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10 things to do in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

We explore the best things to do in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka’s historic port city that is once again beginning to flourish.

Trincomalee, or Trinco as it’s more commonly known, in northeastern Sri Lanka is a perfect spot in which to while away a few days on the beach. We ended our Sri Lankan odyssey in nearby Uppuveli on a powdery stretch by Trinco Blu.

Like us, most tourists will bypass Trincomalee for the neighbouring beaches of Uppuveli and Nilaveli – and who can blame them? The coast here is golden and palm-fringed with a mellow ambience making for a perfect place to unwind before heading home. Continue reading

10 things to do in Kandy, Sri Lanka

We take a look at the best things to do in Kandy, Sri Lanka’s second city and cultural capital.

History and culture are on tap in the lively city of Kandy. Known as Sri Lanka’s cultural capital, Kandy withstood the Portuguese and Dutch for three centuries and was the capital of the last Sinhalese kingdom, which finally fell to the British in 1815.

The city is wedged among mist-laden hills that often leave the skies overcast. The breeze, however, usually parts the mist to reveal Sri Lanka’s famous second city, known for the great Kandy Esala Perahera festival. One of the oldest and grandest of all Buddhist festivals in Sri Lanka, the event is held over 10 days leading up to the Nikini poya (full moon) at the end of the month of Esala (equivalent to the end of July and beginning of August). Continue reading

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Galle Fort in Sri Lanka: DIY walking tour

Galle Fort on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka is the unmissable destination of the region. It is easily and best explored on foot. Here’s how.

Built by the Portuguese, fortified by the Dutch, modified by the British and restored by the Sri Lankans after the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Galle Fort marks out Galle as Sri Lanka’s most intriguing city.

The 36-hectare Galle Fort occupies a promontory surrounded on three sides by the Indian Ocean. It was built first in 1588 by the Portuguese, then extensively fortified by the Dutch from 1649 onwards. When the British arrived at the end of the 18th century, they applied their own touch with the odd lighthouse here and a coat of arms there. Continue reading

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How to find calm amid the chaos in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Colombo isn’t as frenetic as other Asian capitals, but it’s still a busy working city. Here are five ways to find calm amid the chaos at any time of day.

Home to nearly six million people, Colombo is the commercial capital and largest city of Sri Lanka. There is no metro or tram system so there’s no escape from the rumbling buses, tooting tuk-tuks and tinted cars that clog the wide boulevards.

In stark contrast to the rolling hills, tranquil tea plantations and picturesque beaches that define Sri Lanka, Colombo can feel like an invasive thorn in an otherwise placid landscape. Continue reading

Things to do in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Let’s be frank: Colombo isn’t what you would call a ‘world city’. Not many companies boast about offices in ‘London, New York, Colombo’. The city has never been an international player nor does it have a world-class attraction.

Nevertheless, as the launching pad for trips further afield in Sri Lanka, Colombo enjoys a steady footfall throughout the course of the year. Tourists stay mainly for convenience, but don’t discount the city altogether. There are numerous interesting and quirky things to do in Colombo that are well worth a stay. Continue reading

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A long weekend in Norway: 7 things to do in Bergen

Seven fjords, seven hills and an old-world fishing wharf help make Bergen in Norway the perfect destination for a weekend getaway.

Bergen may be one of the rainiest cities in Europe but it’s also a vibrant cultural center with superb access to the western fjords. The city offers an excellent blend of nature and culture and, despite the damp, we loved it. Here’s what we suggest for a long weekend.  Continue reading

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Things to do in Oslo: 17 dos and don’ts

We went to Norway to see the northern lights but couldn’t leave without a few nights in the capital. There are plenty of interesting things to do in Oslo. The city is home to a blend of fascinating heritage, intriguing museums, vibrant art galleries and excellent access to the countryside, all set amid a serene waterside location.

Norway is the land of vikings, polar exploration, the Nobel Prize and Edvard Munch – and it’s all on display in Oslo.

Below, we offer tips and suggestions for the best things to do in Oslo – and a few to avoid along the way.

Continue reading

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20 dos and don’ts of visiting Tromso, Norway

You don’t go to Tromso 350km north of the Arctic Circle for culture and cuisine. You go in the hopes of seeing the legendary northern lights. And who can blame you? The aurora borealis is on every traveller’s bucket list and if you’re lucky enough to view them in their glory, the memory will remain forever.

Tromso is Norway’s main hub north of the Arctic Circle and serves as an excellent base for seeing the majestic natural phenomenon. However, there are other things to do in Tromso besides chasing the lights.

We spent four days in the city and can offer the following tips for visiting Tromso. Continue reading

Visiting S21 prison: morbid or meaningful?

There are some sights you likely see only once. Places like Petra, Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat are so grand, exotic and expensive, they are the very definition of a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience.

Other sights are seen once because once is enough; places like Dachau concentration camp in Germany or S21 prison in Cambodia.

