A Day Trip Down South. Paramotoring and just pandering.
There are five of us in the vehicle- two adults in front, two adults in the back and one 7-month, 43-kg puppy in the rear. We are on a day trip to the southern coast and this is the puppy’s first out-of-town car trip. We are excited. He’s like bleh (a state of mind usually caused by boredom or an annoying situation that doesn’t really cause any heavy emotional reactions.)
Less than 30 minutes on the highway and we arrive on the outskirts of the Bentota beach, our first stop. At 9 o’clock in the morning, the air is cool and we are yet to feel the force of the sun. A small white canopy is set up on the beach for people who wait patiently for their turn. The long stretch of sun-kissed beach is relatively devoid of the usual lethargic and baking bodies.
This is my first attempt at paramotoring. According to some friends, this is the next best thing to flying. According to Google, paramotoring is taking off into the sky on a frame that combines a motor, propeller, harness and paraglider, which is the massive colorful wing-like contraption that keeps this machine in the air.
Manager and owner of Sky Club (Pvt) Ltd., Suren de Silva is on hand to buckle me up and fasten me to the seat attached to the frame. His ‘pilot’ Mangala buckles up behind me. A gently tug, and slight push and we take off. Weeeee….this is awesome!
In a couple of minutes, we have reached 500 feet above the ground and soar over the hotels below, skirting sea bathers and tourists squinting up at us. Mangala steers the paramotor and it gently dips over the azure blue sea below. The sights ahead and below along the 2-km ride are simply amazing and the feeling of flying is exhilarating. The 20-minute journey is over far too soon. We make a smooth landing on the beach.
Our next stop is Mirissa bay, because we want the puppy to feel the sand beneath his paws. We make our way to Zephyr, a little restaurant and guesthouse located on the fringes of the beach and settle ourselves under the shade of a coconut palm tree while the puppy explores cautiously. The crescent shaped Mirissa bay is teeming with people despite the heat of the day.
Apart from just lazing on the beach or sea bathing, Mirissa is also famous for whale watching, water sports, surfing, stilt fishermen and its breathtaking sunsets. We do not have time for any of these things today and after a quick ‘bite’ of some delicious seafood, we set off to Galle.
A 15-minute drive along the coast takes us to the historic and architecturally classic city. On a Sunday, Galle becomes a tourist hotspot as locals and foreigners visit to amble and admire this beautiful Fort.
The Galle Fort, built by the Dutch in 1663, was once popular as a port of call and safe harbor for navigators who arrived here for trading and exploration. Today, this historic city is crammed with boutique hotels, cafes, shops and museums.
With dog on leash, we wander the cobbled streets of the Galle Fort.
At Flag Rock, local vendors sell their spicy pickled fruit and plastic knickknacks. Families and friends have gathered to catch the wind and hopefully a glimpse of the local boys who leap from the edge of this steep precipice into the sea. During the Dutch period, a bastion at the Flag Rock signaled to approaching ships warning them of dangerous rocks.
The heavily fortified Main Gate, built by the British in 1873 was originally a moat during the Portuguese period. We walk to the Old Gate dating back to 1669 with its British coat of arms. Beyond that is the Zwart Bastion, built by the Portuguese and considered to be one of the oldest Fort bastions.
In search of food, we stumble across The Original Rocket Burger on Pedlars Street. Because most of these places are small and compact, dog was compelled to sit outside. Therefore, the staff most willingly set up a table and stools on the street where we sat and enjoyed a round of delicious burgers and fresh salads. We top that with a Pedlars Inn Gelato and call it a day.