Wow, that might be the longest travel series I’ve ever written! Five blog posts only about Sri Lanka, a country only the size of Ireland, yet starting to get some big recognition on travellers’ minds. Our trip ended as it started ie. on a high cultural note, in and around the atmospheric city of Galle. Our complete itinerary is here.
After a relaxing time at the beach, our last two days were packed with these visits:
We first headed to Geoffrey Bawa’s summer house, Lunuganga, just outside Bentota. I had never heard of this architect before but soon learnt about his influence the world over. He is known as one of the fathers of tropical modernism. His style is natural chic, and he was highly respectful of the environment, integrating nature in all his projects. Oh my…had I known that you could book a room at Lunuganga, I would have spent days lazying around, admiring the grounds and the interiors. I now secretly dream to go back without children, just a few books, and hide in the serenity of this magical place. We celebrated Amalya’s birthday in the restaurant of Geoffrey Bawa’s estate, with delicious homemade cooking, seating at one of the few tables overlooking the river.
I had booked a private tour ahead via the website of the trust. The lunch must also be pre-booked at least one day ahead. I regret that we did not have time to visit some of Geoffrey BAwa’s other properties in the country, he was an extremely prolific architect. Another trip, another time…
We then stopped at The Rainbow Center, near Bentota, which I had first heard of here. The Rainbow Center is a UK-based charity founded by an English woman who witnessed first hand the catastrophic tsunami in 2004. With much dedication, she managed to open a nursery and primary school in support of local children from highly impoverished backgrounds. Today, with the support of a highly-dedicated local team, the school looks after 100 children who are picked up early in the morning with the school bus and returned to their families at the end of the day.
Our impression was that it was very well run, lively and colourful, just as any good primary school in Western countries. Our children listened carefully as the staff explained how the school children of the Rainbow Center seldom have a bed to sleep at home, let alone a toothbrush. The school provides them with everything they can to study and look after themselves, often supplying clothes and toothbrushes as well as books and stationaries. Please donate any small or large amount here. Any amount will help the wonderful work that they do.
These photos are from the Facebook page of the Rainbow Center.
We finished it all with a night in the fortified city of Galle, located on the coast under Unesco-protection. Dutch, Portuguese, English and many more have passed here, together with pirates of course. It makes for fascinating stories. The city has undergone some significant changes in recent years, and there are hints of trendiness with some design boutiques opened here and there on Pedlar Street by English, French or Australian expats. Check out No 63 for fabrics and cushions by Lindsay Taylor of Tallentire House, and clothes and jewellery by MimimangoMany of the Dutch buildings have been restored. We joined the locals for a sunset stroll along the impressive ramparts and noticed how Galle Fort is still a real community with churches, mosques and schools.
Our last night was spent in the prettier than pretty Fort Bazaar Hotel in the heart of town. It only opened last year and artfully mixes contemporary designs with local crafts. The family suite was perfect for the five of us, spacious and gracious, as was the service. I loved the little library space perched above the courtyard, and the calming tones of greens all around punctuated with fabrics weaved locally. We did a bit (just a bit) of shopping in Galle, found party favours for Amalya’s friends back in London, and we finished it all with a romantic dinner five of us seated by the little pool of The Fort Printers restaurant.