This morning we signed up for whale watching in Marissa. So we got our breakfast packed up to go and headed out to the boat. However it was raining and the seas were really rough, so we had to cancel, which was sad because the whale watchers had seen a bunch of blue whales in the area.
So we headed back to the hotel to wait for a decent hour to leave to go to Galle. We were so excited to see Galle. We had seen it on the TV show “The Amazing Race” and wanted to see it in real life. This city was known for its pole fishermen and old forts. We drove by the pole fishermen without stopping, since they are definitely a tourist trap. Its sad, they only fish now on poles for the tourists. They literally will only climb out onto the poles when someone pays them too.
The drive to Galle was really pretty. The rain had stopped and the sky was perfect blue. The fisherman boats were all tied at the shore. The fishermen were all selling their fish at markets that lined the road.
Coming into Galle we passed Taprobane Island. Taprobane Island was originally built in the 1920’s by the romantically named but self styled Count de Mauny-Talvande. The island with its neo palladian mansion has played host to kings, queens, presidents, prime ministers, aristocracy, writers and eccentrics, giving it a very colorful history, which guests can now share. The Island comprises 2 ½ acres of sheer tropical fantasy with nothing between it and the South Pole. You can rent the island as a vacation property, for $1000 a night.
Then we were in Galle. We headed straight to the old Galle fort. It was built first in 1588 by the Portuguese, then extensively fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century from 1649 onwards. I always love going through the gates of old forts. Its like going back in time as you travel through the thick walls. In this case the road still goes though the old gates, so our driver was able to drive us into the fort. It was becoming a hot day. Our driver was not happy to wander around out of the comfort of the air conditioning. But he was a good sport and allowed us to wander the rampart and three bastions. They were mostly moss covered structures that had great look outs to the seas and the city of Galle.
The Fort really resembles a small laid out walled town, with a rectangular grid pattern of streets full of houses in old Dutch colonial style. The fort area also has a number of historic churches, mosques, commercial and government buildings. Our guide said that half of the buildings in the fort are used for the government, the other half are for tourism. When we were driving to the “sea” side of the fort, we passed a just married couple getting their wedding photos taken, so clearly the fort is used for that too.
On the sea side of the fort we were able to climb the walls and take in the breeze. Looking north we could see the old Meera Mosque, and looking west we saw the old cannon used to be. There were a few vendors trying to sell snacks and bracelets to the tourists, but nothing over the top. And once you said no, they would not bother you.
Next we drove to the turtle farm. I was really hoping to be up close and able to hold a sea turtle. The sea turtle farm we went to was more about the education of tourists to the problems of sea turtles. The majority of the sea turtles that they had they bought from egg poachers and then hatched. Once they were hatched they would allow them to stay on the farm for 3 days then release them into the wild.
So we were not allowed to hold any turtles. They were all supposed to stay in the water with no human interference. I did find that the turtles would make a game though of chasing me around the pool, and poking up to see me. It was probably coincidence.
After the turtles, our guide dropped us off at our hotel, where we got lunch then played in the pool all day.