Colombo – A Quick Tour of a Small Capital City (Sri Lanka Part 5)

We had a fast car this time, so the ride to from Galle to Colombo was a breeze. We arrived in the early afternoon, at the Mandarina Colombo Hotel.

Mandarina Colombo Hotel

This centrally located, contemporary four-star hotel is a decent place for a one-night stopover. The rooms are a bit small, but of a very acceptable quality. A less nice surprise was that the hotel was dry, and this was not announced anywhere. What a discovery for two tired parents, thirsting for a glass of wine after putting the kids to bed!

The small, but nice infinity pool on the top floor offers a view of the increasingly dense city of of Colombo and a glimpse of China’s latest catch in South Asia – the upcoming Colombo Port City. Planned on 2.7 km2 of land recently reclaimed from the sea, this prime plot was surrendered to the great lenders by Sri Lankan government to avoid default on their sovereign debt. Now the country’s main port, and its most valuable piece of land, are under Chinese control for 99 years. A telling example of what other indebted countries can look forward to.

Old Dutch Hospital

Colombo Old Dutch Hospital

Colombo, like Galle, has an Old Dutch Hospital. The one in Colombo dates back to the 17th century, and currently serves as a chic shopping center. The only problem is that they don’t have a lot of shops, so it isn’t nearly as lively as one could expect or hope.

One key attraction is Sri Lanka’s most famous restaurant – the Ministry of Crab. With two hungry kids on a late evening, we needed an available outdoor table, and a simple, child-friendly menu. Hence, we went for the other restaurant in the Old Dutch Hospital – the Colombo Fort Café, specialising in Sri Lankan dishes.

The fish in creamy mustard sauce was a quite exciting option. The fish was succulently done, and the spiciness was just right. Beatrice finally got to try the Black Pork, another local specialty. This one is generally on the spicier side, but again, the chef here had gotten the mix right.

Pettah Floating Market

Colombo Floating Market Entrance

Touted as a tourist attraction, the Floating Market is certainly aesthetically pleasant from a distance, and probably has all the potential in the world. Most of the shops were closed, though, and the majority of the stalls on land were empty. The actual floating stalls were long abandoned. With more shops of the right kind, an some increased activity, this can be a really great spot. For now, it isn’t even worth the visit.

Dilmah t-lounge

Dilmah t-lounge at One Galle Face in Colombo
Dilmah t-lounge at One Galle Face

Tea lounges are an aspect of life in Sri Lanka. Sadly, we hadn’t gotten a chance to check any of them out until we got to Colombo.

As we were passing by One Galle Face, the newest mall in Colombo, and the biggest in Sri Lanka, we didn’t miss the opportunity to pass by the most recent of the four Dilmah t-lounges in the city.

This is a colourful experience from you enter, and that’s before you have even seen the menu!

The “only” drink they serve, is tea, but in hundreds of flavours and varieties. The food menu is centered around tea, too, with a suggested tea pairing for any edible item.

We didn’t get past the cake part of the menu. I can resist anything except temptations, and the mango meringue cake had already hijacked my attention! #thatfeeling when you discover something great on the last day!

Light dinner by the ocean

Looking for a final bite before leaving, we were searching online for a seafood restaurant by the sea. Galle Face Hotel turned out to have one of those, so off we went.

The main restaurant is one of the top-ranked seafood places in Colombo. Unfortunately, they only had a buffet that evening, so we opted for the pool bar, within a toe-dipping distance from the Indian Ocean.

The tuna summer rolls were just the right choice for our light appetites. Especially when accompanied by some chilled Pinot Grigio. The kids got their fish and chips, so they were ecstatic too! In the background, the roaring waves waved goodbye, as we enjoyed our last moments in Sri Lanka.

Historic Footnote: As we departed on March 3, the world was already descending into an eerie state of panic about “the “Chinese virus” that had just been named Covid-19, but was yet to be declared a pandemic. Only five days later, the first countries outside China started announcing lockdowns, and within two weeks, most of the world was inaccessible. We got out just in time! 😂