Ayubowan!

It’s been close to 2 years of zero blogging. Have been up to many activities worth blogging! This includes awakened interest in home décor, setting up a balcony garden (that I am proud of), lots of travelling, amateur photography  etc. etc. However sheer laziness and the new found love for Instagram  took up all my time. Today while sipping my cup of coffee and reading Ruskin Bond’s ‘ A Book of Simple Living’ , an ex- colleague messaged me asking for our Sri Lankan Trip itinerary. While I gave her a shortened version through WhatsApp, her request led me to think about re-starting blogging with our Sri Lankan experience. So here we go!

Sri Lanka was not the first choice for our June 2018 trip. We had initially planned for a 2 weeks trip to the North East. But once we reached closer to the date, we realised that the North East involves lots of planning and driving. The lazy couple that we are and thanks to our hectic work schedule at that point in time, we decided to so something more relaxing. The first picture that came to our mind was a clean beach, beer and some grilled fish. No other place matched this dream other than Sri Lanka. The  husband had his bachelors there and I had travelled for work a couple of times to Sri Lanka. We both had seen some bits, but not to our hearts content and just enough to get us longing for more! So we booked our tickets the very next day.

Having booked our tickets, the next step was to plan a rough itinerary. As at all times, I usually make the first draft and thereafter the husband comes up with his changes. Based on a combination of both our interests, we decided that the trip needs a good lazy vibe, exploring a bit of history and some beach activities. The below map sort of summarizes  our trip. We literally travelled across the country and it was worth every bit of it.

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Day 1 upon landing , we directly took off to Galle. While the husband hadn’t seen Colombo, we decided to explore Colombo on our way back. Twenty minutes on the road and the true blue-Indians that we are, we started craving for our morning Chai.Stopped at a small yet neat hotel where we had a cup of milk tea. This led to my first revelation – Sri Lankan tea is best had without milk. A very interesting thing on the menu was Nasi Goreng being termed as an Indian dish. Check the picture below!

Nasi Goreng

Soon after we had our next stop at the high way for a proper breakfast. We had a not so light breakfast. Check out the pictures and you shall know why  I say so!

Food

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We reached Galle in about 3 hours and checked into our first stay for the trip. To our surprise and great joy it’s one of the cutest homestay /bed and breakfast places that we have ever been to. The Stairway which was apparently  once an attic is a little café which has one room which has been rented out. Very minimalistic yet so beautifully done. Most importantly it has a very homely feel to it. Stairway has a limited menu in terms of food, but whatever they make is fresh and yum. Believe me, these pictures don’t do justice to the beauty of the place. We will definitely recommend this place to any couple who wants a quirky comfortable and cheap room to stay in.

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We spent the next two days exploring the Galle, visiting various museums, churches (place of interest for me), checking out the cricket stadium ( place of interest for the husband) and grabbing  a beer  in between ( common interest)  . Talking about beer, shouldn’t forget to mention how much I loved Sri Lankan beer!

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Church – Check!

We also spend our evenings pub hopping at the Galle Dutch Hospital Complex. Do not miss out on the great atmosphere and lovely people. While getting high I managed to steal paper coasters and napkins from each of these places, only to realize that they were more than happy to give me the same. The place has a very easy and laidback atmosphere. Live music, good food, scrabble tables and some great people made us stick around the place till 2 in the morning!

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After spending two days at Galle, we decided to move our base to Unawatuna. Drive to Unawatuna from Galle was hardly 45 min. Once we reached Unawatuna, we were clear about our priorities – beach, fish and beer. Not once did we wander away from it. We stayed at Thaproban beach house. Its one of the best located hotels since its right on the beach.

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While we judiciously whiled away most of our time in the water or reading a book, we did make a few trips. Once of it was to see the stilt fishermen.

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We also visited the home of the great writer Martin Wickramasinghe in Kogalla, Galle. Green and beautiful, a great place to spend reading his books.

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The best of course was our mini trek to the Jungle Beach. The beach is a little secret known to everyone ! Having walked for 2 hours through a small forest, we reached on of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. White sand and blue waters. What a sight!

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My description about Unawatuna is not complete without talking about the amazing food we had. We stuck to fish, prawns and crab at every place we ate. While we tried may preparations, the best is grilled fish in butter garlic sauce. The taste of fresh fish caught hours before in this preparation is definitely to die for. Believe me, the picture below does not do justice to the fish we devoured in less than 5 minutes.

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If you fancy stepping out for lunch from your hotel do visit this little café/BnB called ‘Bedspace’. The husband found this one on Lonely Planet. Since he swears by Lonely Planet, we had to go there. We didn’t regret one bit. The lazy vibe and the amazing, fresh burgers are to die for. Your favorite book and their amazing music and food can help you spend the afternoon in bliss.

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Sri  Lanka apart from being known for its amazing beaches is also known for its precious stones. We also visited one of the mines. While it is very touristy, if you want to really see how they are made fit enough for our jewelry and may be buy a few, do visit one.

