Tag Archives: lighthouse

Galle, 2015

Galle was my favourite new place that my husband, daughter and I visited on our trip to Sri Lanka. The town is contained in a walled fort area, which made it easy to navigate and explore.

We arrived at the fortification near Flag Rock and walked around the top of the city walls. The water was clear and blue with only a few small waves and fishing poles breaking the surface. We found the white Meeran mosque, the tall Galle lighthouse next to it and the sandy beach in front of that.

The old bell tower was close by and the All Saints Anglican church. The court square was being taken over by large fig trees and ordered lines of school children in white uniforms. The police barracks proudly proclaimed its 1927 inception and we went inside the Dutch reformed church for a little peace and quiet.

We wandered the streets, past the orange marine archaeological museum and an old gate with colonial shield atop it. We forwent the old Galle Fort Hotel and stopped for lunch in Sugar in the newly renovated Old Dutch hospital instead.

Sugar served old style Sri Lankan fare with a modern twist. It was unexpected and delicious. My daughter loved the novelty of drinking out of a fresh coconut and I liked the familiar looking décor that could have belonged in a wine bar in Sydney.

Next stop was shopping at Barefoot and Maison where we picked up some souvenirs and a lovely summer dress for my bestie. I regret not having the sense of mind at the time to buy one for myself as well.

Wishing we had more time to stay, we bundled back into the van and hit the road south to Marissa. On the way to the beach resort, we found some more fishing poles with stilt fishermen sitting upon them. An iconic image and one that we had to pay for to take home.

Related posts: Cooler Colombo, 2015, Old Colombo, 2015, It’s a Sri Lankan Thing

Marlborough to Akaroa, 2012

Before long, it was time to bid farewell to our New Zealand Sri Lankan family and catch the ferry back to Picton with no view of the Marlborough Sounds once again and a shared baby’s room with no private cabins. We didn’t realise just how spoilt we had been on our previous trip.

My husband and I decided to console ourselves with a rare couple of hours off from the newborn to sample some of the local Marlborough wines near the holiday park we were staying on river in Blenheim.

We started at Lawson’s Dry Hills, who suggested we visit a lovely new winery that I now see popping up in Australian bottle shops everywhere. Wither Hills had an undoubtedly modern cellar door and with old barrels for added character and a view of the vines to the hills.

The next day, we drove the East Coast to Kaikoura to see the seals. We didn’t have to look far as there was one lying in the car park in the sun when we arrived. We walked out onto the rocks and found a few bathing in and out of the beautiful healthy sea weedy water.

That night we stayed at Hamner Springs, a spa town in the hills. We visited the big water park with thermal springs the next day and soaked in the pine forest of the town.

Our final stop was Akaroa, one hour from Christchurch, for New Year’s Eve. Akaroa was a pretty little French inspired town and was my favourite place on the trip.

We stayed in a holiday park overlooking the town which had a comfy lounge building with TV. We walked down the hill into the town and discovered that a cruise ship had invaded for the day.

The French influence could be seen in the French bakeries, lovely heritage buildings and French signage that was dotted around the town. I bought some lovely earrings in a small gift shop and we walked out to the pier on harbour.

On New Year’s Eve we walked a little further to the lighthouse and had a yummy local seafood platter lunch. We were back in the van in time to see the lovely sunset. Our little family of three were all sleeping well before midnight, so tuckered out that not even fireworks hitting the van at midnight woke us up.

By the end of the trip, we had gotten used to our comfy little portable home and were sad to drop the campervan off in Christchurch before we boarded our plane home on New Years Day. New Zealand had turned out to be much more beautiful than I had imagined and I was so glad we had come.

Related posts: West Coast to Wellington, 2012, Queenstown to Fox Glacier, 2012, New Zealand, 2004

Isla Mujeres and Cancun, 2011

Isla Mujeres, the Island of Women, famous for the statues between it and Cancun on the mainland which were sunken for the pleasure of scuba divers.

The ferry over from Cancun was quick and the water was even bluer than Tulum.

My husband and I stayed in a lovely little hotel on Playa Secreto, the quiet side of the island, which had a sandy courtyard filled with hammocks.

No cars were allowed on the island, so people got around on golf carts, although the island was so small that you could walk everywhere and didn’t really need one.

