Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital city is located about two thirds of the way down the country’s west coast. With a population of two and a half million people, it is by far the most populated city in the country, other major cities such as Negombo, Kandy and Jaffna lagging far behind with populations of only one hundred and ten to one hundred and twenty thousand citizens. Stepping off the bus in Colombo Fort, the increase in the number of people becomes immediately apparent, the footpaths are packed out, the roads are crammed with traffic, shopkeepers at stalls desperately try to bring in business and the clean, tranquil vibe of the Indian ocean lapping against the palm tree-lined southern beaches becomes a fond but distant memory.

Stretch of coast running from the World Trade Centre to Galle Face Green, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Stretch of coast running from the World Trade Centre to Galle Face Green, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Our visit to the capital city was primarily in order to extend our visa from the initial thirty days to three months, to give us enough time to live on the south coast for a bit before tripping around the rest of the country. Before heading to the visa office though, we set out to see what the capital had to offer travellers like ourselves. Colombo we had heard is more of a collection of neighbourhoods than one big city and this certainly held true during our visit, with the city sprawling out and no real centre appearing prevalent to us. Colombo, like most capital cities, is a much more expensive place to stay compared with the rest of the country. Travelling on a budget we took a room across from the train station which would do the trick for the one night we were staying and it felt like it was the kind of place others may have come to do some tricks of their own. A short walk from our rough and ready guest-house, is the famed Pettah market place, a busy spot selling just about anything you can think of, a good place for people watching and walking ‘elbow out’ style is advised for any chance at an inch of personal space.

A local couple watch the sunset at Negombo Beach, Sri Lanka

A local couple watch the sunset at Negombo Beach, Sri Lanka

Unwinding from the madness of the markets, the quiet promenade of Galle Face Green is an oasis from the chaotic city and a nice spot to chill for a bit looking up at the pelicans perched on top of the lamp posts outside the President’s residence. Scattered throughout the rest

The Sambodhi Chaitiya dagoba, Colombo Fort, Sri Lanka

The Sambodhi Chaitiya dagoba, Colombo Fort, Sri Lanka

of ‘Fort’, as it’s known, are a number of monuments and buildings of note such as the Sambodhi Chaitiya, a Buddhist pagoda temple which appears to be floating above the road, Old Galle Buck Lighthouse, situated across from the Sri Lankan Navy base, an old clock tower and the World Trade Centre. Across from the Trade Centre is the Old Dutch Hospital, a colonial building dating back to the 1600’s but today is home to Colombo’s best upmarket restaurants, cafes and bars, providing a unique setting for an evening meal and a drink. Finding our way to the Fort Area we stopped off in Cinnamon Gardens, where most of the international embassies are located. Locals coming back from a cricket game dressed in black and yellow reminded us of match day at home but we didn’t hang around too long in the area as there wasn’t much to do but hang out in the few stylish cafes scattered throughout the area. South Beira Lake is a prominent feature nearby, away from the main roads, traffic and noise.

Old Dutch Canal, Negombo, Sri Lanka

Old Dutch Canal, Negombo, Sri Lanka

After a few days in Colombo, we continued north to Negombo, another of Sri Lanka’s premier beach destinations and home to the country’s international airport, Bandaranaike International. We were here mostly to see off our friends Mike and Linda, whom we had originally began our trip with almost ten months previous. Arriving in Negombo before the season had really kicked off, we didn’t fall in love with the place immediately and being honest, we didn’t end up taking to it that much at all. A long stretch of big and often quite gaudy hotels line the strip here and tuk tuk drivers can be pretty relentless with the tourists, assuming that everyone has big money to spend. Primarily visited by European and Russian package tourists, Negombo wasn’t really the right place for a couple of backpackers. We stayed only one night, checking out the beach and the small town of Negomobo, away from the tourist haunt while we were there but after that we had had enough. Saying farewell to Mike and Linda, one more time, we made our way to the train station eagerly to begin our trip back to the wonderful southern beaches.

