Sunday, 17th February, 2019
It was again great to wake up to the chirping of birds and somewhere far away, we could hear some singing going on – we could not guess whether it was Buddhist, Hindoe or Christian but it was very pleasant to hear. From our verandah I could sense that it was a Sunday – there was a peaceful and relaxed atmosphere.
Before going down for breakfast, we had rearranged our luggage so as not to have any loose bags and we managed to get everything packed. It’s a wonder how it seems our luggage got heavier on the way while we have not exactly bought anything bulky – only some spices and some small wooden carvings…….
Indika was already waiting for us when we were ready – polished and clean.
When all our luggage was packed into the car and we were on the way out of Bentota along the sea front, Indika told us that we would be stopping just outside Colombo to meet with Randima, my travel consultant at Olanka Travel. She was the one who assisted me in putting this trip together and for that I am really thankful as we were given the company’s prize chauffeur – Indika.
On the way, it was getting hotter and I dozed off for a while – outside temperatures had soared up to 34C……….
When I was awake again, I remarked that it was about time we stopped for a drink and Indika drove into the parking lot of a coffee bar. Apparently this was where we were meeting Randima!
Besides meeting Randima and her little boy, we chatted a while about our trip – she told me that she enjoyed following my posts on Facebook and she shared some of the pictures with the company. Of course I had only excellent feedback about Indika…… what was really sweet is that Randima had a gift for us – a photo collage of our trip – pictures that Indika had made on his iPhone were sent back to Randima and hence the result. Also another gift was a mask of the Blue Buddha representing prosperity and good health! I felt somewhat embarrassed as I had brought gifts for Indika as he was driving us all round but didn’t think I would be meeting Randima…….. perhaps I should send her something when I am back in Holland??????
Having said our goodbyes and Randima asking us to come back and visit (well I don’t think we should wait too long as Gerry has been to Sri Lanka, Colombo some 25 years ago but did not recognize the city as there are so many high rises everywhere.), we made our way to the city centre. Indeed we were treated to many new high rises and wide avenues.
Indika took us on a whirlwind city tour starting off with the great Buddhist temple, Gangaramaya Temple – a centre of the most extravagant Vesak celebrations ( celebration of Buddha’s birthday or Buddha day to be celebrated this year on May 19) in Colombo, then onto the Independence Hall, Old colonial buildings, the Red Mosque and the Old Town Hall. It was really too hot to wander around and were very glad to get to our hotel – Fairview Hotel with its beautiful rooftop terrace facing the ocean. Finally we will get to see the sun set this evening……..
The gangaramaya temple
Various colonial buildings
The red mosque
Train and bus station, street markets
The old dutch hospital
And finally back to the hotel – while it is not in the centre of Colombo, it really is a good hotel which is slowly transitioning us into the western way of life, however with the typical Sri Lankan hospitality with a smile. Indika dropped us here and made sure check in went smoothly. Our room was on the 7th floor and facing the ocean – great after relaxing and catching up with our social media, we went up two flights of stairs to the roof top terrace to watch the sunset – which although not perfect was fantastic to witness this great orange ball disappearing behind the clouds and down into the Indian Ocean.
The views from the rooftop terrace were magnificent – also watching trains hooting their way along the coastline…… then it was time for us to go out and find somewhere to have a bite to eat – we ended up on the beach where the locals come and had a black pot seafood curry with roti. A different ambiance and am wondering how it looks in the day time….
Back at the hotel, it was fantastic to get a really good night’s rest – tomorrow we will be flying back to the Netherlands in the evening so I checked us in on the Jet Airway flight via Mumbai.