The island of Sri Lanka looks like a palm – it is her Sri Lankans who use it as a map if it is not at hand. Holidays on the south coast of the island are one of the most popular, and there is a lot to see and do here. Let’s drive along the southern part of the “palm”.
I leave behind the noise of the capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo, and rush along the new highway to meet the ocean in the resort town of Wadduwa. There, among the palm grove right on the ocean, the wonderful Casa Blue Ripple villa is already waiting for me. Waking up in the morning, I observe life outside the window through the glass doors of the bedroom: the focus of my attention is a palm squirrel (lena – as they are called here) climbing up the trunk, an azure kingfisher swimming in our pool without a twinge of conscience, a white heron importantly striding on the grass … Hearing captures the crow’s noisy, incessant, already living inside you, the rustling of the ocean, the signal of a train passing somewhere nearby …
So, the snow-white two-storey villa Casa Blue Ripple. Four bedrooms, living room, swimming pool. Good for a friendly, and for a romantic or family vacation. A wide strip of snow-white beach framed by coconut palms. The staff will prepare for you at your request any dish in the best traditions of Sri Lankan cuisine. It offers a library and a game library, which guests with children will especially appreciate.
After spending a few days alone with the ocean, I move on towards Galle, an old colonial city whose ancient villas and fort keep memories of the heritage of the Portuguese and Dutch. This is a postcard city, the streets of which are sometimes slowly crossed by monitor lizards, and monkeys and peacocks sit on the spreading branches of centuries-old trees. A city where antique shops and luxury villas, cafes smelling of spices and ancient churches coexist comfortably. The best one and a half hour city tour is led by Juliet Kumbe, a charming Englishwoman, writer and owner of SriSerendipity publishing house. We met with her to discuss the publication of my book Along Adam’s Peak (there are several chapters about Sri Lanka at once). Juliet lives in Galle and has glorified Serendib (the ancient name of the island) to the whole world, having written more than one book about him. She saw Galle differently: “In some areas it is still a ghost town… There were times when I had nowhere to buy a dress… Now that has changed. It becomes like Saint Tropez…”
Galle can be walked around along the fortress walls and inspected in a couple of hours, but there is always a feeling that something has not been examined and it is always tempting to return here. In order to have this opportunity, I stay for the next three nights near the fort, in one of the most famous colonial hotels of the island – Closenberg, in the harbor of Halle. Its history dates back to 1860, when Captain Francis Bailey built a house on the island of Closenburg, and in 1889, leaving Halle, he sold it to his friend Simon, and since then the hotel has been owned by the Perer Abeywardene family. The hotel is so old that you involuntarily wonder: “Are there ghosts here?” “The only ghost here is me,” laughs hotel owner Kumar Abeyewardene as he continues to direct the staff to organize the next morning’s wedding. The hotel definitely has its own spirit and special atmosphere of the colonial past, which makes Closenberg attractive for both tourists and locals who often hold celebrations here. You can also just come here and spend the day by the pool, enjoying the cuisine of the Fernery restaurant with a large selection of local and Italian dishes.
The hotel has 20 colonial-style rooms. All overlooking the bay. There is also a bar and a modern infinity pool. And every day, having breakfast on the terrace of the restaurant, I watch how the waves diverge across the lagoon in a semicircle, to the delight of the surfers waiting for them (it is very convenient to learn surf in this bay, there are several schools on the shore. For example, I got on the board in just 1.5 hours). The hotel is located on a peninsula, and in the morning everyone here – from birds to surfers – looks towards the rising, and in the evenings – the setting sun.
Closenberg is a ship that is always striving to sail away to the horizon, but the anchor does not allow it. And so, after 3 days, I weigh anchor and set off on my next adventure – to Mirissa to watch the whales!
Blue whales, sperm whales and black dolphins can be seen in Sri Lankan waters. I was lucky to meet Evgeny Chernyadev, the Russian captain of the first Water Sprite II yacht in Sri Lanka by SailSriLanka. Therefore, my story of acquaintance with whales happened to be very comfortable. While crowds of tourists crowded onto other boats, our yacht was already rushing at full sail into the open ocean, and dolphins rushed to meet us. “These white-fronted dolphins never pay attention to anything, but just go about their business,” says Evgeny. – Of course, we will not see the whole whale – it is the size of 5 elephants! But we will see a fountain and part of the back, and if we’re lucky, the tail.”
“We also take guests to remote surf spots and just boat trips. We have 4 cabins on the yacht here: two – aft, double, and two – bow, triple, ”while Eugene paints the advantages of the yacht in this way, oh gods! … I suddenly see …
What you feel when suddenly a fountain of water catches your eye in the vast expanses of the ocean is beyond words. Sometimes, when the light is refracted, this fountain turns into a small rainbow, and then a part of the back with fins appears … you. Twice the whale surfaced and went under the water, the second time – about five meters from our yacht, but the tail never showed. But when the other boats turned to the shore, and we remained patiently waiting in the hope of still seeing the tail, he surfaced again and, rewarding us for our patience, waved his tail goodbye … As one of my acquaintances said: “Acquaintance with a whale always occurs their own choice.”
On the way back, while the crew is preparing a delicious seafood lunch in the galley, we are “blessed” to swim in the open ocean. Later, feasting on the deck of tiger prawns and cold white, I already dream of renting a yacht for a few days and sailing, for example, to the east. But that’s a completely different story…