Thursday, 9 April 2020

A Sri Lankan Holiday - Kechchimalai Mosque Beruwala

On our second day in Beruwala we had a late lunch at Hilda's Seafood Bar and in the evening we visit Kechchimalai Mosque. This was one of the oldest Mosque's in Sri Lanaka built by the Arab traders in 12th century. The Mosque is situated on top of a rocky hill with a beach on one side and fishing harbor on the other. The Mosque itself was pretty small but the views from up there was really nice. 
Fishing Boat docked at the harbor 

Kechchimalai Mosque Beruwala
Kechchimalai Mosque
Wanted to share with my fellow travelers a few tips to keep in mind while visiting a Mosque:
  • Remove your hat,shoes and sunglasses before entering 
  • Be respectful do not speak inside and keep your phone on silent 
  • When you sit do not point your feet in the direction of the shrine 
  • Dress appropriately and women should cover their head 
  • Photography is permitted ( in most ) but not during prayer time 
Sri Lanka Travel Blog
The harbor opens out into the sea
Beruwala Travel Blog
Vendors by the mosque 
Vendor selling all kinds of chips 
There was prayers happening when we reached the mosque so we explored the grounds around the mosque. The views were really nice from up here, highly recommend carrying a tele-lens to get close up shots of the colorful fishing boats docked in the harbor. 
Kechchimalai Mosque Beruwala
Beruwala Harbor at golden hour 
St.Anne's Church 
On our way back to our Airbnb we stopped by St.Anne's Church; it was a Sunday and we had missed to attend mass. The church was old and had a really nice altar, we spent 15 minutes praying inside before heading back. Next up .... one of the most amazing sunsets I have seen in my life. Stay Tuned !

Sunday, 5 April 2020

A Sri Lankan Holiday - Beruwala Day 2

Second day in Beruwala started with a beautiful morning walk by the beach. The sky was blue and the sea was green dotted with fishing boats by the horizon. I spotted a lone fisherman who was venturing out onto the rocks to cast bait, at one point I got him in my frame along with Lighthouse Island in the background.
Vacation in Paradise Sri Lanka
Swing by the beach at Amuura Villa 
 Fisherman and  Barberyn Lighthouse
Sri Lanka Beach
Vanbug at the beach 
Barberyn Lighthouse
Barberyn Lighthouse
Modelling Sri Lanka
Taking in that fresh air 

Sea Urchin Sri Lanak
I caught a Sea Urchin and it was alive !
The fisherman in the picture saw me taking his snap and wanted to see it; I showed him the photos and this was my reward. He took a spiny sea urchin from his basket and put it on my palm; it had a spiny chalky texture. And then it moved ! I almost dropped Mr.Spiny.
Dog lover Beruwala
Neeti is a dog lover and she had a blast petting this guy; me ... I stayed away clicking pictures
For lunch we went to Hilda's Seafood Shack, it came highly recommended and did not disappoint. We had a Seafood Salad, Golden Jumbo Shrimp and a seafood  fried rice that had a generous portion of crab meat. The food was tasty, service was excellent and we were sitting less than 50 meters from a beach. Highly recommend Hilda's for a sundowner. 
Hilda's Seafood Shack
Lunch at Hilda's Beach Shack 
After a heavy lunch and siesta we went to see the Kechchimalai Mosque ..... coming up 

