Namastè Sri Lanka! – I
Urmi and me were sitting and having dinner on a Saturday night in Banglore when I said‚ we should make a trip outside India and she out of nowhere came up with the option of SriLanka. It was definitely not the first time we were making plans… every time we friends meet we make thousands of plans and they just fade away. But this time we knew we had to make it happen before life took its toll on us. When we spoke to Ankita she said it must be a girl’s trip as we have never been on one. I am the only married one in the group and I could already imagine the disapproving eyes of people when they would know I was planning a trip without my husband and that too abroad‚ but it was him who said I should go!<3 And then we were planning our itineraries and chalking out the places we wanted to visit.
Our itinerary was simple… we did not plan on covering too many places. We wanted to mainly relax by the beach‚ explore the streets by foot and indulge on Lankan cuisine. I have been staying forever in the mountains and so we did not include Kandy and other hill stations in our itinerary.
In this blog I would give you an outlook of the places we visited, our delicious food adventures, the dos and don’ts and what not to miss if you are planning a trip to Lanka for the first time. 😀
Reaching in an unknown country
We reached Colombo International Airport at 2:40am in the morning and it took us more than an hour to be done with our formalities. After we were free‚ we planned on hitting the duty-free shops and made sure we picked up two local SIM cards( it is always a good idea and in case you are in Srilanka – their telecom service ‘dialogue’ gives great offers) and Airport counters usually give you good deals on International calling too. You will always be needing a local number to contact Tuktuk drivers and for making reservations. We picked up few bottles of liquor from duty free as we heard it was very expensive in Srilanka(and it was and so that was another good decision). We booked a taxi from one of the counters in the airport. Taxi service again is very expensive in Lanka but we hardly have a choice.
We had already booked our places of stay for the whole trip and in Colombo it would be – BNB – Sea view Apartment – Beautifully located with the most stunning view and sound of the waves, this apartment was a treat as we reached dead tired in the middle of the night in an unknown place. We knew BNBs offer cooking spaces and as we were reaching late at night, we were carrying some food with us so that we could manage breakfast on our own. So after a good night’s sleep when we thought of making our breakfast we realized the gas stove wasn’t working and our host would take one whole day to mend it. And so on the very first day we literally had to hunt for food, thankfully we were carrying some dates and biscuits. However, the place is conveniently located near good cafes and eateries.
It being a Saturday we planned on exploring the nearby places just walking down unknown streets and exploring the local markets. And at night we had gone clubbing to ON14 Rooftop Lounge & Bar. A cozy beautiful place where we chilled by the pool on the roof top, located very near to our place.
The second day we planned on exploring the Dutch Hospital Precinct and it was a delight to walk down the nostalgic colonial era. With a distinct allure of Dutch-colonial architecture, Dutch Hospital is a precinct of gastronomic adventure and souvenir shopping. From Pubs and Cafe’s to Coffeehouses and Restaurants offering unique experiences in cuisine, to a line-up of Boutique-shops and a Spa. There is also a splendid courtyard to relax and unwind.
We were really hungry when we reached the area and we just rushed into the first restaurant we found.The Steuart by Citrus – &Co Pub and Kitchen had some delicious food but was definitely not worth the money. The place was moderately expensive and top it up they charged a hell lot of tax! But if you still do not mind trying the place out… go for their sea food options. They were delicious and I hope I could say the same for their SriLankan cuisine too, which is a shame!
By evening there was a Street food Festival and we just loved walking by the streets, greeting friendly people around and exploring souvenir shops. We then decided to explore the Galle Face beach area by foot and that was again something we loved. The beach was having a Kite fest and we just sat there staring at the colourful sky and listening to the sound of the waves. Later that evening we stopped by at the Ceylon Spa and I picked up some Lankan goodness for my skin 😀
Tired we headed back to our place after light tit bits as dinner as we wanted to have a house party, celebrating all these years of friendship and our first girls trip together. And I forgot to mention I had already booked a table for us at ‘The Ministry of crab’ for lunch tomorrow.
Started the day late and we freshened up for our “crab date”. We had heard so much about this place that we were very excited that we got a booking. (It’s important to make a booking before hand as they are generally full. Also they tend to catch limited number of crabs as they make their crabs fresh!).
Ministry of Crab too is in the Dutch Hospital precinct and as you enter the place, the décor wows you and the aroma makes you hungry. The staff is sweet and warm and they help you with the order as the menu card may actually confuse you! And after much said and done when our order arrived, it was a grand sight! We relished every bit of the food and it was the best crab I have had in my little life and the thought of it still makes me salivate :D( I could go back for this!)
The next day we would be leaving for Galle and we had to book train tickets. We had heard that the train journey by the sea is a must and we did not want to miss that. Though there were taxi services but these little things helps you get the essence of the place. We headed to the main railway station to get the details and we were told, the 6:40am train would be the best for us as the trains later got crowded. And only the early morning train had a first class compartment. But we had to get our bookings done early morning itself, there was no pre booking. So we had to get home early for packing our stuffs and made ourselves some light dinner at home and tried to sleep early.
We had to leave super early and we were not sure if we could get tuktuks that early in the morning. It was then the SriLankan “Pick Me” app came to our rescue. The driver arrived on time and he was one of the sweetest locals we met in the trip. From taking us to the station, helping us with the reservation, to talking to the gate person to help us with the platform number… he did everything for us! The train arrived on time and the first class compartment was a tiny one filled with foreigners. Make sure you book you seats on the left hand side as the view falls that side. These non AC compartments are comfortable and in 2.5 hours you reach Galle.
The Facts about our Colombo Trip
Our Colombo trip was great but here’s some truth bomb about the place and our itinerary–
- Colombo is clean‚ beautiful and warm. But three days were a tad bit too much for Colombo‚ I would have loved to spend that time in Galle. Going from India… there is not much of a difference.
- The BNB we booked in Colombo was good but the host was not at all interactive. She never made an effort to meet us and gave us no idea about the place. We had to totally depend on Google.
- Two days stay in Colombo would have been enough or even one day. The Ministry of Crab is something you cannot miss! But the precinct and other spots are not highly recommended from my side.
- If you are travelling alone or with a gang of girls its best to avoid shorts and short dresses in Colombo as people are not very comfortable with western clothing. It’s always a good idea to dress according to the place and people to avoid unnecessary attention.
- If you have to exchange your money‚ it’s best to exchange from Colombo itself as you get the best rate there.
- If Kandy is not in your itinerary its best to pick up tea from Colombo. Make sure you ask them for a taste of what you are picking up.
- Other souvenirs are best picked up from Galle.
- If you want to pick up stuffs from The Ceylon Spa it’s almost the same price in every outlet. But at times you are lucky to be there during offers. And the stuffs are good!
- If you are into gambling‚ do head to Bailey’s Casino. It is in the Kingsbury Hotel very near to the Dutch Hospital.
P.S – I have not put up any personal photographs in my blog but if you do wish to check out other photographs and videos of this beautiful country.. please head to my instagram highlights 😀 —-> Preeya Darshini
The next blog about our trip across the beaches of Lanka – we had been waiting for this! And I wish we reduced our time in Colombo and headed to Galle. Our fun holiday actually began from Tuesday.
The next coming up soon 🙂