My initial thoughts when planning this trip is that we would get around the island via trains and buses. Much how Nick and I had roughed it in Southeast Asia back in our twenties.
Not because it was the cheaper option, but more for the experience. Those long rides, while often a bit miserable (cramped, hard seats, no AC, pungent smells) were in many ways the most memorable. They were moments where somehow, someway, you were able to surpass the discomfort, knowing that complaining would not speed up the journey, where all you could do was look out the window and soak up your surroundings and just be…just truly be.
Well given it was not just Nick and I, and given how affordable and convenient it was to hire a taxi for long distance travel, we did not rely on buses or trains this time around. Except for the journey from Kandy to Ella. We had read about this magnificent train ride and we were not willing to pass it up, even if it was 6 hours long and if it meant waking up very early to get tickets at the train station.
We were told to get first class, wish we would of have opted for middle class. While the seats may have not been as comfortable, you were able to open windows, unlike where we were seated. We spent a lot of the journey in the corridor, also known as a train’s gangway, looking out the open entrance. Slightly nerve wrecking with the little ones, but it allowed us to have that wind in your hair moment, when you’re breathing in fresh air and feel so utterly connected with the outside.
Our ride to the hill country lived up to everything and more. This train ride is why I travel. To be able to share this with my kids fills me with joy. On our journey we passed several tea plantations. Lush and green, orderly aligned, simply beautiful. The deep green of the tiered plantations, the misty gray sky, was so very peaceful and visually pleasant. As we would pass little villages the locals would wave to us and us back. At times vendors would come through the train selling snacks, giving us the chance to taste their food.
Once in Ella, a serene hilltop village, we stayed at the lovely Zion View. It was an ideal spot and very family friendly. On the premise were two friendly German Shepherds and the owner’s son, whom all became Violet’s closets companions during our stay.
The town of Ella is overall pretty calm and quite. We ate in the small town a couple of times and of course did some hiking. We all hiked up to Little Adam’s Peak and on another occasion, Nick and I hiked to Ella Rock with the boys, while Abuelita and Violet hung back at the guesthouse.
The train ride, the home cooked meals and view at Zion, the quietness and overall tranquility, made this such a delightful time in the Sri Lankan hills.