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Published: January 20th 2015
We travelled on another manic local bus from just outside our hotel in Mirissa to the small settlement of Mihiripenna, a few miles outside the tourist town of Unawatuna. We had booked to stay two nights in a new villa which looked nice online. Once we got there we were stunned. It turned out that we were to be the first paying guests at the Pittaniya Villa.
Eric and Lisa, both from Ireland, had designed the place themselves and over the last year had overseen the construction of a little piece of heaven. It was wonderful with plenty of wow factor at every turn. The bedroom was light, airy and spacious, and showering under the stars with only the birds and monkeys to worry about was strangely liberating! The pool was fabulous and we had to check that we hadn't somehow missed a zero off the price. Even the guard dogs were cute and cuddly. Hopefully they have another side to their character if it was ever called upon.
Better still, if that's possible, were the breakfasts. One day we had the Sri Lankan option of string hoppers (thin layers of string vest-like rice noodles) which soaked up the lovely
daal and the most scrumptious potato curry in the world. Add to that fresh papaya, toast, and home made passion fruit, papaya and ginger jam and we were hooked. Our first coffee in nearly two weeks has us buzzing! The next day we settled for a bowl of fresh fruit with curd (thick set yogurt made from buffalo milk) and palm treacle. Once again coffee perked us up to start the day. The pineapple and pomegranate jam topped it all off nicely.
After settling in and chatting to our hosts, we set out to find the beach, accessed via the Wijaya restaurant.
We kicked off our flip flops and paddled in the Indian Ocean. The waves were still far too big to make swimming an option but they made for a dramatic view. We walked along as far as we could bemoaning only the fact that there were no fishermen on the wooden stilts which sit just metres from the shore. It was an idyllic location and we think we have truly found our personal bit of heaven on earth. We then ate fresh tuna and calamari at the restaurant before relaxing at the villa for the afternoon.
the evening we took a tuk tuk into Unawatuna where we discovered a rather negative side to Sri Lankan tourism in this part of the country - waiting! In one place we sat for an hour nursing a beer each waiting for our food only to discover that they finish one table's order before starting another and they hadn't even started ours. We paid for the beer and left only to face further disappointment in another place as we waited 20 minutes for someone to take our order before giving up. We finally settled elsewhere but still had to wait 50 minutes to be fed. It wasn't exactly busy but we had given up giving up! When it eventually arrived the food was very good, but there should be a bit more urgency in the kitchens.
We took a frantic local bus to Galle the next morning. It cost us just 20p to get there but inflation is rife and it cost 25p to make the reverse journey! The main reason for visiting was to explore the remnants of the Dutch, Portuguese and British colonial eras. We were mesmerised as we walked around, but the intense heat and humidity
made it difficult to do much more than simply look on. The occasional trip into an antique shop, free "museum" (often attached to a gem shop), souvenir shop, or a cafe provided welcome relief from the baking conditions outside.
We went into some of the old churches. One of them had headstones from the former Dutch cemetery embedded in the floor. We didn't visit the maritime museum but a large party of Sri Lankan sailors did, and they seemed to emerge out of the exit alarmingly quickly. Maybe it wasn't that interesting! For us the most rewarding part was walking along the Ocean front walls of the fort. The views both out to sea and into the old town were fabulous. The view over the Galle cricket ground had us both wondering if we might come back to watch a game one day. Neither of us are exactly fans of the game so the view must have been very special! We walked ourselves to the brink of exhaustion as we made out way to the former Dutch hospital, now a boutique shopping mall, where we refreshed ourselves with a beer and a very non-Sri Lankan lunch - burgers!!
After an afternoon on the shaded villa veranda, interspersed by the occasional dip in the pool, we spent the evening listening to the waves lap the shore at the Wijaya restaurant. Their pizzas from a hot log burning oven are rightly famous, and drinking ice cold beer with your feet dangling over the edge of the terrace was the perfect end to the evening.
The next day it was with a heavy heart that we said goodbye to our little luxury break. An air conditioned modern coach to Colombo awaited, and a few days with friends to finish off our holiday. It's hard to believe that we won't return to the Pittaniya Villa one day soon!!
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D MJ Binkley
Dave and Merry Jo Binkley