We kicked off our first leg of the adventure in Sri Lanka, where we spent two days exploring Colombo. With strong colonial vibes and fast paced nature Colombo is hectic yet charming. Here’s how we spent our first 48 hours there.
We used booking.com to pre-book all our Sri Lanka hotels due to it being the busy Christmas period and ME Hotel was our first stop. A mere 40 mins from the airport by taxi – approx 2300 LKR for a taxi – we arrived late, checked in and went straight to bed so we were ready for a full day of exploring ahead.
We woke up and opened our balcony doors to a very humid morning, the heat just hits you. Tired yet excited to see the city we walked the 30 minutes to Galle Street (the main road that leads you all the way from the capital down to Galle) and inhaled the chaotic-ness of it all.
The humidity was overwhelming and we easily worked up an appetite. We stopped in a local cafe for an egg rotti and coffee – this cost us 100 LKR. Galle road is impressively long and busy, it’s a tough walk when you are ladened down with a backpack and the sun is strong. Our top tip is to pit-stop in the malls to cool off as their air con is refreshing and the toilets are very clean. We also picked up a fresh juice here too for for the bargain price of 200 LKR.
Our trek down Galle Road was to see the fort, it’s a long walk but worth it as it enables you to take in the city in its entirety. From the fort we found ourselves on Main Street in Pettah, which is a hectic yet vibrant strip with a similar feel to the busy Bangkok.
We had already hit 20k on our pedometer so it was time for a tut tut; hop in the red ones as they are on the metre with most journeys costing no more than 300 LKR. Our lovely driver whizzed us over to Cinnamon Park which to be honest, by day, was not overly wow.
We went past it by night and it was all lit up for Christmas which made it much more impressive. I guess nothing beats a London park! Our first day had consisted of so much walking and sightseeing we had forgotton to eat and we were getting hangry! We attempted to walk back to the hotel but our legs were saying NO. God love a tut tut.
Our evening was spent at a local veggie restaurant called Thalis on Park Road where we experienced our first curry of the trip – it was delicious. Don’t be put off my the interior of Sri Lankan food spots as we have found it definitely doesn’t reflect how good the food is!
Our first day was nearly over and our bodies were feeling the effects of jetlag so off to bed it was – remember, we’re not twenty-something backpackers anymore, we need our beauty sleep and 8pm bedtimes are OK when you have been exploring all day!
We woke to the cool breeze of the air conditioning and were feeling hungry so thought we’d try out the hotel’s breakfast offering and boy was that a mistake. It ended up costing us 1750 LKR each which was SO not worth it considering we could have found a local fruit shop and nibbled on fresh produce for a fraction of the price. You live and learn! Matt did get to try egg hoppers though and they were so so tasty, a little bonus to the extortionate price.
Next up was to locate a vape shop Matt found online, he’s desperately trying to quit smoking and a vape is a great option here as buying cigarettes is a bit limited. You are not allowed to bring tobacco into the country and most little huts / shops only sell single cigarettes, so vape life is a great alternative.
We walked through shanty towns and so many side roads literally just wandering and soaking up their culture and way of life. It was sweltering but watching the locals go about their business was so fascinating we forgot how sweaty we were.
We got chatting to someone and they recommend a spot for dinner called Dosa King and what a recommendation it was. We tried a veggie dosai, Bombay potatoes and a chilli idly – it was out of this world. Again, don’t get put off by the look of Dosa King, it’s simple and not a luxurious restaurant but my god is it good food.
We were again, knackered – another full-on day just walking through the city exploring was tiring. We were due to head to Hikkaduwa the following morning and had read top tips about buying tickets before you are due to travel so grabbed a tut tut to Colombo railway to reserve our seats.
We booked first class tickets but to be honest, it’s not worth it. The first class tickets claimed to have air con, however, it was just a giant fan circulating the carriage. We ended up hanging around by one of the open doors admiring the view and enjoying the cool breeze as the train whizzed down the coast. It was a moment for the memory bank, that’s for sure.
Our thoughts on Colombo…
Definitely a must-see, especially Main Street in Pettah, however, you only really need a day here. It’s a great way to inject some of that local culture into your stay and to try places that provide menus without a hint of western food.
The whole reason we are travelling is so soak up other’s way of life and to see a world that is different from ours and the busy streets of Colombo will do just that.
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