It was a much sought after vacation since Aashira’s birth. Besides short drive trips to Mysore & Coorg, it had been over 2 long years. Srilanka was the chosen beach destination after Andaman & Lakshadweep lost out due to lack of direct flights from Bangalore and not-so-easy access to suitable accommodation from the destination airport. Hassle-free visa on arrival saved us the usual burden that comes with international travel. With near comparable costs and new found peace, Srilanka presented an opportunity to experience an upcoming Asian country.

Masks of SrilankaAs always, enjoyed the planning stage and the run up- exploring history, destinations, weather, cuisine, transport moods and other local demographics. Travel and vacations with a tiny tot was new dimension this time. This meant the vacation was longer and slow paced. In retrospect, this proved great since it let us relax and unwind.

The little over 1 hour Srilankan Airlines flight was before time at the Bandaranaike International Airport (35kms from Colombo). Good service but don’t expect to be pampered. Visa was simple and quick. Indian Rupees is not fully convertible and Srilankan Rupees (LKR) is closed, hence one needs to carry $ or £ and convert to LKR at the airport. Visit the tourism office at the exit to pick maps and brochures. The terminal is comparable to the new airports here. The pickup/dropoff area outside was smaller but served the purpose. Our pre-booked taxi driver held the placard that read “Rajive”!

After a night stay in Ramada Katunayake hotel, the next day we left to Bentota (pronounced Benthota), 60kms south of Colombo along the coast on Galle Road (pronounced Gool). Good road sans speed breakers (not even 1!) was smooth but not fast due to intermittent signals and continuous habitation. Vivanta by Taj in Bentota checked us into a nice ocean view room. The next 4 days were a bliss lazing around the beach, pool, bar and restaurants. Contrary to typical forecast for October, weather was just right. Service was excellent but food was mediocre. Thanks to my cousin Anand’s photography suggestions, I was lost fiddling with the camera. So much so, I didn’t do the water ski course that I was looking forward to! Taj’s inroom dining concept, watching the river meet the ocean, holding on to baby croc and turtles, the rare albino turtle were other highlights in Bentota. Interactions with Nandana, owner of restaurant Diya Sisila (Rated No 1 in TripAdvisor for every reason. A must visit) were interesting and insightful.

Bentota to Colombo return was with a different driver, Rohan. Smart and impressively knowledgeable guy. At Colombo, we stayed 2 days in Cinnamon Grand. The hotel had an unbelievably huge lobby- easily about a lakh sq feet area! Always busy and vibrant. Though disappointing with child friendly facilities (they gave baby playpen as a baby cot!), food was good and fairly priced relative to Taj in Bentota. Not sure why but Colombo has more authentic Japanese restaurants than Bangalore. We did not spare them :). Shopping at House of Fashion was an experience- Branded garments at cheap prices. (Details on this in person).

Thus ended a relaxed & happy vacation. We gave a miss to the popular cultural and historical destinations, holding off until the next visit to the island when Aashira is a grownup.

Photos @ Facebook & Picasa.

Get in touch with me to assist you to plan a vacation to Srilanka.