Friday, 3 April 2020

A Sri Lankan Holiday - Beruwala

After spending new years in Bentota we were off to Beruwla, Beruwala is a beautiful beach town 90 kilometers from Colombo; the name "Beruwala" translates to Where Sails Are Lowered in the local Sinhalese language. Since we were already in Bentota it took us about 20 minutes by auto rickshaw to get to our Airbnb in Beruwala.
Coconut Arrack Mojito 
Barberyn Island 
We stayed at Amuura Beach House a beautiful 5 bedroom villa with the most incredible view; from our balcony we could see the beach and lighthouse Island in the background. Amuura was one of the most amazing places I have stayed in my life and it had to do with the view, the atmosphere and the people that run the place.
Airbnb Sri Lanka
Our Cozy Room at Amuura 
Caught some lovely sunsets from that lounger 
Decor at Amuura Beach House 
We got the best room in the house! The Sea View Suite. The room was big and airy with a high ceiling and two balconies on either side. One facing the garden and the other facing the beach with the view of Lighthouse Island. There was one little catch to this place; the house was built with sustainability in mind and so there is only one common bath. The rooms don’t come with attached toilet; also there is no AC but you won’t miss it as the sea breeze will cool the room down after sun down. 
volkswagen van
Shades of Green and Blue 
The room at Amuura Beach House was about 70 USD and that includes breakfast; it  was a healthy breakfast of fresh cut fruits, homemade bread & jams, coconut sambol and juice. The villa is run by a German mother daughter trio Clair, Paulina & Carlotta. They were very hands on in the running of the villa and were super friendly.
That's my dream dining room !
Colombo Food Blog
Happy Healthy Breakfast 
It’s in Amuura that I discovered coconut arrack; they made a mojito version that was killer. Safe to say that we had many coconut arrack mojits. It has a very similar flavor profile to coconut fenny but I prefer the arrack any day. Distilled from the sap of the coconut flower; arrack has been the favorite choice of locals for ages. I was surprise to find very refined versions of this popular spirit a the duty free. Some of the famous ones are Cylon Arrack & Old Reserve" by Aybrook & Mason
Coconut Arrack Sri Lanka
Arrack by the beach, in our room, while watching the sunset 
Sri Lanka Food Blog
Living room at Amuura 

Sri Lankan Kitchen
The Kitchen at Amuura 
Airbnb Beruwala
Around the Airbnb
We did not leave the villa the first day, spent the entire day exploring the villa and surrounding beach. Watching the sun set behind lighthouse island is a pretty amazing sight. More on Beruwalala on the next post ...... stay tuned !

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

A Sri Lankan Holiday - New Years in Bentota

This trip was planned on the pretext of spending new years with friends, Sri Lanka was a location that was easy for everyone to get in and the VISA was on arrival. We wanted to have a quiet new years away from the crowds and confusion, so we rented a  private villa not to far from Bentota beach. We booked Nick's Villa though Airbnb and lucky enough the house was well maintained and we had a wonderful stay in Bentota. 
Beautiful mangroves on the edge of the beach 
 Bentota Beach
Bentota Beach 
Bentota Beach is very scenic with calm waters; we went into the sea quiet a bit and still could feel land beneath our feet 
The morning started off with yummy hoppers (idiyappam) with chicken curry and a Sri Lankan staple chutney, Sambol (made from grated coconut, red onion, dried chilies, lime juice and dried Maldive fish). Since it was New Years our chef got fresh crabs from the local market and made pepper crab for lunch; it was delish πŸ˜‹
Sri Lankan Food
Specialties of our in house chef ; hoppers and crab curry 
We had some interesting visitors that day! Early morning it was a mongoose and late afternoon it was a monitor lizard. It was incredible seeing these creatures up close.
Mongoose and Monitor Lizard in Sri Lanka
Ruddy Mongoose commonly found in Sri Lanka and India 
Monitor lizard posing for us 
In the afternoon we went to the Bentota Turtle Hatchery Project, up to 5 endangered species of turtle frequent these islands. The hatchery is a protected place where the turtles can lay their eggs; the volunteers collect eggs from the beach and some even buy the eggs off fishermen. The collected eggs are hatched away from predators and the little baby turtles are release back into the sea. It seemed like the hatchery was made more for tourist than actual conservation work but I would still recommend visiting one; holding a tiny baby turtle in your hand is a pretty special feeling.
Turtle Hatchery
We saw Olive Ridley, Loggerhead and green turtles at the hatchery 
This one is called Tiny; baby green turtle 
For New Year’s Eve we had reserved tables at a restaurant recommended by our Airbnb host; it was his friend’s place called Trax Garden and it was by the railway tracks. The place was nothing fancy, what it lacked in dΓ©cor it made up in the food and service. Menu for the nigh was grilled jumbo prawns, butter poached spiny lobster and grilled snapper. We got beer and mixers from the restaurant and gin and whisky we carried our own (very few places let you take your own booz). Later that night we went to the beach and we were there till about 12:30. There were New Year parties in each of the resorts by the beach so there was music and fireworks thought the night. 
Night out in Bentota
Lion Beer, Tanquray and Patron to end the night strong
Lobster crab sri lanka
A true seafood trinity - Lobster, Snapper and Jumbo Shrimp 
Vendors selling boiled peanuts; a hazy shot of us at midnight; our table for the night at Trax Garden 
On Jan 1st our friends headed back to India and Neeti and Myself continued on with our Sri Lankan adventure...... Next Stop Beruwala !

