Back to relax a Marari beach resort for the afternoon to have an Ayurvedic massage, much needed after all the travelling!
The following day I went down to the beach at 7 nobody about except the local fishermen and a few dogs.
Today I go to a nearby resort called Coconut lagoon on lake Vembanad, this area is Known as the backwaters with the famous houseboats.
Visited Punnamada a large resort on the lake near Alleppey, one of the original resorts still good value and an excellent lime soda!
On the way I visited Nelpura homestay, getting there was an adventure, had to take A country boat along narrow canals clogged with water hyacinths.
Charming property very authentic and peaceful, perfect for someone wanting to see real Kerala.
Onto Coconut where I arrived by boat, such a great place, small cottages on the lakeside, lovely gardens interspersed with little canals and Vechur cows grazing, the bull was tethered outside my cottage, very docile!
Excellent Ayurvedic spa here, I went for several massages, the spa overlooks the paddy fields such a peaceful setting.
A two-night stay, and much needed rest overlooking the lake, so relaxing watching the life go by on the lake, local fishermen, houseboats packed with families enjoying the Onam holiday.
From here to Visamaya, located on a peninsula on the lake with only two rooms, what a fabulous property, I could have spent a week here, visited their new place across the water, just 5 cottages by the lake on a very spacious site due to be finished by December. I hope it is as good as Vismaya.
The next day I was driven into Cochin station to take the train up the coast to Northern Kerala, a 7-hour journey to Neeleshwar.
A drama my ticket was booked for next month, no one had noticed not even me, I was fined Rs 500 and had to buy a new ticket, luckily I had enough money or it would have been the guard’s van!
7-hour journey north to Neeleshwar on the coast, such an amazing beach about 10 miles long with only 3 properties so far.
Stayed first at Kanan beach, quite domestic and found all the black marble in the rooms rather depressing.
From here to the backwaters to stay on the Lotus a luxury houseboat overnight. Cruised along stopped at the coir factory, door mats in the making! This area is very unspoilt, so peaceful compared to the backwaters around Alleppey, but not as much to observe.
From here a short drive to Neeleshwar hermitage, one of my favourite hotels on the beach, lovely spacious cottages with open bath gardens. Mine had a view of the beach. Ate at the beachside fish restaurant, simple grilled fish and plain vegetables -heaven!
An excellent Ayurvedic spa, where I made the most of the massages.
The reason this area is so unspoilt is the difficulty in getting here, the nearest airport is three hours in Mangalore, or for me back on the train to Cochin.
A long day on the train spent gazing at the countryside listening to endless men shouting chai, cutlets, biryani, coffee, coffee, coffee, which is filthy, ready mixed with milk and sugar! Thank goodness I had my headphones listened to Ricky Gervais talking about his musical influences and growing up in Reading, we must have been to the same music shop in the Butts to buy our LP’s!
Sanal my driver was waiting at Ernakulam (Cochin) station with a porter, drove to fort Cochin, the city of Cochin is on 5 islands all linked by bridges, Fort Cochin being the most interesting with ancient spice warehouses and period houses, so much history here, rooted in the spice trade.
The harbour is a very busy port, with a large Naval base, container terminal and local fishing boats as well as the local ferries all shuttling across the water.
I attended the KTM (Kerala travel mart) a vast trade fair, held on Willingdon island, very busy with many stands, I didn’t discover anything new but it was good to catch up with Jose from Dewalokham and Victor and Ranjini from Amaryllis, also CGH who invited me to a party the following evening.
Staying at the Old Harbour hotel, lovely heritage property with a beatific garden and decent pool, the rooms are delightful, high ceilings and good art, apart from the painting in my bathroom -5 men wearing brightly coloured jumpers and no pants!
A day visiting hotels with Jerry, he has taken over from Jyothi as the man in Cochin, I think he will be a great asset to Daniel.
Really liked the new rooms at Malabar Trinity and the excellent cafe, perfect location by the cricket ground. This is where I stayed 6 years ago on my first hotel tour do Kerala!
Really liked Xandari harbour right on the water, a perfect boutique hotel for those not wanting heritage charm!
Managed to do some shopping, fab India has enlarged their shop in fort Cochin, but not much of interest, after so many years of visiting India.
Back for a relax and swim, lovely pool but the crows were busy stealing the food and using the pool as a giant birdbath!
They are so clever they dip the sugar cubes into the water to soften before eating!
Put on my silk shalwar kameez for the CGH party and took a tuk-tuk to Brunton. Two men in full Theyam dress were dancing at the entrance what a site!
Greeted by Johnny and Shelindran, who looked after me, the place was packed with travel agents, European women wearing very tight short skirts and drinking vast quantities of wine, bit of a shock after a month in India away from all that excess.
Lovely food served by the pool, shame about the band doing cover Beatles songs- killed “Hey Jude”!
At the dessert table, the chef had made a replica Brunton boatyard in Gingerbread, it was a masterpiece.
Left at 10, as an early start for Mumbai tomorrow.
Up at 5.30 the lovely Rajiv bought me tea and cut fruits, Sigi took me to the airport in a 7 seater tempo traveller, very spacious perfect for families on tour.
Indigo flight left on time, stunning views over the Ghats as we head north to Mumbai, this is my first visit for 35 years, I ended my 6 months backpacking trip here in 1981 at Victoria terminus, I think l am in for a surprise!
Met by Wasim, wet and cloudy day in Mumbai.
Swift transfer to the city over an amazing bridge, what a skyline, reminded me of Hong Kong. But such contrast between rich and poor, the slums about the runway, holding out against the airport authorities.
Saw 5 hotels including the Taj, taken to the suite room overlooking the gateway to India, my favourite was the Oberoi as rooms had huge windows overlooking the ocean and the city. Stayed at the Trident next door on the 33rd floor, premier ocean view room, lovely but felt very disconnected from the city up here.
Took a taxi into Chowpatty for a walk around, endless stalls selling tat.
Had early supper at the Leopold cafe, a famous Mumbai meeting place, has Chinese as sick of curry! Taxi back in the rain.
Could not sleep up at this height.
Wasim at the hotel at 09.30 swift journey to the airport, vast queues of ladies at the temple, today is the festival of Durga.
This has been a brilliant trip, but ready to go home after nearly a month.