Ok, so it was Business Class, not First Class. And the flight was only an hour and fifteen minutes. But it was still my first upgrade and the half a glass of warm beer, being the first in 10 days, was pretty awesome. More importantly, it also meant two hours in the lounge with free food, club soda and cappuccinos. I would also like to say that we officially disproved the “dress for success” method of going for flight ugrades, as believe me, we didn’t look dressed for anything except stuffing bottles of sparkling water into our baggy backpacker pants. Comfy pants airport wearers, unite!
Following our very short luxurious flight we made our way back to reality and line ups, first for immigration and then a very long one for a taxi. Being after midnight, public transit had stopped running. We could have cut much of the line if we had been willing to splash out for an executive air conditioned taxi, but this was an upgrade we’d have to pay for, so we waited for the regular taxi instead.
About an hour and a half later, of which the later twenty minutes was spent looking for our guesthouse which inexplicably did not have a sign out front, we arrived at about 3 am at our homestay. Feeling a little disoriented, we set off the next morning to explore the area of Mt Lavinia we were staying in, and headed to the train station to get to Colombo.
We eventually found the station, but it wasn’t due to leave for another two hours, so we had a sweaty walk back to the main street and caught a bus into the city. We stocked up on a Sim card each with 2gb of data (which seemed to expire at the end of two weeks, at which point we had to top up) for 250 rupees each, or $2.50 CAD. This made the rest of our trip SO much easier to research, as we booked hotels on the go, looked up information about sites we visited, and solved many arguments over beer.
We then visited the train station to try and reserve tickets to other parts of the country, but that was not to be. Every trip we knew we wanted (which is hard to plan for), was already sold out. We’d have to try our luck with unreserved second class, as Colombo Fort seems to be the only station where you can reserve tickets for trips which originate at other stations. We did pop into the railway tourist information centre, but got a bit turned off when the salesman tried to convince us to take the train from Nuwara Eliya to Ella, while a driver and car would follow with our luggage. Right.
Chores done, we explored Colombo around the Fort area, which was quiet due to the Full Moon or Poya festival. We headed back by train to Mt. Lavinia and took the time to explore the historic Mt. Lavinia hotel and its fantastic view. And use the fantastic bathroom of course.
We found some dinner and headed to bed as we had to be up at 4:00am to catch the 4:45am train to Colombo Fort to make the 6:05am train to Habarana, for which we were ready for a deadly fight to the finish for a coveted seat in the unreserved section…