Timing is everything

20140109-060730.jpgWaking up, with a bit of a dry throat, I did some blogging and travel research before waking Mona up. We spent a little time in the sun beds before packing up our, now considerably more, belongings and leaving our luggage at the hotel. We then headed to Colombo’s main Laksala, which is the government run souvenir shop with non-negotiable price tags, a good idea to get a sense of prices before checking out private shops.

First things first though, a nice breakfast in their cafe and then scouting the goods. We were looking for some gems, preferably white sapphires small enough to fit nicely in a wedding ring but had little luck. Mona also wanted to mimic an earlier bag purchase but the bags here were littered with elephants. Well well, the reception had stated that this area had some good shopping so we strolled back passing stores as they came.

The shopping was so-so, spread out shops in heavily traffic areas with selections not matching our preferences in general. It was quite fun to have a look at their wedding dresses though, although I found their bridesmaid models more than a little creepy. After reached all the way back to the hotel we took another session of slacking at the pool in sun beds. I’m not sure the transition to Scandinavian climate will be a pleasant one.20140109-060749.jpg
The hotel claimed that a taxi to the airport would take 1hour max, probably 45 minutes or well actually 25 minutes. I stood my ground regarding time buffers, despite being mocked by Mona for wanting to leave the hotel at 18 when our flight would depart at 20:40. Once any vehicle reach the highway it’s a quick finish but until then one is in the mercy of Colombian traffic. When we had checked in it was 19:38, with a nice sign stating check-ins less than 60 minutes before departure are not accepted.

We had expected to eat at the airport so we rushed to some restaurant only to find out they were out of the menu options we found acceptable. So spending our last rupees on some omelette bun while keeping an eye on the information boards for when boarding would turn into final call. I anticipated Mona’s mood if that would be the only source of energy though so grabbed three bags of various candy. When we got to the gate (after just one more security check) it was final call and we were directed to our seats.

The idea had been to stay awake most of this flight but after dinner I fell asleep like a baby and woke up when we were about to land. Well in Doha we got through transfer security (in case one of us had acquired weapons during the flight I assume) and headed towards gate 14. And there he was, my dear brother fully garbed in beard and a smile. He had just made it to the gate yesterday only to be told heโ€™d been overbooked and would have to wait a day but was now back with a vengeance. It was nice to have a chat and I could pass on a camera I borrowed so it was great timing ๐Ÿ™‚20140109-060805.jpgAfter some onion rings and lemonade we had seen most of Doha Airport though, so we went to the quiet/sleeping area and managed to get a few hours of sleep before flying to CPH on another Dreamliner. Well in CPH we just missed a train leaving for Gbg but they leave every hour so no big issue. After finishing Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds, catching up on my favorite podcasts we finally arrived home – barely less than 30 hours since we left Galle Face Hotel.

Wedding preparations and Old Dutch Hospital

20140107-101742.jpgAfter a slow start or the day we left our hotel to have breakfast nearby, there was something wrong with the wifi that was being fixed but we needed some addresses to Da Vinci, a printing company Mona had conversed with before the trip.

Da Vinci had done their fair share of nice wedding invitations but the style were similar to their fashion in general and not entirely inline with our preferences. We had hoped to come up with an actual design but this was not really how they worked. We didn’t leave empty-handed though, we got lots of inspiration and information regarding pricing but decided we would park the designs for now and instead head to Pettah.

