While at Kandy we engaged a travel assistant named Pio Mendis who would be our driver / guide for the next 5 days. Traveling in Sri Lanka with a limited time frame is best to be done with a guide who can take you from one place to another.
Pio, a jovial and ‘giant’ hearted man was a pleasure to travel with. We talked about everything under the sun, from politics to tradition to our families – Pio was a marketing manager in a manufacturing company who quit his job to help his brother-in-law in his travel business. Pio chimes, “I love my job, I get to meet new people, bring them around and show them my country. These people usually end up being my friends.”
Continuing our journey on an ascend, we climbed 2000m above sea level on tight two lanes roads avoiding potholes, oncoming traffic and the occasional villager who decides to walk halfway into the road. It was a long ride but we finally arrived and ready to sprint out of the van for a stretch. Surrounded by lush tea plantations and a breath of crisp cool air, the washed out sign saying “Welcome to Nuwara Eliya” beckoned us.
Known as the “Little England” of Sri Lanka, this region is a haven for tea lovers. A pleasurable retreat with many old colonial style guest houses refurbished to treat the tasteful traveler. This is also the base for those who want to climb Horton Plains to catch a glimpse of the breathtaking panoramic view of World’s End – an abrupt end to a cliff that overlooks several mountain ranges. The latter was the main reason we decided to stay a night at Nuwara Eliya.
We checked into an unusual place to stay – a Catholic convent / kindergarden that has several rooms situation at the top of the convent block. Basic, simple and more importantly clean; we decided this was the place to stay as we were on a budget. The sisters were extremely friendly too attending to our every request for extra towels and a speedy repair for our shower heater.
Nuwara Eliya has a lot to offer tourists including visits tea plantations, horse riding, hiking, exploring the beauty of the landscaped gardens or simply retreating to a cup of aromatic warm tea. We visited to Heritance Tea Factory hotel about 45 mins from the town centre an old factory, restored and refurbished elegantly. Tucked away on a hill surrounded by tea plantations, this hotel is a sanctuary for those who opt just to relax and unwind. Since we just came from the Heritance Kandalama, we thought it would only be far to pay their ‘sister’ a visit. We were in awe at how much they managed to salvage keeping the main structures in place.