Since this was the first time I had traveled as a couple, to wrap up my travels to Sri Lanka, I decided to give you a little best/worst article; but not just from my perspective…from me and my travel partner’s perspective. Finally – Russ gets to speak up and be heard! We came up with the questions together and answered them completely separately. Then I put both of our answers together for the post. I found it quite interesting to see what we agreed and disagreed on!
Favorite overall place and why:
Russ: Unawatuna – Brand new hotel, great service, lovely little beach town and we found a few great restaurants. It was a really relaxing place to finish the trip. The only downside was the lack of a good beach, but the hotel and food more than made up for it.
Sherry: South of Galle at Auraliya Villa…it was the beginning. Not only was it a luxury villa we had to ourselves with a private beach, 3 black labs, and a staff of people waiting on us – but it was where we really started. I love the newness of a relationship and getting to know people. Besides that – the location was perfect as it was near Galle, and you seriously couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful beach and place to play in the turquoise waters.
Worst place and why:
Russ: Polonnaruwa – While there were some beautiful ruins there, especially the sleeping Buddha and the Vatadage, but getting there was when I realized I’d messed up the trip planning and there wasn’t anything, I mean anything, in town and to make things worse the hotel and it’s manager just sucked.
Sherry: Polonnaruwa – I was just generally unimpressed with Polonnaruwa since I’m not a temple person. The day was super hot, and I was tired of temples, and you couldn’t wear shoes in area so you were walking on hot stones!
Best Lodging :
Russ: Kingfisher, Unawatuna – Brand new room with every modern amenity, a view of the ocean, a phenomenal restaurant downstairs and most of all, the staff were wonderful and especially doting. Ask for Nama.
Sherry: Unnawatuna – Kingfisher Boutique Hotel. It was at this time that we finally agreed to slow down and just relax. After being on the move the whole month we found this perfect hotel to stay for 4 days.
Russ: Top Secret, Hikkaduwa – Tiny little room with unbelievably stifling heat and oh yeah, that big ass cockroach that walked across me while I was trying to fall asleep. Never again!
Sherry: Polonnarwja Siyanco Holiday Resort. It was way too expensive for what you received. And my final straw was that there was no wifi at all and everything I asked for on the menu they were out of. Something as basic as cheese. I just felt the place was poorly run from a service perspective.
Russ: Waterfalls Homestay – They served us an amazing home cooked curry outside overlooking the valley and the waterfalls.
Sherry: Waterfalls Homestay in Ella served the best and most authentic breakfast by far. Fresh curd, and egg hoppers. The nightly dinners were amazing too. Curries were good, but the 2nd night they served us fresh crab which was a real treat!
Russ: Devon Restaurant, Kandy – All I can say is grizzled, boney chicken anus.
Sherry: Actually I’d like to nominate the whole town of Kandy as the worst food! Everyplace we went – Devon’s, White House, a Chinese restaurant, the pub – they were all huge disappointment because they were empty, closed all together, tried to overcharge us, or simply had horrible service. Specifically the sweet and sour chicken at Devon’s was my most memorable worst. It wasn’t that it tasted horrible; it was that the whole night was horrible. That was the night the crappiness of Kandy food actually brought me to tears – much to Russ’s surprise.
Best travel moment with the other person:
Russ: Sherry scoring us the expensive room at a new hotel by bartering her writing and photography services. Get Some!
Sherry: Actually I will go into sappy mode for a second and say that there were actually many of these to choose from. Russ helping me with my technical email issues, removing bugs from the room, riding the trains together, making it to the top of Adam’s peak when Russ cut the line. But one time sort of sticks out to me as I found it surprising. I am lazy, when something breaks I tend to throw it away. However when my bra broke and I was disappointed and about to throw it away, Russ stopped me and said he could fix it. He pulled out a little sewing kit he carries with him and preceded to stitch it all back up – and I’m still using it today! I just found the image of him toiling with a needle and thread on my bra quite amusing…and nice.
Worst travel moment with the each other:
Russ: Dinner, Kandy, Devon restaurant. Sherry needs to eat, because when she doesn’t eat, she can get a bit…cranky. I’ll only add that when the food did finally come, it made things worse, for both of us. Refer to ‘Worst Food’ above.
