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Big Sur - Hiking Andrew Molera State Park

One of the great delights of living in the Bay Area is the proximity to the natural beauty of California and it's hard to beat the stunning drive down Highway One to Big Sur. This is certainly one of the iconic American road trips, but for me the joy of being in the area is getting out of your car and hitting a trail, so you can be "in" the landscape rather than just looking at it from the asphalt. 

Mango House, Galle Fort

Galle has some lovely places to stay, but one of the nicest things about the town is that  you can find great places to stay at every price point. There are plenty of beautiful but expensive options like the luxe Amangalla where we enjoyed a late afternoon drink, but it's also possible to find small boutique  hotels and guesthouses in converted colonial buildings which offer great value.

We stayed at the recently opened Mango House which I found on I find myself using the site more frequently because  the reviews are particularly reliable - you can only review a property on if you've stayed there, unlike Tripadvisor which is open to manipulation.

Mango House is  a lovely small guesthouse, a modern, stylish renovation of a traditional colonial home. Open, bright and charming it was an excellent value at $80 a night plus tax, including a superb breakfast. I appreciated the public spaces, their small environmental efforts, such as shampoo and soap in refillable pottery containers and the fact that they put us in a better room at no additional charge. The owners were extremely hospitable and could not have been nicer. They let us stay very late the next day (as we had an evening flight) and helped us sort out our onward plans. Here's the first room, before we moved to a larger room with a small patio. Apologies for the blur, as you can see I took the photo on my iPad!
As you can see the garden at the front of the house was charming too. If you are looking for a nice place at a reasonable price I can recommend the Mango House.