Abu Dhabi & Sri Lanka

We set off on time from Heathrow flying on a daytime flight with Etihad Airlines in economy.
Service on board very friendly and efficient and seating fairly comfortable.

A lovely warm greeting on arrival for our short 2 night stay at the gorgeous Ritz Carlton hotel in Abu Dhabi located alongside the waters of the Grand Canal and a private sandy beach and facing the famous mosque which we were to visit later on. I had a lovely room overlooking the gardens and the pool. In the evenings, around 6 pm they have live performance by pianist and opera singer in the foyer which is a nice touch.

If staying at the ritz Carlton there is a complementary boat that operates on the grand canal connecting to other hotels and souks on the opposite side of the canal. It runs every 20 mins from 9am to about 1am at night.

Our first port of call, after a wonderful breakfast buffet ( everything you could possibly wish for), was to the Etihad training centre where we were shown a mock up of their aircraft including business class, economy, first class and their new residence class. Personally would be happy just to have the chance to fly in business class which is really great – but would not said no to first class or the ‘residence’ class – wow!

Next stop Yas Waterworld – a must for any family staying in Abu Dhabi. Had a go on the ‘bandit bomber’ an interactive water roller coaster – trying to avoid getting too wet! Lots of slides of varying length and degrees in height, a flow rider for those who wish to try their hand at surfing – we didn’t!

A visit to Farari World gave us yet another taste of what is on offer in this destination.
And on a more serious note we paid a visit to the mosque. Ladies, if intending to go into this building must be covered up including head and shoulders and garment down to below knees and not too tightly fitted clothing.

We had a delicious lunch at the Regis hotel outside on the terrace, overlooking the lovely beach. This was followed by a tour of the hotel. It is in a lovely setting and the rooms are of course really nice and spacious. Has interconnecting rooms.

9 November – flew On to Sri Lanka arriving at about 9pm. Transferred to Negombo where we had a meal at the Jetwing blue hotel before going over the its sister hotel the Jetwing Beach Hotel for a one night stay before commencing our whistle stop tour of Sri Lanka. This is a good point to start a tour in terms of position and it is a nice hotel.
The first stop on our tour (a must on any itinerary) was at the Panwela Elephant orphanage. Loved watching the elephants walk down to the river to bathe and have a play about. Journey time about 2 to 2/12 hours from Negombo.

Next drove to Kandy (about 1 hour depending on traffic) – we paid a visit to a spice garden on route so, of course, took longer. In KAndy we stayed at the Cinammon Citadel hotel on the banks of the river. (Really liked this hotel ). Enjoyed a buffet lunch after which had a short tour of Kandy. We visited the Temple of theTooth where, again, ladies have to cover up and remove shoes. It was a bit busy to say the least and very noisy! saw a local show including traditional songs and dances.

The tour included:
Siguria Rock – must climb to the top of this for amazing views
Dambura Rock – again must go the the top for equally amazing views.
Lunch and tour of at the Jetwing Vil Uyana Hotel – a truly beautiful location, surrounded by water – a nature reserve with lots of wildlife – bird watchers must stay here. Although must not be intimidated by creepy crawlies – but then we are in the tropics!
A night at the Heritance kandalama – built into the Rock and blending in with its surrounds. Much better seen in the daylight as, at breakfast, when view over the lake were amazing and surreal.
Our journey then took us to the ‘Tea Trails’ high up in the hills set amongst the ‘high level’ tea plantations. This accommodation was in a private house with butler and beautiful gardens and stunning bedrooms. We stayed on an all inclusive basis – it was almost like having our own house party. really wished we could have stayed longer here. It was well worth the long journey getting there (about 51/2 to 6 hours) – and then fairly long transfer back to the coast afterwards.

Our final stop was at Cape Weligama – visiting the lovely town of Galle on the way (about 1/2 hour from Galle).

This hotel has only opened recently (August) and is made up of exclusive villas dotted around the resort and beautiful views overlooking the sea and beach. Pools are shared between 1, 2 or 3 villas depending on the grade you book. A really stunning property.

We had a tour of Mount Lavinia on our way to Columbo. One side of the hotel – rooms looking a bit tired. would a recommend upgrading to a Colonial room – these rooms situated on the refurbished side of the hotel. The hotel is in the process of refurbishing the rest of the hotel over the next year.

Had a very nice high tea at Cinammon Lakeside Hotel in Columbo before transferring to the airport – only just made it in time as traffic was terrible ( due to a storm) traffic gridlocked for a while.