Sri Lanka is one of our favourite destinations. We love the people, the food, the landscapes. We spent close to 3 weeks there and had a blast. Discovering a new culture always comes with surprises and anecdotes that you remember for a long time. Here are some stories that punctuated our stay.
A lifetime wouldn’t be enough to discover everything a country, as small as it might be, has to offer. In three weeks (19 days precisely), we wanted to be able to see a bit of everything that makes Sri Lanka such a diverse country. We came up with an itinerary combining cultural aspects and outdoor wonders from tea plantations to the seaside.
We arrived in Sri Lanka without knowing much about the food there except for the idea that I should be ok as a vegetarian. Well, it is absolutely not difficult to be a vegetarian in Sri Lanka. Unlike in other countries, I didn’t have to spend time researching vegetarian restaurants in the areas we visited, if such restaurants even exist. I knew for sure there would be several meat-free options wherever we would go. The country is actually so vegetarian friendly that when we took a cooking class in Ella, we were surprised to see that all dishes were vegetarian by default.
Galle is mainly famous for its fortified old town, symbol for the colonial era. The fort was first built in the 16th century by the Portuguese and reinforced in the 17th and 18th centuries when the Dutch took over. Today, it is considered a bridge between European and Asian cultures and is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The number of countries we would visit, of months that we would be away, the itinerary we would follow… we had a plan when we quit our jobs, sold everything and left our French home to travel. As we know it well though, things don’t always go as planned. When we realised how tired we were all the time after only three months on the road, we decided to forget about the plan and privilege the countries we absolutely wanted to visit. We knew we would cut our long journey short and the last place I didn’t want to skip was Sri Lanka.
Who knew you can go on a safari in Sri Lanka?! Certainly not us until we started designing our itinerary in the country. Simon had mentioned before that the first thing he would want to do in Africa if we ever go would be a safari. So when I found out that it was also a thing a Sri Lanka, I knew it would be part of our adventures.
Kandy is an important city in Sri Lanka and we didn’t want to miss it. As well as being a perfect starting point for a beautiful train ride to Ella, Kandy has a lot to offer culture wise. With two weeks in the country though, big cities were not our priority. We had only one full day in Kandy and made the most of it.
Mirissa is a very pretty area in the South of Sri Lanka. Let’s be honest, there is not much more to do there than relax on the beach unless you’re willing to drive away from the little town. As much as we loved Mirissa, its beach and its atmosphere, we were also happy to go explore the area.
Ella is by far our favourite Sri Lankan destination. We loved its cool weather, lush greenery and peacefulness and we were lucky enough to pick a fantastic guest house. We are strong believers that the accommodation you choose plays an important part in the way you are going to feel about a destination. The Villa Eden Paradise was one of the best places we stayed at throughout our travels. In addition to being located only a few minutes of walk away from the train station and the town’s main street, it was surrounded by vegetation, giving the feeling that it was secluded. Our welcoming and caring host also did everything he could to make our stay better.
We spent only one full day in Kandy and the temple of the tooth was a place I really wanted to visit. The temple of the tooth is a Buddhist temple, house to the sacred tooth of the Buddha. It is said that the tooth was retrieved when the Buddha was cremated and kept as a relic ever since. The ceremony that takes place in the temple three times a day sounded interesting too. We went to the 9.30 am ceremony, without knowing much about it and what to expect.