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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Dyer

Part 1: Colombo Unplugged - A Journey into Sri Lanka's Urban Heart



A Longing Fulfilled.


Throughout my globetrotting adventures, there was always one place that held a special place in my heart—Sri Lanka. Surprisingly, despite my deep connection to this captivating country, I had never set foot on its shores. Perhaps it was because of the countless encounters with warm, kind-hearted, and patriotically proud Sri Lankans during my travels around the world that made me feel like I had already known this land intimately. Their tales of a green, luscious island paradise stuck with me, weaving a tapestry of anticipation as my plane touched down in Colombo—a homecoming to a long-lost friend, a familiar face, and a voice that beckoned me closer.


The First Glimpse of a Dreamed-About City


As I stepped foot onto the vibrant streets of Colombo, my heart skipped a beat with excitement. This was it—the moment I had been eagerly anticipating, my very first time in this remarkable city that held a special place in my wanderlust-filled dreams. I couldn't help but feel a sense of wonder as I gazed at the blend of modern high-rises and charming colonial architecture that adorned the cityscape.

The rich history and diverse cultural influences were palpable, and I was eager to unravel the secrets that lay within Colombo's bustling alleys and majestic boulevards.

Heartwarming Connections


The moment I arrived, I could sense the warmth of the people surrounding me. Every smile I received from the locals felt like an invitation to be part of their vibrant community. And it was no surprise—I had heard countless stories of Sri Lanka's hospitality, but experiencing it firsthand was a whole different level of heartwarming. From the cheerful greetings of street vendors to the genuine interest shown by passersby, I felt like I was reconnecting with old friends, even though we had never met before.



Unearthing Colombo's Historical and Contemporary Treasures


With each passing day, my fascination grew as I explored Colombo's historical landmarks and hidden gems. The remnants of colonial-era structures narrated tales of a bygone era, while the lively markets and contemporary art scenes spoke of the city's thriving present. I felt like a curious time-traveler, moving seamlessly between past and present, soaking in the essence of Colombo's ever-evolving identity.


Falling in Love with Colombo's Spirit and Identity


Colombo had effortlessly cast its spell on me, and I found myself falling in love with its spirit and character. I was told she had a way of doing that. It was more than just a city; it was an experience, an adventure that beckoned me to dive deeper and embrace its open-hearted embrace. As I wandered through its bustling streets, I couldn't help but feel a sense of belonging.

Colombo had welcomed me with open arms, and in return, I promised to immerse myself fully in this enchanting journey, capturing every moment of wonder and discovery, as my soul merged with the soul of this extraordinary city.

Barefoot Store & Cafe


Nestled in the heart of Colombo, the Barefoot store and cafe stands as a captivating oasis of creativity and culture. With its roots tracing back to 1964, this iconic establishment has blossomed into a haven for art enthusiasts, fashion aficionados, and those seeking a truly unique experience. As I stepped into the store, I was immediately enveloped in a world of vibrant colors, intricate designs, and a palpable sense of artistic passion.

The walls adorned with handwoven textiles, intricate batik art, and contemporary pieces seemed to whisper tales of local artisans and their boundless creativity.

Wandering through the aisles, I discovered an eclectic array of goods ranging from exquisite handcrafted clothing to beautifully hand-painted ceramics. Each piece seemed to carry a piece of Sri Lanka's rich heritage and artistic soul, inviting me to connect with the stories behind the craftsmanship. What truly struck me was the commitment to sustainability and fair trade—a testament to Barefoot's dedication to supporting local artisans and preserving traditional crafts.



As I explored further, the captivating aroma of freshly brewed coffee led me to the cafe section—a cozy corner where the senses are treated to a symphony of flavors. With its laid-back ambiance and lush garden views, the cafe provided the perfect setting to savor a cup of Ceylon's finest while reflecting on the artistic wonders that surrounded me. The Barefoot store and cafe isn't just a shopping destination; it's a celebration of artistry, culture, and community that leaves an indelible mark on every visitor fortunate enough to step into its world.


