Galle is the cultural capital of Sri Lanka. From fresh catch of fish to the best the literary world has to offer, the place has the right mix. We also visited while the Galle Literary Festival was going on so the city was teeming with literature enthusiasts and writers (some of them staying at our hotel). With travellers from the world over making Galle their home, this is a great place to explore southern Sri Lanka from.
The train from Colombo Fort was scheduled for 6.55am. The station was small, very cosy. We had been placed in a special observation saloon – the last boxcar with reserved seats, lot of leg and luggage space and windows all around. Entirely populated by travellers, this was probably the best way to get to Galle from Colombo.
The journey itself was as bumpy as it was picturesque. It feels weird to say this but if you get motion sickness, maybe don’t take this train. The trail line meanders its way around the western coast of Sri Lanka almost constantly overlooking the wide expanse of the Indian Ocean. It is incredibly beautiful and green all around. After a while, the camera shutters stop capturing the nearly identical landscape and you get a breather to actually enjoy where you are. While the last boxcar gives us the viewing advantage, it more than makes up in the number of times it violently throws everyone around when negotiating a bend. All in all, a fantastic journey.
Stay @ Tamarind Hill
We are staying at the charming Tamarind Hill, just outside Galle. This is a period property – the main complex is over 250 years old. The old world charm has been maintained even in the new sections added to create additional rooms. Surrounded by greenery on all side and enclosing a huge courtyard with a tamarind tree in the middle, this is a place to relax. The rooms are huge. The bathroom is ever larger. We have a private patio with a frangipani tree coming right out. The staff is extremely pleasant and hidden when you don’t need them. We couldn’t have asked for a better experience.
Too bad we could not meet the peacocks which come in every morning into the courtyard.
Old Dutch Fort
The main attraction of Galle is the Old Dutch Fort. Right at water’s edge, the insides of the fort have been occupied by people forever. Over the past few years though, the fort has changed character with the numerous eating, drinking and shopping places opened up by Sri Lankans and foreigners alike. Everything from Sri Lankan curries to Italian gelato to calorie controlled sandwiches is available here. We spent the better part of two days walking through its many many narrow lanes. A curio shop somewhere, a cooking demonstration elsewhere, a funny looking artefact outside a restaurant, ethnic Sri Lankan crafts in still another place. The fort is alive and kicking.
As the sun goes down, everyone makes their way to the ramparts of the fort to watch the sun go down over the Indian Ocean. On weekends, locals make their way and the atmosphere is almost carnival like. Get your fill of ripe mangoes, freshly baked bread, roasted gram and other street food while you have a lovely picnic with your family or friends. Once the sun has set and the people have left, head to one of the many pubs for a pint of the lovely Lion beer. The perfect end to a Galle evening
The pool at Tamarind Hill was very inviting. So after an early walk to the beach, we headed straight to the pool for some fun with the GoPro.
The next day, we said our goodbyes and headed off to Mirissa in search of some surf.