Most of the travel books we'd checked out spoke really highly of the Colombo Fort area, which is basically the downtown area, so we spent a morning walking around checking out the sights. All of the hotels in the Fort area were super expensive, so not many people outside of tourists stay there
We took the train from our "suburban" station to Colombo Fort, which is the main train station for the city. The track runs along the coast almost all the way up. It was also misty, dreary, and gray, especially right on the shore. You can sort of see a misty fog hanging over the tracks in this picture.
The waves here were pretty intense. Apparently it's the undertow that is so dangerous, and everyone who mentioned it warned us that it wasn't safe at all for swimming.
Waiting for the train.
Here comes our train. It was about a 15 minute ride; so it was longer than a tuk tuk (taxi) ride, but significantly cheaper. I think it cost less than 80 cents for both of us to ride.
It turned out that there wasn't that much to do in the Fort area. There was one supposedly great shopping market, but it ended up being a pretty typical maze of tiny stalls selling useless junk. We also stopped at the Dutch Museum, which seemed like it might be interesting, and turned out to be a slight waste of time.
It was housed in a beautiful, big house (mansion?) Like most places in Sri Lanka, it didn't have air conditioning, and unfortunately didn't have any air flow through the rooms so it was sweltering hot inside. It was easily the hottest, most uncomfortable place I've been because you just had to step inside one room and you were instantly sweating through your clothes. Sadly the museum wasn't really that impressive either. Overall, we probably could have skipped it and not missed it.
The clock tower made from an old light house. This was in a really high security zone, and right after we took pictures of it, some military guys came up and told us we had to move because the President was going to be driving through. We hung around long enough to watch the motorcade drive past, and then wandered back the way we came because so many of the streets were blocked off.
Pretty old building
Old VW parked downtown
We also wandered back to Beira Lake and took a ride on the swan boats.
Steve paddling hard. These boats were clearly not meant for Westerners - we were both too tall to comfortably paddle. Even I was taller than most Sri Lankas regardless of where we went. I thought it had to do with a genetic predisposition to being short, but apparently it's a result of poor nutrition as babies and children.
Bridge over Beira Lake with one of the temples in the background.
Check out the rest of our Sri Lanka travels: