Mount Lavinia Hotel
It was our first day in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and my family and I spent about half of it in bed recovering from immense jet lag. Around noon, we finally dragged ourselves out of our beds at Mount Lavinia Hotel. Although we were all quite tired, we had to get up and get ready for our first day in Sri Lanka and our tour of Colombo.
Our first order of business was to transition over to our official hotel room. We were temporarily stationed in a different room the night we got there, but that morning, our official room was ready. It had a queen bed and a balcony with a wonderful view of the coast. Mount Lavinia hotel is about 215 years old, but it has great views and a beautiful beach. When we hurried off to lunch by the hotel pool, we were able to see a train running along the oceanside. The outdoor seating gave us an incredible view off the cliffside to the beach and the buildings of Colombo.
Buffet & Menu Options
At lunch, we ate from the buffet that mainly consisted of curry and rice, which are staple foods in Sri Lanka. This was only our first day in Sri Lanka, but we would quickly come to learn that buffet-style restaurants are quite popular throughout the country. Fortunately, there was also a menu with more traditional Western foods. As we grew more comfortable and informed about the food throughout the trip, I ate a lot more from the buffet. I found some foods that I really enjoyed, although I couldn’t necessarily name them.
I also noticed early on that there’s a good amount of vegetarian and vegan options available at most buffets and hotels in Sri Lanka.
My main concern with food was my peanut allergy. With such an unclear idea of what was in the food, and a hard time communicating with some of the locals, I was a bit worried that I’d end up eating peanuts. The language spoken in Sri Lanka is Sinhala or Sinhalese, not Hindu as in India. Although not far from India, their customs and language are different or adapted in different ways. I had expected my allergy to be a problem on occasion, but it honestly wasn’t a problem at all in Sri Lanka. Rather than peanuts, cashews are much more commonly used in Sri Lanka, and they have a preference for canola oil.
Colombo Bus Tour
After a quick lunch, it was time to head out on a bus tour of Sri Lanka’s capital city, Colombo. The streets were very busy and crowded in the city. I don’t think you could go more than a few moments without hearing a car horn or whistle. Like some other parts of Asia, there are lots of tuk-tuks to taxi people around. In Sri Lanka, they drive on the left side of the road, but when it comes down to it, most drivers don’t seem to care too much for space between vehicles or driving into opposing traffic lanes. I would definitely not recommend renting a car and driving around the country by yourself. The roads can get pretty chaotic, but the local drivers know what they’re doing.
On the tour bus, my family and I sat on the top deck. The sun was bright, and the temperature was nearly 90 degrees. It was definitely some of the most humidity I’ve ever experienced, but my hair still survived. On the top deck of the bus, the wind kept us from totally overheating, and we had a great overhead view of the active streets.
We saw more and more people as we approached some of the key buildings within the city, the old Parliament building, the foreign affairs facility, and many others. Eventually, my family and I couldn’t take the heat anymore and moved to the lower deck of the bus. Luckily, they provided water, juice, and a snack. On Main Street, there were more people than ever, and we got to drive past the Red Mosque. As we continued our tour around the city, the sun began to set. The sun turned a vibrant shade of red and sunk beneath the ocean on the horizon.
Dinner at Mount Lavinia Hotel
When we arrived back at the Mount Lavinia Hotel, we made use of the remaining rays of sunlight and went down to the gorgeous beach. The beach at Mount Lavinia hotel is large and spacious. We walked across the sands, and I dipped my feet in the Indian Ocean for the first time in my life.
That night, we ate dinner by the pool. A wonderful little cover band was performing at the poolside, and we enjoyed dinner and desserts, mainly off the menu. At this point in the trip we honestly still didn’t know what we were doing in terms of local food. After getting a plateful of sweets from the buffet, we tiredly returned to our hotel room. The time change was still killing us, so it wasn’t hard for us to fall dead asleep once we got in bed.
Of course, we couldn’t get in bed just yet, well, not all of us. As aforementioned, our hotel room had a lovely queen size bed. That was nice for my mother and me. Unfortunately for my brother, we had to wait for the hotel staff to deliver a roll away bed. For whatever reason, it took an incredible amount of time to be delivered. It was quite painful to keep ourselves awake at that point, so next time I’d call for a roll away sooner. Much sooner.
Other than a few hiccups, general tiredness and confusion, our first day in Sri Lanka went fantastically. I really enjoyed the warm weather and getting to tour Colombo. That night I went to bed with lots of excitement for the upcoming week in Sri Lanka. In the following days, we had incredible experiences and learned a lot, all of which will be detailed on my blog soon!
If you’re interested in other fun things to do in Sri Lanka, you can check out this bucket list.