longer. We shoved our raincoats on, packed as little as possible and headed off. 

This was our first glimpse of the lake. Well, partial glimpse because it was so foggy. We started walking anti clock wise around the lake. As we made our way around we started to catch a glimpse of the island in the middle of the lake. This island makes the lake look even more stunning. We were all soon snapping lots of pictures whilst trying to take cover from the rain.

As we continued walking the rain stopped, the fog cleared and the sun began to shine. The lake became even bluer and we were able to sit and enjoy the beautiful view.

Just before you get half way around the lake (if you're coming from the same direction as I did) you'll find a rowing club and restaurant/ pub. There's also a campsite with a restaurant and supermarket just after this. By this point we were getting a little hungry so decided to go and get something to eat. We also ended up with a beer but food was the main priority. We only wanted a snack so shared a panini between us. This was not a good shout. The panini was very average and we'd probably have been better off buying a snack from the supermarket. But at this point we didn't know the supermarket existed. It was good enough to fill us up though and we continued on our walk. 

This area seemed to be where people came to go for a swim. Although the sun was out the air was still a little chilly but there were still plenty of people in the lake. Due to the rain at the start of the day it hadn't even crossed our minds about bringing swim wear so we skipped out the swim.

As we continued around the lake we hit a road, this is where the path starts to come back into the town area on the left side of the lake. This side is still nice to walk through but the other side is definitely more peaceful. 

We stopped to get postcards, we were planning on just heading back to the hostel after finishing the walk to relax then head out for some food. However, Soph decided to ask the man in the shop how we could get to the lookout. We'd seen this on Instagram (this is usually my starting place for research for a new destination) and really wanted to walk up because the view looked amazing. The man was very helpful and showed us where the path up started.

We headed for some (very yummy) food; this time a proper meal then began our walk up. There's two viewpoints. There may be even more but we went to two of them. One is slightly lower and the other higher. The climb takes around 20 - 30 minutes. If you're slow like me then a little longer. The climb wasn't too bad but was quite steep and slippery in some places. This was worsened due to the rain. I have to say getting back down was probably worse. It got so slippery that I decided I wouldn't risk a broken arm and slide down on my bum instead. I was left with a muddy print on my bum but also no broken bones. 

The view points are definitely worth going to. They were one of the best parts of our visit. Not just for amazing photos but to sit and enjoy the view. Both viewpoints had a bench where you could sit and relax.

We stayed at the lookout until it started getting dark, we decided not to watch the sunset. As nice as it would have been the thought of sliding and climbing back down in the dark did not fill me with excitement.

On the way back to the hostel we stopped off at a kebab shop (nice and classy). We had a kebab accompanied with some wine and then headed back to the hosel. Since it was a Saturday and we weren't ready for bed we decided we'd head out and see what Lake Bled had on offer. We weren't expecting a big night out because we were in a small town.

The night did turn into quite a big night as we met some people who went to our university and struck up a conversation. They were actually on a stag do which we thought was a little odd as Lake Bled wouldn't be the first place I would think of when someone said stag do. Anyhow, we ended up staying out until about 3 am after a few too many Bacardi's and cokes.

Day two 

Day two began late. Later than our usual late days. We were in such a beautiful place and yet we were in bed. That's what spontaneous nights out do to a person. I blame the rum. The night out was a lot of fun though. No regrets and all that. Once we had a sufficient lie in and had had enough of hiding from the world and the maid who seemed very keen on coming into the room at around 9am. We ended up being double locked in, long story, but it's not fun when you're bursting for a wee and can't get out of your own room. Anyway, we left the hostel around id day (ok maybe a little later) and headed straight for lunch.

The food took FOREVER to come though. I don't just mean I was hungry so it felt like forever, I mean it was a very very long time and the fact that I was extra hungry did not affect my judgement on the time it took for the food to get to us. The restaurant was also relatively empty when we ordered our food. But maybe they were understaffed, who knows.

                                                                       The weather was definitely better on the second day. The days main activity was boating on the lake. Except it was a Sunday. And guess what? On Sundays most of the places to hire a rowing boat are shut. You can still very easily get boats to the island but these boats are ones where you pay a man to take you over rather than rowing yourself. These were also pricier.

