Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Sri Lanka: Thalpe and Unawatuna Beach


One of the most frequently asked questions we heard as tourists in Sri Lanka (and one that Lonely Planet advised us to answer in good humour and politely!) was, "Where are you from?" or, more pointedly and simply: "Which country?" When we replied, "England. UK. London." our response was met with either approval ("Your country helped us so much during the tsumani!"), a knowing nod, with some reference to cricket ("England cricket - not very good right now!") or the most amusing of all, "I have always wanted to see snow." We'd tilt our heads back and laugh at this last one, but it was said with such wistfulness, with such sincerity, that it had to be true.

For us, it was the opposite: we'd been pounding the streets of London, doing the 9-5 (or in John's case, 6:30 to crazy-o-clock), putting in the hours until this, our reward. We were glad to perspire while standing still in the sun. We slathered sunscreen on our pale arms and legs, willing to get an enviable tan that our colleagues would be jealous of. Our heads were always up, up, up: looking at these palm trees, staring at the ocean - mesmerized by the pattern of waves that never, ever, repeated themselves. Some were so high, they'd knock me in the neck, leaving me spluttering and swearing, salt water in my eye.

We started our journey in Thalpe, shunning the pretty but overpopulated beaches of Unawatuna and Hikkaduwa for the quieter (though perhaps less swim-able beach) tranquility of Apa Villa - a collection of 7 beach-front suites set in grounds dotted with frangipani trees and swaying palm trees.

When we arrived and stepped through the beautiful reception area below, there was no check-in process, no papers to sign, no passports to photocopy. We were simply welcomed with a handshake and a smile and shown to our Cardamom Suite, which faced the resort's beautiful infinity pool and encouraged to "enjoy our stay".




I woke one morning and stumbled onto the polished concrete verandah, shielding my eyes against the already-bright sun. John was already ensconced in one of the many colorful hammocks tied to the palm trees, reading Hilary Mantel and looking the most relaxed I've seen him in months.

The guidebooks warned us about swimming in Sri Lanka's pristine but often rough waters - and it's true, you have to be selective about where you swim. Some of the beaches are rocky once you wade in and this is true of the beach directly in front of Apa Villa. But venture a few minutes down the beach to your left and the sand extends for quite a ways in ... it's shallow enough to comfortably bob along and there's no alarming current to pull you in.


Having only been back on British soil for less than 12 hours, I already long for the delicious breakfasts we enjoyed in Sri Lanka, which almost always included a fresh mixed fruit juice (usually papaya - my favorite!) and a fresh platter of fruit, followed by a Western option of eggs. I always opted for the Sri Lanka omelette of tomatoes, green chillis and finely diced onions or the Sri Lankan meal of "hoppers" (a thin, pancake of sorts) served with chilli sambol, dhal and milk or fish curry.

Life hack: Sri Lankans add a squeeze of lime to their fresh papaya. A total game changer.






We ate directly outside our suite on the verandah, against the backdrop of the infinity pool, and fell in love with this buffalo milk curd, served with treacle, which tasted like a lighter, even creamier version of Greek yogurt - carving out slices with our spoons and adding treacle when necessary. Afterwards, we'd change into swimwear and spend the rest of the day alternating between the pool, the beach, the hotel loungers and falling asleep on the seating area/daybed outside our room.

The next day, we ventured to Unawatuna Beach, where John got absolutely burnt ... I didn't show too much sympathy at the time, but then felt very sorry for him a few days later when he was clearly still in pain and I jokingly dubbed his feet "underdone pork chops - white on the outside and pink in the middle" (I'm the WORST) and made him promise to see a doctor when he got home.

With waves that are far more manageable and easier to swim in, the beach is dotted with guesthouses and sun worshippers - all vying for a spot on the sand.


There were times, in both Thalpe and Unawatuna, that I felt like I had been magically dropped into a screensaver. So, that's why I laughed when the Sri Lankans told me they'd always wanted to see snow. I couldn't imagine anything more far removed from the cold London I had left when I looked up to see this:


If a coconut fell and hit me on the head, I still would have thought I'd been dreaming.
SHARE:

30 comments

  1. Goodness, your photos look like they've come straight out of a holiday brochure! Sorry to hear John had too much sun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was picture perfect, Ruth! Poor John ...

      Delete
  2. I should not be reading this on the day I'm home from holiday. It looks so beautiful!
    Lots of love,
    Angie

    SilverSpoon London

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Girl, I am just catching up with your blog now ... did you BLOG DURING your holiday??? If so ... major applause. Those photos are stunning!

      And yes ... Sri Lanka was a paradise!

      Delete
  3. The sun might finally be shining outside but your fabulous post has truly brightened up my day. How gorgeous is it ALL?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your sweet comment! And for RTing my post on Twitter. :)

      Delete
  4. Hello #travelenvy! What a reward for such crazy hours!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely! Just wish we had another week ... not long enough. :(

      Delete
  5. Underdone porkchops... shouldn't laugh. Totally did. This. Trip. Sounds. Amazing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm looking at flights to Venice now after your posts ...

      And yes, I had the choice between seared tuna and undercooked porkchops and I went with porkchops.

      Delete
  6. This looks so heavenly. You choose the best spots!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh, these pics are glorious. I could really do with a week of waking up to blue skies, sunshine, and palm trees.

    Glad you both had such a great time. I need to do some serious holiday planning sometime soon.

    Sorcha x Bright Field Notes

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Sorcha. Yes, we couldn't believe how much we really needed it! x

      Delete
  8. It seriously looks like you vacationed on a postcard. The setting, the food, everything = Gorgeous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It definitely felt like it, Gianni! It was pure bliss. I just wish we could have stayed a little longer. 8 days was definitely not enough.

      Delete
  9. Those fresh fruit breakfasts are one of my favourite things about holidays! Reading your description of Thalpe, I wish I had spent some time there! So glad you had a lovely trip ☺

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Shikha! And thanks so much for your recommendations and advice before we went. I get way too worked up travel preparations, ha! Thalpe was beautiful, but very quiet - we liked having the option of going to the slightly busier Unawatuna too!

      Delete
  10. Such gorgeous photos and sounds like an absolute dream of a holiday. I'm so glad you guys had fun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, lovely. I'm plannng my next trip there already! John and I figured that if we weren't trying to buy a house, we could live out there for 6 years ... bahahaha. Very tempting.

      Delete
  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is what I've been waiting for! Thank you for sharing your photos they're stunning, and Sri Lanka is now on my must visit list :)

      Delete
    2. You're too sweet! Thank you so much. And yes - you would love it. Lots of beautiful places to see and visit - we didn't cover very much in the few days that we were there.

      Delete
  12. This brought back so many beautiful memories for me - thank you Jaime! I truly think that this little corner of Sri Lanka is one of the prettiest, friendliest and most vibrant places in the world. So pleased you found it and that it was everything you hoped it would be! Apa Villa looks amazing, we might just have to check it out next time we're there!

    Polly xx
    Follow Your Sunshine

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank YOU, Polly!! I just went back to re-read all your posts again ... so lovely! I can't wait to go back. It is honestly like paradise there. xx

      Delete
  13. Loved this post and I'm definitely going to book a trip to Sri Lanka! The breakfast sounds (and looks) amazing...

    ReplyDelete

© angloyankophile

This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services - Click here for information.

Blogger Template Created by pipdig