Pettah has a district where the local wholesale as well as retail is concentrated and organized, to the trained eye at least. Different streets focused on food, cloth and hopefully paper and printing. It was so few tourists here that no one even bothered to ask us to check out their store or their services but it was a constant flow of smells, people and goods. After some helpful locals we found a paper shop well worth it’s name – Prince Trade Centre.20140107-101814.jpgThe proprietor, Mr Lakshman Mendis, was a talkative charming man who had taken over the business from his father while his true passion actually was acting. He performed mainly stage plays and some films but it was tricky to live off that in Sri Lanka. I’d love to see his upcoming play, 12 Angry Men, but by that time we’d be in Sweden already. After looking at various papers we settled for a handmade off-white one to use as base for invitations and name tags. They cut the sizes there and had we only been done with the design there were small shops with printers down the alley.20140107-101830.jpgWe stopped for tea and wifi at the chiq T-lounge bordering Old Dutch Hospital and had truly great iced tea and crepes, pricey for being Sri Lankan though. We strolled deeper into Old Dutch Hospital which nowadays is an area of high end cuisine and hip boutiques. We found another Odel store and what did we find inside if not linen clothing? Three shirts to chose between ended up being three bought shirts, I really hope Norwegian summer is close. We also made dinner reservations at Semondu to secure a nice table on the outside.

Back at the hotel Mona savored the half chocolate dessert she had saved in the fridge from yesterday while I visited the gym for a session of weights and running. I really can’t blame the result on the equipment but it looks like I have some catching up to do back home. I treated myself another quick steam bath before joining Mona dressing up and then headed back to Old Dutch Hospital with tuk-tuk.

Semondu had really good cocktails, and a menu that was difficult to choose just one dish from. We settled for three mains, a starter, a dessert and Italian Chardonnay to drink. My sea food bouillon starter was excellent, just as Mona’s cannelloni. The sea food risotto and Mona’s fish was really nice and Mona was happy with the dessert although she wasn’t sure it deserved the awards it had won. All in all a really really nice dinner, and the outdoor table was a plus providing live music, which actually was good, in the background. Semondu is the highest ranked restaurant in Colombo according to Trip Advisor, but I’d say the other restaurants neighboring didn’t look bad by any means either.20140107-101840.jpg

Pampering 2.0

We left Kandy at 09 in the morning, and a hopped into a tuk-tuk which took us to some bus that left right after we got there. 3 hour AC bus, 3EUR for both is really cheap and quite convenient, but then the distance was only 120km.

The sun was scorching hot when we got to Colombo and we took another tuk-tuk, which now were equipped with meters, to our hotel, Galle Face Hotel. We had managed to get a decent price for a superior room this old colonial beauty last night through Agoda. After checking in and dumping our luggage we headed to Kala Pola Art market to check out some of the local art. It was some nice paintings but nothing extraordinary that we wanted to transport back home.

We strolled to the national museum but, after some honest introspection, instead enjoyed their cafe rather than the museum itself. We thought we would walk to Odel, a chic department store, which were not far from here and strolled on the way through a park full of young couples intertwined, but modestly dressed. Odel was a nice department store with imported brands as well as their local and their own Odel brand. I couldn’t decide between three pair of shoes, so I did what my friend Aram would have done – bought them all. Another pair of linen trousers and some candy later we left.20140106-170711.jpgWell, we were about to leave, but then Mona spotted a foot massage service which also offered pedicure – what were we supposed to do? In a similar sneaky way a gelateria forced us to buy some lovely ice cream before heading back to the hotel. At the hotel we sat down looking out over the Indian Ocean and had some drinks as the sun set contemplating the day’s hard work.20140106-171012.jpgAfter drinks we changed into bathrobes and tried out the steam saunas, which turned out to be fully operational although not used by anyone else than us. Nice, even though the jacuzzi was a notch too cold to my taste. The soaking of bodies continued with a quick swim in the cooler outside swimming pool before finishing off with a warm bath in our own hot tub in the room. So what do have for dinner? Well, room-service seemed like a lazy option in line with the pampering so far.

You know you’re doing it right when the reception calls back asking how many people that will be dining, even after Mona explicitly mentioned me and herself. There were so many tasty choices and we had, in a way, had a tough day so three mains, some chocolate dessert, beer, milkshake and something else was ordered. It didn’t turn into Fear and Loathing levels, even with upbeat music from the portable speaker, but it certainly had a nice decadent feel enjoying lovely food in bathrobes.20140106-171036.jpg