The next day we went for a less mountainous walk but definitely a long one. Recommended by both my stepmum and my sister to myself and Maddie had also seen this walk online, we headed to the Lady Bower Reservoir! We parked up again in a lay-by on the side of the road and there was a lot of parking so it wasn’t hard to get a space. We unpacked, re packed and put on our boots and were ready to go!
The walk around the reservoir is at least an hour and a half to two hours and when we started the sun was shining. the walk itself is fairly flat except for once you reach the other end of the reservoir and there’s a slight including to then get you onto the next section of the walk, the walk back to where you started along the other side!
The views around the lake are gorgeous, you go from walking out in the open at the start and then walking in-between high fern trees, then out in between bracken as you walk beside the open water, then back into the thick trees again until we reached the opposite end of the reservoir. We decided as the heavens opened and there was a couple of benches shrouded by the trees we could stop for some lunch!
Once we were back on the walk we passed the information centre and as we kept walking along the path you could hear the water before we saw it. In between the trees you could see this huge waterfall ahead of us, although it wasn’t a waterfall, it was the Derwent Dam! Derwent Dam is in between the Derwent Reservoir and Lady Bower separating the two bodies of water. Lady bower being the final reservoir the water flows into out of the three (the first being Howden Reservoir, then Derwent and finally Lady Bower). It had rained so much that the dam was actually overflowing which was a really cool sight to see as not everyone is this lucky!
Once we had marvelled at the Dam and the sign post in front of the dam which was obviously well aged as if you swam in the water it was only a £5 fine, we decided to continue on our walk around the reservoir. Unfortunately we weren’t so lucky this time around and when we thought the rain had stopped over lunch the heavens opened again! The walk back in the rain was just as pleasant because we were all so kitted out and prepared for it. It was just as lovely with our hoods up and muddy boots. The best part about walks like that are that once you reach home and your cold and wet you can get all cosy with a cuppa tea by the fire and a book.
BUT it was way to soon once we had finished the walk to go back and chill by the fire so there was only one option for it, PUB! We headed across to the Lady Bower Pub which is just off the reservoir and it was perfect, well priced, big car park and only two minutes away. we had some pints, a cuppa tea and some hot food, NACHOS. Well deserved.
THEN it was time to go home and really curl up by the fire this time. Last stop on our trip is Bakewell! Stay tuned for our food adventures there.
Heading to the Netherlands a second time around was a little more authentic as we had Stan to show us some of the country we had never seen before, but most importantly, he also had new food places to take us!
Our first stop shortly after we landed was to get some dinner! SO we headed to a restaurant called Hippie Fish which is right on the Beach in Zandvoort. It was SUCH a beautiful restaurant with the most beautiful aesthetic Ive ever seen. Its an instagramers wet dream. Not only that but we chose the most beautiful night to go and the sun was blazing through the windows and a beautiful sunset across the beach the later on in the evening it got!
For dinner I got a king Prawn Linguini and it was so tasty and so worth the money, beautiful presentation as well. We also had a couple of Dutch beers and for dessert they bring it to you on a tray and you pick what you want and they add it to your bill! It was really beautiful and I’d love to go back. Once we had eaten we could even go onto the beach for a walk and the sunset was beautiful.
An experience I will never forget as I never thought I’d go to the beach in the Netherlands!
Melly’s Stroopwaffles can be found in the centre of Amsterdam!
It does the most beautiful Stroopwaffles, you get to choose all your toppings and flavours and they even come out WARM. They were so tasty and so with the short wait whilst they got them prepared. Defintely not expensive either! So tasty, a proper sweet treat.
I ordered a Stroopwaffle with vanilla and chocolate swirl shaving with half dipped in white chocolate and man was it heavenly!
I believe HEMA is actually a dutch supermarket/variety store but they do the NICEST hot dogs in buns! They’re so tasty and a proper quick snack if you’re spending your day touring around Amsterdam!
THE BEST INVENTION I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE. Its a HOT FOOD VENDING MACHINE. You can get burgers, chips, Frikadel sausages, a beef or vegetarian croquette, if you go to the counter you can also get milkshakes and fizzy drinks! They even do FRIED CHICKEN. Everything is in the price range of €1.60 – €2.20 so all reasonably priced as well!
