Tea Plantations of Sri Lanka

After our night in Kandy we were back in the car and on the road again heading to Ella. The car ride was great, the scenery was amazing, the day was misty and the tea plantations all looked a vibrant green colour. As per normal being on the road was a little scary, buses passing buses on steep tight corners with nothing but sheer cliff face on one side of the road.

After almost two hours into the drive our driver stopped at what looked like a rickety old shack and said we were going for a cup of tea as it would still be another hour before we would be arriving at the Tea Factory for a little look around. Out of the car we got and sat down in the dive of a shack.

Served with a nice hot cup of sweet tea were these little Rotti served with the BEST hot sauce I have ever had! As I spooned a generous amount onto my Rotti, Chris our driver looked horrified and warned that it was very very hot and I would not be able to handle it… Ah why do people in foreign countries always think that the little white girl won’t be able to handle the spice! I couldn’t get enough of the stuff meanwhile Chris was in a world of discomfort having only put a small amount on his piece of Rotti. As for Dave, he too was able to handle the spice more than our driver. Such an unassuming place to stop but we were very happy to have stopped there as we were pleasantly surprised with the food and the very kind man who served such good Rotti!

Back on the road, we soon arrived at the Tea Factory for a tour around and a cup of tea!

After a cup of tea we were on our way again, next destination Nuwara Eliya situated at 1,868m above sea level.

Some interesting markets to walk through… Fish this high above sea level, and at least four hours from the coast, no ice to be seen anyone and I’m pretty sure there is no such thing as refrigerated transport in Sri Lanka! So needless to say we bought no fish however we got some hot peanuts and they were pretty good!

Back in the car again and not too far from Ella where we had two days and two nights to explore. Train track walks (posted that one ahead of myself) climbing little Adams peak and meeting some great people.

In search of Bia Hoi

 

After arriving into Hanoi in the late afternoon and checking into the hotel we were soon off for a walk to find some of the local beer Bia Hoi. Which you could get a nice cold glass of for 5000 VND… A beer lovers dream!

It didn’t take us too long to track down the Bai Hoi corner and try a few cold ones.

A tasty little snack to have along with the beer, not 100% sure what it was but it seemed to be some form of nasty processed meat mixed with some herbs and spices then wrapped in the leaves and steamed. I hesitantly unwrapped one, dunked it in the chilli sauce and was pleasantly surprised. In a way it was slightly addictive and went really well with the beer.

While in Vietnam is was always easy to sit down with someone new and have a drink and get to know them! We met this couple from the UK on our second night in Hanoi. It’s always good getting to know what others have done while on their travels.

We decided to give the above snack a go since the beers were going down so well. The squid is dried in the sun for what must be several days (don’t think anyone would get away with that in NZ) then once you order it the street food vender would pop it on the hot coals, then tear it into pieces and serve with chilli sauce. It was not as fishy as one would expect and I thought it went pretty well with the beer.

 

Bolo’s… The BEST Fish Tacos in Dominica!

On our last full day in Dominica, we headed up the hill as usual in our ever faithful JR Pajero to Pagua Bay Bar and Grill for our Breakfast and Bloody Mary’s along with a Mojito  for the road. After enjoying our food and beverage while overlooking the beautiful Pagua Bay and chatting away with Alicia we decided we would drive towards the northern part of the island and later on in the afternoon meet both Rick and Alicia at a little place called Bolo’s in Anse De Mai for a few drinks, some laughs and of course Bolo’s famous fish Tacos. Each day after Breakfast Alicia would give us a chilli bin full of ice and some brews, not to mention a couple of waters also.

So around 3pm after stopping in at a few of the bays and beaches we met at Bolo’s and the fun began. The girls had wine and the boys, well they were on the Rum with beer chasers in-between! I did at least have a taste and I would have to say that it is a force not to be reckoned with!

Bolos is situated in a little fishing port so there was plenty going on for a sunny Saturday afternoon.

These boys were a little shy when it came to having their photo taken but they eventual came too. And then there were others who wanted their photo taken again and again and again!

This chap loved having his photo taken!

Taco Time!

Bolo's Famous Fish Tacos for a steal at just 5EC

After a couple of these each and a few more wines Dave and I were introduced to the game of Dominoes. It was girls vs boys with the girls being the winners of course, but fun was had by all.

The boys, Dave with Bolo in the middle and Rick.

Dave and I with Bolo

I even made friends with a local Donkey, he was pretty keen on trying some of my wine!

After Dominoes a few drinks, several Tacos and lots of laughing it was time to move to the next stop of the afternoon with Rick and Alicia.

Dominica… An Island Paradise…

Dominica (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic) is a small Island in the Windward Island chain in the Caribbean. A long time coming with this post… Before heading home to New Zealand for a month from Antigua, we decided to check out a little Island called Dominica for a couple of days. After a little bit of research we found the perfect place to stay for three nights, Pagua Bay House, Ocean Front Cabanas. On the way from the airport to the Cabanas we stopped at the restaurant Pagua Bay Bar and Grill, (which is also owned and run by our amazing hosts Rick and Alicia) by now it was pushing 9.30am and after being up since 4.00am for our early morning LIAT flight we decided that breakfast was definitely in order before dropping off our bags to then explore the island. The food was awesome, I started my day with the Breakfast Burrito and Dave began his with the Three Egg Omelet and no breakfast would be complete without a local Rhum Punch followed by one of their amazing Bloody Mary’s… Ok maybe 2 or 3. With full stomachs we were ready to go!

