Winter Break #6: Colombo, Sri Lanka

Our visit to Colombo was really two visits. We had such a nice time on our first night in Sri Lanka (having arrived from Tiruvvanamlai) that we promptly took advantage of a special “welcome back” offer and booked20171228_182305 for our final night as well. Coming from Bangalore, Colombo felt almost artificially sanitized. There’s a little bit of litter, sure, but no garbage piles at all. Traffic is a bit heavy in the city, but people actual use lanes for driving and (the biggest shock of all) they stop at crosswalks and wait for pedestrians to make it across the street. Amazing!

We stayed at the Movenpick Hotel, which has gorgeous views of the Indian Ocean from our hotel rooms and from the rooftop deck, where one could admire the view from the comfort of the infinity pool before reclining on a lounge chair with a cocktail. Yes, we were truly spoiled.

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Sadly, Rachel was battling some stomach distress so didn’t join us for our first Sri Lanka dinner, but the remaining travelers ventured out to the Palmyra restaurant where we 20171228_212104 sampled our first hoppers (a sort of bowl-shaped, rice-based bread that’s thick on the bottom and crispy on the edges, often filled with things, not unlike appam, which we enjoyed at Koshy’s on our first breakfast outing in Bangalore), vegetable fried rice (basically Chinese, but everywhere in Sri Lanka), cashew curry (yes, nothing but cashews in curry sauce – yum!), and sambol, a tasty dried coconut and chili condiment that spices up anything. Also, some kind of saffron pilaf and a meaty thing for Laurence. It seemed clear that we would eat just fine in this new country.

The next morning proved that true when we went to the beautiful Galle Face Hotel for brunch. We arrived just 15 minutes before they 20171229_103114were to begin clearing away the food, so there was no time to waste! We frantically helped ourselves to everything that looked good and just barely managed to fit it all on our table. When it was time to leave Colombo, we didn’t want to go! We hadn’t yet done much wandering around the city itself, and it was hard to part with the luxury of the Movenpick. Such a happy thought that we could return for the final night of our trip.

When we came back again, our room didn’t have the same magic as our first room (broken AC, lower floor with an inferior view, smaller bathtub), but it was still a delight20180105_135651 to be there. We wandered around the fort area which had some gorgeous old buildings and monuments but paled a bit in comparison to the charm of Galle Fort which we’d visited just the day before. The heat was pretty incredible given that this is  20180105_145024supposed to be the coolest time of the year, and we were glad to call an end to exploring by mid afternoon and retire to the terrace of the beautiful Galle Face Hotel where we enjoyed cocktails while admiring the ocean view before going back to our own hotel to relax before dinner.

For our final dinner of vacation, we had a couple of factors to consider. We wanted to celebrate in style, with at least some of the amazing Sri Lankan food we’d been introduced to in the past week. Also, Rachel and Laurence flew out to Shanghai that morning, and while it was sad to see them go, we were also able to enjoy a day and evening as the two of us instead of the four of us. We considered many dinner options and even visited a couple restaurants in our earlier wanderings. We ultimately decided that the Galle Face was so beautiful that we just couldn’t go wrong by returning. We were right. It was a wonderful buffet in a glorious setting. A perfect final night to our trip.

The next morning, we lounged at the rooftop pool, enjoyed brunch at the hotel (another amazing buffet), and gradually prepared ourselves for a return to normalcy. We realized that it’s only an hour-and-a-half flight back to Colombo, and on a weekend we need to escape hectic Bengaluru, this is an easy retreat. It was an amazing trip, but we were actually ready to go home our own bed and our own routine. At least until we get restless and head out on our next adventure!