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Brian Barry
Brian is a travel writer, photographer, blogger, travel addict and adventure junkie. Being outdoors, getting off the beaten track and outside his comfort zone is what makes him tick. Brian's the dreamer in the relationship; when he's not travelling, he's dreaming about it! Keeping fit, cooking, music and red wine take up the rest of his time.
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wanderingon37.6K followers☘ Irish Travel Couple - Brian & Noelle 🌍 Nomadic for 10+ years 🏞️ Hiking, Adventure & Inspiration ✈ Independent Travel 📍Edinburgh 👇🏻Travel Tips & Blog
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\"No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.\"⁠ — Nelson Mandela⁠ ⁠ \"Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.\"⁠ — Martin Luther King Jr.⁠ ⁠ “Never look down on anybody unless you\'re helping him up.”⁠ — Jesse Jackson⁠ ⁠➳⁠ 📷 Views from the first floor of the Hagia Sophia Museum looking towards The Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey 🇹🇷⁠ ➳⁠ We understand that being white and therefore, inherently privileged, we can never truly understand this struggle, however, we completely stand with the movement and the idea that all human beings everywhere in the world should be treated equally and have the same chances and opportunities in life.⁠ ⁠➳ Unfortunately, this isn\'t the case and the thought that someone can be treated differently simply because of the colour of their skin absolutely breaks our hearts.💔⁠ ⁠➳ In our privileged position, we need to learn about and educate ourselves about these issues in every way we can and do our best to change the views of those around us.⁠ ⁠➳ To quote another great changemaker, Mahatma Gandhi, you need to “be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ⁠ It starts with you, to move in the world with love and respect for all.⁠ ❤️✨✌ #BlackLivesMatter⁠
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“Because when you stop and look around, this life is pretty amazing.” —Dr. Seuss » Brian standing in absolute awe at the El Castillo pyramid at Chichen Itza!🗿🇲🇽 » Built by the Mayans sometime between the 8th and 12th centuries, Chichen Itza is a huge complex of Mayan ruins located on the northern half of Mexico’s beautiful Yucatan Peninsula.🗿🇲🇽 The complex is an inscribed UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. » Built from limestone, El Castillo stands at a height of 30m including a 6m temple on top. Each of the pyramid\'s four sides has 91 steps up it, making 364 steps total, with the temple topping the pyramid considered an additional step totalling 365, each step representing a day in the calendar.📆 El Castillo is also known as the Temple of Kukulkan as it served as a temple to the Mayan feathered serpent god Kukulkan, or Quetzalcoatl.🐍 » We visited this time last year, however, the spring and autumn equinoxes are the best days to visit to see the “descent of Kukulkan\".🐍 » According to legend, twice a year when the day and night are in balance 🌗, the pyramid is visited by its namesake Kukulkan.🐍 Thanks to the crafty and mathematically brilliant architecture of the Mayans combined with the natural rotation of the Earth on the equinox, an amazing eerie image of a giant snake crawling down the temple is created. Kukulkan returns to earth to provide blessings for a full harvest and good health before bathing in the sacred waters below and continuing on his way to the underworld. » If you can\'t visit on either equinox, don\'t worry! The phenomenon is recreated nightly during the Light and Sounds Show at 7pm in winter and 8pm in summer. » We love doing things independently as much as we can when we travel. As Chichen Itza is located just a couple of hours drive away from Playa del Carmen (and Cancun) we rented a car and drove there ourselves so we didn\'t get to stay for the light show as we had to drive back.🚗 » What\'s your travel style? Are you a DIY person or do you prefer to go on an organised tour? Let us know in the comments below!💬👇 » #WanderingOn #LiveToTravel #Mexico #ChichenItza #SevenWondersOfTheWorld
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“Sunsets are proof that no matter what happens, every day can end beautifully.” — Kristen Butler » The sun sets over Edinburgh from Calton Hill, one of the seven hills of Edinburgh.🌆 » Set right in the city centre, Calton Hill is unmistakable with its unfinished Athenian acropolis poking above the skyline, giving Edinburgh it\'s nickname, the \"Athens of the North\". » It\'s a popular sunset spot as it\'s easily accessed - it only takes about five minutes to get to the top of the hill from two staircases on either side, or you can drive up and park - and it offers panoramic views down the length of Princes Street and of Edinburgh Castle.🏰 There are also great views of the coloured cliffs of the Salisbury Crags, Arthur\'s Seat, and the slopes of Holyrood Park.⛰️ » On the last night of April, up to 12,000 people take to Calton Hill for the Beltane Fire Festival, an ancient Celtic fertility festival. 🔥 Traditionally, Beltane was the start of the pastoral summer where animals were taken from their winter shelter to the fields and \"Beltane\" is the Gaelic word for May. » In Edinburgh\'s revivalist celebration of Beltane, three hundred or so voluntary performers from the Beltane Fire Festival Society celebrate the ending of the \'dreich\' (Scottish slang for dreary and bleak) Scottish winter and the hoped-for season of warmth and new growth with drumming, fire performance, revelry, and a ritualised procession around Calton Hill. 🔥 As well as the fiery displays, acrobatics, pulsating drums, and body-painted theatrics, the Beltane Fire Festival Society retell an immersive story for the crowd. » The revival of this festival started in 1988 as a free event but is now ticketed. There is also a Samhuinn (Samhain) Fire Festival on Halloween night which traditionally marked the beginning of winter in the Celtic calendar. 🎃 We hope to catch the Samhuinn Fire Festival festival later in the year! » Have been to any interesting cultural festivals? Let us know!💬👇 » #WanderingOn #LiveToTravel #EdinburghScotland #CaltonHill
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