Galle Fort, Sri Lanka
I'd heard about Galle for years. It seems to be one of those places like Zanzibar, Fez or Penang that has a particular allure for foreigners looking for affordable and attractive residences they can buy and restore. The walled town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 and it's an atmospheric place to visit.
It's a multi cultural area and the history of the fort shows the important place of Sri Lanka at the crossroads of trade, empire and religion. The Portuguese, and then the Dutch, used Galle as a base for their colonial expansion and the town retains elements of multiple histories and communities. The Dutch Reform Church founded in 1640, a Buddhist Temple and the Meera Mosque from 1904 stand within the walls and are joined by a variety of other religious, secular and colonial buildings.Here is a typical street scene...
I love this tuk tuk outside an Art Deco property which was built in the 1930's for a wealthy gem merchant. It's now a hotel called Deco on Forty Four.
The confluence of trade route made Galle a place of cultural diversity and inclusion which is still evident today. We were invited for free ice cream at a Muslim youth event which was open to all and chatted to a local man on the street who had lived in England for many years. It's fun to visit because there are lots of tasteful galleries, shops, small restaurants, historical sites, interesting architecture, friendly people and attractive hotels. Here you can see some of the extensive renovations which are evident throughout town.
However, with all the ongoing renovations the question is are the locals being squeezed out of the Fort and will it be the same place afterwards?
I loved the street signs written beautifully in several languages.
As the sun sets crowds of tourists make their way to the old ramparts.
Transportation - I'd recommend visiting Galle, and with the new toll highway between here and Colombo it's a far quicker trip to and from the airport. From Galle we took an express bus to Colombo, got off at the first stop on the edge of town and then took a Kangaroo Cab taxi to the airport. We had arranged the cab in advance and they texted us to confirm which was very reassuring. Despite being dropping on a seemingly random street in the dark they found us without too much trouble! If you are looking to get from Galle to the airport and don't fancy an expensive transfer or multiple buses, this is a great option.