Colombo – day 1/129 (Nicola)

NJ joining the seasoned travellers!
Day one is a split log as my day (and a half) was a little different to their’s 🙂
Managed to leave school on time much to my surprise and headed south with Derek’s dog most put out as I was in his seat. Arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare and ate and shopped before forcing myself to sit down before my bank started ringing concerned with all the unusual activity on my account. Jen and Angela you will be most impressed at my bypassing the burger bars and instead eating sweet potato falafel and remembering to eat my 2 satsumas before they got sqaushed on the flight.
Flight was called on time, but we boarded late (I later learned because the incoming flight was delayed) and was greeted by ladies in full stomach baring saris – was interested to see if they had to do the whole service in this outfit. (They did!) 
Journey was uneventful except to say I had the nicest lady sitting next to me flying to Sri Lanka to see her grandson who is out here working. She’s on the same flight back, so would be lovely to sit next to her again to find out what she got up to. 
The only memorable moment was as soon as the seatbelt lights went off one lady jumped up, opened an overhead locker and a duty free bottle fell out whacking another passenger on the head! 
I have to say I was very impressed with the airline, leg room and service despite no subtitles on any of the entertainment (thank goodness for bbc I player downloads) and a veggie dinner and breakfast of curry and the chocolate brownie replaced with a very pink vegan jelly- prob a good thing). So if any of u need to fly Sri Lankan airlines I would recommend them! 
Only landed a few minutes late so must have had the wind behind us and walked through the the doors to see Katherine and Jayne holding an iPad sign with my name and subtitle (travel whore) on it. I can just imagine them both giggling to themselves waiting for me to come through the the gates. We went to pick up the car (I am sure jayne will fill u in) and I unzipped the bottom of my trousers and put my flip flops on – I was officially on holiday while jayne filled out all the paperwork.
A short journey into Colombo and our hotel. Problems with the car meant that Jayne stayed in the hotel to receive a replacement while Katherine and I headed into the city to do some sightseeing as we won’t have time when we return before my flight home. 
We hopped on a public bus (Katherine being my guide) and strolled (or where possible strode) round the market – the sounds, sights and smells are unmistakably Asian. Wasn’t quite sure what all the items were, but everything was very handily priced so we couldn’t be conned with a ‘tourist price’. As the stall holders tried to get our attention, was confused as to what they thought we would do with the wide range of vegetables they were offering – at least the fruit I could imagine eating as a snack.
We went to visit the oldest Dutch church, the clock tower, the mosque right in the centre of a shopping street and finally trying to find the old hospital before walking back to the hotel along the sea front.   This was the quite clearly the place to be with everyone out and about seeing and being seen. Even a horse walking along the promenade which got a bit close for comfort behind us making us both jump.      Got back to the hotel and went straight out for dinner at a place k and j love – was very spicy for me (but that’s not saying a lot) and lashings of ginger beer. A real locals place complete with no women (except us) and a resident rat trying to come downstairs to join us in the dining area 🙂

A short walk home, a well needed shower and an early night as didn’t really sleep on the plane and we have an early start tomorrow.
N (guest blogger)

Saturday 13th February 2016

Colombo – day 129 (Jayne)

The lady on the bunk bed below me came in at some ridiculous hour and wouldn’t stop squirming. A quick chat in the morning and I had pieced together that she had gone clubbing and stumbled in to the hostel for a bed. That’s all well and good for her that she has the money to throw around like that, but my hard earned sleep was interrupted and I gave up trying to pretend at 05:00. Thus, I left an anniversary postcard under Katherine’s pillow with some chocolate – the ice, cold, air conditioned room enabling this rare treat – and caught up on some finances on the iPad. 
Breakfast and blogs complete, we headed off on our merry adventure to collect Nicola from the airport. The bus from the fort to the airport which should have been 45mins to an hour, took in total 2hrs 5mins, with us moving a significant total of 1km in 45mins – some dignitary was visiting some of the towns on this particular route and traffic ground to a halt. It was a silly mistake to assume we’d be there in no time at all, and we hadn’t brought any water with us. Ouch!
With personal name card in the arrival hall and printed itinerary in hand we collected Nicola and went down the road to collect the rental car from Europcar. Kat and Nic caught up on gossip while I listened to a couple returning their vehicle argue about how they shouldn’t have been fined by a policeman earlier that week and the paperwork was supposed to have been sorted yesterday. Stupidly long time later we were headed down the road and in to the town by the airport to get some water and check to see if the ‘check engine light’ would turn off. It stayed off until about 20m past the junction off the expressway (typical eh!?). 
The (automatic) car stalled several times at the toll booth, the traffic lights and the roundabouts, each place getting significantly scarier and more stressful as we drove further into Colombo capital. I wanted to get safely to the hostel and get the manager or staff (who are fantastic) to help call Europcar to have it sorted. A seamlessly painless call by the concierge and they were sending out a replacement car, no questions asked. It was all a little too suspicious for our likings. They clearly knew it was a dodgy car!
I had to wait for the new car to arrive and sort out the additional paperwork so I waved goodbye to the dastardly duo and I set about repacking my bag, now that I was restocked with make-up and electronics. Thanks Nic xx!
A fancy new car arrived at 17:15 while everything was in heaps of a mess in the dorm room, but I had to grab the important stuff and get in a test drive before they left. He wasn’t impressed with me pulling down one way streets and having the car tick over in idle, but I couldn’t face the long drive the next day with anything temperamental. All sorted, I cleared up the mess and awaited the others return from the city. 

Saturday 13th February 2016