After spending a few cold and disappointing days in the highlands, me and Alessandro decided we needed a beach. A free, warm, sandy beach with clear blue sea water.
We picked Mirissa after some friends suggested it to us, and hopped on a 7 hours bus journey from Nuwara Eliya wasting pretty much the whole day, but still arriving in time for a last swim and sunset on the beach (as usual!).
Here we could finally enjoy a breath of fresh air away from the money grabbing everything of the other places, but only for a day as we soon moved to Galle on the second morning. Thank God Galle is only a one hour bus ride away from Mirissa, so we didn’t waste much time.
In Galle we stayed at the old Dutch Fort, a marvellous UNESCO site that is still functioning today, with plenty of shops, restaurants and hotels, but most of all jewelleries. As an European, I shouldn’t really be so surprised by it, but there is a fascination about this Fort that is very special – it reminded me of Pondicherry, but even nicer:
Founded in the 16th century by the Portuguese, Galle reached the height of its development in the 18th century, before the arrival of the British. It is the best example of a fortified city built by Europeans in South and South-East Asia, showing the interaction between European architectural styles and South Asian traditions. (Unesco)
As the other towns on the islands, also Galle Fort is overpriced, but for once I could see the reason why. We found a very nice room at No. 46 Lighthouse Street for Rs 2000 for a night, right at the heart of the fort and managed by a lovely lady. There are no signs that indicate the guest house, but you can find it right next to Deco Hotel.
Not wanting to spend much for dinner, as we had to keep our daily budget, we ate kottu at Hala Hala Cafe, a small restaurant right by the fort’s walls run by a super nice and friendly staff… And the kottu was amazing!
I would say a day is more than enough to see the fort and a bit of its surroundings (we also visited two temples outside); but if you need some time to relax and don’t mind much about spending a little more, then it is definitely the place where to stop.
For us however it was time to move north towards our final destination – the airport. So we decided to stop in Negombo and see what it has to offer: nothing, waste of a day.
It is now off season here so there is not much going on and the sights are limited to the fish market,
The Dutch Canal,
And the not-even-that-nice beach. Actually, not nice at all.
Our stay at the New Rani Inn made the stay in Negombo a little more pleasant, thankfully. It was also interesting to hear from Rodrigo Rani, the owner of the place, that her thoughts on the tourism situation in Sri Lanka are the same as mine. It is very unfortunate however that she will suffer out of this much more than I will…
Overall, Sri Lanka is a beautiful country. However, it seems to me that if it keeps growing as it is, and does not change a couple of its policies, it will become the Dubai of the Indian Ocean built by the Chinese.