Those that know me know I do not camp. Only in rare, unavoidable circumstances do I succumb to a night sleeping close to nature and even then I will still be fearful of it. In Sri Lanka one of those rare, unavoidable situations arose when I discovered there maybe a chance to see leopards in the wild in Yala National Park (Yala Block 1 has one of the highest density’s of leopards per square kilometre in the world). This sounded like an opportunity I would not want to miss and yet it involved things I try to shun, like getting dirty and sleeping under canvas. Then I read about Leopard Safaris and all my weak arguments went out the window.
Vegas is cool. I’ve found proof. It’s slightly off the beaten track but there is a Boneyard in Downtown Las Vegas that celebrates the history and decadence of Vegas in an unexpectedly hip fashion. It’s called The Neon Museum and it is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a graveyard for old signs from the casinos, motels and businesses of Vegas.
One of the things I always laugh about when I travel, particularly to the super-size States, is how many hotel rooms are larger than my flat in London. Storage for me is a huge issue; especially when I bring things like posters, number plates and vintage clothes back from every trip.
When Samsonite got in touch with their nifty new concept for luggage, therefore, it sounded like exactly what I needed. The Samsonite Fold@Way offers the ideal luggage solution for exploring a big world while living in a small home. With only a few simple moves, the stylish models in this collection reduce up to 1/4 of their original size, requiring minimal storage space whether at home or on the road.
The Fold@Way arrived at my London flat just before Christmas and (excuse the pun) it was a perfect fit. Stored in a tailor-made compact bag, a fraction of the size of a normal suitcase, it lived happily in my closet until the time came to take it on the road.
He looked up at me with these fluttery lash surrounded almond eyes as if to say,
“Really? You are going to make me and my beautiful face move?”
Well yes, people, I was. Call me cruel but this train journey is known for being one of the most scenic in the world and I was not giving up my window seat for anyone, even a doe-eyed child.
In the end I didn’t have to become the train pariah by throttling the young man and hurling him out of my seat because his Gran, who had bagged the window seat directly opposite, moved along so that the boy could have the window on her side and we could rightly have ours. It was slightly awkward for the first few hours, staring directly into the faces of those we had made moved, but eventually relations softened and we bonded over chilli-flavoured olives that the boy offered us as an, erm, olive branch.
For the first time in my life I travelled to a city fully prepared to hate it. I arrived expecting to be chewed up by Sin City and spat back out again, broke and broken. I longed to visit Vegas but had no illusions about being able to love it.
The instructions seemed pretty clear on paper: follow the railway track, turn left at the bridge, head up. But we were stuck at the first hurdle. Assuming following the railway track meant we had to go to the train station we were a little bit stumped to be met with a locked gate when we got there. Looking around and seeing no other way in we climbed up and jumped over it.
“Madam, stop!” From nowhere, station security arrived and fixed us with a disapproving stare.
“What are you doing?”
“Trying to climb Ella Rock,” I explained, waving my crude instructions in his face,” It says to follow the railway track for 2.5 kilometres.”
“Yes, but there is a road,” he sighed.
Competent hikers we were not.
(Following the railway track to Ella Rock)
“Good morning Madam.” “Good day.” “Madam, how are you?”
As I walked through the village to a shaded garden I knew served sweet chai everyone from the baker to the tuk tuk drivers wished me well along the way. It was a bit like the opening scenes of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast but with less French accents and not so many baguettes.
Last night was the first #TravelBookChat of 2014 and it was one of my favourite themes so far – food. Thanks so much to everyone who joined us with their thoughts on the books and food that inspire their travels and keep them drooling long after they return home. Thanks also to our co-hosts for the night, Intrepid Travel, who share our passion for exploring local cuisine when travelling.
I don’t think I need to explain how hard it was to tear myself away from Palm Island (you’ve seen the post, you get it right?) It came as no surprise to learn that guests have wept on the Palm Island pier as the boat arrives to take them home. I didn’t go that far but I probably would have if I weren’t on my way to another Elite Island Resort.
There are no TVs or Wi-Fi in the rooms at Palm Island Resort; instead I listen to the rush and swirl of the waves and the breeze rustling the trees. In the downtime between swimming and smoothies I am not fiddling around online. For the first time, in a very long time, I read, reply and file my thoughts.