Kerala – Part One – Fort Kochi

In the midst of February Mr Kelly and I jetted off on our honeymoon in a bid to escape the last few weeks of winter. We decided almost immediately to embrace the newly weds’ cliché and spend a week in the Maldives but we wanted to combine this with some sort of adventure and a dose of culture too.

The first suggestion everyone had was Sri Lanka but there was so much we wanted to do there that one week wouldn’t do it justice. When we started zooming out on the map we realised just how close the southern tip of India is to the Maldives. A week of curries, naan bread, tea plantations and houseboats sounded pretty perfect.

Unfortunately there are no direct flights to Kerala from London and so getting there is a complete nightmare. After a ten hour flight to the Maldives, a six hour stopover in Malé airport (and almost getting arrested, but no need to go into that…there were tears), a two hour flight to Cochin (be warned, Spice Jet is literally a transit van with propellors), and a two hour drive to Fort Kochi, arriving at Malabar House was like stepping into heaven. Perfumed flower garlands were placed around our necks and we sipped freshly squeezed watermelon juice whilst a lovely lady painted a gold bindi on our foreheads. After a quick bite to eat in the hotel restaurant, we passed out in our flower strewn bed and slept for a solid twelve hours.

We woke up to a very welcome thirty two degree heat and clear blue skies…

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Malabar House was okay but nothing special. Anyone who’s been to Kerala will know that, on the whole, luxury here is not really luxury at all. There are some exceptions but they are really hard to find (I’ll share a little gem with you in the next post). We’ve travelled all around the world and Kerala is the first place I’ve really struggled to find any hotels I like, regardless of whether you’re willing to push the boat out or not. Five-star in Kerala is having a clean bathroom, toilet paper and air conditioning. Luckily we knew this before we arrived and it didn’t bother us one bit, the place itself more than makes up for it.

Having emerged from our travel comma and revived by a feast of freshly baked dosas we were ready to explore Fort Kochi, the beautiful colonial harbour town on the west coast of India, about half way down Kerala.

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We decided to just step out of the hotel, get lost and happily wander the streets aimlessly. Passing a locals cricket game with a shrewd umpire…

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The first thing that struck us about Kerala was the colour. Living in London, it can almost feel like you’re colourblind but every tiny corner of India is bursting with life. Jewel coloured houses, palm trees for days and saris in every colour of the rainbow. It’s not hard to see why people fall for this country…

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Especially with little barefoot cuties like these playing in the streets…

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Perched on the coast, the must see sight in Fort Kochi is the Chinese fishing nets…

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These huge contraptions have lined the coast here since 1400 AD. Operated from the shore, the nets are held in place by bamboo and teak poles which are lowered up and down by a team of around six fishermen.

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The nets are dunked down for around five minutes before being hauled back up with a very modest bounty. You could watch them for hours…

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It looks like pretty back breaking work for a small result but with the fish markets right behind them, it’s pretty easy to flog their stock…

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As tempting as it was, we decided to skip a “fresh” fish lunch…

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An utterly charming place packed with beaming locals and amazing food. Definitely one to go on your travel list as long as you’re willing to tone down your thread count and designer bathroom demands…

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London-based foodie with a shopping addiction, a love for swanky interiors and an obsession with white sandy beaches.

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