Wanderlust: Galle, Sri Lanka

Last week, I took you guys through the first half of our travels in Sri Lanka. However, we spent a large portion of our holiday in Galle. Galle is on the south western coastline of Sri Lanka. It has an interesting history, being first established by the Portuguese then taken over by the Dutch before the British having a turn. All these influences makes Galle an interesting place to explore. An important thing to note before visiting Sri Lanka is that it has two monsoon seasons. The south-western monsoon brings rain to the south-west of Sri Lanka between May and September, while the dry season in this region runs from December to March. In the north and eastern coastal regions of the country, the weather is influenced by the north-eastern monsoon, which brings wind and rain between October and January, and dryer weather between May and September. Since it was my husband’s birthday in June, we ended up being in Galle during its monsoon season. It was just our luck, that while we were there, there was no rain and the seas was calm! The only regret I have is not being able to whale watch off the coast of Merissa. This area is known for extremely frequent sightings of whales and not far off the coast is one of the world’s densest populations of Blue Whales as well as Bryde’s Whales, Sperm Whales and Finn Whales, not to mention Bottlenose, Spinner and Striped Dolphins. I will have to go back to see these magnificent mammals!

Galle|The Whisking Bowl

Galle|The Whisking Bowl

Galle|The Whisking Bowl

Galle|The Whisking Bowl

We woke up to these views everyday! You cannot tire of it! The azure water was so warm and welcoming! We stayed at The Fortress Resort in Koggala, which is a twenty-thirty minutes car ride from Galle City. It provided us the perfect peaceful backdrop without the crazy of the city. The service and everything about the resort was perfect! They gave us have the perfect birthday getaway.

Galle|The Whisking Bowl

Galle|The Whisking Bowl

Galle|The Whisking Bowl

Galle|The Whisking Bowl

We spent the first day at the resort, just hanging by the pool and beach side. The next day we went to the nearby beach called Unawatuna Beach. The water there is very calm and clear, and made for a great morning of swimming and sunbathing. Unawatuna is also known for plenty of offshore wreck and reef diving opportunities. There are a number of dive sites just 10-15 minutes boat trip from Unawatuna. If you are in the are for longer, another town close by with great sandy beaches is Weligama.

Galle|The Whisking Bowl

Galle|The Whisking Bowl

After our morning at Unawatuna Beach, we spent the rest of the day exploring Galle Fort which is a 17th century Dutch fort (and now a UNESCO World Heritage site). The fort has an assortment of municipal offices, places of worship (famously the Dutch Reform Church, museums, shops and old Dutch colonial homes. It is the walls of the fort that broke the wave of the tsunami tide which prevented damage to the fort. The cricket stadium next door was completely destroyed! The views from the vantage points of the fort are breathtaking! Inside, there is a lot to explore with a myriad of stores with merchants selling gems and jewelry and other vintage finds. Get a taste for local art at Hempel Galleries and take home 1950s travel posters from Stick No Bills. Most of the shopping can be found on Pedlar or Church Street. The street adjecent to the lighthouse also has some gem stores that I visited to get a good bargain on a Sapphire solitaire. The fort also has some famous hotels and restaurants. The Jetwing Lighthouse and the newly opened boutique hotel 41 Lighthouse Street, are two options if you would like to live in the fort and closer to Galle City.

 

Galle|The Whisking Bowl

Galle|The Whisking Bowl

Lighthouse

Galle|The Whisking Bowl

Museum, Galle Fort

Galle|The Whisking Bowl

Galle|The Whisking Bowl

Cricket Stadium, Galle

Galle|The Whisking Bowl

Galle|The Whisking Bowl

Galle|The Whisking Bowl

Galle|The Whisking Bowl

Banyan Tree at the Square at the Galle Fort

Galle|The Whisking Bowl

Dutch Reform Church

Galle|The Whisking Bowl

 

If you still have days left over, you could make a trip to another beach town called Hikkaduwa, or visit the Pinnawala elephant orphanage about half an hours drive away. Galle is also a good place to start your exploration of inland Sri Lanka where the tea plantations are at. Kandy is one of those famous cities to visit.

Even though its been a while since we visited Sri Lanka, the memories we made there have totally stayed with us. I am actually in the works of planning to go back there in the next month!

 

 

This entry was posted in Travel.

Wanderlust: Sri Lanka Part 1

When I started this series, I really wanted to take you all on a journey of the many places we have been to, even if they were a few years ago. Today, I’m sharing pictures of our trip to Sri Lanka. It was a surprise birthday getaway for my husband! I feel like a short getaway is such a perfect way to celebrate birthdays! Or maybe, its me finding reasons to travel!! 😉 I am totally planning getaways for our birthdays this year… any suggestions?