We very nearly settled on one of these boats just so we could see the island. However, we continued walking around the lake. today we walked clockwise rather than the anti clockwise direction we'd walked yesterday.

Luckily, we came across one rowing boat area which was open. To hire a boat you had to pay €10 for an hour, if you went over you had to pay an additional €5 and you'd get an additional half an hour if you so wished. We were given 10 minutes for free which was to get us out onto the lake and allow us to get our bearings. 

I have to admit I wasn't particularly looking forward to the boat. I always feel a bit uneasy in rowing boats because they're quite wobbly. This one was fine though once I got used to it. I opted not to row because I wouldn't be able to row the whole way and didn't fancy attempting to swap seats with someone. I had images of me going over board and killing both my camera and phone. 

When we got to the island we had a quick look in the gift shop then got ourselves some ice cream. I chose a chocolate scoop and a peanut butter scoop. The peanut butter flavour was AMAZING! It was one of the nicest scoops of ice creams I've ever had! We sat and relaxed for a while then headed back. There's a church on the island but due to time constraints for the boat we decided it wasn't worth paying to go inside. We really didn't want to end up paying for another hour so headed back.

Unfortunately, we didn't realise just how long it would take us to untie the boat and steer ourselves back towards the boat rental. It took us longer than we thought to get back and we ended up being late and being charged an extra €5. Not the end of the world but annoying as we thought we'd allowed enough time. Because we paid extra we were given the option to go back out on the lake for another 20 minutes because the €5 had paid for another half an hour. We decided against it because we didn't want to go out for twenty minutes then be 2 minutes late back and be charged again and it become a constant circle! So we cut our losses and headed back towards our hostel. 
We had pizza for dinner with some other people from our hostel and then had a fairly early night and packed for the next day because it was our last night before we moved on to Austria and caught the train to Salzburg.

Day three

On our last day we didn't get a chance to see the lake again because our train to Salzburg was fairly early. Instead we packed up and headed to the bus stop to catch the bus to the station we should have gone to when we arrived in Split. We bumped into a friend we'd made earlier on in the trip and this made our train journey, which was rather long, a lot more fun! 

I was very sad to say goodbye to Lake Bled as it was very magical and lived up to all my expectations. 

There's no denying that Lake Bled was one of the highlights of my interrail trip. It probably even made it into my top three favourite places on the trip which is a pretty good achievement as there were lots of amazing places on my trip.



  • The longer you can stay here the better! Each time you walk around the lake you'll see or discover something new.
  • Rowing over to the island is worth the money unless you're on a super tight budget
  • If you're saving the pennies then do the viewpoints instead. In fact do the viewpoints anyway! I'd say this is the number one thing to do because of the view! 

Have you been to Lake Bled? What did you think?



Spending the day exploring Colombo | Sri Lanka

                                                              In August I spent three weeks travelling around Sri Lanka and it quickly became one of my favourite countries. We flew in from Kochi, India with Sri Lankan Airlines on one of the shortest flights I've ever been on (minus the flight from Birmingham to Edinburgh). It was only an hour yet we had a TV with plenty of movies and we also got a proper meal. Which may have just been fried rice but it was nice to have something to nibble on. Although by the time we got the food it was pretty much time to land!

                                                                                     It was also one of the most cramped flights I've been on. Think Ryanair but worse. The person in front of me also decided they wanted their chair reclined ALL the way back. I mean, I understand people want to be comfy but on an hour long flight having your chair all the way back is slightly annoying for the person behind you who is now extra squished. Anyway, enough of me moaning.

Our first stop in Sri Lanka was the capital Colombo. I had done a fair bit of research before our trip and a lot of people had said that Colombo wasn't really that great so to either avoid it or only spend a night there. We decided to give it a go and stay for one night just to see for ourselves whether Colombo was as average as everyone said it was. Long story short: it is. Having said that I don't feel like I wasted a day there, it was still a nice introduction to Sri Lanka.

We stayed in the CityRest Fort hostel. There aren't that many hostels in Colombo, I mean Hostelworld will give you plenty of results but when you look at the location of these most are 7-9 km away from the centre. We settled on this one, breakfast was included and it was reasonably priced at £12 for the night. Slightly expensive for Sri Lanka but not breaking the bank. 

