Colombo was our first stop in our short tour of Sri Lanka. FYI, Colombo is NOT the political capital of the country, but it’s the commercial one.
We arrived very late at night (or very early in the morning) and discovered the joys of Colombo airport because our pickup never picked us up! But we found a taxi at 01:00 and were on our way to the hostel, only 45 minutes away!
After some rest, we headed to the Colombo Fort Railway station to get ourselves some train tickets. After being tricked by a “railway information office” which was really a travel agency who doesn’t want to sell any train tickets, we found the real ticket office and got ourselves some reserved seats. And it was super cheap!
We tried to walk to the beach area of Colombo but discovered the old fort area along Chaitya Road was under construction. With the blistering heat (35+ degs C), we opted to take a metered tuk-tuk to the center of town.
Thanks to Anthony Bourdain, we headed to the Dutch Burgher Union for lunch. Way back when, Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon. And way back when, the Portuguese, Dutch and eventually the British wanted their hands on the island’s spices. Let’s just say some intermingling happened with the locals and the Europeans and what resulted was this group of people called the Burghers. Most Burgher people have preserved European customs; especially among those of Portuguese ancestry their indigenous European religion, language and surnames are retained with pride.
It was a bit trippy, especially for Robb since he is Dutch, to be in this place covered with all things Dutch, yet we’re in Sri Lanka. Colonization! The VOC cafe’s speciality is this dish called lamprais, a slow cooked rice dish wrapped in banana leaves. But we got there at 11:30 and it was already sold out! But their other dishes were top-notch!
After a quick pick-me-up (aka our daily coffee), we walked to the seaside and to Bambalapitiya Railway Station. The train tracks are on the shoreline. It would’ve been a cool trip to take back up the Colombo Fort, but nobody seemed to be working at the station on a Saturday afternoon! But we watched the trains go by.
We headed back to our hostel for a nap, then it was a hunt for dinner. We stayed in the Dutch Hospital area, which isn’t really a hospital anymore but more of a hip hangout area with posh restaurants.
We discovered a food court with waiters and found lamprais! It may not have been the best, but it was sure tasty! We called it a night, and that was our 1 day in Colombo.
Colombo doesn’t have a lot of must-see things to do, but it’s definitely worth a day out of any Sri Lankan itinerary.
- We stayed at the Hotel Star Anise Boutique Capsules. It was one of the relatively cheaper options that was still centrally located in Colombo. A double bed in a capsule?! It ended up costing $30/night. In hindsight, we were able to get around in a tuk-tuk for 200-300Rs ($1.30-1.95 USD) going a fair distance. Lesson learned.
- Tuk-tuks are plentiful in Colombo. Just make sure to get one with a meter on it.