Sherry: Let’s just say – it’s never good to mix 24/7 of togetherness with ex-girlfriends, quitting smoking, and booze; a lethal combination for being able to get along. Somehow we got through that night thanks to a deck of cards.
Russ: Three temples and gardens tour in Kandy . The temples and the gardens themselves were very nice, but everyone we encountered that day was a breath of fresh air and wanted nothing from us except to show us their country. It was a welcome change of pace and a rare travel day.
Sherry: Festival in Nuwara Eliya. It was completely unexpected, great photography, and totally off the tourist trail…everything I love.
Russ: I’d have to say the safari at Yala. While it may be due to my expectations, the park wasn’t that interesting, we saw very little wildlife and definitely no leopard, the guide was pretty average and didn’t care much what we saw and the ride in the jeep itself was horrible.
Sherry: Yala Safari. It reminded me to never spend money on a safari unless it’s in Africa and you have a big long lens.
Most stressful moment:
Russ: Honestly, I don’t really remember any except dinner at the Devon restaurant in Kandy.
Sherry: trying to get on a super crowded train to Hatton during Poya festival. It was as if we were strategizing a war as the train pulled in and a large crowd of people tried to push and shove their way on. I was actually wondering if we would get separated in the craziness let along be able to get our bags on and not break our bottle of vodka in our side pocket of the backpack! Once on the stress didn’t really stop – we rode for 3 hrs in a very uncomfortable and cramped position.
The one thing I’d return to Sri Lanka for:
Russ: – Auraliya, a villa we stayed in near Thalpe on the south coast. It was huge, beautiful, right on the best beach and the food and service was to die for.
Most annoying travel habit of each other:
Russ: Sherry can sometimes have trouble getting moving, I’d be ready to leave to eat or head somewhere and she’d say “I’ll be ready in 5 mins” but 15-20 minutes later, there’s a good chance I’d still be sitting there.
Sherry: My obvious answer is smoking. But that’s too easy so I’ll go with the fact that Russ could not leave a question unanswered; or maybe it’s just boyish curiosity. I would ask a question like “I wonder how many steps there are to the top of Adam’s Peak?” He would immediately hop on his phone and look it up. I simply asked the question not really wanting to get an answer…just thinking aloud…I’m not used to people around me actually acting on it. I realized that if I didn’t want him to look up the answer to some random question I had then I shouldn’t verbalize it.
Best item we packed /brought:
Russ: Backgammon board.
Sherry: Russ’s unlocked smart phone which allowed us to contact guest houses while on the road, and tether to his cheap 3G connection and allow me to work when I desperately needed to. Also – I’ll include backgammon and a deck of cards as the most used items!
What item did we forget:
Russ: Me? Forget something?? Nah…
Sherry: Sleep Sheet – would have really helped me mentally with those buggy rooms! Yes – I’m a wimp.
Best new travel tip learned from each other.
Russ: Probably trip advisor as a central source of information. I definitely use it more often now.
Sherry: A process for collecting and recording receipts. Now – ask me if I’m still using the process…
Favorite person you met:
Russ: Roshon, our tuk-tuk driver in Kandy. He came along at the right time, just when we wanted to see a lot and didn’t want any bullshit along the way and that’s exactly what he gave us. Along with a smile and a good sense of humor.
Sherry: The staff at Kingfisher hotel and restaurant. They were all great – Nama helped us with everything – and was just a cool guy. The waiter at the restaurant would hang out and talk with us at breakfast time and tell us about the surrounding area. You could tell that they all really liked what they did.
Thing we didn’t see that we wanted to:
Russ: I would have like to have scuba dived the great basses. Can you say humpback whales?!?
Sherry: The leopard in Yala Park. We spent all morning on safari looking for leopards and didn’t see a one. Then learned that the afternoon safari had many sightings…damn luck.
Favorite photo taken.
Russ: Young men washing to cleanse themselves before hiking up Adam’s Peak.
Sherry: People boarding the train in Hatton
Favorite photo take of the other person: