After arriving in Sri Lanka my first stop was Galle! (Pronounced gall … as in gall bladder). After researching the train times and routes I accidentally didn’t bother and shared a nice air conditioned taxi all the way there from Colombo with my friend George, who had just arrived too! Not quite the authentic Sri Lankan experience we were planning to kick off with but there’s plenty of time for that!
I booked a nice BnB called New Old Dutch House. Located on Middle Street which is literally in the middle of Galle Fort, so it was in a great spot right by the clock tower!
History lesson’s with Helen:
Here’s a speedy history of Galle Fort so you know what the fuss is all about. Galle is the cultural capital of the southern coast of Sri Lanka and is one of eight UNESCO sites here. The Fort was built by the Portuguese in 1588 and is still standing today, despite taking a whack from the tsunami on Boxing Day in 2004. The damage done then has been restored and it’s a beautiful place to explore and watch the sunset.
Galle was a massively important port for trading, importing things from Greece, Arabia and China which were the biggest trading players at that time. The Portuguese built the Fort there as they landed in Galle when they first arrived in Sri Lanka. Although it was built by the Portuguese it was taken over by the Dutch and this really comes off in a lot of the buildings within the Fort. They’re very much in the Dutch Colonial style, essentially they’re pretty with symmetrical sloped roofs.
What to do in Galle:
If I’m honest, a day trip is enough in Galle, its cute and quaint with lots of little shops to explore and buildings to photograph but its bloody hot! The Fort walls keep the breeze out so you’ll be a sweaty Betty, and you need to keep those knees and shoulders covered … so you’ll really be a sweaty Betty!
I found cute little jewellery shops, fancy boutiques with clothes I couldn’t afford to touch, cheaper touristy shops selling those bloody hippy pants covered in elephants and little wooden bowls that you think are a good idea at the time, but actually its just a wooden bowl you’ll live to resent because it’s been taking up space in your backpack until you get home!
I also found an amazing art gallery of poster prints on Pedlar Street called Stick No Bills, which being the impulsive shopper I am, I fell in love with one huge neon pink and turquoise surf poster and bought it for £13, and then spent a shit load more sending it back home to my dads house but more on that later!
If you like a cheeky religious building Galle Fort can certainly meet your needs, I stumbled across an Anglican Church, a Buddhist Temple and a huge and very impressive Dutch Reformed Church all within minutes of each other!
There’s a pretty lighthouse to get some photos of, and for fans of the cricket you can see the stadium which apparently is pretty cool if you’re into that kind of thing. I’m not. Cricket sucks, but each to their own! Sunset was beautiful from up on the fort walls and so definitely worth heading there for a look!
Also on Pedlar Street was the cafe from heaven, Calorie Counter. It proudly calls itself ‘the first and only fully fledged health restaurant chain in Sri Lanka’. The menu was huge and everything looked amazing, I ordered a salad and extra chicken which in the UK would mean a few shreds of chicken plonked on the top … not here though! I ended up with a whopping salad and a giant chicken breast on the side. Oops!
Another major plus point was the music in Calorie Counter, first up was Bananarama’s Cruel Summer, closely followed by the ultimate classic … Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini! If I didn’t know better I’d have thought my friend Ian had followed me there and was in charge of the play listing that day.
Other places we ate were Fortaleza, which Lonely Planet listed as one of the best meals you will eat in your life, so we thought it was best to check it out. We had a delicious veggie mezze to start and then teriyaki chicken and rice next. It was good, but I wouldn’t say it changed my life!
The following night we ate in the Pedlars Inn, there was a really pretty area out the back of the restaurant which is off the Main Street so walk straight through and you’ll see it! I had a tuna steak with salad and it was the biggest portion I have ever seen, this is the place my new habit of offending chefs by not eating everything on my plate began! Over here it seems if you don’t eat enough the chef will come out himself to ask what was wrong … awks! And they never believe you when you say nothing was wrong it was just too much food. Everyone who has ever travelled with me will know I basically end up leaving half of every portion I get so it really isn’t personal to the chefs!
Generally you can’t over here! It isn’t a big drinking culture and most places don’t have their liquor license which is good in a way, saves you from yourself.
Where else to go:
We had a second day in Galle which we certainly didn’t need, so we jumped in a tuk tuk and headed to Jungle Beach which was about 20 minutes away. You had to walk down a little messy and sort of steep path to get there but it wasn’t hard and it was well worth it. The sky was blue, the sea was warm and clean and there were some handy sun loungers out in the sand. We basically parked up here for the day drinking banana milkshakes and turning ourselves pink.
There were so many monkeys on Jungle Beach, and not the scary and mentally unstable ones like in Thailand and Bali, these were lovely little friendly ones. Climbing the trees for coconuts and eating berries, generally just minding their own business!
So there you have it, things to see, do, eat and drink in Galle, Sri Lanka!
Now get me to the damn beach!