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On our way back from Kogalla, our driver took us to a beautiful  café by the sea sea side which served the most amazing crabs I ever had –Mamas Coral Beach Hotel. The husband was never a great fan of crabs until then, but my enthusiasm and the tasty crab that was, made him a crab lover too. The crab came with the freshest salad I have had in a few years. This along with  beer made for a lovely lazy sumptuous meal.

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The view from the café is also to die for. Check this out!

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Food experiences in SriLanka is never complete without the traditional Sri Lankan thali. While we kept having it throughout the trip, the best was the one had in our next place of stay- Sigiriya.

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Speaking of food, one must also definitely taste the fish sambol and the ginger ale made in Sri Lanka. I can move to this country just so that I get to have it every day!

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So, as I mentioned our next stop was Sigiriya. Historical places always intrigue me, so our long trips always include some. What interested us was more that this civilization is way older than Machu Picchu. Sigiriya is an ancient rock fortress located in the northern Matale District near the town of Dambulla in the Central Province, Sri Lanka. According to the ancient Sri Lankan chronicle the Culavamsa, this site was selected by King Kasyapa  for his new capital. He built his palace on the top of this rock and decorated its sides with colorful frescoes. On a small plateau about halfway up the side of this rock he built a gateway in the form of an enormous lion. The name of this place is derived from this structure —Sīhāgiri, the Lion Rock

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The Gardens of the Sigiriya city are one of the most important aspects of the site, as it is among the oldest landscaped gardens in the world.

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2 hours of climbing and cribbing got me to the top of the rock and the view was to die for. Check out the pictures.

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We had booked hotel Sigiriya Village, since it was recommended by a friend. What a place. Even if given an option to change all our bookings, I would never change this one. It is one of the most beautiful, organic places I stayed. Nestled in a forest of about 100 acres, the place has little cottages places in between 100-year-old trees. The staff were super friendly and the ayurvedic spa is amazing. They have a lovely dining area with live piano recitals ( Hindi Songs included) . Ideal place to have a glass of wine and enjoy in the lap of nature. As soon as we reached, we had a grand Sri Lankan thali as lunch.  Soon after that we set out to see the Sigiriya rock.

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The next day we were joined by two of our friends and we were sure that the trip is going to be a super active one from that moment!

We set off to Trinconmalee . The reason to go to Trinconmalee was the husband’s wish  to do snorkeling. June being off season was not suitable for it on the west coast. However the east coast had weather suitable for the same water sports. We drove directly to Nilaveli Beach Resort. Nilaveli and Trinconmalee, unlike the west coast are not  touristy places and don’t have many shacks or eateries like the West. Upon reaching the hotel, 4 of us quickly changed and ran to the beach and we were thrilled to see the calm sea. This one looked straight out of a Maldives or Seychelles. We spent some time in the water and occasionally visited the shore for our bottomless long island ice teas. Another great find was the amazing long island ice tea that this country made. No hotel or shack disappointed us.

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We were super tired spent the evening at the hotel and slept early since we had to wake up early the next day. Day began at 5 a.m! And I made sure,  after pleading so much with the husband that it started with a #followmeto picture Smile 

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We left the beach in our super fast boat to see some dolphins and whales. And to our luck and some amazing spotting by our guide Vicky we saw many. Post the same, the 3 of them set out to do snorkeling at pigeon island while I lazed around in the hotel and read a book.I am scared of water and snorkeling is not for me. They did tell me it was amazing and would love to come back again! That speaks volumes.

While we have been having crab all though out our trip, our friends hadn’t tasted them yet. Hence I found out a nice restaurant for our lunch which served crabs. When we asked them for crab, the waiter went to the river below the restaurant, picked one out, showed it live and thereafter turned it into one of the yummy preparations. Mind you that’s how fresh the crab was. Post dinner we had to have a quick nap and then spend the rest of the evening at the beach.

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The next day post breakfast we set out for Colombo. Reached Colombo during lunch time. Trip advisor advised me to go for lunch at Paradise Road Galleries. It was worth it. This place had a different, modern take on SriLankan cuisine.

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Having finished lunch,we did a bit of shopping and then headed to the hotel. Nestled in the centre of the city, the hotel was perfect for us to reach after a good night out. The rest of the evening was spend pub hopping and partying. We ringed in the friends birthday in SriLanka that night and reached the hotel in the wee hours of the morning. Some of the places which are a must visit are Rhythm and Blues, Fern, Republik, Botanic.  Didn’t really remember to  click pictures while we were partying and those I clicked are too blurry to be posted!

The next day was big. We had reservation at the Ministry of Crabs for lunch. The experience was amazing – period.

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The friends left for India post lunch and we hung around for another day before heading back. Some more shopping and lazing around got us relaxed before we enter daily life routines.

Sri Lanka is a must visit for people who loves clean beaches and an amazing stay for half the price you pay in a Goa or a Kerala. If you ask me three things for which I would go back again I would say – beaches, people and the crab!