With bags unpacked we jumped into the Jr Pajero and hit the Carib Territory. The roads in Dominica take a few corners and ups and downs to get used to but we were soon navigating our way around the pot holes and the insanely deep gutters.

Once into the Carib Territory we past many a local who were happily smile and wave as we drove passed. Unlike many places one may find themselves as a tourist, here in Dominica the people really do seem genuinely happy to see you and seem of a kind nature. Thirsty? No problem, we found a friendly local selling fresh fruit and coconuts on the side of the road. No straws, just drink straight from the coconut itself that has had its top chopped off in a matter of seconds.

There were many a place on the side of the road serving refreshing cold beverages, nothing like a nice ice-cold Kubuli (the local beer that only tourists drink) while exploring the Island. On a Friday and on a Saturday throughout the island there is the smell of BBQ Jerk Chicken in the air and it is too good to resist.

Finger licken good chicken! With home-made salsa on top, washed down with a cold beer! The perfect afternoon snack, and just enough to hold us off before dinner at Rick and Alicia’s.

Local Houses in the Carib Territory

Some of the many brightly coloured buildings around Dominica.

Hand in hand walking to school.

A friendly little chap.

Who needs a play station when you can build your own raft and then slide it into the water on coconuts! Pure Bliss!

After our first day exploring the Carib Territory it was back to our Cabana for some R & R along with a nice glass of wine, before heading back up to Pagua Bay Bar and Grill for dinner. And let me tell you this, the food there is amazing, whether it’s Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner, but not only is the food good, Rick and Alicia are fantastic hosts and are great company too!

Pigeons… Wine Cellars & Good Food

We were lucky enough to have a friend of ours from New Zealand come and visit us here in Viareggio for a long weekend!

It was great having her here, and we jammed in as much as we could while she was here with us! It included a lot of time in the car driving and a lot of sitting on trains but it was all worth it to be able to explore what Tuscany has to offer!

Two Tuscan towns that we particularly liked were Volterra and San Gimginano. They were very ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’

First we checked out the markets in Volterra to work up an appetite for lunch.

After perusing the markets, we were in search of some lunch, and without too much effort came across what looked like a restaurant with some great potential.

We were greeted by the Owner/Chef/Wine maker, a jolly looking fellow with a kind face, then led to our table where we were soon being looked after by a friendly waiter. He asked if we would like some sparkling… Yes please! Thinking it was sparkling water that he was referring too. Turned out it was bubbles that came to our table. Perfect, I’ll take that over water any day! A case of lost in translation but a good case of lost in translation.

After humming and haring over a menu that you wanted to try every single dish, Sue ordered the Wild Boar Terrine to start, it looked pretty good and surprise… It tasted good too!

Dave and I shared the cured Wild Boar with Pecorino Cheese fondu. It was a Heart Attack on a plate but a very yummy one!

For the main course I had whole roasted Pigeon, Dave had suckling pig and Sue had a pesto and pecorino Gnocchi.

The Suckling PigWe opted not to have desert, we were going to wait for a Gelato in San Gimignano for that. We did however finish the meal with a café each, which came in the cutest coffee cups I have come across!

The food was great, the service was fab, friendly, warm and efficient! The food was brilliant and the prices were not what you would expect. We are used to the slightly more over the top tourist prices of Viareggio (and the food is sometimes not up to scratch with those prices) so it was a pleasant surprise to have a meal that was not only a lovely experience but friendly on the wallet too.

As we were about to get the bill Genuino Del Duca took us through the restaurant and through several doors. He was taking us to his wine cellar! The type of place that you wouldn’t mind being locked in for a day or too!

The website for this little spot if you ever happen to be in the area of Volterra, Tuscany, Italy is http://www.enoteca-delduca-ristorante.it/en/volterra.htm (You will have to excuses my lack of computer skills, if anyone is reading this and knows how to make it as a link I will happily take the advice)

A friendly wave goodbye and we were heading onto the next destination San Gimignano, where we had a lovely little hotel booked. The Leon Bianco, which was situated right in the town square, it was once a Palace, the rooms were rather grand. A nice little get away for the night.

After checking in, dropping the bags into our rooms we took a little walk around the walled town of San Gimignano. After looking through the typical tourist trap shops we found a rustic, cellar style bar to have a wine at, Chianti was the wine of choice seeing as we were in the region. When in Rome… We found a little table outside, admired the view, said salute and right about then was when Sue got targeted by a pigeon! I’m no expert on pigeon poop but this pigeon clearly had an upset tummy… Lets just say it looked like that little bird had eaten far to many berries and black olives! He got her right on the head and even managed to get some on her jeans.

I’m pretty sure the pigeon miscalculated the distance and maybe the prevailing wind, after all I was the one who had the roasted pigeon for lunch, it may well have been a cousins or distant relative of the pigeon. They say that having bird poo land on you is a sign of good luck… How that could ever be considered good luck I don’t know!

You will be pleased to hear before venturing off for dinner, we did go back to the Hotel and Sue did have a shower.

After our long lunch and pigging out on Gelato, we didn’t feel the need for a big dinner, we found a cozy little place with a  husband and wife team. A simple small pasta dish each did the trick for diner, followed by a sneaky dessert each. The perfect way to end the day.