Time for us to start considering our next destination for twin-centre activity and beach holiday. We last did this sort of trip for honeymoon and have since had a paper anniversary. The “one-y-moon” craze seems to be sweeping the nation if my social media news feeds are anything to go by…..it’s up there with phenomena like “staycations”. (incidentally, I would question how much cheaper a 7 day staycation in London would actually be…) I think the “one-y-moon” is supposed to allude towards the niche concept of a honeymoon for one but in the interests on jumping aboard the bandwagon and justifying another trip to ourselves, I’ve decided it means a one year honeymoon. Cue Sri Lanka.It’s one of those places, which had transiently come up in casual conversation last year but was never really pursued. We were busy sorting table plans, debating toaster specifications for the gift list and if I’m completely candid, I’d always imagined it to be rather similar to India, the country of our origins and ancestors. ….not so.Fast forward several months of research and we were intrigued by the breadth of experience that Sri Lanka seems to offer. A bit of outdoorsy (to keep Pumpkin happy), a bit of culture (to keep me happy), a lot of food (to keep us both happy). Ok good. So everyone’s happy. And with a certain, renowned group of islands a mere hour’s flight away, the choice of beach destination was as good as made for us…if it’s not already obvious, you can keep reading in the coming weeks to find out where – or you can just look at a globe, which is probably quicker.
Selecting a Sri Lankan Tour Company
After some provisional enquiries with renowned UK-based tour companies, we opted to arrange our trip directly with Go Lanka, a local Sri Lankan tour operator. From the outset, we were impressed by their speed of response, professionalism, comprehensive itineraries and ease of payment. Regardless of how long you wish to spend, what you wish to see, the class of accommodation you require, they are able to customise a travel plan for you and are excellent value in comparison to some of the premiums charged by larger international firms. It would also be worth your while looking at Blue Lanka, another local tour operator, a tad slower off the mark with responses but seem to receive excellent reviews and offer very similar trips – rumour has it they also provide you with your own mobile telephone for use out there.
A Review of Sri Lankan Airlines
I can’t say I loved the Sri Lankan Airlines flight. Tickets weren’t cheap and I suppose I would have liked a bit more bang for my buck. The airline seems quite dated, the in-flight entertainment, in particular. Films and programmes were on a rolling cycle and therefore it was not possible to stop and start entertainment at your own leisure, the choice was limited and no touch screen element to this (ironically, this isn’t the case on some of the shorter haul Sri Lankan Airlines flights so maybe we just boarded an older plane.)
None of this bothered us too much anyway on the way out, as it was a night flight and we were planning to sleep (if you do book with either of these companies and especially if you are on a tighter timescale, it is more than likely that they will suggest heading to your first excursion straight from the airport so you would be well advised to get some sleep on board).
What I will say though is that the flights were punctual, clean and the staff were friendly, welcoming and accommodating. The food was local Sri Lankan food for the most part, which would have been fine other than it was rather too spicy, even for my native Indian tongue. The food quality was not brilliant but this bothers me less – I’ve come to think of gourmet cuisine on flights a bit like free upgrades – a great bonus if you get one but not something you walk around expecting.
11 squished hours later (the leg room is stingey so remember your DVT prevention and stretch those legs) and we reach. Our dishevelled (and smelly) selves were greeted in a timely fashion by a welcoming smile from our driver, Namath, who together with his air conditioned and fully-belted car was to become our legs for the next week while we traversed the country. Quick pit stop for water and first stop, the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage.