Hey there, fellow travelers and wanderers! I'm absolutely thrilled to relive and share with you the incredible journey my partner and I embarked upon in the enchanting landscapes of Southern Sri Lanka. So, grab a cozy spot and prepare to dive into a week of adventure, relaxation, and a touch of workation magic.
Rekindling the Magic: A Journey Back in Time
As I cast my mind back, the memories of our honeymoon in December 2017 come rushing in. Sri Lanka had bewitched us with its allure, and we knew we'd be back someday. Fast forward to 2021, a year that had us cooped up in Singapore due to the pandemic. The travel itch had become almost unbearable, and as we made our way back to India in January 2022, we found ourselves with a planned week-long layover in none other than Sri Lanka.
Home Away From Home
Galle Fort, with its cobbled paths and the unmistakable scent of the sea, greeted us like an old friend. But this time, it was different. We weren't just passing through; we were here to stay for an entire week, from one Friday to the next. Our decision to turn this trip into a workation, rather than a traditional vacation, led us to book a room that dreams are made of – an ocean-facing oasis at Bartizan Hotel, nestled cozily within the historic Galle Fort. This gem of a room came complete with a private balcony and terrace, offering an uninterrupted panoramic view of the mesmerizing Indian Ocean. It was a place where we could seamlessly blend work and leisure, allowing the breathtaking ocean vista to weave its magic around us.
Whale Songs and Wildlife Wonders
The adventure truly kicked off on the Saturday with a thrilling private whale and dolphin watching escapade to Mirissa. Waking up at 4 am might not have been the most glamorous start, but the anticipation of what awaited us had our hearts racing. The journey from Galle to Mirissa covered over 35 kilometers, and by 6 am, we were already aboard a boat bound for a mesmerizing rendezvous with nature. We marveled at the grace of a Bryde's whale gliding alongside our vessel and even caught a glimpse of a distant blue whale. Playful dolphins and serene sea turtles joined the performance, painting a memory that will forever adorn the canvas of our minds.
Among Gentle Giants
Sunday welcomed us with an earlier start at 3 am, and this time, we headed to the captivating Udawalawe National Park. The 125-kilometer journey from Galle to Udawalawe was a long one, but as the clock struck 7 am, we found ourselves amidst raw, untamed beauty. Majestic elephants, basking crocodiles, grazing buffalos, and a symphony of birds orchestrated a captivating scene before our eyes. Now, I must confess, elephants have always held a special place in our hearts, and seeing these gentle giants in their natural habitat was a dream realized. We watched, humbled, as they went about their daily routines, a breathtaking spectacle that felt almost surreal.
Balancing Work, Exploration and Culinary Escapades
Weekdays took on a rhythm of their own – a harmonious blend of exploration and productivity. The sun-kissed cobblestone streets of Galle Fort invited us to uncover the stories hidden within its walls. Early mornings were dedicated to these historical treasures, while breakfasts at Bartizan indulged our senses with a sumptuous spread against the backdrop of the endless ocean.
The enchanting journey of our taste buds unfolded during our midday adventures in between work and meetings, where we embraced the very heart of Southern Sri Lanka's flavors. The fort's charming restaurants became portals to a world of authentic cuisine that delighted our palates and added a rich layer to our travel narrative.
Picture this: an intriguing lunch that transported us to the depths of culinary creativity. At Pedlar's Corner Cafe, our senses were treated to a symphony of tastes. We indulged in an ensemble of octopus and beef curry, the flavors intermingling with the delicate notes of coconut roti. As accompaniments, we sampled a pair of pineapple-based juices that danced with tropical vibrancy, invigorating our senses with each sip. And who could resist the sweet allure of ice cream from Glacee, a delightful finish that left us with smiles of contentment. An extraordinary encounter awaited us in the form of Seafood Curry Rice and Pasta Kottu Chicken from the famous Peddlers Inn Cafe, a delightful celebration of fusion cuisine that was unlike anything we'd experienced before. The journey reached its sweet crescendo with Gelato flavors of Roasted Almond & Cocco, a fitting tribute to culinary craftsmanship.
On yet another day, Pedlar's Inn Cafe beckoned us with an array of culinary delights. The robust richness of a beef steak met our appetites, complemented by the inviting allure of a roast beef sandwich. We savored every bite, savoring the flavors that showcased the café's dedication to culinary excellence. To quench our thirst, we turned to refreshing options – the juicy indulgence of watermelon juice and the invigorating fusion of lime and mint juice – each sip a moment of rejuvenation. A late lunch on a busy workday introduced us to the comforting charms of burgers and iced teas, courtesy of the Original Rocket Burger.
Our journey into the culinary tapestry of Pedlars Corner Cafe continued on another day, as we discovered a fusion of flavors that left an indelible mark on our palates. The café's seafood pizza became a must-try, harmonizing perfectly with the freshness of the island's juices. The culmination of our culinary exploration brought us to Elita Restaurant, where the freshest and finest seafood of Galle Fort awaited us, a fitting testament to the ocean's bounty. As we ventured through these flavorful escapades, we found ourselves immersed in the essence of Southern Sri Lanka's cuisine. Each bite and sip was an invitation to partake in the island's culinary heritage, a journey of tastes and textures that seamlessly intertwined with our exploration of this captivating land.
