Destination Sri Lanka- Galle Fort
Review by Anna Wilson who flew with her husband and two toddler daughters.
At the end of March, we headed on a family holiday to Sri Lanka. We wanted some guaranteed winter sun, with outdoor swimming everyday and villa accommodation. We decided to fly with Sri Lankan Airlines as they flew direct from Heathrow to Colombo, with an eleven hour flight, I did not fancy a long stop over with my one and three year olds.
I had been a bit dubious about flying with Sri Lankan Airlines after the reviews I found on line but I needn’t have worried. Right from check-in we were well looked after, having our seats changed so that we could make the most of the bassinet seats for the night time flight. The planes felt quite new and being in the bassinet area spacious too. Both girls were given special colouring packs on boarding and were well looked after.
The flight went without a hitch, on arrival we found the process very easy. I had organised our visas online before we travelled which was really easy, if you have forgotten to do it you can buy one on arrival at Colombo. We had been advised to go to the furthest desk for immigration as it is normally the shortest queue and sure enough it was. On passing through there is a very good duty free. So if you fancy a gin & tonic in the evening or a glass of wine this is a good place to stock up!
The airport at Colombo is quite small and calm so there are no great distances which makes it very easy to navigate with two toddlers running off in different directions. Once your bags are collected and you out into the main area there are plenty of money changers and an atm to get cash from. We had a minibus organised to collect us from the airport through our accommodation and within no time from being greeted were loaded up and on our way to Galle. All very easy.
Galle takes about two hours to reach from Colombo airport, on a mix of weaving through the outskirts of Colombo
roads and then a very smart motorway. The drive was a relaxing start to the holiday, slowly immersing the senses into a tropical landscape. We reached our Villa in late afternoon and were met by the team that ran it and provided with a much needed afternoon cup of Ceylon tea. Our Villa called the ‘Old Clove House’ was amazing which we booked through Air BnB or can be booked directly, if you want to read more about the Villa please take a look at my blog where I have written all about it on www.annawilsoninteriors.com/blog/oldclovehouse.
We stayed in Sri Lanka for a week and managed to fill our days with a variety of relaxing little day trips from our villa. If we wanted to move away from the gorgeous pool and do a bit of exploring we hopped in a tuk tuk which the kids loved and whizzed to various places which I will share with you below:
Elephants are quite hard to come by in the Galle area, unless of course you are travelling around Sri Lanka andcan either go to the Elephant Orphanage or Uda Walawe National Park but when you have promised a three year you are going to see elephants on your holiday, see elephants you must! Ten minutes north of Galle we met Lily the elephant at “Water for Elephants” based in Pittiwella on the Galle Road. We didn’t do the full ride through the jungle and help wash her but we did follow a couple that were doing this, we fed Lily bananas and then when my girls had plucked up the courage (and we paid a few extra rupees), we sat on Lily. I think this was highlight to my daughters trip!
Turtles are another must see around Galle. There are a couple of turtle hatcheries based right on the beach, where they will bring the eggs in off the beach to incubate and save them being dug by predators, namely man! Once hatch they will be released back to sea. If you come at the right time you could watch them all scurry back to the ocean. We were very fortunate to have an incredibly interesting newly graduated marine biologist tell us all about the turtles, their lives and the work of the hatchery. There were also larger turtles there that had been injured in some way and the hatchery was recuperating them to introduce them back to the sea.
Beach life near us was amazing. At Wijaya beach the sand is beautiful and clean and the water shallow enough making an amazing safe swimming zone for kids. The waves crash on the reef which is 20metres out, which keeps surfers out of this particular area. We saw lots of people snorkelling around the reef too so there must be lots to see. The beach bar on the beach is great for both cocktails and pizza and the views are to die for.
Bike rides are easily organised through “Idle Tours” www.idletours.com, they have child seats which fix onto the back of the bikes and a variety of length tours to go. We absolutely loved getting up early and riding through the paddy fields, past water buffalo and kingfishers, spotting monitor lizards the size of large crocodiles, stopping to drink fresh coconut
The food was so good at our Villa we didn’t really want to eat out but one night we ventured out to the KingFisher Restaurant on Unawatuna Bay. Our host had recommended it and didn’t fail. With a great cocktail bar almost Cafe del Mar style and restaurant with tables on the beach over looking the bay it was hard to go wrong.
Galle itself if a lovely little town. We made a few different outings here. Firstly to walk around the Forts wall while the sun was setting. Another for a shopping trip and another to come and have a more sophisticated in the the famous Amangalla, (an Aman Resort hotel) where we could kick back and enjoy colonial opulence at its best, for half an hour anyway before the kids decided they couldn’t be on best behaviour anymore. Do make sure you make an effort with what you wear if you want to come here, I did read in reviews that people might be turned away if they turn up in beachwear.
Sri Lanka was full of such friendly people and the pace of life felt so relaxed that we are already planning our next trip back, it is definitely child friendly, just don’t expect changing tables, highchairs and kids meals everywhere and you will love it too!
Anna is an interior designer based in Surrey. For more information on her work, do visit www.annawilsoninteriors.com
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