My all time favourite, Bamistrife which is Fried Noodles and onions in batter. The ULTIMATE snack when you’re trekking around Amsterdam central and don’t want to stop for lunch or a sit down meal!
Lost in Amsterdam & Bulldog Cafes
We had been to Amsterdam before but we wanted to try some new coffee shops, one of these places was Lost In Amsterdam. This coffee shop had a proper bedouin feel to it and was the first smoke lounge in Amsterdam! They also have BOMB Milkshakes like no other, they serve alcoholic drinks and other soft drinks as well.
They do offer DJs and Cocktail nights as well as shish pipes! They eve have a house cat! but we didn’t get the pleasure of seeing him/her on our journey!
We also visited another Bulldog cafe, we had been to all the ones in in the centre and decided to visit the Bulldog Rockshop Coffee shop. Definitely the smallest of all the Bulldog coffee shops but really really cosy. we even managed to get a seat by the window!
We headed to Burger Bar for dinner one night and DAMN if you want a good burger this is where to go (they also sell grape Fanta, it didn’t take much to sell it to me).
They boast that they do the best burgers in Europe and thats a pretty big statement. I Definitely enjoyed my meal and they have 4 locations across Amsterdam Central, it also has vegetarian options as well! Best part about the experience, naturally, is that you get to build your burger yourself or you can choose straight from the menu a set meal!
Its really reasonably priced and good quick service! Definitely recommend here for some good food!
This was the most beautiful meal of the trip, something Mel and Stan were desperate to take us too as we are also steak lovers and this place was just phenomenal.
Located just outside the main Amsterdam Central Station in a beautiful white building on the water, you walk down the steps and into a smart casual white and dutch blue aesthetic restaurant. All the staff are welcoming and we were seated to our table!
We were sat with a view overlooking the water and it was just so lovely, the service was quick and the FOOD OMG, the food. The steaks were done to perfection, the dreamiest of all meals. I had the Loetje Tenderloin Steak with the Loetje Gravy and my lord was it just so tender and perfectly cooked to how I wanted it. I even has room for the lightest and dreamiest cheesecake afterwards.
Although the meal itself wasn’t cheap cheap it was TOTALLY worth it, its not that much more expensive but if you’re wanting a nice meal for your trip this is definitely the place to go. They also have more than one location as well around the Netherlands.
If you do go to any of these places or have already been, let me know what you think!
So today is a free half day, with some scheduled excursions first followed by a free afternoon! And wow did we do some exploring, I urge you to watch the YouTube footage because it was all so beautiful and amazing.
We woke up and headed over to our usual breakfast spot located directly across the road from the mission called Kandayan King!
Just getting across the road was a mission itself. Although there is a zebra crossing you are lucky if they stop for you! You have to wait for solid lul in the traffic to get across. Then once you’re halfway they’ll stop for you! But only if!
Here we had our typical breakfast of Toast, spreads, fresh fruits and omelettes. Ready for a day full of tea, spices, gem factories, amazing street markets and Buddha views!
Gurunanda Tea Factory!
We arrive at the tea factory in our busload and were taken around the factory itself to see how tea bags and loose leaf tea is made! It was amazing to see.
We saw where the tea leaves are dried and then where they are placed in machines to be sieved and it is incredible how fast it can go from harvesting tea to drinking the tea itself! It was a very nice and fast insight into how the tea is made in the factory.
Once we had seen all the machines and learnt how everyone was processed we were brought upstairs to a nice dining area where we were able to try some fresh tea, it was so lovely and I LOVE a brew so I was over the moon.
Afterwards I brought an entire tub of loose leaf Jasmine Tea and Vanilla Tea to bring home with me. They are without a doubt the nicest flavoured teas I have ever purchased or had and taste amazing.
The Spice Gardens
Once we were done with drinking tea we headed over to a Spice Garden!
Once we arrived we were ushered down a pathway where we were given fresh coconut water straight from a coconut! We watched him hack the top off and pop in a straw! It was so lovely and fresh. There was also the most beautiful puppy, so naturally we were all crowding around the fussing the little furball.
Once the puppy and coconut excitement had passed we were given a full tour of the area where they grew pineapples (which I learnt in my 21 years of life are grown from the ground? I was absolutely astonished). We also saw where all the other herbs and spices are grown, cinnamon, garlic, aloe etc. It was really interesting especially when they grind and blend these herbs into herbal remedies.
