The beautiful Loire Valley, with its romantic chateaus, the flowing river and the picturesque countryside.
If I had to put a pin on the world map for the first country I ever traveled to, it would be Sri Lanka. I have now been there many times but feel the same sense of excitement and wonder each time as when I first visited this island nation.
Weligama – the sandy village on the beautiful south coast of Sri Lanka, with its endless beaches, was my daughter’s and my destination for a few days of relaxation and exploration.
A three-and-a-half hour drive from Colombo’s international airport along the newly-built highway cutting through the lush south-west, and we join up with the old winding coastal road at the tiny village of Ahangama.
The Indian Ocean dazzles in front all the way from here to Antarctica! And, at every turn, fisherman sit acrobatically on stilts, silhouetted against the sky and waiting for their catch. The entrance to our hotel – Cape Weligama – is tucked into the corner of the narrow winding road and the driveway gives no indication of the dramatic location of this place.
A buggy ride took us to our Grand Residence. Each residence is set within a stone-ringed watta – the Sinhalese word for ‘garden’, and named after explorers and writers who have a Sri Lankan connection.
Ours was called Spilbergen, named for Joris van Spilbergen who was the first Dutch envoy to Ceylon in 1602.
The resort is built on a dramatic headland with incredible views of the rugged coastline. The panoramic ocean vistas from our large veranda provided the perfect start for an afternoon cocktail. (Some of the rooms have better ocean views than others so pick carefully.)
Our personal butler – each room has one to spoil you! – took care of our settling-in and we kicked off our shoes, ready to soak it all in for the next few days.
Our Grand Residence was exquisitely and tastefully furnished with a really large room and bathroom and an extra-large veranda looking out at the sea in every direction.
We had most of our meals at the De Mauny Pavilion, decorated in Indigo and gold set and at the edge of the headland. Fantastically fresh produce with a local twist was the food theme.
The Infinity Moon Pool merging with the ocean and the Moon Bar was our relaxation-spot that first afternoon.
The next day, we set out to explore the village and look at what the Beach Club offered. This is a few minutes’ walk from the resort towards the East Beach. It is a fully-equipped dive and PADI centre and offers dolphin and whale-watching during season in addition to snorkeling and sailing and even banana boat rides for family fun!!
Just off Weligama, the Indian Ocean is home to blue whale pods! The Weligama beach is great for surfing and the Beach Club offers a surf-boarding experience.
We chose to do a 14 km biking trail with David from the Beach Club. Our trail started from the beach and after a gentle climb passed through the village Main Street before branching off into a side lane that went up and down through paddy fields and Buddhist shrines.
We saw brilliant blue kingfishers and egrets in the fields, stopped for a few moments nirvana at a corner white Buddhist shrine, and passed a small lake with grazing water buffalo before coming face to face with a bright red train hurtling through the countryside.
The spa at Cape Weligama was the perfect stop after the bike ride. You have a choice to have a massage there or in your room. We had a blissful massage with the warm aromas of soothing spices and all was well with the world…
That evening was Sri Lankan curry night around the Kumbuk tree. Curry leaf soup, Kohila curry, egg hoppers… so much unique Sri Lankan deliciousness! The staff are very warm and eager to please, but I had to repeat myself many times to make sure they got what I was saying, and sometimes things do take forever.
Overall an exquisite high-end, all-inclusive resort (yes no bills to sign even for alcohol), impeccably tasteful rooms, and a view to calm you down and sooth your spirit.
The next day, it was time to explore a bit further afield. The choices ranged from Udawalawe National Park, famous for its elephants, the picture postcard beach at Unawatuna and Koggala Lake, or the iconic town of Galle. Galle it was! And I will cover our walk in Fort Galle and my amazing encounter with the Galle Fort jumpers in my next post. So, until then…
I have found time to travel to many countries and live in 2 countries (3 if Scotland ever does becomes one!) and 6 cities during my career in finance. I was a diplomat first and started in the Indian Foreign Service with my first posting being Paris – The City of Light. And began my lifelong love of travel and coffee there! An MBA followed and I’ve been in finance since.