We arrived early evening and were greeted with a drink and face towel. It was great! Especially for a hostel. The place does feel a bit more like a hotel, I'm not sure if there was a common area. There was a breakfast room but that seemed to be only for food. We were only staying one night though so weren't fussed about socialising.

Our first night was spent searching for food. It's surprising how early places shut. We were in quite a nice area of Colombo meaning there were mostly restaurants rather than local places to grab a quick bite. Most were shut and after wandering around, asking two men the nearest place to eat and having them invite us to a pub instead, we decided to go to pizza hut. Yep, my first meal in Sri Lanka was a pizza hut pizza. Don't get me wrong I do like western food whilst I'm in Asia. I get bored of eating the same sort of meal all the time but for once I actually didn't fancy pizza. I wanted something local. But we wouldn't get this until the next day.

                                                                 The first thing we did when we woke up the next day (minus the usual getting ready and eating) was to head to the train station to buy tickets for our train to Polonnarawu. This was easier said than done. Each booth was for a different destination, we queued at one that didn't seem to have a set destination and were told we needed to go inside to the office because we wanted 2nd class reserved. There were still tickets left so we chose 2nd class rather than 1st (which had air con). I was a bit skeptical and worried that I'd be too hot but it was fine. The windows were massive and there were fans in the carriage. Although one of the fans kept sparking which was a little worrying but safety measures aren't quite the same in Sri Lanka!

We also saved ourselves a bit of money by going 2nd class, our tickets cost 630 rupees each (£3.46) rather than around 1250 rupees (£6.87). Both are obviously very cheap for a 6/7 hour journey but saving money where you can means you can put it towards splurging when needed. 

Getting to Colombo

I can't comment much on getting here via public transport because we came from the airport rather than another destination in Sri Lanka. I think it's fairly easy to get to using public transport due to it being the capital city. There were plenty of destinations you could get to via train from Colombo so I'm guessing you could also get to Colombo from all of those places.

We chose to use public transport from the airport to the city to save money. Taxis were pricey and there were only two of us. It took us a while to find the public bus partly because there wasn't many signs and partly because everyone we asked seemed to give us conflicting information. I think they just wanted us to get in their taxi as many told us a taxi would be much better. We even got some following us! We stuck to our guns and insisted that we were fine with the public bus.

The bus took quite a while to leave, I think it was waiting for more people to fill the bus up or maybe it just wasn't meant to leave for a while. We didn't have a timetable so didn't know when it's departure time was. The men on the bus was pretty helpful, they told us when to get off which saved us from missing the stop. It was dark by this point so hard to get your bearings when looking out the window plus we were in a completely new place so didn't even know what the bus terminal looked like.

The bus took around an hour  and was around 120 Sri Lankan rupees. As i'm writing this (Jan 2017) this is a mere 66p. Yes 66p! Compared to the near $30 that we would have ended up paying for a taxi. In this case going local was definitely worth it.

Getting around

It's very easy to get a tuk tuk to take you around. We did a lot of walking whilst in Colombo so didn't use any transport other than a tuk tuk. Like usual make sure you agree on a price before getting in and bargain for a suitable price. Colombo is fairly spread out so if you're moving around town then a tuk tuk will help save some time. 

Walking, however, does allow you to see more of the city. If we had not walked to the temple we visited then we wouldn't have discovered the little island we explored or the place we ate lunch at.

What to see

I'm going to be honest, we really didn't see much. We didn't get up super early and due to walking to the temple (which took nearly an hour) time soon went. I don't really feel like I've missed out on much by not seeing more of Colombo. What I saw I liked but I wasn't that fussed about the city overall. We chose one main thing to see, the Gangaramaya Temple. I'm happy we chose to visit this temple. It was, however, one of the oddest temples I've ever been to. Actually, it is the oddest temple I've ever been to. 

We walked to the temple so we could experience colombo by foot and stop off if we wanted to. On our way we discovered the Gangaramaya park which you reach by crossing a slightly scary bridge because it is surrounded by water due to being on the Beira Lake. The park is very small and you can easily walk around it in 10 minutes. It's also home to lots of ducks and some rabbits. They were just hopping around! 

We also passed the Seema Malaka which is another temple. The picture below shows Buddha statues at this temple. We didn't go inside as we were already heading to the Gangaramaya temple. 

                                                           The entrance to the Gangaramaya temple was 300 rupees (£1.65). You had to leave your shoes in a basket before going in. You first enter a temple where pictures are permitted. You then exit into a courtyard area where there are various things to look at. I never quite got the gist of the temple, it seemed a bit random. That's what I mean when I say it was the oddest temple I've been too. There were more inside areas but they were home to lots of glass units full of items such as bowls and glasses or certain stones. It was very interesting to wander around but I also felt like I had entered an emporium full of very random things. There were more buddha statues outside and a museum area. 

                                                                           I don't feel like I'm setting a great picture for the place. It was very interesting but if you want a temple that feels like an actual temple, where you'll see plenty of locals then this probably isn't the temple for you. But if you want somewhere slightly random and a bit different then definitely check this out. And for the price you can't really go wrong!

After finishing at the temple we were hoping to grab something to eat but found it very hard to find an actual restaurant. We found one, very touristy, one with very overpriced food but other than that there wasn't really anywhere. I think this was due to our location we weren't in the main city but rather slightly on the outskirts.

We decided our hunger could wait and walked to the Viharamahadevi Park. This park is pretty big but we only stayed on the outskirts to have a rest and catch up on some reading. It was a lovely place to relax until the bench I was sitting on became over run with ants. We made a swift exit. We ended up getting a tuk tuk back to our hostel because I really didn't fancy walking nearly an hour to get home because I'm lazy and also really needed a wee.

Once we got back to the hostel we didn't really do anything else other than stocking up on some snacks for our train journey that evening.

Where to eat

Seeing as I only spent a day in Colombo and my meal the night before was a pizza from Pizza Hut, I can't offer many suggestions of where to eat. In fact, I only had one proper meal in Colombo because breakfast was served at the hostel and we bought snacks for our train in the evening.

                    Lunch was my first experience of traditional Sri Lankan food. And boy was it spicy! Even Kate who loves spice said it was surprisingly hot. We found the little restaurant area on the way to the temple. You had to buy a lunch ticket and then line up and you were given a portion of each bowl of food. I opted not to have the fish dish because quite frankly it didn't really look that appetising. I also was trying to avoid fish and meat. I wasn't overly careful and as soon as we hit the beaches I lived off seafood but I wasn't going to risk it on my first day in the country. As you can see from the picture below the food was pretty basic but it was extremely cheap and tasted great. We also got special treatment because we were the only tourists and they seemed to love having us eat at their restaurant. I say restaurant but this was all actually outside. There was an inside but it was more of a canopy covering the area.

                                                  We also stopped off at a bakery which you'll find lots of in Sri Lanka. Our first experience of a bakery was fairly similar to one you'd find in the UK. Obviously still very different but it sold cakes and doughnuts and also savoury pastries. I had a chicken samosa and it was also really good.

Our only other food stop off was the complete opposite to our first. We ended up at a very nice cafe just round the corner from our hostel. The place was a lot like a costa but nicer and served a range of teas. They also offered a really cool looking afternoon tea but we only stopped for a drink.

Overall, I do agree when other bloggers say that Colombo isn't that fab but I still think it's worth spending the day there if your itinerary permits it; especially if you're already there because of flights.  It was a nice introduction to Sri Lanka but I was very excited to head north to Polonnarawu to see a bit more of the local life.  



  • Get to the train station early if you're catching a train and book beforehand even if you book on the same day make sure you book on the morning, not before your train.
  • Head to one of the temples; they're cheap and interesting!
  • Find where the locals eat and experience Sri Lankan curry
  • Tuk tuks are easy to find and the easiest way to get round the city
  • Ask for help at the station! The workers and locals are all very friendly. 
Have you visited Colombo? Were you underwhelmed or do you think it's a hidden treasure?



How to spend an afternoon in Hvar | Croatia

an afternoon in Hvar

Whilst in Split for three days I took a day trip to the nearby island of Hvar. The island is easy to reach from the mainland. A ferry from the Split pier takes around an hour and costs 90 Kuna each way.