We were then seated and had a lesson on how these remedies were made and what they could assist with medical wise and then were given the best shoulder and neck massage with their homemade Aloe Vera. Man it was amazing I could’ve quite honestly gone to sleep afterwards I felt so relaxed.
Then we were shown to their store full of herbal remedies, where everything was massively overpriced so I bought nothing. I enjoyed the massage though and cuddled the puppy instead of browsing their shop, a great alternative.
Our next stop was the gem factory.
Here we learnt about the mining of diamonds and the process in which is taken to get these diamonds into our jewellery and just as they are! We arrived and were taken down a fake underground mining area where it showed how the miner would dig these stones out from these shafts and bring them up with them.
The gem industry is huge, we then watched a 15 minute video on how these gems were brought to manufacturers and how they are made. We were shown how these gentleman within the building were cleaning these precious stones and shaping them ready to be placed in jewellery or sold as they are. We were taken into a small viewing room where there were all different types of diamonds and gemstones dotted around with explanation of their origins and where they were found.
It was really fascinating to see the process and afterwards were lead downstairs to their gem shop. My favourite gems being the Topaz gem stones, a beautiful pure blue gem which was only £17! It makes you wonder how much of the gem trade is a real hoax.
LUNCH? DOMINOS M8
We were dropped off back at the mission with a mission to find FOOD. And we had seen on the bus through our journey in Kandy that there was a Dominos not far from the mission. You best believe we found that Dominos and ATE our body weight in pizza. It was SO tasty and everything we needed ready for our free afternoon!
TEMPLE OF TOOTH
So the first place us group of girls headed was Kandy’s sacred Temple of Tooth. A beautiful temple where you could visit at a price. We headed into the ground and enjoyed the building for what it was but we did not pay to go inside as it was very busy and you can only go inside at certain parts of the day.
I personally enjoyed putting on our sarongs, we all had such beautiful and colourful clothing options as you cannot bare skin so shoulders and legs must be covered due to be it being a place of worship. It was also located next to the Kandy lake, or Bogambara lake, and was just such a beautiful setting for a beautiful building.
The Temple of Tooth is named this due to housing the sacred relic of the canine tooth of the Buddha and was erected in 1595. The building itself is all white on the outside and is known to be very calming even though it does get very busy, it is recommended to take flowers as offerings for the Buddha! There are stalls located outside of the temple where they are lined with the most beautiful of flowers to offer to the Buddha!
MARKETS (& UNDERGROUND MARKET) OF KANDY
Next up was the markets!
We walked over to the markets that were inside a large white building with rows and rows of tuk tuts outside! It was SO Busy, these stalls included fresh meat and fish, little trinkets and souvenirs, endless hareem pants, sarongs and general items of clothing! It was really interesting to see how this is where the people of Kandy would do a lot of their shopping. We even saw red bananas!?
The market itself was two stories high, we headed into a small shop that offered lots of incense sticks that smelt heavenly and we all collectively brought half the shop. I love burning incense.
There was also an underground market which was centred in a roundabout! There was amazing street art and it was so cool knowing that this hustle and bustle of the market was going on underneath a busy road and roundabout!
we split off into two groups and then re-conveined afterwards by the entrance where all the Tuk Tuks were for the next and BEST part of the day!
BAHIRAWAKANDA VIHARA BUDDHA STATUE
We jumped in 2 separate tuk tuks and it was amazing! We were heading straight for the Bihirawakanda Vihara Buddha Statue at the top of the mountain in central Kandy!
They tuk tuk drivers agreed a price for all of us and also agreed to wait for us whilst we explored and also drive us back down the mountain! it certainly was a rickety journey and terrifyingly tight at some points with the cars and trucks zooming past as as we made our way up! We were even holding hands between tuk tuks!
The views were stunning and the Buddha itself was beautiful. We covered ourselves up and headed up the stairs where we were given a piece of paper of instructions and rules and then said a small price as donation. We had a photoshoot on the stairs up to the buddha because it was an absolute must, and then headed upwards to explore!
The top of the Buddha was closed but that didn’t stop Shaista and I from climbing as high up on the Buddha as we could! It was late afternoon and the sunset was just phenomenal. It was so beautiful and serene, Me, Mel, Shannon and some of the other girls bought flowers as inside the Buddha itself you could give the buddha offerings!