It was discomfiting then to find myself at the gates of S21 prison for the second time in five years. My first visit in 2011 had been harrowing enough. We had evaded an overzealous tour guide and journeyed through the former prison alone – a sobering experience I wasn’t sure I wanted to repeat. Continue reading

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Underground cities of Cappadocia: for trogs and hobbits

Exploring the Kaymaklı and Derinkuyu underground cities of Cappadocia is perfect for connecting with your inner troglodyte.

With so many activities on offer above ground in Cappadocia (hot-air balloon rides, hiking and horse riding to name but a few) it would be easy to overlook the maze of tunnels burrowed deep in subterranean Turkey.

The underground cities of Cappadocia offer something truly unique to the tourist in Anatolia. You won’t find any fairy chimneys or ridged valleys here. Instead, a labyrinth of tunnels and chambers await. Claustrophobes, beware! Continue reading

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10 tips for visiting Ephesus, Turkey

Visiting Ephesus should be on every traveller’s Turkey itinerary. After more than 150 years of excavation, the city’s reclaimed and restored structures have made Ephesus Europe‘s most complete ancient city.

The great city was built in the 10th century BC during the Classical Greek era and began to flourish after it came under the control of the Roman Republic in 129 BC. It’s estimated that the population of the city was at one point between 33,000 and 56,000 people. Continue reading

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Bosphorus Cruise: what not to miss

A Bosphorus cruise provides the best way to see Istanbul’s epic architecture along the European and Asian shores of the Bosphorus Strait.

The 32km (20mi) natural waterway of the Bosphorus in Turkey connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara and – by extension via the Dardanelles – the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. It is one of the most significant waterways in the world and has been for centuries if not millennia of maritime history. Continue reading

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The world’s most expensive cities for expats 2016

Moving to a new country is one of the most expensive endeavours one can undertake. Enter Mercer’s 2016 Cost of Living ranking, a survey of the most expensive cities for expats.

With the UK recently voting in favour of Brexit, we at Atlas & Boots are reassessing our future. Prior to the result, we fully expected to return to France after our next big trip. Now we may have to look further afield. Whatever we decide, one useful way to choose where our future lies is to compare the cost of living in our new city compared to our old, currently London. Continue reading

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Ayasofya: 7 tips for visiting

Ayasofya (or Hagia Sophia in Greek) is one of Istanbul’s most iconic structures. It graces travel brochures and glossy magazines and has even made a cameo in video game Assassin’s Creed.

The 1,500-year-old structure is considered the most important of the Byzantine era and is one of the world’s great monuments. Completed in 537 AD, Ayasofya was the world’s largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520.

Ayasofya and its central dome, a giant 32 metres (105ft) in diameter, stands sentry over Istanbul, offering beguiling views both inside and out. Here’s how to make the most of your time there.  Continue reading

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The Blue Mosque dress code and tips for entry

The third or maybe fourth time I met Peter’s parents, I spent 10 minutes beforehand fretting that my top was too low.

Peter rolled his eyes. “For God’s sake, my mum wears lower-cut tops than that!”

I laughed, flung on a cardigan and readied to leave. His family are thankfully far more liberal than mine.

My neurosis about modesty – a hangover from my Muslim roots – sees me pinning together anything lower than a vicar’s collar any time I visit my Mum. Knowing this, you’ll understand why I was in a tizz over the Blue Mosque dress code and associated etiquette during our recent trip to Istanbul. Continue reading

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Clovelly village: the land that time forgot

Until recently, we hadn’t even heard of Clovelly village, a picturesque cluster of homes on the north coast of Devon. It was during our recent glamping trip that we came across Clovelly on a day trip from camp.

We were utterly charmed by the unique English village defined by the steep, cobbled streets that tumble down past traditional 16th century whitewashed cottages to a tiny harbour below. It is also one of the few car-free places remaining in the UK. Continue reading

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What is the greenest country in the world?

In January of this year, Yale University presented their latest Environmental Performance Index (EPI) Report naming Finland as the greenest country in the world. We take a look at the report and its key findings.

What is the EPI?

The EPI builds on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), formally adopted in September 2015. The main objective of the report is to assess and rank how 180 countries protect their ecosystems and human health, while in the process naming the greenest country in the world.  Continue reading

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Visiting the international city of Geneva

Geneva in Switzerland is the very definition of a global city. With nearly half its population made up of foreign nationals and expats, it seems only right that the city is home to the United Nations headquarters as well as a further 20 international agencies including the Red Cross and World Trade Organization.

It was here that the Geneva Conventions were signed and today the city is a symbol of progress. From a charming and historic city centre to international landmarks and institutions, the city of Geneva is emblematic of modern 21st century Europe. Continue reading

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12 things to do in Montevideo, Uruguay

When we arrived in Montevideo we had less than two weeks of our round-the-world trip left and very little money. There are plenty of things to do in the city but it’s a relatively expensive destination in an already relatively expensive country. With just two days and near-empty pockets we made the best of the situation and saw the city by way of a DIY walking tour.

Stretching 20km from east to west, the cosmopolitan city of Montevideo is home to nearly half of Uruguay’s population. Like other major international cities, Montevideo has a historic financial centre, bustling markets, a plethora of fine museums and an expanding expat community. Continue reading