When a certain someone and I decided years ago to put Sri Lanka on our travel bucket list, it was because of the beaches. We read somewhere that this teardrop island was blessed with beautiful shores, and that just stuck in our minds. For two people who aren’t particularly skilled at swimming, we have a bizarre soft spot for beach holidays. But what really pushed us into finally booking this trip was years of living in Tooting and eating our way round the myriad of Sri Lankan curry houses in our neighbourhood. Slowly but surely, the flavours of this cuisine began to win us over… the more we became enamoured with the dals, dosas, and mutton rolls, the more we wanted to taste it all in Sri Lanka.
And then we arrived in the country and got a giant dose of reality. Our daydreams of streets lined with food carts selling delectable snacks, and days spent gorging on aromatic curries with piping hot roti breads, did not exactly come true. We did have some excellent meals, but that was more the exception than the norm and we had to dig a little deeper, and at times venture off track to find some of these gems. I came to the conclusion that perhaps the best Sri Lankan food is still found in Sri Lankan homes, and since I didn’t know any locals to impose myself on, the next best thing was to learn to cook like a local.
Colombo is not a city which is often described in a favourable light. Before we arrived, I had read that it was far from being a traveller’s haven, was told that it was a tad boring, and generally not the kind of place you find yourself lingering in. Ever the optimist, I bowled on into town with an eagerness to see the best of this city and perhaps prove its critics wrong, but after arriving in the middle of a storm verging on cyclone territory, stepping into far too many puddles in the broken pavements, and seeing nothing but grey skies, I was defeated. At the end of day one, all I wanted was to curl up in the hotel and order room service, but by the end of day two I was starting to see the city in a whole new light thanks to Urban Adventures!
An afternoon spent talking about food and eating it often puts me in a good mood, but our Eat, Eat, Repeat food tour also gave me an insight into life in this frenzied urban sprawl. The city is vast, needs a lot of TLC in some parts, but does have its charms. We do agree with those who have come before us – this is not the most tourist-friendly city, but if you’re visiting Sri Lanka, it is highly likely this will be your first stop so I would suggest you do as we did and explore it through food. It’s definitely more interesting and provides a great introduction to Sri Lankan food which will stand you in good stead for the rest of your trip. Here’s a taste of what you can expect if you too decide to Eat, Eat, Repeat with Urban Adventures in Colombo…