Sri Lanka – Mirissa and Talpe

On arriving in Mirissa, we were slightly underwhelmed with our hotel choice, Handegadara Colonial Villa. The room was basic, a bit dirty and the pool looked very murky. Nevertheless we unpacked and headed straight out to check out the beach a 5 min stroll away.

After a quick beer and a snack of grilled prawns, we found some loungers and soaked up the sun for the rest of the afternoon. The next few days were spent sunbathing and eating.

Most evenings were spent in The Shack (thanks to Hannah & Chris) for sunset drinks and snacking on their delicious poppadoms and homemade pineapple chutney – YUM.

We found a fab little Chinese place called Little Red House, so good we ate there twice. Really authentic Kung po, fried rice, chilli greens and the most amazing prawns dripping in garlic over noodles to soak up all the delicious sauce.

Little Red House KATER Score 10/10 – £25 for two inc. service

We tried a seafood bbq on the beach, part of Serendipity, which looks better in the pics than it tasted sadly. The prawns were good but fish and calamari over cooked. We ended up having to carry our dinner across the road into a small hut when the heavens opened – always a risk I suppose, but was quite a funny end to the night.

Serendipity KATER Score 6/10 – £20 for two inc. service

We booked a whale watching tour through the Whale Watching Club, who I can highly recommend. They looked after us so well, didn’t fill the boat, fed us (a slightly weird breakfast), gave us beer AND we saw two blue whales playing and diving. Each dive takes them about 12 minutes to resurface and then it’s like a game of spotting where they’ll pop back up.

We had a pretty good captain but you’ve got to be really lucky to be right next to a whale when it resurfaces. Because of their size (approx 30m) they don’t breach like smaller whales so you get to see only their backs and then a slight flick of their tails as they go down.

We followed and watched for about an hour until there were too many boats and our captain wanted to move on. On route back we were treated to hundreds of migrating dolphins swimming alongside our boat. It was awesome to sit back and watch.

After an early start of 6am, and seven hours at sea, it was time to hit the beach.

We decided the leave Mirissa one day early, our next hotel had availability and it was much nicer than the current one. We skipped our hotel breakfast as it was rubbish and nipped to the Aloha Coffee Gallery and enjoyed proper coffee and some much missed avocado on toast. Served with feta and grated beetroot, sprinkled with black sesame seeds it was delicious.

Packed into a tuk tuk we made our way to the Owl & The Pussycat in Talpe.

This hotel was by far the nicest we’d stayed in so far (and the most expensive). Set on the beach with a beautiful pool and sun deck, it just felt really chilled and special. It was also right in front of the famous stick fishermen which was not only a great photo op but amazing to just sit and watch them fill their bags with tiny fish balanced only on a stick.

We ate here, in the Runcible Restaurant on our first night excited as the reviews had been so good. Sad to report I had a mediocre chilli crab linguine and Sam a bland chicken curry. What a disappointment.

The breakfasts were great on the other hand, a mix of western and local and we of course went local.

Overall the menu here was not to our taste, a bit too western but they did have a good looking specials board and on another night I treated myself to their jumbo king prawns with garlic butter. Delicious and made even better washed down with a cold glass of pinot grigio.

We spent two nights out of the hotel in neighbouring town Unawatuna, a five minute tuk tuk ride away. A similar beach to Mirissa with restaurant, bars and guesthouse scattered along. However it felt much more chilled and quiet in comparison. We enjoyed some sunset beers, ate in the Pink Elephant and Black and White, both not worth writing about if I’m honest. Both average.

We did go to the local beach party one night though which was pretty cool. We sat in our little cabana, sipping our cocktails and watched the youngsters dance the night away!

Overall our seven days on the beach was fab, exactly what we wanted and really relaxing. Now it’s onto Galle, our penultimate stop before home.

Sri Lanka – Kandy

With only one night in Kandy, you’d think we’d have done a bit more research, but that’s not our style. With temples on offer and storms forecast for the afternoon, we decided to head straight out and have a wonder. What an assault on your senses – Kandy is a little bit manic.

Cars, tuk tuks, buses and scooters everywhere. No one following any rules and non-stop horns beeping. We quickly escaped into the Secret Alley Cafe for a cooling iced coffee made with coconut milk and cinnamon. Other people clearly had the same idea as it quickly filled up and was obviously a tourist bolt hole.

Nearing lunch time but not feeling particularly hungry, we braved the streets once again. An old guy helped us cross the road to then tell us he was from Surrey and would like to show us his kitchenware shop…err, no thanks.

Making our escape, we headed for the lake which is in the centre of Kandy and an easy walk around. Feeling a bit despondent we remembered our friends Hannah and Chris recommended a rooftop bar nearby, Slightly Chilled.

We headed straight there and ordered a couple of beers and some cashew nuts. The menu was Chinese influenced and we got very excited to see they served dumplings. Another round of beers and a portion of dumplings ordered. Happy customers.

A quick stop at our homestay and feeling refreshed we were soon back at Slightly Chilled to watch the sun go down. Needless to say a few more beers were had and some tasty Chinese food including Sichuan Gang Boa Chicken and sizzling beef.

Slightly Chilled KATER Score 7/10 – £15 for two inc. service

A quick tuk tuk back to our homestay, Sweet Lanka Kandy. Wanting something sweet, we popped into the restaurant above our place and ordered some ginger tea and curd and honey. That’s all they had, but boy I’m glad as it was delicious. The curd is made from buffalo milk and the locally made honey gave a perfect sweet and sour contrast.

Our breakfast was probably the best so far – simple yet delicious. A well seasoned omelette served with the best tasting daal yet, coconut sambal and taboula. Followed by fresh pineapple, banana and papaya. Yum.

A perfect start to our long train journey to Ella.