To Negombo. A smooth ride, soothing sights sailing by. A palatable while by the sea and back… All in an afternoon. No sweat.
Words Prasadini Nanayakkara Photographs Indika De Silva
From the new Kelani Bridge at Orugodawatte we reach the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway (CKE) or the E03 in Peliyagoda at 11:00 am. Opened in October the Expressway gives a glimpse of what the future might hold. An unimpeded cruise amidst streaming landscapes steals the gaze and is lulling in its effortless flow, as we speed by.
The second expressway in the Island, the CKE spans a distance of 25.8 km allowing commuters to reach the Airport in just 20 minutes as opposed to the drawn out, one and a half hour drive along the Peliyagoda–Puttalam Road. The first stretch, falls beside untamed greenery with coconut fronds trailing the skyline in the distance. On the way to Peliyagoda lies the exit to the Colombo-Kandy road and Puttalam Road after which the fee levying express way begins. From the toll booth we rev up to 80 kmph as is the limit for the first stretch of the drive and then at 100 kmph making the journey a short, hassle-free burst of speed.
The E03 Spans Along The Muthurajawela Marshland And The Dutch Canal Making Spectators Of Commuters
The E03 comprising of two lanes each way spans along the Muthurajawela marshland and the Dutch Canal making spectators of commuters with eyes cast on unravelling landscapes. The best view arrives at the Negombo Lagoon, the wide watery expanse pleasantly complementing the soundless motion of tyres on tarmac burning the distance. We ease out of the Expressway at 11:20 am as an airplane takes off into the cloud sodden sky. Detouring from the road to the Airport, we take a turn down to the Negombo Road. While there are many turn-offs that lead to strings of shops, eateries and hotels, outside of the bustling Negombo town, we fall through Main Street and the onslaught of sounds and teeming people at the market place.
A few minutes later we arrive at Lewis Place, where many hotels and restaurants queue up along the roadside beckoning guests with cheerful signs. Farther along we arrive at Jetwing Sea fanned by the sea breezes as it sits along the beach. Upon arrival we are greeted with glasses of cool coconut water to dissipate the effects of a warm sunny afternoon and make our way along the beach to Lellama, the Hotel’s seafood restaurant that takes on the name of the famed fishing village of Negombo. And as its name promises, the Lellama restaurant is all about seafood, serving customers the ‘Day’s Catch’, brought in fresh from the fish auction. Whatever picks one fancy; jumbo prawns, tuna, cuttle fish or mullet brought in for the day can be prepared as desired.
Unwind in the casual and quiet ambience of the Negombo beach
Lellama is a cosy enclosure facing the balmy beach expanse and we sit in the shade and seclusion of a smaller hut with our feet scrunching the warm sand. It’s easy to unwind in the casual and quiet ambience of the Negombo beach. A hot meal comprising of grilled seafood, accompanied by garlic rice, mixed vegetable salad, savoury potatoes, and garlic cream butter sauce arrive and we dig in, soothed by the sun, sand and sea breeze for an afternoon of indulgence.
Well sated, a good two hours later, we while away the quiet minutes resting are gazes along the bright coast. Soon we head back once more. This time we take the Chilaw road via Periyamulla and reach the Expressway in no time. The long road yawned ahead of us in the sultry sun but in less than half an hour we are back in Colombo—an afternoon well spent cruising to Negombo and back and its only 2:45pm!