But it wasn't all about leisure; work sessions filled our days, and as the golden hues of the setting sun painted the Indian Ocean, our private balcony and terrace became a haven of tranquility. This seamless fusion of work and leisure was a true testament to the art of the workation.
As the sun dipped below the horizon, the day's tourists bid their farewells, the streets of Galle transformed into our personal playground once more. The historic fort, guarded by ancient walls and wrapped in an entrancing ambiance, beckoned us to embark on yet another thrilling escapade. Excitement would course through our veins, as we completed our work, la lively anticipation for the evening's culinary escapades that awaited us. Our senses tingled with the promise of flavors waiting to be savored at one of the many remarkable restaurants. This nightly ritual, far more than a mere meal, became the crescendo to our days, each filled with unceasing discovery and immeasurable joy.
Imagine a dinner that wasn't just a meal but a cultural immersion. Lucky Fort welcomed us to indulge in traditional home-cooked Sri Lankan curries, a sumptuous spread that spoke of generations of flavor mastery. With every bite, we tasted the authenticity of the island's culinary heritage, a connection forged through the art of food. Then there was Imals Restaurant, a haven of flavors that beckoned us with open arms. One evening, the aroma of puttu, calamari curry, and fried rice enveloped us, a trio of tastes that painted a portrait of Sri Lankan cuisine. As the night deepened, we relished the comfort of coconut milk tea, a soothing sip that whispered tales of tradition.
Imals Restaurant continued to captivate us with its variety, presenting kotthu and seafood fried noodles on another occasion. Each dish at Imals Restaurant was a symphony of flavors, a testament to the versatility of Sri Lankan cuisine. Yet, it wasn't just the food that charmed us; it was the hospitality that wrapped us in a warm embrace. This was a place where food and care intertwined, making every visit an unforgettable experience. The food was so delightful that we couldn't resist – we returned twice, a testimony to its lasting allure. Elita Restaurant emerged as our go-to destination for authentic Sri Lankan seafood curries, embodying the essence of the island's culinary artistry. Our taste buds reveled in the symphony of flavors, celebrating the sea's bounty in every bite. And, drawn by its magnetic charm, we returned for dinner, building upon the bond we had established during an earlier lunch.
To truly embrace the local scene, we turned to Cafe Hula Hula for a first dinner in Galle. Here, the tantalizing aroma of kotthu mingled with the invigorating zest of fresh juices. It was a vibrant introduction to the local culinary scene, a reflection of the bustling energy that defines Galle's atmosphere. We also gave a recently opened joint a try, and to our delight, we were met with a wonderful surprise. Our visit happened to coincide with the birthday of the manager. We found ourselves celebrating his special day with his family and the staff, enjoying a delightful cake that was as heartwarming as it was delicious.
In our quest to savor the essence of Galle, we couldn't resist grabbing a bite at the Fort Street Food Bus. This unique experience offered a taste of local flavors, a chance to indulge in quick and satisfying bites that mirrored the vibrant energy of the fort itself. And who could forget dessert? On select days, our sweet indulgence was the irresistible ice creams from Cafe 82, a treat that added a final touch of delight to our culinary adventures.
As we embarked on these nightly expeditions of taste, we wove ourselves into the fabric of Southern Sri Lanka's culinary legacy. Each dinner was an exploration of flavors, a journey through tradition, and an ode to the island's diverse food culture. It wasn't just about eating; it was about experiencing the heart and soul of a place through its flavors. And so, with hearts and palates satisfied, we bid adieu to the day, ready to embrace the enchantment of Southern Sri Lanka all over again on the morrow.
As we indulged in our culinary journey through Galle Fort, one aspect cast a shadow of disappointment – a missed opportunity that left us yearning for more. While the talented chefs at Bartizan Hotel showcased their expertise in the art of gastronomy, we couldn't help but feel a pang of sadness. The management's decision to restrict their culinary prowess to only breakfast, accompanied by a modest offering of tea, coffee, and cake in the evenings, felt like a missed chance to fully explore the depth of their talents. It was a reminder that even in the midst of remarkable experiences, there can be untapped potential waiting to be unleashed.
A Journey Wrapped in Culture and Farewell
Amidst our whirlwind of adventures, we found ourselves in Galle City for a mandatory COVID test before our journey back home. The tuk-tuk ride through vibrant streets was a gentle reminder of the local culture's vibrancy, a final immersion in the essence of Southern Sri Lanka.
An Enchanted Farewell
As the week drew to a close, a sense of nostalgia settled in, and Galle Fort began to feel like a cherished friend. Each cobblestone alleyway whispered tales of the past, and every passing moment held the warmth of familiarity. From the historical embrace of Galle Fort to the serene sanctuary of Bartizan, the majestic encounters with whales and elephants, and the flavors of the island's cuisine, every experience was a testament to the enchantment this land holds.
Until Our Paths Cross Again
As I pen down these words, I'm overwhelmed by gratitude for the experiences, the moments, and the memories that Southern Sri Lanka gifted us. To you, my dear readers, thank you for joining me on this virtual journey. As our paths diverge for now, I hope your own travels are as rich and fulfilling as the adventure that Southern Sri Lanka shared with us. Until we meet again on the road less traveled.