The Long Weekend: 6 Tips For A Staycation.

We love Sri Lanka. This is one of the countries with the most public holidays, ever. And this week, yet another delightful long weekend approaches. But while many take this time-off trinity as an opportunity to run out of town as quickly as their wheels will carry them, what of the poor souls doomed to spend their three days in the city? With no oceans, hills or jungles, no beaches nor buffets? Fear not, the city has plenty of wonders that can still make you feel like you’re out of town.

So have yourself a staycation – that is, a staying in vacation. Stay in the city, eat and explore. There’s actually plenty exciting things to do. Have a look, we’ve put together a list of six fun, inexpensive ways to spend your staycation.

Let’s stay.

1. Fly Kites And Swim At Galle Face

This is a lovely way to spend a holiday afternoon, with a ramble along the Galle Face Green followed by a swim at the Galle Face Hotel. First wander over to Galle Face and buy a kite – they range from about Rs. 150 to Rs. 500 – and fly it as you walk around. This is always a surprisingly fun activity. It’s nice feeling the tug of the string while munching on some isso wade and watching the waves.

Next head over to the Galle Face Hotel at around 5pm for a swim. This costs just Rs. 1000, and the saltwater (yep, no yucky chlorine) pool is lovely. You have a wonderful view of the ocean, and if you stay til around 6 you can catch a beautiful sunset. The pool is tucked near the end of the hotel, removed from the crowd and so it’s far more private. There’s a bar nearby so you can order your fill of club sandwiches and ginger beer.

2. Explore Battaramulla

Why not have a little vacation in Battaramulla? It’s kinda like going out of town…sort of. And unbeknownst to most, ruins still remain from the kingdom that stood in the vicinity of our current suburban-capital for over 200 years. Here are a few sites to visit:

The Archaeology Department Museum
Like most of the nation’s museums it’s a meagre collection housed in a very attractive building. While the old swords and faded diagrams don’t amount to much, the museum is handy as signs in the building list the neighbourhood’s historic sites. The museum’s caretaker can also give accurate directions to these sites. (You can also try YAMU’s GPS tagging efforts to navigate). While you’re here you can read up a little on the history of Kotte.

Alakesvara Palace Compound
These are thought to have been the foundations of part of a royal palace, but sadly very little remains to reminds you of their former glory. What’s left today really doesn’t look like much – just raised square platforms that could be a half finished construction site from the 60s. But make your way through the wire fencing crawl over kabook stone blocks, clear some of the long weeds to see the remnants of a tank and you ca imagine yourself a real archaeologist uncovering the first evidence of a kingdom.

Baddagana Wherakada Ruins
A 5 minute bounce along the maze-like lanes of Etul Kotte will take you to an amazingly pleasant clearing. At the far end of this stands two well preserved stupa-like structures overlooking the Diyawana Oya. The stupas are perhaps 10 feet high and are made of kabook stones. Their layout suggests this wasn’t a temple and the historian Paranavitharane has suggested this is the mausoleum of King Parakramabahu VI, the last indigenous king to unify the island. From the stupas you can see our current Parliament so the erstwhile king gets a great view of our current rulers. This really is a lovely site, it feels like you’ve been transported to Anuradhapura and YAMU recommends you take a picnic.

For more on the hidden kingdom of Kotte, click .

When you’re done exploring, wind up with a drink at either Rama’s Tea House or The Boardwalk, located alongside the Diyawanna Lake – this is a very pretty place.

3. Brunch At Cinnamon Grand

The Cinnamon Grand Brunch is a must visit. This lavish Sunday luncheon has long been a tradition with many Colombo families who, after church or a Sunday lie in, drive over to spend their afternoon ensconced in the Taprobane restaurant amidst cascading chocolate fountains, silver platters of oysters and glistening legs of lamb.

Yes, it really is that opulent. The Sunday spread includes pretty much everything you can think of: sushi, cheeses, cold cuts, pastas, waffles, caramelized fruit, goes on. The food is of high quality and there’s more variety than you know what to do with. This is the ultimate brunch. And it’s actually pretty affordable at just Rs. 1900. That sounds like a lot, but it isn’t when you consider the sheer volume of the spread. It makes for a delicious Sunday afternoon. Envision this: the soft pop of a champagne bottle, the tinkling of glasses, little pearls of caviar heaped on a plate, and shiny mussel shells… It’s a sensuous way to spend the Sabbath. For more, read here.

4. Exercise At Independence Square

On Monday, why not work off the after effects of your Sunday brunch by talking a stroll through Independent Square? This is the free, picturesque way to get some gentle exercise.

The area’s been recently done up, and there are now park type areas beyond the square. Moving west from the hall, proceed down Independence Walk. This path begins with two long pools of water and proceeds down a tree-lined lane – all pedestrian only. The closest thing you’ll get to traffic is aunties and uncles power-walking. This lane ends at the Colombo Planetarium.

Read more here.

5. Watch DVDs

We know this doesn’t sound as fun as relaxing on a sunny beach, but staying in and watching movies isn’t so bad. There are some good films out right now and you can buy most of them from Video International. They’ve got three branches: Nawala Road, Battaramulla and Galle Road (next to Barefoot). Prices are as follows: if you purchase 1-5 DVDs, each one will cost Rs. 160, 6-10 are Rs. 135 each, 11-20 are Rs. 125, and 21-30 will be Rs. 120. You do get DVDs for cheaper, like at Brite Video down the road – just 100 bucks – but their new ones are of significantly poor quality. With Vid Int’l you can get fairly new movies in pretty high qual. We bought Cosmopolis, Moonrise Kingdom, and To Rome With Love. All good quality, no fuzzy sound or blurry image.

You can also become a lifetime member for Rs. 1000 and borrow blu rays from their collection for Rs. 100 each. This isn’t a bad deal; they have some great documentaries like David Attenborough’s Planet Earth, Frozen Earth, etc. which are well worth watching on blu ray. Also lots by Pixar and general visual wonders like Avatar, Pan’s Labyrinth, etc.

Reas more here.

6. Cook With Some Help From Colpetty Market

You could also stay in and whip up a culinary storm with a little help from the Colpetty Market. It’s the best place for imported goods and somewhat different meats and produce. Upstairs you can get anything from Doritos, to blueberries to imported chocolates. Downstairs you get oysters, pork sausages (which is rare), and seasonal fruits. Try it out, you may actually be able to finally find all the ingredients you need for that Nigella recipe.

Read more here.

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