Sri Lanka – Peace, tranquillity and excitement.
Have we all not dreamt of going on a vacation with friends ? Just you and your friends ? 🙂
Sri Lanka was that dream-trip for me and my friends . We have been friends since college , live in the same city we all work in but could never make this dream-trip possible amidst our salary crisis , permissions from the parents , work shift timings and leaves that need to get a sign off from our companies . Since one of them ( our Donny boy )would be travelling to the States to pursue his higher education we knew if not now we could never make this happen . As reality hits you hard – in the next few years we would all get married and settle in different parts of the country or to make it worse may be different parts of the world itself .
Planning such a vacation wasn’t easy at all . We tried planning this multiple times since last 4 years but it would eventually end up in ” It wouldn’t work this time , lets check for a different time period ” or ” Not this place , Lets check for another destination ” and it went on . One fine day when we all met for dinner and the usual life discussions were going on. As in – how like has changed so much and how life is going to change for us in next couple of months/years which eventually resulted in us discussing about this vacation again . So, once again we decide on going for a vacation , and thought why not make it across the borders of our country . Luckily this time we made sure we stuck to the plan and Sri Lanka happened to us 🙂
We began our research on Sri Lanka ,starting from the accommodation to cafes to sight seeing to commutation options in Sri Lanka . Just then we recollected of a friend who visited Sri Lanka and stayed there for good 7 days so we knew she could help us on planning our 3 day vacation . The trip duration was just 3 days with all the corporate leave problems that came in and it would help us finance the trip in a way that let us come back to India without an empty wallet. We applied for a group tourist visa with the Department of Immigration and Emigration Sri Lanka online and got it approved .
The four of us left to the Bengaluru airport that evening for our flight from Bengaluru-> Chennai-> Colombo and reached Colombo at 3 A.M .This was day1 for us in Sri Lanka 🙂
The four of us in a new country which almost seemed like India to us at first. Our Itinerary said we were staying at the ‘ Eka resort ‘ in Unawatuna and since Galle fort was on our way we decided to visit it before we reached our stay . On our way to Galle we stop at a eatery that offered different kinds of rolls/puffs (egg, chicken , mutton , fish ) with tea/coffee . This place was located along the beach which offered us this view of a lot of tourists surfing in the beautiful blue water . The sand in our feet , the blue water in front of us and the yummy rolls in our tummy , we were happy high with our breakfast and excitement levels as we set forward to visit the the Galle fort .
Galle fort is a historical jewel which is being protected with thick stone walls and the endless ocean on one side . This fort has an distinction of being the best-preserved sea fort in South Asia while it has been registered as a world heritage site by the UNESCO as well . We stood gazing at how the rolling waves were hitting the walls of the fort and how the color of ocean changes as it goes further . Inside the fort you will find it still possesses the old charm with narrow roads criss-crossing at regular intervals inviting the tourists to a delightful walk into the 17th century. The beautiful streets are dotted with dutch colonial villas and several museums , antique shops that display its heritage . After a lovely time spent admiring the architecture , beauty of this place and clicking hundreds of pictures we continued our journey to reach Unawatuna . We did have our humble yet amazing friend Salman – a native of Sri Lanka help us out with everything we needed during this trip . The star of this vacation who made sure we did not face any issues throughout our stay here.
As we reach Unawatuna , a picture perfect tourist place loaded with an excellent selection of cafes and resorts which was pleasantly laid back by the day we chose to have our lunch at ‘The Kingfisher’ – A Beautiful restaurant which opens into the beach at one end. After a happy seafood lunch with brownies to end the meal we reach Eka resort – the place we planned to stay at Unawatuna . A landscaped property that houses 4 cottages facing the beach . No big walls built to separate us from the beach. This view got us excited and got us planning on how we would spend most of the time relaxing and talking away at the beach . The reason on choosing Unawatuna and the Eka beach resort was about it being less commercialized than the other beaches around . We finally decided to catch some sleep after a 36 hour long day . After a power nap we got dressed for the evening which is when the beachfront bars fire up into life. We spent our time at Unawatuna beachfront striding along the length of the shoreline . After a candle light dinner at “The Rock” with seafood again and some good conversations we got back to our resort and spent the next few hours of the night at the beach (Like i mentioned there were no walls or security to stop us ,We had the beach to ourselves )
Woke up early the next morning just to spend the early hours of the day at the beach . After a long day at the beach we were served with a splendid and healthy course of breakfast by Andree which consisted of Omelettes ,scrambled eggs, pancakes and huge platter of assorted fruits . Their version of sweet yogurt was one of my favorite . It was time to check out from this beautiful resort as we look forward to spending time in Colombo . The next 5 hours we spent travelling to Colombo . On reaching Colombo we were already running late as to what was planned in our itinerary . We had a list of few cafes/ eateries we decided to visit here in Colombo . Barefoot cafe was one among them . Thanks to Shruthi who suggested this place . It was an ethically sourced souvenir shop with a laid back cafe . This casual yet inviting courtyard cafe serves a very good variety of sandwiches , salads, and beverages in an open patio setting among the lush trees. We loved the ambiance , food( Frozen chocolate mousse with orange and sponge to be specific) , vibes and the intrinsic music out here . We then made our way to the Galle sea face for the sunset .
