So having been very lazy for the first week, apart from going to Colombo and gate-crashing a party we decided to visit Galle. Galle is located on the east coast and is Sri Lanka’s fourth largest city and in the centre lies the Fort- the old Dutch quarter. Surrounding the Fort is a series of bastions which were used for coastal defence during the seventeenth century when the Dutch invaded and captured the town from the Portuguese.
We had befriended two people from Norwich- Jane and Brunty (so named because his nickname was Brontosaurus, being quite a big bloke)-and so we decided to share the cost of a van and driver and head south for the day.
We left around 8.30am and arrived in Galle around midday- on the way passing through Beruwala (where I had stayed some twenty years ago), Bentota, and Hikkaduwa (Sri Lanka’s original hippy destination).
We had lunch at the first place we spotted- Mama’s Roof Cafe. A beautiful little place with a roof top restaurant overlooking the red brick roofs and the mosques and churches to the sea. We had a typical Sri Lankan lunch, which consisted of a meat dish- either fish or chicken-with an assortment of side dishes-dhal, ladies fingers, jack fruit and sour mango. It was delicious, washed down with a couple of Lion beers.
Then we went to visit the jungle beach with Silva (our guide for the day) and our driver. About 15 minutes outside of Galle we drove down very narrow little streets with stalls either side where you can buy anything from paintings to clothing-typically tourist stuff. The beach itself was indeed in the middle of the jungle and was situated in a beautiful little bay and as you can imagine the sand was golden and the sea was brilliant blue. It was beautiful but it didn’t have the local charm of Mount Lavinia-where there are less tourists and much less busy.
Back at the Fort we walked around the ramparts, which protect Galle’s Fort from ever becoming victim to modernisation. There are a number of beautiful little streets with little cafes and shops, which make for a very pleasurable way to pass a few hours. You can enter the Fort through the main gate and the three fortifications here- the Sun, Moon and Star bastions-protected the area from attack by land.
There is a pathway that leads you over the ramparts and you can walk all around the Fort. The bastions are huge and have different names- Zwart (Black); Ackersloot; Aurora; Point Utrecht; Triton; Neptune; Clippenberg and Aeolus. The latter bastions give beautiful views across the town and you can see that the walls are formed of coral which were dragged into place by slaves.
We left Galle around 5 o’clock and made our way back to Mount Lavinia happy that we had decided to have a day out. Galle is a beautiful place and if you are into architecture, a relaxed atmosphere and a bit of history then this is well worth a visit. I for one will be going back there when I return to Sri Lanka.