The Galle Face Hotel, Sri Lanka

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The Galle Face Hotel, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Arriving in Colombo and the Galle Face Hotel

After a long drive back from Galle we arrive in Colombo at our final hotel, the famous Galle Face Hotel. The hotel is an impressive building with an imperial looking courtyard but to get to it we have to travel along the strangest road we've ever been in.

The road in questions goes right past the offices of the Sri Lankan president and I have never seen so many soldiers road blocks (they don't block the whole road but thy stick out sufficiently that all the cars have to go round and can be stopped just as the come past). We've seen road blocks all over Sri Lanka although they've never stopped or troubled us but there are so many here, being stopped was inevitable.

After a quick check inside the car and confirmation that we are indeed tourists we're aloud on our way. Chris explains that there has been an attempted terrorist attack just a few days before but it was low level and not successful. But the presence of the army in such numbers does take the edge off our first impressions of Colombo.

The Galle Face Hotel

We loved our stay in Sri Lanka but while the one night we spent in the Galle Face Hotel was nice, it was no where near the nicest on our trip. The Galle Face Hotel has two faces! One facing the famous Green and the other the sea front. This caused us a small issue - we though we had booked a room with a sea view but in reality the view of the sea required quite a long neck. Our rooms were actually facing the Green. This part of the hotel is clearly the older section and you the rooms, while large, have a feeling of being an old school room. Not the best we've stayed in.

The rest the hotel was nice but it had more of an English luxury hotel than the friendly welcoming ones we'd encountered on our way around Sri Lanka. Rather austere and slightly imperial. For the first time on our trip we felt the need to tell the children to "keep it down" while in the swimming pool.

That said, the service itself was nice and the quality of the food was good. The setting really was magnificent looking out onto the sea although it didn't really look the sort of sea that you would bathe in.

Shopping in Colombo

I am not very good at sitting still and I need to get some cash out for Chris, our Driver's tip, and to see if I could find a souvenir (being the only member of the family not to find something on the way around the island). I decided to walk out but quickly felt uncomfortable. There is a cashpoint near by the hotel and after getting some money out I walked back along the road with all the soldiers and past the road blocks around the presidential offices. Only then did it dawn on me how stupid this was - I had not though to bring my passport and I was now the wrong side of the road blocks.

However I was alread beyond the soldiers so decided to keep going. I was quickly hailed by several tuk tuk drivers, asking if I'd like a lift but wary of my experience in Galle I don't down all comers! Eventually I found my way to a shopping centre and found what I was looking for - a Sri Lankan Cricket top. The shopping centre was also guarded and I felt a slight sense of being watched as I looked around the shops. This was not a friendly place like other places in Sri Lanka but on reflection it was not a hostile place either. It was, like many cities, just a little sterile.

I returned to the hotel and fortunately had no problems getting passed the checkpoint. I was very happy to walk back into the hotel!

Last meal in Sri Lanka

We have had many memorable moments in Sri Lanka but our last meal really was special. The food at the Galle Face Hotel was excellent and we spent a very pleasant evening, eating and playing travel cluedo! It is a mark of just how good the holiday had been that all the children cried because it was our last day. None of us wanted to go home.

Final trip to Colombo Airport

Chris picked us up very early (5.30 am) for our 9.30 flight home. The airport is a surprising way from central colombo and everywhere takes time to travel by road in Sri Lanka. After a quick check from the soldiers at the checkpoints we made our way, reluctantly to the airport. It was a very sad moment to say good by to our Driver, Chris, who we all now consider a family friend. We left him a tip of £10 per day we were with him (£70 in total for the 7 days he actually drove us round) which I spent a good deal mulling over and even now don't know whether we were generous or mean.

We really did enjoy our trip to Sri Lanka. Even now, it is the described in awed tones by the children and we're sure we'll be coming back. When we asked the children the best parts of the holiday there were so many answers - the safari, the villa, the pre-school, the turtles, the hotels and particularly their swimming pools, the food were all high on the list but I think the thing that really made it was the people. We left the country in good spirits, knowing we'd made some real friends in Sri Lanka!