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Just got back...

London, United...
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Just got back...

What a bloody amazing holiday!!!

I made up my own itinerary with the help from the people on here and it was absolutely fantastic!!!

I'll be posting reviews of the places we stayed, the places we ate and where we went etc later today...

But firstly, thanks to everyone on TA who made it possible and thanks to Dave (worldtravellerguy) for putting us in contact with a world class driver (Jally). The driver gave us the space we needed when we wanted to do things ourselves and was there to help us when we needed help. He never tried to take us to hotels we didn't want to stay and yet was able to offer us recommendations when the hotels we visited weren't as good/clean as we thought they would be. A fantastic chap!!

We stayed at some great hotels/cabanas too, Coconut Beach Cabanas in Tangalle is brilliant, right on the beach, only 4 cabanas, so a great "homely" atmosphere and they were only finished in December so they are brand spanking new and immaculately finished!!

The washing machine has just finished it's first wash so I'll be back when I've got another load going!!!

London, United...
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11. Re: Just got back...

Next installment...

After leaving Tangalle we headed towards Mirissa where we stayed for the first night at Mirissa Beach in. We managed to get a double room with evening meal and breakfast for 2500rs. The guys who ran this place were really great and the evening meal was fantastic. BUT... The room was filthy. I don't mind a bit of filth (as my girlfriend will testify!!), but as the room was unmade before we arrived the sheets weren't on the matress so we unfortunately saw the state of them and the pillows.

We stayed in one of the top floor rooms (room 10 I think) and it was pretty grim. The ceilings were really dark, the walls were grubby (really grubby!!) and the sink in the toilet still had shaving hairs from the (now rather clean shaven) guy or girl who stayed before us. As I said, the matress was dirty, stains all over it. I don't want to know what they were but it wasn't pleasant. The pillows were even worse. I mentioned it to the chap and he double bagged the pillows and also put 2 sheets on the bed but it was pretty grim.

The food was excellent though and even though we had to leave at 6.30am for the whale watching trip (that we'd organised through Coconut Beach Cabanas in Tangalle), I had a good night with them and some other guests drinking lots of Lion beer and Arrack. The manager has worked in Cornwall and speaks great English and is a top chap. The guests we met (from Plymouth) were great and they mentioned that their room was dirty too.

We left Mirissa Beach Inn to go whale watching from Mirissa harbour, packed our bags and left them at the Inn while we were out to sea. The whale watching was an amazing experience, we saw one or two whales about 6-7 times, we managed to get pretty close. They stay on the surface for 20 minutes and then dive down for another 20 minutes. Just before they dive you get to see their massive tails come out of the sea and splash down before diving below. We left the harbour at 7.30am and returned about 1pm.

We went back to Mirissa Beach Inn, checked out and moved up the beach to the Paradise Beach Inn. This place is a different level to Mirissa Beach Inn and it was more expensive. We stayed in one of the Cabanas for a night for 4000rs (evening meal and Breakfast included) but they didn't have it for more than one night as they were full. The cabanas are nice, they are clean and whilst not big, they are comfortable. After 1 night in a cabanas, we moved into a room. Now these are very nice indeed!! We paid 4700rs (HB) for the room for 2 nights and they were great. I'd say the room we had (409) was equivalent to a 4 star hotel room in England. Our room was upsatirs, had a great balcony that overlooked the pool and straight out to the sea. Towels were changed daily (leave them outside your door) too.

All in all we loved Mirissa. The beach is idyllic and the palm trees skirting the beach offer some shade. On the far western end there were loads of surfers, usually there were 10 in for the majority of the day. We missed out on breafast at the Paradise a few days as it was a buffet style service (as was the evening meal) and went to the western end of the beach to the Suda Weli restaurant instead. We loved this place, the staff were great and the food fantastic. They came out with fresh fish when you asked them what the fish was and showed you. I had a Red Snapper one day that was some of the nicest fish I've ever eaten. One evening we ate at the Paradise and then went for a few beers to the Suda Weli restaurant. The jumbo prawns there were so fresh my girlfriend and I shared 2 even though we'd only eaten an hour before in the hotel!! I work on a beach in Devon and know my fresh fish and these prawns were great!!

All in all Mirissa has a different feel to Tangalle. Mirissa is definitely more "touristy", but it's certainly not too touristy. On Tangalle beach we saw 2 other westerners in the 4 days we were there and we loved the quietness, the hospitality and the way the fishermen wanted us to help pull in their nets etc. Whilst at Coconut Beach Cabanas we were perfectly relaxed and the food was great. At Mirissa we were one of many tourists and it didn't have such a personal touch to it. If you go to Mirissa for a week, then I'd definitely advise to go to Tangalle and stay there for a bit as they have totally different atmospheres. Whilst in Mirissa, please visit the Suda Weli restaurant for some food and a few beers, even if you are staying somewhere halfboard. You won't be disapointed.

Ahungalla, Sri Lanka
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for Sri Lanka, Kalutara, Ahungalla
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12. Re: Just got back...

