.All Trips / Asia / Sri Lanka

The Grand Hotel: A Step Back in Time

02 Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya (31)

If you love visiting and staying in hotels built during the British Colonial era, a great stop is The Grand Hotel in Nuwara Eliya.  The hotel is situated about a mile above sea level in Sri Lanka’s Hill Country, in the heart of the tea-plantations and fields of vegetables.  The Grand Hotel was built in the style of an Elizabethan-era manor house.

Nuwara Eliya was a popular vacation destination for the British and Scottish citizens who took care of the Empire’s business in Sri Lanka during the 19th century, so much so that the region was fondly known as “Little England”.  Much of Sri Lanka is steamy hot year round, but the cool days and nights in the mountains reminded the …

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.All Trips / Asia / Sri Lanka

A Visit to the Old Dutch Fort in Batticaloa

06 Old Dutch Fort Batticaloa (15)

My visit to Sri Lanka this past year provided my first opportunity to explore the east and southeastern coasts of the island.  During prior visits, the area was “off limits” because of the decades-long Civil War disrupting the country (which fortunately has been resolved).  The region around Batticaloa was a Tamil stronghold in their fight with the Sinhalese government.  The region is decidedly more Hindu and Christian than other parts of the island I’ve visited.

Sri Lanka, because of it’s strategic location, has been in the cross-hairs of many colonial nations over the centuries.  In modern recorded history this includes the Portuguese, Dutch and English, all of whom left their mark on the country.  There were several dozen such old forts …

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“Pic of the Week”, December 12, 2014: Bushmill’s, Northern Ireland

Antrimi Coast 95 Bushmill’s Distillery

On April 20th, 1608, King James I granted a license to distill whiskey at what is now Bushmills Distillery, which claims to be—and likely is —the oldest licensed distillery in the world.

Besides a tour of the distillery and an education on the process of making triple-distilled whiskey, there are a few features I remember quite vividly about visiting Bushmills.  First, that the Irish don’t produce their own oak aging barrels — they buy them used, mostly from bourbon distillers in the southern USA and sherry growers in Spain (imparting some of the color and flavor of the original product to Bushmills).  Beyond that I was very impressed by the profund British influence in Northern Ireland.  Witness the typical English phone booth and mailbox in these …

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.All Trips / Europe / Ireland

A Visit to Ireland: Part 1) An overview of the Country and its People

Ireland Overview 2013-001

I remember being in Wales several times and looking across the sea to the west, thinking that I needed to get to Ireland.  Well, I finally made it, completing this journey with my brother on our annual “getaway trip”!  It was a trip we really enjoyed.  This is the first in a series of blog posts about the Emerald Isle, focusing on some of its rich history and providing some observations on the country and its charming citizens.

Ireland’s history is a turbulent one and its people have had to endure many hardships for centuries.  Victims of a devastating famine in the 19th century (the Great Hunger), occupied for almost a thousand years by foreigners (the Vikings and then the English), …

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