Our Founder and Creative Director, Tess Willcox, is taking you on a journey of 24 hours sliding through Ceylon.
Some facts for you to note when travelling to Sri Lanka;
♥ Sri Lankan Airlines will soon be flying direct from Melbourne to Colombo from November onwards. It will be the airlines’ welcome back into Australian skies.
♥ 2 million visitors per year currently visit Sri Lanka
♥ Beaches to visit : Weligama, Mirissa, Unawatuna
♥ My recommendation is to spend a minimum of 2-3 weeks exploring the entire island. It is abundant in so many different facets, only a few of which I was able to explore in 24 hours.
Being asked to spend 24 hours in Sri Lanka, having never been before but always honed a pure desperation to get there, was music to my ears. I had always dreamed of spending a month exploring the streets, surfing the waves, tasting the delicious food (spicy as it gets please!!), immersing myself in the culture, going on a safari that honours the animals. You name it! Rarely is there an island destination that offers you every single thing you could hope for in a getaway. It’s like the dopamine hit you get when striking things off your to do list;
On arrival in Colombo, flying from Male on Sri Lankan Airlines, I jumped in a taxi straight down the coast to the Galle area. Costing around AUD$95 for a 2 hour trip to the famed South of Sri Lanka, when facing a time limit, was the perfect fast paced option with the new highway. I spent the entire trip with my face glued to the window of the car, passing endless beautiful palm plantations, villages, street food vendors, pastel buildings. All with the soothing sound of constant honking car horns alerting oncoming traffic or passing cars, of our presence. I love it. It’s like a sensory assault with the spicy aromas wafting through the car, fused with the serenity of my surroundings, the aesthetic wonder of the Lankan buildings, all with a sprinkle of car horn, a dash of sweltering heat and the beauty of the people of Ceylon. This is where I come alive.
A place where East meets West, exotic meets classic, and earth meets heaven.
So with that, let me take you on a journey of how to spend 24 hours in Sri Lanka (more specifically, 24 hours in Galle) ;
A small, luxury hotel which sits at the water’s edge in the stunning region of TALPE, with 17 beautifully appointed suites. Perfectly nestled between Galle and Mirissa, which will be the two areas to explore during your stay. The Owl & The Pussycat Hotel is a simple, fun and unpretentious place… with a sense of romance, divine food and a hint of dancing in the moonlight. Every corner of the Hotel is lovingly restored and crafted by hand, and as if the owners had a meeting with my wildest dreams and painted the general theme PINK! The 17 meter pool looks out onto the ocean, and taunts you with one of the most divine views and ambiances possible.
I stayed in a ‘Suite E Pie’, which exceeded every expectation possible. The suite was enormous, boasting beautiful interiors and quirky designs. Edward Leare quotes adorned the walls, and beautiful art was strewn across the room. I woke to the sounds and sights of rolling waves and palm trees each morning, and wandered to my deck with coffee before sunrise yoga on the pavilion.
Rise with the sun, and make sure you honour your setting and your body with a rooftop yoga class. These are readily on offer throughout the South of Sri Lanka, however my personal favourites were obviously at the Owl & The Pussycat, where they host complimentary yoga sessions providing there are enough guests, or down the road in Weligama at Ceylon Sliders.
Eating a traditional breakfast while watching the little peelers roll in from The Owl & The PussycatHotel restaurant, The Runcible Spoon, is what sunrise dreams are made of. We started the day with a beautiful fruit platter, followed by Egg Hoppers with sambal and chilli coconut, and of course, coffee!
After Breakfast, a quick wander down the road from the Hotel brings you to countless swimming beaches. My suggestion is to find a Tuk Tuk driver (you will not be short of an offer, or a marriage proposal for that matter) who wants to show you around. From Talpe head down south to Weligama, for a morning slide session. There are a few different beach breaks along Weligama, and they build in size as you get further down the line up. Perfect for those learning to surf, or those wanting a few fun waves for the morning!
After a roll in the waves, jump back in your Tuk Tuk and head further south to Mirissa. A little central hub of beautiful beaches, whale watching tours and shacks on the beach serving delicious food. It also boasts a cute Fishing Harbor.
After a morning at the beach, jump back in your Tuk Tuk and head up Galle Fort way for lunch. Try to leave it as late in the afternoon as possible, so you can explore the Fort area and be ready for a sunset on the beach by the time your done journeying. For lunch, one of my favourite meals was at ‘A minute by Tuk Tuk’ in the Old Dutch Hospital. Opt for one of their signature curry dishes, ‘Batu Moju’. A delectable and charmingly presented plate of typical Sri Lankan caramelised aubergine, parippu (dhal) and Indian chapathi bread. It’s mouth-wateringly tasty and washes down perfectly with a cold Lion beer.
Once you are done ravaging your Batu Moju plus a few Lion Beers to keep you cool, set off from ‘A minute by Tuk Tuk’ and start the stroll around Galle Fort. The Old Dutch Hospital (where you ate lunch) is actually a treasure trove of cute little boutiques and cafes. If you feel like you need a rest and another drink, the Hammock Bar is a haven for those wanting to kick their feet up with views of the fishing boats setting out to sea from the Fort.
It has an interesting history, being first established by the Portuguese then taken over by the Dutch before the British having a turn. It is now firmly Sri Lankan and the mixture of different influences makes for an interesting destination. Offering beautiful buildings and stunning walls, whilst exuding a radiance and ambience reminiscent of a European city, with the charm of the Sri Lankan people and culture. Galle Fort is unsurprisingly a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Wander everywhere from Flag Rock, to the Point Utrecht Bastion which is a functioning lighthouse, to the fort walls and all through the streets of Galle. You will see countless churches, mosques and even museums, but the real magic for me lies in the people. Just to sit and watch the people go by, and honour the diverse culture present in Sri Lanka.
Once you are done wandering the beautiful fusion of the island, settle in with a drink to watch the sunset over the sea. To your left you will see the beautiful Japanese Peace Pagoda on the point of the headland.
DINNER AND BEYOND
The best part about Sri Lanka, is exploring the unknown treasures, and moving outside of your comfort zone. So I am not going to suggest where to eat dinner, although it would be remiss of me not to mention the Street Food! This is your opportunity to explore, meet the locals, find which spot suits you best.
My last recommendation, is if you want a place to dance under the moonlight, on the sand, with cocktails. Take yourself over to the Happy Banana. It’s like a throw back to those nights in Bali years ago. An island bar with no prevention or arrogance. It’s the quintessential place to throw caution to the wind.