Galle’s intriguing history is evident at each corner you turn on these dusty streets. First built by the Portuguese, and then taken over by the Dutch and again by the English, Galle’s past makes for an accumulation of fascinating art and culture. Glorious old buildings preserved within Galle town have been delicately restored into tiny boutique restaurants, hotels, and arts shops. Street vendors sell all kinds of intriguing foods. The hit of the various spices piled high act as a sensation overload with the smells and sights bombarding you. The spices on offer are top quality, especially the Ceylon Cinnamon; prized for its healing properties and flavour, securing a memento is a must. Haggling with the vendors over the price of your purchase is fun; vendors are justly proud of their product and enjoy the banter. Cooking with the cinnamon once home will be a transportation portal back, awakening you to the memories of those vibrant streets.
It’s hard to ignore the elephant in the room; the 17th century fort is what Galle is famed for. The easiest and most enjoyable way to explore is by foot, gaining a full sense of the surroundings. The walk is not strenuous and the sea breeze offers relief from the heat. There is an abundance of delights to reconnoitre, firstly the lighthouse, where young local couples sit and enjoy the afternoon sun, and the old spice warehouse, which has now been transformed into a maritime museum, offers historical insights. The old Anglian Church is a beautiful find along with the Dutch Church. Strolling the tiny streets in order to reach each destination offers up much distraction, the tiny shops selling trinkets and woodcarvings are an easy way to lose track of time.
Undoubtedly there will be a cricket match going on within the fort, cricket fanatic or not it is a delight to dangle your feet over the fort walls and observe the match; the passion is evident even from afar. As the odd cow wanders by you ponder just how many matches have been played on these grounds. Striking up a conversation with a local is easy at this point, the international language of cricket is fluently spoken in Sri Lanka and you can easily make a friend.
Once all sights have been soaked up, a beautiful spot for a sunset view over Galle is the Harbour Bar at the Lady Hill Hotel. After the sun finally dips away, a prized spot for an early evening tipple is Dick’s Bar. Soaking in the colonial ambience the arrack cocktail creations are a twist on old classics. Sitting in the quaint courtyard the British snacks make for a tasty alternative to local cuisine.
Unconventional Conventions will be visiting Sri Lanka 30 March 2015 – 7 April 2015