All About Tea: Arrival at the Somerset Estate

Sri Lanka Travelogue Part 5

Michael Taylor’s Sri Lankan adventure has ended in real time, but it continues in Cyberspace. He is flown there on Singapore Airlines by the Dilmah School of Tea to take a course in the Appreciation of Tea.

After spending a restful night at the Grand Hotel in Nuwara Eliya in the Central Sri Lankan highlands, we are to be taken the Somerset Estate to visit the tea gardens.

When I learn that it will be a 30 to 60 minute “bone-rattling” journey by bus to the estate, I opt out because intense lower back pain. I’m simply not up to it. I decide to go for a walk instead.

The mountain air is brisk. The rolling hills are dotted with all manner of English style bungalows – and a few mansions. Some of them are private residences and many have been turned into guest houses.

Within 10 to 20 minutes I come to Gregory Lake, which is set amid an environmental protection area. There are bicycle paths as well as boating and fishing.

At some point I decide to keep walking along the shores of the lake rather than turning back. It takes me two and one half hours to complete my journey.

I have a mouth-watering lunch at the Grand Hotel. I miss the afternoon tea, however, because I decide to have a massage in the hotel’s rather modest spa.

I am told that I must pay by cash, but only US dollars or Sri Lankan rupies are accepted. And, no, I can’t charge it to my room.

When it becomes clear that I have neither US dollars nor rupies, a cloth is removed from a small stand, and – lo and behold – there is a small device that accepts credit cards.

There is dinner and cocktails at the Dilmah t-bar at the Grand Hotel in Nuwara Eliyah.


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