Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sri Lanka: Saving the Best for Last.

Our final excursion in Sri Lanka almost didn't happen.  The day started off with dark clouds, and as we headed out in the car for our hour long drive along the winding coastal road, the skies opened, and the rain began to pour down.  We drove for about twenty minutes before we had to pull over onto the side of the road, where we waited for the rain to let up and the road flooding to begin to drain.  After almost an hour, the rain finally lightened, and we had to decide whether to continue on, or return to the hotel.  After some lengthy debates, we decided to press forward and made our way to Galle.   

 We are so glad we did.
Monitor lizard.  He was a good 4 feet long.

Antique elephant

Fantastic pizza
While the modern city of Galle was significantly impacted by the tsunami of 2004, the old Dutch portion of the city sustained very little damage.  The Dutch built enormous walls around their little fort town, and an efficient drainage system beneath it.  These two facts meant that, almost 350 years after the fort was built, it was able to withstand forces of nature that decimated almost all of the surrounding coastline. 

The kids loved exploring the old walls of the fort, and particularly enjoyed terrifying themselves (and their mother) by leaning out over the walls and cliff to get a better look at the beaches and ocean far below. 

It was a bit windy.

About 100 years after the Dutch built the fort, the British took over.  This combination of Dutch and British history leaves this tiny pocket in Sri Lanka feeling a bit like some of the oldest streets in Manhattan (on a much smaller and more tropical scale.)  The same colonial flavor exists in both places.  After a week in Sri Lanka, the fort city of Galle was a quiet and comfortable breath of fresh air.  There were scores of good restaurants, fun little shops, safe streets to wander on, and clean bathrooms everywhere.  When you travel in Asia, a clean bathroom WITH toilet paper is a real find, and something you remember and appreciate for years to come. 

This historic church was converted into a mosque.

"Dutch" blue doors.  They reminded me of my mom.

 We ended our tour of Galle at Dairy King for a pretty wonderful treat.  Tucked into a front corner of the family home, is a teeny little shop that sells homemade ice cream.  The little kids splurged with sundaes, I got a mango ice cream, but Danny and M won the best flavors award with their orders of cinnamon ice cream and mint chocolate chip.  Both of these ice creams featured the amazing, fresh, local spices that are famous in Sri Lanka.  If you are ever in Galle, don't miss it!