Hi Jon & Nikki

Great to read your travel "sagas", and of course really good to know that you have had a fab holiday out there in Sri Lanka, i must admit that it seems to have been really FULL !, not sure i could do all you have done in a couple of weeks when i usually go for around 6 weeks !, but i can be really lazy when i am out there !, but sounds really great anyway.

Good to know that Jally looked after you ok, and i know that he too enjoyed being with you too, he had mailed me since you got home !, he actually said it was a pleasure to be with people that had done thier "homework" previoulsy and knew what they wanted, and he added that although some quite tough days at times, it was thoroughly enjoyable for him too, a good comment coming from a professional like Jally !

So, hopefully you are settling back here in dreary old UK now, and got the washing all finished?, as for me?, well in 5 weeks time i shall be back out there in Lanka once more, and cannot wait for that time to come, tomorrow i have to go to the Sri Lankan High Commission here in London to pick up my visa, then the countdown will really begin !

Regards

Dave

London, United...
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13. Re: Just got back...

Cheers for introducing Jally to us mate, he was a pleasure to be with!! We had a right laugh and he was professional, courteous and most importantly I loved it as India were giving Sri Lanka a right hammering in the Cricket!!!

I'll just add my last day and night in Sri Lanka now...

After having a great time in Mirissa we headed to Bentota as I thought this would break up the long journey back to Colombo and the flight home.

It was Valentines Day and I wanted to spoil my girlfriend so I didn't tell her what type of place we were staying in for Valentines night. I'd seen reviews on the internet for a place called The Waterside just outside bentota. It's a place on the river and it looked absolutely amazing. We arrived in the early afternoon after calling them to find out exactly where it was situated.

Travelling from Galle towards Colombo about 500 metres before you get to the bridge that spans the Bentota River there is a turning on the right hand side. Follow this road for 1-1.5km and you'll get to The Waterside. It's a boutique hotel with 6 rooms that is elegantly perched overlooking the Bentota River.

We we shown to our room (room 5) upstairs and were absoulutely amazed at the beauty of the hotel. The rooms are immaculate, beautifully decorated and tastefully furnished. The rooms have large balconies which overlook the river and the views at sunset are sensational.

I've written a review and included pictures so I won't harp on about it too much here, but it's safe to say it's one of the nicest hotels I've ever stayed in. It's only 1.5km from Bentota but we didn't bother to go there as the hotel had everything we wanted. We lounged around the pool for the afternoon and then tucked into a lovely meal in the evening.

Just have a look at my review when the TA team authorise it. It should be there today or tomorrow.

It's an amazing hotel, balancing extreme luxury with a friendly, intimate atmosphere. The staff and the owner Susan were brilliant, taking their time to speak to us and make us feel at home.

10/10.

Dave, if you're down that way in 5 weeks or so I strongly urge you to pop in for a night or two. It's a fantastic place.

Eastleigh, United...
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14. Re: Just got back...

Thaks for your review. I have not been to some of the places you mentioned - perhaps another trip for us

Brighton
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15. Re: Just got back...

Thanks for such a great report, Faceman. Did you book any of your accommodation in advance, or did you just turn up on the day?

London, United...
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16. Re: Just got back...

The only place we booked in advance was the Slightly Chilled Guesthouse in Dalhousie. We booked this place by email as I wanted to be 100% certain that we had a place as we had to get up at 2am to climb Adam's Peak.

It's very quiet over there so just turn up and you'll be able to get a room.

Brighton
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17. Re: Just got back...

Thank you

Ahungalla, Sri Lanka
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for Sri Lanka, Kalutara, Ahungalla
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18. Re: Just got back...

Jon....

I will be staying about 20 minutes from The Waterside, so yeah may well take a look at it while i am there, will also be taking up an invite to check out the nearby Wunderbar too while i am there, owner has invited me down to dinner one night.

Got my visa today, not without hassle i may add, it would seem that i was causing a "little suspicion" going to Sri Lanka so many times in last 3 years !, took a phone call to a good friend of mine down there to sort that out, good job i had his business card with me !, hmmm just makes you wonder do they want people to go there doesn't it??

So all ready now and waiting for the off in just over 4 weeks time.

Regards

Dave

London, United...
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19. Re: Just got back...

Strange that they thought you'd been there too many times!!?? I'd have thought they'd have been only too happy to let a tourist in for a few months!!

It was very quiet in most places, Mirissa was the only place that appeared busy.

It's a shame that the econimic slump and the "war" have combined to make things hard for the people there. Especially as we saw no trouble there at all, only lovely people who would do their very best to make sure you fell in love with Sri Lanka.

birmingham
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20. Re: Just got back...

really greatful for the reviews here. It is my 40th Birtday in May and want to visit somewhere different. HAve been thinking about Sri Lanka and after reading these reviews will defo go. Have come across a great deal via Kingfisher - but the hotel is base in kalutar. Is that a good base from whichto do some good trips?