And breathe ….

Thursday 25th October 2018

Another day in our lovely ‘Ellen’s Place’ hotel and another delicious breakfast. While we wait for our eggs to be cooked each morning, they provide us with freshly baked ‘warm from the oven’ cakes – sometimes banana cakes, sometimes pineapple cakes – ooh the calories!

Pineapple cakes

Sorted out some laundry before leaving this morning – this item on the laundry list made me giggle – well at least it means that Steve’s not the last person in the world still using handkerchiefs!

So today’s plan was to ‘nip in’ to Immigration to renew our visa (we’re here longer than 30 days) and then head to the beach. Suffice to say there was no ‘nipping’ – a crowded, stressful and irritating 4 and a half hours ensued as we were passed from desk to desk, photographed, interviewed and endured long periods of waiting (including their lunch break)! Finally at a cost of $54 each our passports were returned with gleaming new visas.

Off to the beach we headed and enjoyed a late lunch and much needed coffee – the wind was already getting up and within a very short space of time the black clouds started to gather – so without even a swim we packed up and headed back to the hotel. The rain continued most of the evening … but we managed to fit in dinner at Sugar Bistro and then a quick night cap at The Cheers Bar. “Norm!…” (for any Cheers fans out there)?

Friday 26th October 2018

A pretty straightforward day today – arranged to meet Richard and Judy at Sugar Beach. Headed out there nice and early to maximise the day. It’s a beautiful beach we’ve discovered, predominantly a locals’ beach – just the odd tourist. Today it was fabulous to be there as there was lots of fishing activity. It’s incredible the lengths they go to to bring in a few fish – not sure how lucrative it can be as there’s a lot of men to share the profits.

We got a couple of great swims in and Steve even got to use the restaurant’s bodyboard – so he was in his element playing in the waves.

Richard and Judy unfortunately ended up at a different end of the beach so we didn’t get to meet up – made plans for tomorrow.

Had the usual torrential rain in the evening so rather than walk we got a taxi to the Italian restaurant Bayleaf which we’d been to on our first night in Colombo. Fabulous meal again and we were entertained with fireworks as apparently there’d been a sudden change of Prime Minister … just like that!

Saturday 27th October 2018

Poor Steve’s having a real time of it … he had a troublesome night as he developed a sore throat, chesty cough and some breathing difficulties. For someone who’s so rarely ill he’s certainly packing it in on this holiday! At 5.00am he was drawn to look out the window at the sound of a marching band … he initially thought he had become delirious. But apparently there was a full-on parade, marching band, fire-eaters, whirling dervishes … the works! The hotel staff were oblivious to it when we asked them, but decided it was probably connected to the installation of the new Prime Minister.

After breakfast we hit the streets of downtown Colombo 8 to find a pharmacy. Then equipped with cough mixture and lozenges we walked a but further to track down an ATM. Now Sri Lanka IS a beautiful country … but not so the back streets of Colombo. Many of the buildings and pavements are in a state of decay and sadly ridiculously dirty. Our pretty and clean hotel just seems to have been planted in a ‘not so pretty and clean’ area of town. But it was all an experience and even Steve with his breathing problems soldiered on amidst the fumes emanating from the hordes of tuk tuks and their cheap petrol. We had just been discussing tripping hazards when literally about 20 yards from the hotel Steve went flying off the pavement into the gutter … into the biggest and muddiest puddle we’d seen all morning. He was covered in mud from head to toe and had grazed his hand and knee …. but mostly his pride was wounded. We managed to sneak back into the hotel unseen and all was recovered.

Once cleaned up we set off for the Mount Lavinia Hotel where we were meeting Richard, Judy and family. This is another colonial heritage hotel and has great charm. We had some time around the pool, some buffet lunch then spent a short time on the beach. All really pleasant and great to catch up again with the Benmores … but we had to head off mid-afternoon because of course there was cricket this evening – and we couldn’t possibly be late!

Mount Lavinia Hotel

View of Sugar Beach from Mount Lavinia Hotel

This time we got it right … we had pre-booked Hushni to take us to the stadium and to meet us later (to avoid a repeat of Tuesday’s getting home nightmare). We got there in plenty of time and enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere of this T20 game – the Sri Lankan supporters were out in force.

Lots of items on sell for cricket fans

The England boys did well from the start and it was exciting to watch. I can understand why the younger folk prefer T20 to test matches – it seemed a lot more lively (probably not supposed to say that)! But inevitably the rain came, not torrential this time but the covers came on and play was postponed. We made the decision to cut our losses and get clear of the stadium in case there was a sudden evacuation. A wise decision – Hushni met us, with his lovely wife in the car too, and we returned to the hotel to watch the resumed match from the comfort of our bed, with snacks!

Sunday 28th October 2018

More suitcase packing and more farewells today as we leave the lovely staff at Ellen’s Place. It wasn’t the greatest of locations but everything else about the hotel was amazing, including the warm hospitality.

Swing sitting beside the jacuzzi/plunge pool at Ellen’s Place Hotel

Hushni arrived promptly at 10.00am for our drive from Colombo to Hikkaduwa. Before we left the city we took a little tour of Galle Face, the Fort area and the bustling markets of Pettah.

Fort area of Colombo

It was a reasonable drive down, some incredibly busy areas where lots of beeping went on, particularly if a bus happened to be tailing us. Once on the highway it was a lot quicker and smoother. Reaching the green forest areas felt such a welcome relief after the mad city life we have experienced this week – it just looked and felt so fresh. Reaching the familiar area of Hikkaduwa and its coastline felt like coming home and as we wound our way down the village lanes to Vesma Villas we felt so excited. This is where we stayed earlier in the year.

And what a welcome we had … all the staff came out to greet us with genuine excitement. We were presented with the most beautiful and scented of flower garlands and proudly escorted to our chalet which had been dressed up fit for a King and Queen.

We are back in the Sri Lanka we love … and we can breathe the beautifully fresh unpolluted air. Here’s to two weeks of relaxation. 😎

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