Friday, 20 March 2020

A Sri Lankan Holiday - Bentota

We reached Bentota after a 2 hour drive from Colombo, the ride was scenic; we passed by fishing villages, small sea side towns and costal roads. More of our friends had joined us at the Airbnb in Bentota. We had booked a lovely 4 bed room pool villa surrounded by lush tropical greenery. Bentota is a beautiful sea side town known for its beaches and beautiful laid back atmosphere. We stayed in Bentota for 3 nights including New Year’s Eve before all went our separate ways. Neeti and I continued our journey to Beruala and then Galle before heading back to Bangalore. 
Bentota Beach
Surf Boards for rent at Bentota beach 
Airbnb Bentota
Airbnb in Bentota 
Our Airbnb in Sri Lanka
I could not find the same house listed on Airbnb anymore but you can get a Pool villa from 160 USD
The house had a lovely balcony facing the pool and this is where we hung out most of the time. Mornings were spent inside the swimming pool or playing volley ball/ cricket in the huge lawn back door. In the evening we would headed to the beach to swim and watch the sunset. The Airbnb owner hooked us up with a  cook who made delicious authentic Sri Lankan food. He charged us15 USD per day plus supplies for cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner. Our ex-chef made some really delicious local treats ! The highlights were egg hoppers for breakfast, pepper crab for lunch and prawn curry for dinner. 
Sinhalese food

Menu from Day One
  • Sri Lankan Deviled Potatoes 
  • Spicy Chicken Curry 
  • Veg Pulao
  • Steamed Beans 
  • Yellow Lentil Curry 
  • Stir-fried Spinach 
Bentota Villa for rent
Tropical Pool Villa 

Luxury Resort Bentota
Resort by Bentota Beach 
Tips for Visiting Bentota:
  • Distance from Colombo is roughly 100km and google maps will tell you it takes 1 hr 30 min. But it takes more depending on traffic and some of the roads are narrow so that adds to the time. We hired a minivan to take us from Colombo to Bentota for 60 USD approx. If you are travelling as solo or as a couple its worth  taking the train which is cheaper and faster
  • Bentota is a popular holiday destination so there are many luxury resorts. But we really enjoyed the Airbnb experience, especially if you are travelling in a big group a resort won’t give you the same privacy like a villa.
  • Rent scooters and explore the surrounds. Some recommendations:
    • Brief Garden by Bevis – Home and garden of famous landscape architect Bevis Bawa
    • Bentota Turtle Hatchery
    • Galapata Raja Temple – 16th Century Buddhist Temple 
  • Moragalla is a good spot if you want the entire beach to yourself 
mangrove forest in bentota
Mangroves by Bentota Beach 

Before coming to Sri Lanka I had the notion that it is just like my home state of Kerala, but its so different in so many ways. Sri Lanka really did surprise me and I will be going back to explore more. 

Next Post New Years in Bentota 

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

A Sri Lankan Holiday - Barefoot Garden Cafe Colombo

Barefoot Garden Cafe 

Barefoot garden cafe is a little oasis in the heart of the busy city; beautiful and rustic this open air cafe is a must visit. We went to Barefoot Garden Cafe to have breakfast before our 2 hour road-trip to Bentota. This space is so much more than just a cafe; it is a fashion boutique, art gallery, art studio and lounge, it was the perfect start before our journey from the city to the seaside. I had a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel and it was a ten on ten! The coffee was good too. We ended up spending more time than anticipated exploring the art and architecture surrounding this beautiful space. The Sunday Brunch at Barefoot Garden cafΓ© is highly recommended.
Rustic Decor of Barefoot Garden Cafe
Rustic Decor of Barefoot Garden Cafe 
Antique artifacts litter the cafe grounds; there are some very interesting pierces 
The food at the cafe was excellent !

Lion Beer & Roast Beef Sandwich with Cheese Bread was a perfect combo 

We Ordered:
  • Cured Ham and Gouda Cheese Sandwich πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘
  • Roast Beef Sandwich πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘
  • Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese Bagel πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘
  • Lion Stout Beer πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘
Photographers Paradise 
All these tables were full by the time we left 
Relics from all over the island 
Beautiful Library inside Barefoot
Art Gallery
Address: 704 Galle Rd, Colombo, Sri Lanka 
Phone: +94 112 589 305

We started our journey with a delightful breakfast at Barefoot Cafe and we were off to Bentota for the New Years.