Paradise Road, Colombo


Tucked away in the heart of Colombo, the Paradise Road store stands as a haven of refined elegance and artistic curation. From the moment I crossed its threshold, I was greeted by a harmonious blend of contemporary design and timeless allure. The store's meticulously curated selection of home furnishings, exquisite artwork, and lifestyle essentials bore the mark of craftsmanship that pays homage to Sri Lanka's rich artistic heritage. Each piece seemed to radiate a sense of authenticity, a testament to the dedication of local artisans who poured their heart and soul into every creation.



Strolling through the store's thoughtfully designed spaces, I was entranced by the fusion of modern sophistication and the echoes of a colonial past. The building itself, steeped in history, lent an air of nostalgia as I explored the captivating displays. From ornately adorned textiles that whispered tales of tradition to sleek, contemporary homeware that promised to elevate any living space, Paradise Road was a treasure trove of discoveries waiting to be unearthed. Beyond the aesthetic allure, there was a sense of purpose in each piece, a reflection of the store's commitment to celebrating artistry and design that seamlessly harmonize with everyday life.


Gini: Igniting Flavors and Stories on the Fire


A culinary highlight of our journey was the visit to Gini, a fabulous restaurant that beautifully showcases the art of fire cooking, employing local ingredients in a private outdoor kitchen. The restaurant's intriguing backstory, shared by one of the three brothers who co-own Gini, offered us insight into their journey from Sri Lanka to Melbourne, Australia, and back. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, they courageously opened Gini, a testament to their passion for their roots and culinary artistry.


The gastronomic adventure at Gini was a symphony of flavors. We started with the mouthwatering Foccacia Fish Floss, followed by the divine Oyster Coconut, and the delectable Butternut Sesame Spring. The Squid Oil Sambal Lime, accompanied by the Tigers Milk Ceviche, tantalized our taste buds with their unique combinations. The Cauliflower Rocket Chimichuri and River Prawn Tomato Coriander added to the ensemble of culinary delights. Finally, we savored the Cereal Dulce de Leche, a visually stunning and equally indulgent dessert that left a lasting impression.


Aptly named after the Sri Lankan word for fire, "Gini," this remarkable restaurant becomes more than a dining experience; it's a tribute to the very essence of elemental cooking.


Fun Fact: The Playful Path of Galle Road, Where Colombo and Galle Unite


One of Colombo's charming quirks lies in its Galle Road, a stretch that holds a delightful secret. As you navigate this iconic thoroughfare, you'll soon realize that its journey doesn't end within the city limits. In fact, Galle Road stretches far beyond, all the way to the historic coastal town of Galle. Picture this: you're embarking on a leisurely drive, soaking in the coastal vistas and the vibrant energy of Colombo.

And then, almost magically, as you journey southward and reach the enchanting town of Galle, the road transforms.

Suddenly, it becomes the Colombo Road, ushering you on a unique return journey. It's as if the road itself has a playful spirit, inviting you to explore Colombo and Galle from two distinct perspectives—a testament to the intertwined histories and the delightful surprises that Sri Lanka's landscape holds.


This clever twist adds an extra layer of intrigue to your travels, as you experience firsthand the seamless connection between these two captivating destinations along a single, continuous path.



Having a wino with Esna Holidays Chairman, the lovely Eshana De Silva

Esna Holidays - Sri Lanka


A heartfelt expression of gratitude extends to our exceptional travel partners, Esna Holidays in Sri Lanka, for masterfully curating this extraordinary adventure. From curating a meticulously detailed itinerary that encapsulated the essence of our journey, to seamlessly coordinating transportation and securing reservations at enchanting restaurants & spas, their impeccable planning and precision execution were truly commendable.


It was a delight to have our every need expertly attended to by our dedicated VIP butler, who remained at our service round-the-clock. We wholeheartedly recommend Esna Holiday for their unparalleled commitment to crafting unforgettable travel experiences.


Experience Sri Lanka in style and work with the absolute best in the business!


Phone: +94 11 2314 302 | Email: hello@esnaholidays.com




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