We headed straight into the town area, there's a square with shops and restaurants. We were quite hungry (we are basically always hungry) so we went to find somewhere to eat. Like Split there are lots of narrow alleyways and streets, however, in Hvar they lead uphill. We stopped off for coffee and a quick snack because I needed the toilet and refused to pay to use the public one. This probably sounds illogical; paying for a coffee to use the restaurant toilet surely costs more?! But we were planning a coffee break anyway just it ended up being a tad ahead of schedule. Anyway, enough of my toilet habits.

We stopped off at the first place we found because quite frankly it looked really cute. The menu was fab too and we ended up having brunch rather than a snack. The restaurant was called Ka'lavanda and served various food options; the brunch menu was particularly lovely. They also served lots of cocktails but seeing as it was only around 10.30 we decided it was best to stick to coffee!

Brunch at Ka'lavanda restaurant Hvar
Ka'lavanda restaurant Hvar
I opted for the waffles. There were a couple of choices for toppings, I went for the Nutella and cherry jam after the waitress recommended it. I was a bit unsure about the cherry but it tasted amazing. Just writing about them make me want to eat them all over again. They were some of the best waffles I've ever eaten and that is a very bold statement because I like waffles a lot. Soph had poached eggs and smoked salmon which looked equally as yummy but I'm glad I opted for a sweet treat. 

cute cafe in Hvar

coffee in Hvar

After eating we headed up to the fort. We wandered up little streets and found some stairs, these led us up until we hit a small road. Across from this was the path up to the fort. There were no longer any stairs just a winding path on an incline. This part of the walk took around 15 minutes (including a break in the shade because it was hot). There was a car park area at the top and you could begin to see the stunning view. We decided to continue into the fort itself so we could get a better look at the view.

view from Hvar fort

To enter the fort you must pay 30 kuna. It's well worth paying the entrance fee because the views are stunning! The sun was shining so we enjoyed sitting, looking out onto Hvar and of course getting lots of pictures. There are various viewing points in the fort as well as information about it. There's also a restaurant and a few shops. We didn't look in either as we'd just eaten and weren't bothered by the shops so I can't comment on the quality of the food. I imagine the prices are quite steep seeing as it is a tourist attraction and you can probably get better food back in the main town but that's just a guess. 

hvar harbour from above

Hvar from above

Make sure you check out the old prison whilst at the fort. We happened to stumble upon it and weren't sure if we were allowed in but seeing as the door was open we thought we'd go and see. It was a tad creepy and reminded me of Pirates of the Caribbean. It was also a good way to escape the heat of the sun for a bit. 

Once we'd finished exploring the fort we headed back down to the town. We walked down a slightly different way so came to a little area with lots of stalls. There was lots of souvenirs, as well as, handmade jewellery. I stocked up on some postcards since I'd decided to send one home from each place I visited on the trip.

We then had an hour or so to kill before our ferry back to mainland. We walked past a couple of cafes and found a juice bar called Vita. We decided to stop off and get a juice. I didn't have one but Soph had an apple, carrot and ginger one. The juices and smoothies were 40 kuna. They also sold wraps and sandwiches.

Vita juice bar Hvar
Vita Juice Bar menu Hvar
By the time Soph finished her juice a queue for the ferry had started to form so we headed to get into the queue just incase we missed out on seats. The ferry on the way back wasn't as nice as the one going. There was no wifi and the seats weren't so comfy. Not that it really mattered as it was only an hour or so to get back. Once we got back to mainland we headed to get some food and then to the hostel to grab our bags ready to get the bus to Mostar.

Palm trees in Hvar

Hvar Harbour

I really enjoyed Hvar even though we were only there for half a day. I think it's definitely worth while to take a day trip or do what many people visiting Croatia do and spend a couple of days here to fully explore. We didn't get a chance to see the beach area but I've heard there are a few cool bars there but seeing as we had time constraints and it was the afternoon we thought our time was better spent exploring the fort and old town.



  • The ferry from Split costs 90 Kuna each way and lasts around an hour. It's a pretty smooth journey but if you get very sea sick then best to take a tablet!
  • The fort is worth a visit; the views are amazing!
  • Explore the small streets off of the main square, you'll find cute shops and lots of nice cafes to stop off at
  • Take a trip to the beach area, if there's time, to check out the bars
Have you visited Hvar? What did you think of it?


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