We flew on the 20th November 2016 to Cochin from Dubai and travelled the 1hr and 15minutes from the airport past the city of Cochin to Fort Kochi where we stayed at ‘Aroma Homestay’ a lovely house opposite St Anthony’s chapel which was a good landmark for the auto rickshaw drivers. Elizabeth (luckily her name wasn’t Mary) and Joseph were wonderful hosts and looked after us extemely well. We both got a nasty virus and I felt like a zombie for three days just getting out of bed for a bite to eat and retreating back to bed. I had a bad cough and our hosts treated me like family bringing me cups of honey, lemon and ginger tea
and grandmother’s remedy of chewing peppercorns with salt. It must have worked because on the fourth day I felt more like myself and less
like a zombie and we could venture out into Fort Kochi on foot.

It was an another of the colonial outposts first being taken over by the Dutch, then English and then the Portuguese. It has retained some of the Portuguese influence in their cooking but only a very few pieces of the original Portuguese fort remains in the basement of a small museum. Some of the old colonial buildings have been restored and some left to rot. There is an old Dutch cemetery which is locked and the old Governor’s house which is rather grand is now the Bishop’s house.

There are some handicraft and souvenir shops mainly run by Kashmiris and a couple of good boutiques like Fab India and Anokhi and many good small restaurants and a couple of cafes. There is a long concrete walkway running along the seashore where we could watch the fishermen lower and raise the old chinese fishing nets. There were many stalls selling souvenirs of all kinds along the way and plenty of fresh fish and seafood to chose from which could then be cooked for you while you waited.

We were surprised to find prices for rickshaws and meals much cheaper here in Ft Kochi than in Pondicherry with it’s large expat community in the French Heritage side of town. The fish in this area was also very fresh and very good with spices and lots of fresh coconut milk.

Our old friend Rohit Kumar whom we hadn’t seen for four years since the Ayurveda yoga villa where he was a yoga master came to visit us as he lived only a few minutes away so it was nice to catch up and share some meals later with him. A favourite was ‘Dal Roti’ a north Indian restaurant close to us.

Coincidentally we had a man from Perth with us at the homestay who was revisiting the place he lived when he was seven years old. Quite a trip down memory lane for him. There was also Alban a lovely French guy who was cabin crew for Emirates based in Dubai. We got on very well with him and had dinner at a local place where another Frenchman he met the previous day joined us. He showed us some magic tricks which he had been doing for 20years – he was very good. I think I was about ten years old the last time I saw a magic trick. The staff all thought it was fascinating too.

There are not too many attractions in Fort Cochin so we decided to see the other things that we had found online. One was the ginger warehouse where three poor women in a non ventilated room were covered in dust sorting the ginger and removing the sand in a room filled with ginger and waiting to be sorted and countless sacks of ginger ready for transporting all over India.
The other was an old palace (which didn’t really look like a palace) which had lost it’s tiled awnings years ago. It housed some interesting murals, many ornate palanquins and beautiful large paintings of all the previous inhabitants of the palace. There were workmen making some improvements to the building which was in great need of attention on the outside. The ornate wooden ceilings were impressive but no pictures were allowed. I managed to get one of the murals from a distance.

We ate twice at the north Indian ‘Dal Roti’ which served more varied dishes than the mostly coconut based curries and dishes of South India.
On the 25th November we caught a taxi from the homestay to Cochin airport and flew to Bangalore for the night. The flight from Cochin to Bangalore was only 45minutes but we were an hour late and our pick up was nowhere to be seen. Seems to be a common occurrence for us. After a couple of phone calls he arrived and as we had most of the day ahead of us we headed off to the city for a look around.
The former Sultan’s Palace was a very Tudor/Victorian affair and very ornate. A very elaborate and obviously expensive wedding was about to take place and there were extensive displays of orchids and all kids of other flowers. The groom in his gold suit and turban was already on the dais with his entourage. There were extensive displays of orchids and various other flowers to decorate the whole ground floor area. We drove on to the Indira Gandhi musical fountain park which was a peaceful, leafy place with many military vehicles, rockets and aircraft dotted about however the fountain was not in operation and we were told only operated at 7.30 and 8.30pm every day.
In every park there were ‘Trumpet’ trees with beautiful clusters of pink flowers. We drove through the interesting market stalls of Commercial road and by the enormous and interesting building of Russell market to the Lal Bagh Botanical gardens. A small temple on top of a gigantic granite rock on one side overlooked the city and the surrounding gardens. A staircase had been carved out of the rock half way up to the top.
A golf cart tour of the park for $2 took us around the large park complete with bandstand and it’s replica English Crystal Palace greenhouse built around the turn of the century.
Our driver then took us to the large ‘Mantri Mall’ and then in peak hour traffic to ‘A2B’,one of a good local restaurant chain serving good dosa and other Indian foods and sweets and then to our handy’Orange Suites’ hotel ten minutes from the airport. The hotel dropped us at the airport the next morning where we caught the volvo ‘Flybus’ to Mysore. We had taken this before and it is a very efficient four hour trip in airconditioned comfort with reclining seats.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.