Galle is the last stop of my trip to Sri Lanka. In the three weeks I spend there, I realize that this small country has a lot to offer. Historical cities and holy temples; lush nature and wild animals; beautiful landscapes, beaches and sea and, most importantly so, a welcoming and friendly people are all things that make me fall in love with Sri Lanka.
Come to think of it, many of my friends and colleagues have told me, before my departure, that they fell in love with Sri Lanka. After having traveled across the country, I can understand why: I have had a great time throughout my trip, and I would gladly stay longer. But I have just received a last minute invitation to visit the Maldives and in the space of two days I have to pack my bags and move on. Such is the life of a travel blogger.
Galle feels like the cherry on a delicious cake – much like that I eat to celebrate the birthday of my friend, Diana, who’s traveling with me. And we do so at a special location, one that not even in my wildest dreams I would have ever hoped for.
A Beautiful Colonial Town
Galle has always been an important town in the history of Ceylon. Right by the sea, in a strategic position, for a long period of time it is a famous commercial port for the exchange of spices and precious stones. Such important geographic location doesn’t go unnoticed, and from the 16th century the Portuguese first, then the Dutch and eventually the British control it, leaving their mark on the landscape.
Galle Fort is the visible mark left by the Dutch colonizers. Even the name, Galle, is thought to be due to the effort of the first invaders (the Portuguese) who, having arrived there at the end of the 16th century, heard the singing of a rooster and immediately made a connection with the Portuguese name of the animal, “galo.” Singhalese people, however, claim the origins of name of the city which, according to them, derives from the word “gala” – which means “rock.”
The best way to discover Galle and fully immerse oneself in its colonial atmosphere is by walking though the narrow alleys of the Old Town. It is packed with beautiful, crumbling buildings whose internal gardens are an explosion of colorful bouganvillea and jasmine flowers. Nowadays, many of these buildings have been refurbished and host beautiful boutiques, restaurants, small hotels and art galleries.
It’s an enticing city, completely different from the other ones I visit in Sri Lanka. It’s quite a nice change, actually. Up until now I have been impressed by Sri Lanka’s natural beauty, but the cities have somewhat disappointed me. The Old Town of Galle, on the other hand, is impressive, and well deserves to be enlisted among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
I conclude my wanderings with a walk along the walls that dominate the Indian Ocean, and stumble upon the Clock Tower and the Lighthouse which overlook the beach – where I spot a bunch of kids having fun jumping from the rocks. Finally, I seem to find the perfect spot to admire an incredible sunset. Come to think of it, this is the one and only sunset I get to see in Sri Lanka, since it’s been raining almost every day since I have arrived.
Villa Sepalika: A little Piece Of Heaven In Galle
Flipping through my Lonely Planet while on the bus, I come across a short section that mentions the existance of gorgeous villas for rent near Galle. I am intrigued, and decide to read more.
According to the author, in recent years a number of luxury villas have been built around Galle, and these are available for rent, inclusive of a butler and a chef. They are the kind of places where one may spend two or three days, hanging between a beautifully furnished room, a gorgeous living room, a lush garden and a lovely pool. In other words the perfect place to conclude a glorious but tiring journey.
I mention this to Diana and Matteo, her friend who has meantime joined our wanderings, and we all agree that we may want to celebrate Diana’s birthday in style and moments later we manage to find a whole villa to ourselves.
This is quite a change for us, considering that most of the time we think of ourselves as backpackers (though I am a rather unsuccessful backpacker). But the beauty of traveling in a country like Sri Lanka is that we don’t need to break the bank in order to treat ourselves to a special place.
That’s how we end up spending two incredible days at Villa Sepalika, a gorgeous villa at the outskirts of Galle, completely built following the colonial style.
The minute we enter the marvelous garden, we realize that we are in for a real treat. It is simply lush. The pool is larger than what it appears like in the pictures. The garden so big that we could easily play football in it, if we had a full team.
I drop my backpack to take a look at the 3 bedrooms. Each of them is carefully furnished, and furbished in a different color. Each has its own huge bathroom. I pick the purple room. Then I start wandering through the rest of the villa. The kitchen is cozy and so perfectly equipped that, were it not for the fact that there are a butler and a chef, I would dare to cook my own meals.
The dining room table is huge; there’s a whole library (have I ever mentioned that I am a book worm?) and a beautiful living room with the coziest of couches.
But we are in Sri Lanka: it’s so warm here that we spend the evening in the huge patio, enjoying the hammock, moving from one couch to the other, drinking our cocktails and eating the delicious guacamole Matteo prepares, then moving to the table to celebrate Diana’s birthday with a mouthwatering dinner.
It’s only the morning after, in the full light, that I get the full picture of how lucky I got this time. I spend the rest of the morning relaxing between the pool, the garden and the patio, reading a book, listening to music and enjoying the company of my friends.
I couldn’t have asked for a better way to conclude my trip to Sri Lanka.
Have you ever been to Galle? Did you know that you can enjoy a wonderful villa at a real steal there?
Legal Disclaimer: I was a guest of Villa Sepalika during my time in Galle. All the views and opinions expressed are my own and based on my personal experience.