The main street was short and lined with restaurants and gift shops. We took a seafront walk along Bahia de Mujeres to see the lighthouse and had lunch in a Cuban restaurant.

My husband wanted to go scuba diving while we were here and I was happy to join the dive boat to go snorkeling. The dive boat instructers were confident fellows and kept me entertained while we waited for the divers to resurface.

We saw the statues of so many different people- standing, sitting and engaged in all sorts of activities- it was like nothing I had ever seen before. We also saw a turtle in the wild, which I had never seen before and was amazing. He was so quick!

That night we ate in a seafood restaurant with tables and chairs on the beach and found a funky bar on the main street that had high ceilings and a mural of a rainforest. We also discovered the La Adelita Tequileria.

You could hire a deck chair at the busier Playa Norte by day, or sit on a swing in one of the many bars that lined the beach, by night. It was on one such swing that we got acquainted with a lovely Swiss girl called Jasmin who was travelling through Mexico by herself, but had met many like minded travellers such as ourselves along the way to keep her company as desired.

We discovered that we were staying in the same hotel and met in the sandy courtyard on occasion to play cards and have a few drinks between beach visits. Jasmin was travelling back through Cancun and didn’t really want to go by herself. We had already decided that we wanted to avoid spending too much time there; so the three of us travelled back to mainland together to stay one night in a Cancun motel.

Jasmin was on a mission to get a one-person hammock and we were happy to join her quest. We found one in a nearby market, squeezed between the many restaurants and closed nightclubs.

And so our Mexican journey came to an end. It really had been the best trip ever, maybe it was the place, perhaps it was the company or just that it was that blissful time between get married and having kids.

Related posts: Tulum, 2011, Chichen Itza, 2011, Campeche and Merida, 2011, Palenque, 2011, Oaxaca, 2011, Mexico City, 2011

Campeche and Merida, 2011

After Palenque, my husband and I headed to the coastal town of Campeche in the Yucatan peninsula where we stayed in a cute hotel with a small pool.

Our first stop was the restaurant at the Campeche City Hall. From the first floor balcony, we could see over the top of Plaza Principal central square which had a bandstand in middle, surrounded by churches, all enclosed by a city wall with arched gates. It was fun watching the band play and all the locals milling about.

Campeche was filled with bright murals, bronze statues, colourful houses and round towers. It really was a pretty little place. We saw the old lighthouse, a street of wedding dress shops and got a great viewpoint of the town from Baluarte de San Carlos.

My favorite part was walking along the Malecon waterfront promenade at sunset past all the modern statues and bars- mostly closed for the off-season. The Cathedral de la Purisma in the main square also looked pretty spectacular lit up at night.

A little outside of town up a hill, we went to the yellow Fuerte Museo San Jose del Alto, which overlooked the Gulf of Mexico. The fort even had a drawbridge and I loved the rounded turrets.

The rest of the day was one of my husband’s favorite times of the trip. We sat in a seafood restaurant on the water drinking, playing cards and eating the best free fish ceviche for whole afternoon. We had the restaurant to ourselves so were able to watch the cormorants fishing nearby and soak in the atmosphere for as long as we wanted.

Next stop was inland to Merida. Merida was hot. So hot, that my husband felt sick. So sick, that he didn’t have the strength to protest when I got ripped off by a Mayan hammock seller that we had met in a café. He took us back to his shop and sold me a bracelet and an overpriced picture after I flat out refused to buy a hammock for a ridiculous price. At the time I figured it was the lesser of two evils, but I still got scammed in the end.

After this disappointing episode, I ate the largest burrito I have ever seen and we retired to the air conditioning of a Frida themed hotel.

The next day, we discovered that cruise ship visitors had invaded the city. So after a quick spin around the main plaza with it’s Cathedral, the old Bishops residence and the red city hall with black and white checkered balcony, we left as soon as possible.

My highlight was the discovery of some interesting modern murals inside the green Government offices at the top of a large staircase that ran from the courtyard.

I never realized how much of a coastal dweller I was until I was in the middle of the Mexican heat of Merida. I longed for the relief of a sea breeze once again, but first it was off to the to see the desert ruins of Chichen Itza.

Related posts: Palenque, 2011, Oaxaca, 2011, Mexico City, 2011