CITY GIRL GUIDE: Vera Nording's Guide to Sri Lanka
Vera Nording was on a break between jobs in Sweden and took a short visit to see friends in Sri Lanka. Love for a man, a puppy, and a new culture prevailed – the perfect surfer’s love story. She’s still there – surfing and taking photos. She shows us the best spots to explore around Weligama, Sri Lanka.
Where are you from?
I’m from Sweden. I grew up in a suburb outside Stockholm and spent my summers on an island called Gotland, and that’s still my favorite place in the world.
What do you do when you’re not in the water?
I love just being at home with my dogs, reading, eating, watching Netflix, and just being super lazy!
How long have you been surfing?
I started surfing when I was 19, so that's 10 years now. Wow, time flies!
What was your first time surfing like? How did you push past the fear or anxiety?
Actually, my very first time was when I was 14 when my family and I were visiting my older brother who was studying in California. My sister and I took a surf lesson, and I loved it right away. I remember that we did some paddle training in a harbor before hitting the waves, and two dolphins swam past us. It was pretty magical. Then, it took a few years before I really got into it.
I loooove surfing small waves, so it's not that often I put myself in situations where I feel scared or stressed out. But if I do, I try to remind myself to just stay calm and try to enjoy it, even when you get tumbled around under water. Also, a big thing for me has been letting go of all the pressure that I used to put on myself, that you always have to get better, or surf bigger waves or learn how to surf smaller boards, etc. When I let that go and decided that I only surf for me, to be happy and to have fun, even if that is surfing small waves on a log all my life... that took away all of that anxiety I would feel sometimes. We don't always have to push ourselves so hard, and it's ok to just have fun. I think that is important to have in mind when you first start to learn how to surf, as well.
Photos by Lachlan Dempsey
Tell us a bit about your time in Sri Lanka. Why did you choose to move there?
I had been coming to Sri Lanka for a few years visiting my friends who live here. When I left my job back in Stockholm, I came here to spend a few months surfing before starting a new job. Then I met a guy, fell in love, found a puppy on the street. And now, one year later, I’m still here, with the same guy, in a house with four more dogs.
When I moved here, I didn’t really have a plan, and as much as that was stressful at times, it also gave me the possibility to try something new. So I decided to follow a dream I’ve had for a long long time, and I pursued photography.
What surprises you about Sri Lanka?
How lovely it is in the off-season when there are no tourists here :)
What’s something you can’t live without - that you have friends bring if they’re coming to visit?
Sunscreen and mosquito repellant.
Where to eat
Photo VIA @ceylonsliders
Ceylon Sliders: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks. Definitely my #1 spot.
But if you enjoy seafood, you need to go to the fish market on Weligama Beach. There are a bunch of places there where you pick your fish and seafood from the market, and they cook it on the BBQ for you. My favourite place is called Kuma Seafood, and it's absolutely delicious! For local rice and curry, I would recommend Shiranis, a small family run restaurant located on their front porch. Oh and also the Kip, for the perfect brunch with friends!
Where to shop
(Again) Ceylon Sliders!
They have their own branded stuff with everything from hand shaped surfboards to charcoal soap, as well as some of the best brands for swimwear and surf. One of my favourite things they have are the beautiful locally-made Ceylon kimonos.
Where to hit the waves
Weligama beach is a great spot for all levels and has working waves all year around!
Where to go out at night
The Doctors House VIA @the_doctors_house
A must see destination
Galle Fort Lighthouse
Galle Fort Lighthouse VIA @stefanosx
Hiriketiya is a beautiful little horseshoe bay with a great left point break that's definitely worth a visit. Galle Fort is also a nice place to go for an afternoon stroll. It's one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites and has super cute little shops and restaurants (Church Street Social is my fave restaurant in the fort). Make sure to grab a couple of scoops from Isle of Gelato and to check out the very Instagram friendly lighthouse.