As I strolled through the clean cobbled roads of Galle, Srilanka on a morning, if felt that time took a huge leap. I felt transported to the 18th century when Galle fort was the headquarters for Dutch. I was left amazed on the sight of the beautiful old buildings, the view of the ocean from three sides of the fort and the narrow lanes. These narrow lanes of Galle, Srilanka were dotted with the restaurants, cafes and quirky shops.
On our trip to Srilanka, Galle fort was the first destination on cards. While there are other ways of reaching Galle fort like taking a bus or driving down at your speed to Galle, Srilanka, we opted for a rustic train ride from Colombo to Galle. It was an extremely scenic with coastal line on one side and the concrete jungle on the other. My eyes intending not to miss a single moment of tranquility stayed glued to the coastline the entire 3 hours train ride. I felt window seat is not doing justice to the view, so I hung myself at the train door to feel the wind on my face and soothe my eyes with the serenity of the ocean.
We checked ourselves in a local homestay which I had booked at booking.com. It was conveniently located just around the corner from the railway station thus giving us the ease to catch the train to Bentota next day. The hosts gave us a warm welcome and took us straight to our cozy little room. I was bowled over by the breakfast spread they served, it was authentic Srilankan and absolutely delicious. I have special affinity for homestays as they let me live the lifestyle of the locals even if it is for a day.
Things to do in Galle, Srilanka
Old Town of Galle and its fortifications
R & I stepped out to explore Galle fort on foot. We strolled our way embracing the town and entered the tiny entrance of the fort past the giant banyan trees. The charming streets, the beautiful old buildings restored to their glory, churches from the heritage times, some quirky and peppy shops, restaurants and cafes lied ahead of us to get explored.
Dutch Reformed Church
While we entered the church, the historical vibe took over. Only then we realized that the church dates back to 16th century when we witnessed the floor paved with the gravestones from the old Dutch cemetery. All due respect to the passed away souls, but it was quite eerie for me to walk on the graves.
National Maritime Archaeology Museum
The museum exhibits quite a piece of information on 800 years old maritime in Galle, Srilanka. I went in absolute awe of the artifacts like maps, naval craft, ropes, earthenware, beer mugs, smoking pipes, barrels, vast amount of articles including artillery guns and sailor shoes. These were recovered from ship wreck off the sea-coast.
The Historical Mansion Museum
Loads and loads of ancient artefacts of every genre like typewriters, cutlery, gems, cameras, jewellery etc were stacked in rows in cupboards and shelves of this private museum which is one of its kind in Srilanka. The caretaker told that this eccentric museum is the private collection of Abdul Gaffar, a long time resident of Galle. The artifacts displayed there were also on sale but of course at exorbitant prices. The time passed in a jiffy while I satiated my curiosity of traditional craft of gem cutting and polishing, as well as the almost lost art of ‘beeralu lace’ embroidery, brought to Srilanka by the Portuguese.
Galle fort light house
While strolling around the fort, we spotted an old light house situated amidst modern stores and restaurants, towering over the city of Galle, Srilanka. It was indeed a perfect place to click some great panorama shots from a little distance. I wished to indulge in the view from the top but sadly climbing the light house is not allowed.
We spent most of our evening sitting on the promenade and observing locals do their thing on a Sunday. The youngsters flew the kites, couples took their private corners and seniors slowly walked through the promenade looking at the sea every few minutes. The sun got dissolved in the sea leaving the mesmerizing shades of hue for us to cherish for few more minutes. It was one of my favorite sunsets (yup, I have a huge thing for sunsets).
Sea Turtle Hatchery Center
This place really impressed me as it is a non-profit place which takes care of the injured turtles. The owner took the initiative of explaining the various species of the turtles and their behaviour. Her passion to rescue these turtles was evident in her conversation about these little species. We held the turtle in hands and played with them for a while. We could see baby turtles who were just hatched a day before.
Also read : A day in Colombo – Things to do
Cafes and Restaurants
Lucky Fort Restaurant
Having heard of similarities in food of Srilanka and South India, I wanted to experience the authentic local meal of the town. It was a little post lunch time when we headed to Lucky fort restaurant for a meal. The authentic meal comprises of curry and rice and here we relished 10 exotic varieties of curry and rice. The flavors resembled a lot to Indian curries but the spices and aroma were the differentiating factors. The exemplary and yet simple food at this restaurant won my heart.
Cafe Hula Hula
We spotted this small quirky cafe tucked on the side of the street. The outdoor sitting, the breeze on the face, the view of setting sun and the delicious food were the highlights of this not so fancy cafe.
A Minute by Tuk Tuk
This fine dine restaurant was a perfect place to go to on our dinner date. While checking out the fancy places for dinner, we stumbled upon this high-end restaurant overlooking the sea. The view , the service and the great food made that dinner night by far the most memorable one.
There’s so much more to South coast of Srilanka. Read Sri Lanka South Coast – where the sea sings its own song
The memories of the leisure walk through the Dutch styled streets with cozy cafes, restaurants and shops dotting the sides of the streets flash through while I write this post. Galle is a dream, a beautiful one!