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Published: September 20th 2017
Awoke to torrential rain. The plan for today was to take a van to a beach east of Marissa that McVet had found and had pretty good reviews. Alas the rain and wind suggested it was not an ideal beach day so over breakfast we decided to repurpose the van and go to Galle.
By way of background Galle is an historic trading city. The Portuguese oringanially built a small fort here in the 1500's which was then taken by the Dutch in the 1600's. The Dutch build the large fort,that still stands, and the city was the main port for Sri Lanka until the late 19th century. This fort area is now a attraction filled with various small stores, bars and cafes.
Galle was very badly hit by the 2004 Tsunami with the bus station being the original video most of us saw showing busses being washed away with people clinging on. The Matara to Colombo railway the goes via Galle was also hit by the tsunami with about 1700 killed when the train was washed off the tracks (we ride this in a couple of days so will elucidate further then).
So enough history, back to
Galle cricket ground.
Recognised as one of the most picturesque grounds in world cricket in 2010 it was the stadium that hosted the last match of arguably one of the best cricketer produced by Sri Lanka, Muttiah Muralitharan. Muralitharan needed eight wickets to reach the 800 mark. His first wicket of the match and 793rd casualty overall was Sachin Tendulkar. He then took a further four wickets in the first innings of that Test match. In the second innings, he took two wickets quickly, but had to bowl a long spell to finally get his 800th wicket, which was that of Pragyan Ojha, who was caught by Mahela Jayawardene at first slip.
the first problem of the day. The van arrived and we advised of the change in destination. Who would think it would be an issue given distance was similar and we anticipated being out for about the same amount of time. As usual with Asia though things always seem to take unexpected turns. The hotel guy, once he understood what we wanted rushed off on his phone and the van driver rushed back to his van where he also had a lengthy phone conversation. Perhaps they were talking to each other?! After a while it was resolved that what we wanted was ok. The van driver did a quick shoe change, he originally had jandals on,obviously expecting a beach excursion,and changed into boat shoes (without socks) more suited for a visit to the chic area of Galle.
Finally we departed. As is usuall the driver wanted to stop at various points of interest along the way whereas we really wanted to get to Galle, dismount and spend the day wandering and exploring. A happy compromise was reached where he would stop, I jump out ( was sitting by the door), take a couple of photos, jump back in and
tell him how marvellous it was. I started to feel a bit like Ritchie Benaud, all that was needed was the cream (or was it off-white, beige, ivory or bone?) sports coat .
Finally got to Galle and the fort walls and scenery from the top were spectacular as anticipated. You can walk around the top in a couple of hours but the heat was oppressive so we had a quick look, a couple of photos and then embarked on the self guided walking tour inside the walls.
Our first port of call was for a coffee. Stopping outside a small cafe where the owner was outside supervising a small man underseal his 1962 VW Beetle. Interesting as the guy doing the undersealing was covered from head to foot in thick black oil, despite the salty sea air he was never going to rust, the same couldn't be said about the car though. The owner proceeded to show me all over it with special mention of the wooden dash insert, 12v alternator (he'd left the old 6v there just in case?) and removal of the petrol reserve lever but retention of the original heating controls. The last was
the most curious given it was 35degC and presumably heating is of limited value here in Sri Lanka but retention in your old VW heating system seems to convey some specific bragging rights.
After this tour of his car how could we not stop for a coffee at his establishment? In we went, anticipating a nice coffee with perhaps a bit of cake. Cake there was but coffee, alas was Nescafé, so we upped stumps (perhaps a day for cricket) and moved down the road. Surprisingly the owner actually told us where to go for real coffee and appeared to sincerely wish us all the best. Either he is just a poor businessman, or I'd actually befriended him with the VW discussion or conceivably he know something we didn't. Transpired it was probably a bit of all three. Coffee down the road was good but no cake so Chris was dispatched back to the VW guy to buy cake for everyone, in the end everyone was a winner.
After coffee we a good walk around Galle and a few purchases (probably the first bit of semi serious shopping of the trip) we were ready for a bite of
lunch. We went to the heritage cafe which had good reviews, food was good but at the end the young waiter was overly keen for us to give him a favourable Trip Advisor review. Gave us his name and was adamant we needed to recommend him, so departed saying we would, something I've still to do!
Back to van and home again to Marissa. Despite the distance between Marissa and Galle being only 35km the drive took the better part of an hour. One of the things you notice here is despite the traffic being chaotic the speeds are generally quite slow, averaging 35km/hr is actually quite good.
Another good curry at a small guest house restaurant near our hotel to finish a great day.
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