In a land far, far away, previously known as Ceylon, there lies the congested capital city of Colombo.
As beautiful as the country of Sri Lanka is, for most visitors, Colombo is merely a springboard to other destinations, such as the bucolic beaches, the magnificent UNESCO world heritage sites and a plethora of elephant nature reserves.
The city of Colombo however, has a long and interesting history as a port on ancient East-West trade routes. Colombo was ruled by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British and that part of its heritage is reflected in the colonial architecture which still remains in tact alongside with the modern shopping malls and new hotels and restaurants.
The downside to Colombo is dealing with the intense and maddening traffic. However, Colombo is a city with plenty of interesting things to do and much to see and is becoming a destination in its own right.
Here are Green Global Treks four top picks of places to go in Colombo:
1) Gangaramaya Temple is the most famous and iconic Buddhist temple in Colombo. The temple is not only a place of worship, but is as well a center of learning. It also has an impressive collection of Buddhist relics from around the world.
2)The area known as the Galle Front Green beach front is a large open space between the old Colonial Ceylon parliament building and the elegant colonial Colombo Galle Face Hotel. In the evening and on weekends, families and friends gather to relax, fly kites and dip their toes into the Indian ocean as the sun sets over the city. Women stroll along the promenade in gorgeous brightly colored saris and full black burqas, while children play alongside them.
3) Then there is the choc a bloc Pettah old market area. This is where pineapples and vegetables are piled high in the narrow streets and in stalls as shoppers and vendors continue a centuries old mercantile trade vital to the citys population. Multiple cultural and ethnic groups cohabit the busy streets: men in brocaded skullcaps, boys carrying huge loads of goods and women searching for the best deals on household goods.
4) Mount Lavinia Beach is a city beach, somewhat South of the city and feels like a world away from the hustle and bustle of the congested streets. The beach is wide and sandy and is a place where there are numerous restaurants where one can bury ones feet in the soft sand while eating fresh seafood and watching the sun set over the gentle waves nearby. Young boys play cricket, while fishermen bring in their boats with their catches of the day.
So where to stay in Colombo?
Hands down, after staying in quite a few of the larger hotels (of which there are many), a few guesthouses, we finally find our “home away from home” ~ The Margosa Residencies.
The Margosa Residencies is somewhat like finding the jewel at the end of a treasure hunt.
What we appreciate most, when we encounter a city which we know we will return to many times in the future, is to find a destination that strikes the right balance between aesthetics and charm, a walkable neighborhood and the comforts of home.
The Margosa Residencies was originally built in the 1930s as a grand home, steps away from the beach and was recently meticulously restored and rebuilt as six very spacious and tasteful apartments.
Each apartment has its own large private porch and or veranda area, copious bedrooms, living room and equipped kitchen. Perfect for short or long term stays, The Margosa Residencies are quite unique.
We were thrilled to find The Margosa Residencies and look forward to returning and staying here the next time we are in Colombo city.
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