It was a really beautiful experience and I was so happy to share it with the most amazing girls!
We got the tuk tuk down the mountain once more and headed back to the mission. All in all a very successful day!
Stay tuned for the final few excursions and days of the trip!
We knew we had a long old journey ahead of us on the coach to Kandy, I believe from Colombo we are looking at a 5-6 hour journey with a coach full of sleepy and hungry students in this absolute heat.
Luckily for us Martin had planned to split the journey up with 3 pit stops on the way.
Pit stop number one?
THE MILLENNIUM ELEPHANT FOUNDATION!
We had been driving for about 3 or 4 hours when we arrived at The Pinnawala Elephant foundation!
There is a huge difference between orphanages, freedom sanctuaries and foundations. Each place is different but where we were the elephants were able to roam and wander. I have always found it a difficult situation for such beautiful creatures to be around!
We bathed with these elephants and gave them a good scrub down, saw where they slept each night and watched as they wondered around the area whilst a member of staff followed them around. They had chains around their neck, but these weren’t tight, and they weren’t being pulled on.
They were free to roam, but, with these on. Although it wasn’t nice to see it was better than being tightly chained and prodded And jabbed, unable to move at all. They are being rehabilitated, whereas the elephant orphanage down the road had the most terrible reputation. It’s such a touchy and difficult situation but I loved seeing the elephants none the less!
Some of my course mates rode the elephants because you had the opportunity to! For me I don’t agree with this but everyone is different. To be able to feed them their fruit and stand beside them and have pictures with my girls was an experience and a half, I am so glad it did it.
The elephants at this sanctuary will be released back into the wild once rehabilitated. One elephant was a log puller whilst another one came from a circus, better than where they were beforehand. I am really grateful I got to experience this with the girlies!
LUNCH AT PINNAWALA REACH!
Pinnawala Reach for lunch was really tasty, this was a lovely buffet at the Pinnawala Reach hotel so you can stay overnight if you wish!
This backed onto a stream and where you could see the elephants in the trees behind the restaurant. This was just around the corner from the Millennium Sanctuary and the food was SO Tasty. Another great stop to the trip to break up the long journey.
ST JOHNS BOYS SCHOOL
Before we arrived in Kandy we had to stop at St Johns Boys school, where these boys were brought up and taught and lived here. This was incredibly sad visiting this orphanage but also really heart warming.
We brought toys for the kids and they did a big show for us by singing and dancing on stage, we then swapped over and performed the cha cha slide for them and then the Macarena and a few other nursery rhymes. We blew bubbles and ate custard creams and tried some of their tea. They showed us to their dorm rooms and showed us their beds, their tiny mattresses and it really just broke my heart.
They were the happiest of boys and it was so lovely to spend time with them. They showed us their church and where they pray and then we played volleyball in a circle in their play area together. I definitely shed a tear, and it left me with food for thought.
ARRIVAL at KANDY CITY MISSION
We arrived at Kandy City Mission in the evening time which means we were to head out and explore for some dinner!
But before we could do that we had to climb up 4 flights of stairs to get to our bedroom! Me, Mel and El were all sharing a room which was nice, spacious and basic! 3 single beds with duvet and a pillow, an en suite with a shower and all the trimmings! It was perfect for our stay and we weren’t there long. We also had a balcony as well so we could step outside if the room was too warm or we could let some air in!
We had multiple pets for the duration of our stay including Gary the Gecko who lived in the shower and a lovely cockroach that we very quickly murdered in a plastic cup (sorry mate).
DINNER at the SKY LOUNGE
So after much exploring of Kandy restaurants, wandering up and down the same road, getting lost even following maps and taking a weak lift up to the top of a building that DEFINITELY wasn’t where we were supposed to be! We eventually found our way to the Sky Lounge!
For us I believe this felt like home comforts, Pizza, spring rolls and pasta dishes, your basic english food could be very easily purchased and I think after a full day of travel we just wanted something familiar and it was nice and not to expensive, easy to find too once you knew where you were going!
After a long old journey from Negombo to Kandy we were glad to have arrived and certainly slept well afterwards!
Stay tuned for our adventures and exploring Kandy!