Sri Lanka is really stealing the scene. To circulate around the country on an unforgettable roadtrip, the gateway is definitely Columbus. But do not make the mistake of going through the largest city in Sri Lanka without exploring its temples, markets and chaotic streets that tell a lot about the dense history of these smiling people who have in the DNA the crossing of so many people and left less than ten years of a civil war.
Choose the sparkling-new Shangri-La Colombo to stay in the city center in an impeccable hotel with a great value. Sri Lanka is not expensive … yet! I loved staying at this hotel for three days and it has become a meeting place for the locals. This is really cool because you are able get closer to the culture of the place. I attended a wedding, talked to the bride and made friends at the hotel, which is wonderful. It has a spa of the gods, a delightful swimming pool in an entire glass-fronted area facing the sea, an immense gym, six very good restaurants and bars, and beautiful rooms with elegant decor in shades of blue, gray and brown. Not to mention the real Ceylon tea, the ancient name of the kingdom and one of the best teas in the world, served by a Tea Sommelier in the lobby at the Sapphyr Lounge. So Chic!
The heart of Columbus is the Forte District built by the Portuguese. The Portuguese arrived there in 1505 to negotiate the cinnamon (one of the most important products of the country still today).
Soon they built fortifications and dominated the kingdom for a long time. In this region, visit Clock Tower Lighthouse, Old Galle Buch Lighthouse, Dutch Hospital which is no longer a hospital despite its name but rather a funky place with restaurants and cafes. The Buddhist temples Gangaramaya and Seema Malaka are not to be missed, close to each other and can be visited with the same ticket. Also go to the Hindu temple Sri Kailawasanathar Swami Devasthanam which has a beautiful facade. Outside the Forte is the Pettah quarter with a chaotic shopping area, frenetic markets, the Dutch Period Museum and the beautiful Jami ul-Alfar Mosque in red and white, one of Columbus’ postcards. Another historical place worth a visit is the Independence Memorial, built in 1948, when Sri Lanka separated from England. If art is what you are looking for, go to Paradise Road Galleries and Barefoot Galery.
I guarantee you will be amazed by the historical richness, with the luxury of the Shangri-La Colombo hotel and all that the city has to offer. Worth the trip!
XoXo and a great week to all!