Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Indian Ocean 2012

The conquest of Galle

  I had breakfast in Pepper restaurant as usual, then spent the rest of the morning relaxing and - sadly - packing. Unbelievably, my short stay at The Fortress was already approaching its conclusion. I checked out at 12 noon and was asked to complete a survey. My answers were overwhelmingly positive, the only criticism relating to the excruciatingly slow Internet access.  
ABOVE: Is this my best angle, do you think?     ABOVE: Lunchtime

Not surprisingly, I was first into the restaurant for lunch and enjoyed a nice pizza and a local Lion beer. The transfer to my next accommodation had been arranged for 1330. Less than half an hour later, I was passing through the historic entrance to Galle, probably the premier tourist destination in Sri Lanka. (The name is usually pronounced 'Gaul' in English, but GAL-leh or GAL-la in Sinhalese.)

When I arrived outside the Amangalla, a reception committee that included the hotel's general manager turned out to greet me. Once inside the building, I was further greeted by the visiting Vice President of Amanresorts, who gave me a guided tour of the property, including the wonderful library, and showed me to my room. This was clearly a top-class establishment. There had been nothing as vulgar as a Reception desk; it was one of those hotels that liked to make you think that you were a house guest. At some point in the process, I had also been introduced to the member of staff who had been allocated as my personal butler. While it wasn't the first time, I thought to myself: how cool is that?!

After taking a little while to settle into my new room, I decided it was time to get out and explore the historic Galle Fort on foot. The fort was originally built by the Portuguese, but then extensively modified by the Dutch, such that it is still sometimes known as the Dutch Fort. It juts out into the sea on a peninsula and the Amangalla is right in the middle of it. The whole area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and I was keen to get to know my new and prestigious surroundings. As I approached the lobby area, my butler appeared from nowhere bearing a map, a bottle of chilled water and a cloth bag to carry them in - excellent service, but perhaps just a tiny bit spooky, leaving me with the feeling that I was under observation.

I spent 1.5hrs walking around, first in the colourful little streets and then taking to the ramparts. Despite the breeze, I felt well in need of a shower by the time I returned.

My butler again spotted me as I arrived back and informed me that he had reserved a table for dinner. I tried to clarify what time this was for, but he said it was mine for the entire evening! Once I had freshened up and changed, I went back to the fabulous library to take some pictures and look at the exhibits. I then had a G&T in the stunning guest lounge before moving through to the dining room for dinner. Everything was fabulous and ever so civilised. There was no need to sign anything as crass as a bill: "Rest assured, Sir, it will all be taken care of and correctly posted!"

FAR LEFT: The Library 
LEFT: Lobby area / guest lounge 
RIGHT: Dining Room 

I had a short period of relaxation in my room before going to bed and enjoying the most amazingly comfortable night's sleep.

Thursday 31 May

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