Oli and I arrived in Sri Lanka pretty excited and slightly hysterical after a roughly 24 hour round trip and about 8 hours sleep between the 2 of us.
The plane only takes 12 hours if you fly direct, but we flew via Male in the Maldives so totally it took about 14. Sadly we only stopped for 1 hr and couldn’t get off but it looked dreamy from the plane window. It’s also an epic place to fly into, the landing is bonkers…..so small and narrow that we circled for what seemed like hours then descended really steeply and the brakes were kinda slammed straight on. Annoyingly we were sat in the middle aisle over the wings, so couldn’t see much but it was fun all the same. Hilariously, someone left their wedding dress on the plane – so there was a few frantic announcements from the crew until said bride picked it up.
Arriving at Colombo airport was a relaxed affair, and in total, we got out of there in record time! We changed our Great British wonga to Sri Lankan Rupees and made our way to the bus station. We then promptly got lost, gave up and got a tuk tuk to Negombo (which is actually closer to Colombo Airport than Colombo is. Trickery. Oli picked Negombo as it’s by the sea, and a nicer way to ease ourselves into the trip. We had 2 nights booked at Beach Monkey hostel in a 4-bed dorm – however as we were the only ones in the room, it was a nice cheap private-ish room. Negombo has a lovely, chilled out vibe and you can easily while away a few days meandering & eating your way through the street food. We loved the Sea Joy Tourist restaurant, where we had amazing Sri Lankan curries and went back daily!
We decided to head straight to Galle via Colombo, so got a bus to Colombo at the grand cost of about 50 rupees (£1). This took around 2 hours, with minimal many hairy moments.
We’d decided a while back that we would be getting the trains around Sri Lanka as much as possible for a few reasons. I get motion sickness on buses sometimes and trains are just the most beautiful way to see any country. Obviously, this sometimes leaves you with a wee bit of time to kill, but that ain’t a problem for me. I’ll just find the nearest eatery, plonk myself down, and grub up.
A lovely Messiah (I was hungry, he was God) beckoned us in, took our bags and sat us down….Oli then went to the selection of snacks (short eats) and brought some samosa style things, vegetable roti’s, and an egg curry breaded turnover. I don’t know the official names, clearly. What I do know, is that Sri Lankan ‘Short Eats’ are the single most delicious thing (think beige on the outside, vivid spice on the inside). We’ve vowed to find more everywhere we go.
All aboard! Our train was INSANE. Insanely cheap, at 180 Rupees (90p) and insanely busy. We didn’t expect to get a seat for the whole 3 hours, but we did not expect to be squished on a packed commuter train (at 2pm?!) reminiscent of the central line at rush hour. People were literally hanging off the train, bonkers. Needless to say, it went slowly. But we bought some more snacks from the vendors flogging their wares out of pretty pink baskets. We eschewed the mango, for some more deep fried fun in the form of waadi waadi which we had been told to seek out by our good friend Miss (soon not to be) H; Amy, you’re right, it’s delicious!
We arrived in Galle pretty battered and bruised by the train journey but excited to see the legendary Dutch fort town. After only a day of exploring, we were charmed. The place we stayed was inside Galle Fort (the old town) and exuded cozy chintz. Beach Haven Guest House is run by Mrs. Wijenake (who used to be the deputy mayor of Galle) and her daughter. True to form, it’s a haven.
Worth noting in Galle is the incredible fort walls, which are so strong that when the 2004 tsunami hit Galle, everything inside the fort walls was pretty much untouched. The lighthouse and clock tower are both stunning a sunset and you can catch the flag ceremony too.
From the walls, there are also some great views of the Galle cricket ground (guess who pointed that out as soon as we arrived?!).
Our highlight? Food, naturally. We grazed on delicious short eats along the way, including waadi waadi (again) and a donut thing with chilli inside. I need to find the names of all of these delicacies before we leave, it’s getting embarrassing now.
Also published on Medium.