Galle Fort Revisited

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What I did

Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Friday, August 16, 2013


Ten years ago we were in Galle (2003) . I loved the place then and I loved it this time too.It was the Galle Fort that captivated me, the architecture, the streets, the quaint houses and the little shops and cafes that dotted the streets.Nothing much has changed . It will remain the same being a World Heritage sight .

Early morning we boarded the bus in front of our resort and headed on the traffic –snarled highway to Galle. Truthfully, the number of vehicles is not too many but the drivers drive at a neck-breaking speed unmindful of the comfort or discomfort of the passengers. I clung to my seat as the bus swerved from side to side while a group of young men were trying to figure out whether I was a Spanish, Italian or Puerto Rican.  29kms down south, we finally reached our destination paying just 30SL per person.

Shakheel, our tuk-tuk driver settled for 500SL to take us around Galle Fort for an hour to show us important landmarks with interesting details as add- ons. The Fort was originally built by the Portuguese but it reached its glory during the Dutch occupation. The buildings reflect the Dutch grandeur... the Dutch Reformed Church, the Lighthouse, the Magistrates Office. Shakheel told us that while the officers and rulers were Dutch at that time, the cooks, waiters, "khansamas" bearers were Sri Lankan Moors. This is why many of the small shops are still run by Muslims. A point to note was that most shops and private collections are closed from 12.30pm to 2pm on Fridays for prayers.  

There are many cafes and restaurants where you can have your lunch or sit down for a cup of coffee after a walk along the ramparts. Worthy of mention are the Pedlar's Inn café, Serendipity Arts Café, Crepe-ology Café. Or you can sit on the 1st floor of Rampart Hotel Café and watch the magnificent sunset. The Galle Fort is very touristy and you have visitors staying on for weeks at the various hotels around. Don’t buy curios from the hawkers along the ramparts. They don’t give you a better deal than the curio-shops and the quality at times is sub-standard. The shop “Bare-foot” merits a visit if you want to collect Sri Lankan handlooms, bath soaps, ceramics …… During my 2003 visit I had seen a number of women selling Beeralu lace /pillow lace   but now there were very few and far between. Shakheel our driver mentioned that it was not economically viable considering the number of hours put in. A skill introduced by the Dutch/Portuguese ladies, it presently flourishes only under Government patronage or under NGOs who are trying to keep the art alive .The view of the cricket grounds from the fort is awesome. And of course the India Ocean, a deep blue, makes you want to stay on.  Shakheel dropped us off at the light-house with a parting word of advice not to eat in the Galle Fort premises since it was very expensive!!!  “Go to the market and eat authentic Sinhalese food for half the price,” he said but we didn’t listen to his sane words and sat down at a breezy corner overlooking the sea.    

TREE TOP RESTAURANT...Hikkaduwa      

On the 16th August we celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary . At night we dined at the Tree Top restaurant . The name is definitely not self-explanatory cause it is not on top of a tree. But when you are on the 1st floor there is a notional feeling that it is .There are no walls and the foliage of the surrounding trees runs into the restaurant . There is a tree trunk which acts as one of the pillars. What did we eat ? Lobsters as the main course with chips and salad on the side followed by banana pancake and the beer flowed........ the lobsters were pricey .If you go for mackeral or seer you pay less. Our meal was approx. 55 USD ............. and it was worth every cent!!!!. 

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