Birthday and beaches on the Spice Island

Trip Start Jan 10, 2013
Trip End Jan 23, 2014

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Where I stayed
The Clock Inn, Colombo
Palm Villa, Mirissa

Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Monday, December 2, 2013

Upon arriving in Colombo we soon realised we were going to have to spend a few days in the city in order to extend our visas (you automatically receive 30 days, we needed 60). Not a particularly engaging city (although far from offensive), but we managed to kill a few days visiting nice colonial cafes and arty crafty shops while we waited for the Sri Lankan authorities to do their thing.

Our guest house was opposite one of Colombo's finest, Barefoot, which was both a yummy cafe and a popular handicraft shop, selling oodles of brightly coloured fabrics and homewares, toys in rainbow colours and books, gifts and clothes. We also discovered the Colombo Cricket Club, which was actually an Aussie owned cricket themed pub, and was a good place for home cooked dinners.

We managed to go to the cinema one afternoon, something that I've really missed this year! We saw Thor, and to my surprise there was actually something in it for the girls! ;) Hurrah. Half way through the film there was an intermission, which was really strange! Everyone got up, moved about a bit, then came back ten minutes later and settled down a bit. It felt old fashioned but nice!

From Colombo we took a very crammed train (where we were very much a spectacle it seemed) 2 hours along the coast to Galle - a very pretty colonial walled fort town. Pretty much the jewel in Sri Lanka's tourism crown. We stayed in the old part of the fort, which extends out to sea. Almost frozen in time, it was a little maze of small streets with no cars just tuk tuks, and beautiful colonial buildings painted oranges, pinks and yellows. It was full of cafes and boutiques, all with a suitably 'exclusive' price tag. A nice place to wander around for a day or two.

The little beach town of Mirissa was next for my birthday. We'd found a lovely white washed hotel on the beach front to spend a few days, where we could watch turtles swimming around in the sea while we ate breakfast! A bit more than our budget allowed, but hey it was my birthday treat! Unfortunately I got food poisoning on our first night. :( Luckily I was better just in time for the big day, which we spent on the beach. The beach was very beautiful - golden sand and palm trees - and was lined with little restaurants, where you can sit with your feet in the sand sipping on mojitos while watching the sun go down, or enjoy candle lit dinners. Of course we did both, making it a very special and relaxing way to get old. ;)

Mirissa is said to be one of the best places in the world to see blue whales, so we went whale watching one day and were lucky enough to see 8 or 9 blue whales. These things were enormous! Seeing the first two that we came across was quite moving. These huge creatures glide through the water making it look effortless, and you could easily forget that they can be up to 30m in length and 170 tons (as wikipedia reliably informs me). The largest known animal ever to have existed. I was keen to make sure we booked with a reputable company who were involved with the protection of the whales, and the company we found were brilliant. They were a family run business and are working with a Sri Lankan university to help record the whales' movements and monitor behaviours etc to help towards proper protection of the whales. On the way out to find the whales (which took about an hour) the sea was proper rolling. It was not good! My eyes were firmly fixed on the horizon at the very back of the boat, despite having taken sea sickness tablets! As per usual, Chris was hopping about, going upstairs to chat with the captain, or the front to enjoy the waves!
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