Rekindling love amid the beauty of Sri Lanka

by Maria Menezes

This story is part of our 'Romantic Travel Stories' series, featuring tales from luxury hotel guests which were sent in for our travel writing competition.

Photo by Yim Hafiz.

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We returned to visit Sri Lanka to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We thought it was time to re-energise our relationship. The trip meant a lot to us as we had first fallen in love there and wanted to re-create our memories.

We checked in to an elegant beachfront hotel in Bentota, which was framed by an indigo blue ocean. The stunning views made us feel like breathless teenagers. The tempting allure of the lagoon was irresistible, and it wasn’t long before we were giggling and racing each other down to the sandy beaches.

That afternoon, we decided to spend a lazy afternoon exploring the rich heritage of the city. The ancient village temples stand as a reminder of times gone by, and the 17th century influences of the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch and the British can easily be seen in the architecture.

Our mangrove boat cruise on the Bentota River was idyllic. The boatman deftly navigated his way through the islets and mangrove swamps lined with creepers and trees that seemed to stretch out their branches in greeting. We were swept away by the soft rhythmic sound of the oars as we glided silently through the unspoiled scenery - slightly hypnotic, but strangely relaxing. We even saw some crocodiles, and a rich variety of birds.

A short side trip to the capital Colombo (one and a half hours away) was like a walk down memory lane. As we walked down Galle Road, where we had previously lived, it came as a shock to see that some of the grand old houses had been torn down. The buzz of the local markets and enthusiasm of the vendors made it a little difficult to navigate the busy street. However, we were taken in with the rustic charm. We were dazzled by the splashes of colourful handicrafts, and a variety of precious and semi-precious stones. Finally, after some expert negotiations and vigorous headshaking, I found myself the lucky owner of a set of beautiful blue opal stone jewellery. We also bought fun souvenirs and gifts for our friends.

Later that evening, back in Bentota, we were mesmerised by the stunning orange sunset as we walked hand in hand along Paradise Road. Dinner was scrumptious and we were spoiled for choice as we feasted on a freshly cooked seafood platter, which we finished off with some delicious anniversary cake.

As the lights lay low, we sipped our champagne and toasted our happy marriage. My husband sat down at the piano in the hotel and started to play my favourite tune - My Funny Valentine. I knew that we would cherish these memories of being together forever.

To top it all, the warm simplicity of the local folk, and the great hospitality of the hotel staff showed us that Sri Lanka is truly a country with a big heart. We just can’t wait to go on another romantic holiday again.

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