Monday 4th December – Thursday 7th December: Galle

Galle is actually a fairly large city on the south coast of Sri Lanka, but the main reason to visit is for the UNESCO Heritage site of Galle Fort, an originally Portuguese, then Dutch fortification that was taken over by the British, and is now Sri Lankan, although apparently many of the properties are still owned by Dutch people.

Our hotel was the beautiful Fort Bazaar, a renovated 17th Century Townhouse turned boutique hotel with attached bistro ‘The Church Street Social’.

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Some more photographs of our beautiful hotel. Can’t recommend enough – stunning and sympathetic renovation, and utterly charming staff.

A walk around the walls of the fort was a good way to start the day:

Inside the fort area there seems to be a real mix going on; tourist-related businesses like hotels, cafes and restaurants alongside ordinary people just going about their daily lives – from mosques to Montessori schools. Surprisingly for a UNESCO site, particularly in such a pretty and sought after location, there were also a number of derelict buildings, possibly waiting for their original owners’ heirs to come and claim them.

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The famous Galle lighthouse.

Jump rock – apparently local kids will jump off for a few rupees. This seemed ill-advised given the proximity of the rocks and the amount of swell, so we declined that offer.

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…and of course the famous Galle cricket ground – destroyed in the tsunami but rebuilt:

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Picturesque Galle Cricket Ground.

Despite being a bit cloudy it was very hot and humid, so lots of stops for cold drinks required:

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Fresh lime soda

The next day we decided to hike to Unawatuna beach via breakfast at a recommended Beach Shack cafe on the surfers’ Bonavista beach:

Walking along Bonavista you can see traces of how built up it was before the 2004 tsunami:

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Pre-tsunami building line.

From the beach we joined the main road at the local fish market where Noah took more than a passing interest in what was on display, before a short and steep hike up a road through the jungle took us to the Japanese Peace Pagoda…

…and while enjoying a cool drink at a nearby shack and chatting to a local rickshaw driver we got directions to the ‘shortcut’ down to Unawatuna through the jungle. Only one small stream to ford (!) and very picturesque.

The following day we realised that breakfast was included in the room rate, so big thumbs up for the Church Street Social (hotel restaurant) and their spectacular eggs Benedict!

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Breakfast perfection

After a lazy day of postcard writing and enjoying the chilled ambience of our hotel it was time for another wander around the atmospheric streets of Galle Fort, finishing up at The Old Dutch Hospital¬†complex for dinner and drinks at ‘Starbeans’. Overlooking the sea, we could see the torches of fishermen looking in and under the rocks just off shore for lobsters and crabs. Speaking of crabs, the Black Pepper Crab was rather tasty:

On the way back to our hotel we stumbled across this gem – a new (ish) gelato-joint run by a local family, using mainly local ingredients. Recommend!

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The charming chaps at Isle of Gelato
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Passionfruit vs Lemon Cookie
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