Tea, waterfalls and a fiasco with hotel in Ella

Trip Start Aug 07, 2013
Trip End Aug 22, 2013

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Sunday, August 18, 2013

Our drive from Kandy (where we stayed after Polonnaruwa) down to Nuwara Eliya had a few scheduled stops. Cutting through hill country, the winding roads have pull-in stops for tourists to photograph waterfalls and rolling tea plantations. It's truly breath-taking. Rows of neatly manicured tea plants giving way to dense jungle and waterfalls. 

We stopped at Glenloch tea plantation (free for a visit, guided tour of the factory and cup of complimentary tea, with a tip box shared among staff). We went through each stage of the tea 'making' process in a speedy and efficient tour. Picking, drying, cutting, sorting, heating, drying. All in deafening noise as staff went about their daily working day. It was really interesting...apparently no one should buy tea bags! Silver tips was the purest tea but we preferred the taste of BFOP tea.

A hair-raising drive down to Nuwara Eliya station ensued, with roadworks that block the ONLY road to the station threatening to ruin our plans of taking a scenic train down to  Ella before stopping for the night. Lots of gesticulating, posturing and some swearing and we made it with minutes to spare. The train journey was the only part of the hill-top route that we could book when planning our tour in Colombo and the observation carriage (the first carriage with glass all the way round) was fully booked weeks in advance. On the train, the seats spin round so you can change them depending on the view/the direction you're travelling in. As with the train journey from Colombo to Kandy, the backdrop is rolling hills and lush vegetation. Beautiful.

Arriving in Ella, our driver Udayi, met us and took us to our accommodation....cue 6 km drive OUT of Ella up a mountain, the roads getting narrower and bendier the higher up we got until we got to The View Inn. We were disappointed- not with the views/quiet as it is a panoramic place, but with the lack of a bar/restaurant/wifi/doors that shut/running water- staff ran around desperately trying to accommodate but it could not be fixed. Faced with the prospect of no shower, we decamped to Grand Ella Motel to use their wifi and find alternatives. 

Our tour manager with Blue Haven (not driver) promised nothing else was available in the WHOLE of Ella....not true. Of course there are perks/deals for them if they use certain guest houses. Hours later, we ended up staying at Grand Ella Motel after quickly returning for our bags at The View. After securing a nice refund from our accommodation cost of the tour, we had to stump up 4000 extra rupees (20) for two double rooms. 

After a long night of sleep, we awoke to the gorgeous views of Ella Gap- the Gap inbetween mountains with Little Adam's Peak to the left. Eating breakfast here overlooking this drop was a scenic start to the morning. 

As we left hill country, we took in the views before the roads began to flatten out and headed to the beach.
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