Portugal and a return to multi-day hiking on lifeday 25,430

Sally Kelly on GR13

Sally on the GR13

Sally decided that it was time for us to return to multi-day hiking 🙂 and go to somewhere warmer than the UK for her weeks holiday in March.

So yesterday we sat on the tarmac at Luton airport for the best part of 3 hours waiting for the Portugese flight controllers call to say we could depart to Faro. We eventually arrived at Faro airport at 8.30pm 🙁  having left home at 10.30am.

At Faro we had another wait for the taxi to Sagres, finally arriving at the Mareta View B&B at 10.30pm. We quickly dashed out for a rather excellent meal & wine at Mums Restaurant.

Today after a fantastic buffet breakfast we started our walk complete with rucksacks & poles my bag weighing in at 8kg. Once again mainly due to all my electronics.

The day was sunny but oh so so windy which bought the perceived temperature down to13 degrees, the scenery was superb especially with the crystal clear air and bright sunshine. The cliffs are stunning and the wild flowers very abundant. The walking surface was very varied with sand, ankle twisting rocks, tarmac & tracks.

We walked from  Sagres to the castle but refused the entrance fee so then headed to the lighthouse at the end of the world using a variety of tracks and on road walking. After the lighthouse we went along the cliffs to Praia do Telherio and then back on to the GR13 to Vila do Bispo and the highly rated Pure Flor de Esteva B&B for the night.

A good walk of over 14 miles and 1300 feet of ascent according to Strava made harder with the constant high winds in our face 🙁 The days pictures are here

We are still undecided as to which route to go tomorrow 🙁 the preferred inland route appears to suffer a lack of accommodation whereas the coastal route we will be walking into the high winds again.

 

A very enjoyable day around Bentota on LifeDay 25,414

Geoff Jones and crocodile

A nervous me with crocodile

The main reason for staying at the stupidly expensive Bentota Beach Hotel was so I could use their river cruise through the mangrove swamps. I opted for the one hour one as experience tells me I rapidly get bored sitting in a boat 🙂

It was just me and the guide, a young chap who spoke good English and had sharp eyes. So we quickly saw a lot of wildlife: herons, lizards, crocodiles come to mind. A nice tourist touch was pulling in and a guy with a baby crocodile stepping aboard so you could have a picture taken with it, me somewhat nervous of all those teeth.

My new found friend

In the afternoon after a decent swim in their 35 metre pool, the best feature of the hotel, I took myself of for a walk. The touts soon leave you after 50 metres of walking and I was soon on my own. On maps.me I spotted the Siri Sumansrama Temple (interesting that Apple use the name Siri for their digital assistant) so I headed over their. The place was deserted, its quite a modest temple but soon a monk came over and invited me in 🙂 He showed me around explaining why the Buddha is surrounded by Hindu figures and also the new Buddha statue they are making under the Serpents head. All very symbolic and interesting.

I was then invited into his house for a cuppa and cake, well I am a cyclist 🙂 Where he told me his story of becoming a monk when he was 9 and staying at this temple all the time and how he learnt such good English.

The subject soon turned to architecture the next thing I know we are in a Tuk Tuk to see the totally stunning former summer home of architect Geoffrey Bawa at Lunuganga. Wow totally amazing, he was obviously a keen arboriculturist as well the selection of trees was stunning! A gorgeous tall Teak at the entrance and then planted & trained  trees inside like Balsa, Ebony, Temple trees (Plumeria) and a lot more. The whole estate is cleverly designed to maximise the elevated position in a dog leg of the huge river. I just loved it and reminded me of Chris & I visit to Henry Moore’s old studio near Cambridge.  Totally incredible and many thanks to my new monk friend 🙂

A very interesting and enlightening day with loads more pics  here

Biking Marissa to Galle on LifeDay 25411

Tuesday 21 February 2017

A beach

The weather returned to the normal blue skies and heat so a good day for Sri Lanka to show of its crystal clear sea and stunning huge beaches.

I made a very leisurely start, after 10am, catching up on blog posts whilst the masses slept. The route followed the coast line and was pretty flat apart from my detour around Rumassala and its incredibly steep hills 🙁

On the way I called in at the Martin Wickramsinghe Folk Museum in Koggala. He was a very famous author and the museum is in his old house. Unfortunately 12 bus loads of school kids had arrived a few minutes before me 🙁 so everywhere was packed and of cause I couldn’t hang around…

Camera shy fishermen

Near here are all the ‘fishermen’ perched on their sticks in the sea, unfortunately they are museum pieces too and get angry, really really angry, if you try and take their pics. In fact one chased me down the road brandishing his fishing rod in a threatening manner!

The beaches are really fantastic, if you are into fine sand, miles long and just about deserted they look really inviting. However, after my experience in Cuba of swimming in warm water (it just isn’t refreshing) I gave it a miss.

Main street Galle

Galle was only 25 miles away so I arrived at 2pm. Goodness me what a change. The moment you go through the fort walls a air of tranquility and peace descends. The mad noise of buses, trucks honking away evaporate.

I tried to check in at the first hotel but alas was full (or so he said!) However, the kind lady next door at The Old Dutch House came up with a great deal so I decided to stay for two nights.

After a shower, it was unbelievably sticky today, I went for a wander around the walls etc It really is very pleasant with a host of tourist shops mainly selling quality jewellery, tea and lots of splendid looking restaurants.

A rubbish head massage chair

I saw The Tropical Spa and decided to have an Indian Head Massage, oh dear she needed to take lessons from Sally! It was probably the worst head massage  ever! I was made to sit in an executive high backed chair 🙁 and to make it worse to wear a robe!! total disaster. No wonder they wanted to take your money up front!

I recovered enough to have a fantastic, if expensive, meal at the Fort Printers Hotel

An excellent day the Strava is here and Pics here

 

Whale watching from Mirissa LifeDay 25,410

Monday 20 February 2017

Breakfast

I spent the night worrying about being seasick on the trip today  🙁 Even thinking a good use of the watch would be to put a pebble under the strap to act on the pressure point.

However at 6am the kind lady at Club Mirissa provided my breakfast – a seasickness pill and 5 dry biscuits! perfect, pity the weather was anything but perfect grey and drizzly.

I embarked on The Good Boy to be told to sit downstairs 🙁 I asked about the roof, to be told it was for VIP’s I asked how much was it to be a VIP – 500 Rupees (less than £3)  I gave him the money and went on the roof with all the Chinese VIP’s 🙂

A modern day whaler

The boat eventually left at 7.15 into the swell. The tablet worked well, no discomfort at all, I even ate the eggy sandwich that was offered foc. We eventually caught up wth the flotilla of 10 or so other boats searching the ocean grey 🙂

The first spotted was a large school of dolphins who made a half hearted attempt of a display, but it was far to wet for them 🙂 Then a blue whale was spotted, well a bit of its back anyway 🙂 It occasionally did a blow all very desultory. It then just sank out of sight. This happened a couple more times, each time the ship raced of to join the party. After the third time and 2hr 30min we headed back to port having covered about 15 miles of ocean.

A blue whale resting

I arrived back at Club Mirissa feeling wrecked. I must have slept for most of the rest of the day, I put it down to the tablet, way to strong as I didn’t feel queasy in the slightest.

As for the wildlife I think you are better of watching a decent TV documentary 🙂 totally sure that VR will take over pretty soon. Maybe the ship could have a gigantic projector :-).

Here are the other grey pics.