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

Image courtesy of the Galle Face Hotel

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

We went to Sri Lanka with not much research in hand and no idea of what to expect! Not only did we get blown away by some of the most beautiful beaches, but the friendliness and resilience of its people is something we took back home with us. After years of civil war and a tsunami that completely destroyed the  coastal areas of Sri Lanka, there is a spirit of growth and rebuilding.  Our first stop was Colombo, where we stayed at the Galle Face Hotel. It was the perfect selection since it eased us into Sri Lanka’s colonial history, but with a modern twist.  If you decide to stay there in the future, a tour of the museum is a must! It even has the carriage used for the British monarchy when they visited Colombo.

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

Image courtesy of the Galle Face Hotel

What to do in Colombo:

  • Wander around the famed Paradise Road, stop for a coffee at the Paradise Road Gallery Cafe, browse through the art gallery  and shop at the various stores on site! If you have time go to the other outlets of Paradise Roads for a larger assortment of goodies.
  • A meal at the Ministry of Crab is a must! Its where cricket and Sri Lanka’s fresh produce  come together!
  • Another iconic store is called Barefoot. It has a great Garden cafe and a store with local linen and fabrics, clothes and other interesting finds. The theme at Barefoot represents what is spontaneous and in touch with the earth. All goods are local and made by local artisans.
  • Try to get your hands on some amazing linen clothing by the brand Linen and Life. They have great quality dresses at great prices. The dress I’m wearing in the pictures in from them.
Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

Courtesy Barefoot Garden Cafe

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

After spending a day in Colombo, it was off to Galle. We chose to take the longer route that drove us by the coast and through the various resort towns that came in the way. I totally recommend renting a chauffeur driven car and getting around. Renting a car for a few days is quite economical in Sri Lanka. The bonus was having a tour guide with us the whole way through. I have to admit, he was quite eager to tell one too many stores about the destruction caused by the tsunami and making sure we did not miss a single road side scene that reminisced about the destruction caused by the tsunami. I will agree though, that the drive really shows the resilience of the Sri Lankans.

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

Sri Lanka is a country of diverse people and beliefs. Dotted along the stretch of the road connecting Colombo and Galle are a myriad of mosques, churches and temples.

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

An amazing colonial house built on an island, still standing strong after the tsunami.

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

People from Sri Lanka have a very close relation to the sea. It took from them, but they say it’s what provides for them also. It really speaks about the relationship of man with nature.

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

Some of the houses that were left standing bare after the tsunami

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

The Tsunami Monument

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

Another Tsunami Monument

 

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

Stilt Fishing (source unknown)

On our way to our resort, we stopped at a turtle hatchery in Bentota. It was a great way to see the work the locals are doing to save these endangered sea turtles.

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

Turtle Hatchery

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

The eggs are collected from the beach and are allowed to hatch. A few days after the turtles hatch, they are returned to the sea

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Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

This one put quite a dance for us, floats and flipping around the water!!

Colombo |The Whisking Bowl

My new albino turtle friend

 

The rest of the trip will have to be continued next week, because this post has gone too long! Stay tuned for our travels through Galle, with a list of what to do and what not to miss there.

This entry was posted in Travel.

Wanderlust: Sintra, Portugal

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Photo by World of Wanderlust

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

During our recent trip to Portugal, we made a day trip from Lisbon to Sintra, which is about an hours train or car ride from Lisbon. All my research about Lisbon made it clear that we had to make this day trip. So off we went, with little expectation of what Sintra had to offer. Five minutes into Sintra and it became the highlight of our trip! There is something magical about Sintra, no wonder its an UNESCO World-Heritage Site. Sintra is like the setting of a real life fairy tale. It has also been called the ‘Disneyland for grown-ups.’ A walk through the lush  greenery of Sintra, the magnificent palaces and pastel-hued residences  and the green mountain tops that are permanently submersed in fog transports you to the fairytales we grew up watching and envisioning!

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

We were lucky to get a sunny and clear day in Sintra. It made our walk around town and the unending green gardens of the palaces very pleasant! Coming from Dubai, all the greenery was a very welcome change! Its not hard to see why the Portuguese royalty made Sintra their summer home!

Sintra has four main palaces that you would like to visit when there. The Palacio Nacional de Sintra, Castelo dos Mouros (Moorish Castle),Palacio da Pena and Quinta da Regaleira. We visited the Quinta da Regaleira and Pena Palace. We had our tickets for the Moorish Castle, but we spent way too much time exploring the gardens of the two palaces and ran out of time! The historic town centre is definitely worth exploring as well with its maze of cobble-stoned lanes lined with quaint shops and cafes that snake their way up the hill.

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Photo by World of Wanderlust

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

First up was the Quinta da Regaleira. This palace is set amongst the most beautiful grounds full of hidden secrets. Fountains, waterfalls, water-lilied lakes, statues and secret passages, it has it all! The inside is also a treat with beautiful ceilings and painted tiled!

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Photo by Carrie from Wish Wish Wish

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Photo by Carrie from Wish Wish Wish

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Photo by Carrie from Wish Wish Wish

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

   Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

  Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

The second stop for the day was at the spectacular and famous Pena Palace.  Commissioned by King Ferdinand II in 1842 on the ruins of an old monastery as a romantic getaway, it is constructed on one of the highest peaks of the city, offering views as far as the eye can see. This vibrantly painted summer palace stands out and is in stark contrast to the lush green of the surrounding mountains. Inside the palace there are hints of moorish architecture too in form of courtyards and archways. The Pena Palace is also surrounded by a vast expanse of greenery, walkways, hidden lakes etc.

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Photo by Carrie from Wish Wish Wish

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl   Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Sintra |The Whisking Bowl

Photo by Carrie from Wish Wish Wish

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

 

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

Sintra|The Whisking Bowl

 

I hope you enjoyed all the pictures, even though I seem to have bombarded you with loads in this post. I just wanted to share how amazing Sintra was. I needs to be on your itinerary when you visit Lisbon!

This entry was posted in Travel.

Wanderlust Mondays: Lisboa, Portugal

I wanted to start something new and fun on the blog. I, for one am very excited about it. This is going to be a new series called ‘Wanderlust Mondays‘. Its going to be a travel related series where I share with you some of my travels and there maybe some surprise guest posts too from globetrotting friends. I feel like travel and the wanderlust for all that is beyond where I currently live is such an important part of who I am that I wanted to share it with you all too. I wanted to introduce you all to the many places I have been and places that I would like to go and things I would like to do. Also, what better way to start off the week than with some beautiful pictures of far away places to ease us into the work week…ermmm.. totally not procrastination though!

I would also love to hear from you all! Where all have you been? What is your favorite city? Which places are on top of your travel wishlist?

I have been posting some pictures on my Instagram  about our travels to Lisbon, or Lisboa like the locals call it. To say that the city was a love at first sight is an understatement. The colors of all the buildings, the laid back vibe of the city, the friendliness of its people totally add to its charm. For me the most iconic part of Lisbon has to be the architecture and the old world charm this city exudes. Every where you look there is a breathtaking building in a beautiful color and it seems that only Lisbon can pull off having such contrasting colored buildings be side to side.

Lisboa_The Whisking Bowl

Lisboa_The Whisking Bowl

Lisboa_The Whisking Bowl

Lisboa_The Whisking Bowl

Lisboa_The Whisking Bowl The best views of Lisbon are seen from the Santa Justa Lift. You can catch a glimpse of downtown Lisbon, the old quarters, the Saint George Castle, the 25 de Abril Bridge and the Christ the King statue ( a shrine overlooking the city of Lisbon).

Lisboa_The Whisking Bowl

Lisboa_The Whisking Bowl

Lisboa_The Whisking Bowl

Lisboa_The Whisking Bowl

Lisboa_The Whisking Bowl

Lisbon is famous for its trams, especially Tram 28 that goes through the Alfama district.

Lisboa_The Whisking Bowl

Lisboa_The Whisking Bowl

The Rua Augusta Arch and the Commerce Square were rebuilt to commemorate the city’s reconstruction after the 1755 earthquake.

The Rua Augusta Arch is a stone, triumphal arch-like, historical building and visitor attraction in Lisbon, Portugal, on Commerce Square, built to commemorate the city's reconstruction after the 1755 earthquake

Lisboa_The Whisking Bowl

Archways that led to the water.

Lisboa_The Whisking Bowl

Another iconic aspect of Lisbon is the Azulejo – a form of Portuguese painted, tin-glazed, ceramic tile work that have been produced there for five centuries. They are found all over the city in varying exquisite designs.

Lisboa_The Whisking Bowl  Lisboa_The Whisking Bowl

Lisboa_The Whisking Bowl

Lisboa_The Whisking Bowl Lisboa_The Whisking Bowl

Lastly, the PASTEIS DE BELEM. The egg tart pastry that Lisbon is word famous for…. and these little pieces of heaven do this honor justice. I have to recreate these at home and will share a recipe with you soon!

Lisboa_The Whisking Bowl

Lisboa_The Whisking Bowl

I hope you enjoyed this ride through Lisbon. Stay tuned for a city guide for Lisbon soon on the blog. Next up on Wanderlust Monday, our day trip to the UNESCO World Heritage site, Sintra in Portugal.

This entry was posted in Travel.