Galle Face seemed like a renowned landmark in Colombo as it attracts a large number of people especially during the evening hours . The Galle Face is a ocean-side urban park, which stretches for half a kilometer along the coast, in the heart of this city. Flanked at each end by star-class hotels, the Galle Face has come to be a fondly known landmark of Colombo.The beach was not accessible due to poisonous species while it is also adorned by a line of food vendors offering a delectable array of cuisine served along the walkway that runs with the green on one end and the Indian ocean on the other. Its quiet a escapade from the hustle of the city, despite being at the very heart of it.A calming stroll along the shoreline , beach-side dinner at ‘The Station ‘ in the company of the open air ,sea breeze and a ;ate night drive along the city of Colombo through the Arcade Independence square , The light house and the museum is how we ended Day2 at Colombo.
The next morning was our last day in Sri Lanka and we decided to visit the Gallery cafe for breakfast . Grand entrance led us to this resplendent cafe which hits the architectural brilliance only to find out that the place opens by 11 AM . But , they did make an offer which we couldn’t refuse – Desserts in the morning ? While they are best known for their desserts we decided to start our day with a Chocolaty morning breakfast with chocolate nemesis and double chocolate cheese cake and a cup of coffee . These Cakes did not fill our hungry stomach but we already had something in store for our afternoon lunch because of which we did not complain about not having breakfast for breakfast 😉
On our way to the next destination we were told by our Tuk-Tuk driver that Sri Lanka was affectionately known as the Ratna-Dweepa which means gem Island and to visit Sri Lanka is to experience the great gem sources in the world. He insisted we have a look at a Gem-exhibition that was happening close by and we decided to go for it . None of us were actually interested to purchase any of them but we did educate ourselves up to a level where we know The Blue Sapphire is the King of Sri Lankan gems and the 400 carat Blue Sapphire called “Blue Belle”, which adorns the British Crown, is from Sri Lanka. After the knowledge sharing session that happened we hurried to The Dutch hospital.
Its lunch time and we were at the Old dutch hospital – Considered to be the oldest building in the Colombo fort which is now a shopping and dining precinct. So whats for lunch ? Amazing amazing crabs it is! We were at the most talked about restaurant of Colombo- The Ministry of Crab, owned by the cricketers Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara which is housed in a 400 year old former dutch hospital . It offers a good variety of crab dishes starting from Chilli crab , Butter Crab , Curry Crab , garlic Chili Crab , Pepper Crab , baked crab and avocado crab salad . You can even choose the size of the crab you would like to have ranging from small, medium , large, XL, Kilo Crab , Jumbo and colossal . They even offer a variety of dishes with clams , prawn , fish and chicken . We placed an order for Chilli crab , Garlic crab and Clay pot prawn curry . The Garlic Chilli crab was a blend of Italian olive oil , garlic , Sri Lankan chilli flakes , Japanese soy sauce and the thick shell of the crab creates an unbelievably deep flavored dish . While the Chilli crab used a variety of Chillies available in Sri Lanka which created a warmth, sweetness,and an incredible depth of flavor . The clay pot prawn curry is made up of half a kilo of two kinds of prawn chosen particularly to make the stock flavorsome and is served with traditional wood fired ‘kade’ bread . This was the only meal during which the four us hardly spoke to each other until we literally wiped off our plates . Lunch at M.O.C will always be remembered ! I highly recommend each one of you travelling for Colombo to add this in your itinerary without fail . Slightly expensive when compared to the rest but surely worth each penny.
After an amazing meal we were back into the touristy mode as we were at the Gangaramaya Temple- A bustling temple complex which has a library, a museum and an extraordinarily eclectic array of bejeweled and gilded gifts presented by devotees and well-wishers over the years. We then ventured into a building where we saw a massive statue of Buddha surrounded with various other idols. This was one of the most famous place of worship in Colombo with a collection of everything related to Buddhism which do consume a good whole chunk of time .We then visited the Gangarama Seema Malakya which is built on three over-water platforms connected to each other and to the mainland by boardwalks. This temple is mainly for meditation and rest and all you will notice here is the numerous beautifully sculpted statues of Buddha , water , the sky and the calm under the tree .
It was time to leave this beautiful place but vacation even though a short one isn’t complete without shopping . We were already running late to get our bags and start off for the airport but we thought it was important to get some souvenirs back home from Sri Lanka . We visited ODEL and purchased few souvenirs for our loved ones back home and ended our last day in Sri Lanka on a sweet note at the pastry shop named SPONGE which offered a wide range of sweet treats and savories. The only time left with us then was to pick our bags from the service apartment and rush to get to the airport to reach back home .
Today as i replay all these memories while i write them down here I am so glad we made this vacation happen . It wasn’t one involving a lot of activities , or visiting too many places like the usual vacations . We decided on just 3 days and a minimum number of places to be visited (more of it was involved with food as we love exploring eateries and food ) but the happy times spent with these monkeys during this vacation will be something that will be treasured for life .
I am glad we discussed about this vacation plan and most happiest that we made it happen ! 🙂 Love you guys! <3