Our initial plan was to spend 2 months in India, covering both North and South. However, our visas were granted for 1 month only which forced us to leave India at the end of 30 days in the country. Good thing so many travelers had suggested a visit to Sri Lanka, as it made for a convenient stop before our re-entry to Kerala, in South India.
We began our trip in Fort Cochin, a slow paced cute area protected by water. We had a wonderful hotel, Fort Abode, with 2 spacious rooms and pleasant service. The staff helped arrange additional places to visit in Kerala. We took a car to Munnar, which is the tea region of Kerala, with cooler temperatures and tea plantations covering the hills. We wanted to have a homestay experience and booked 2 rooms at the Rose Gardens Homestay. To our surprise and, considering there were so few hiccups during our previous 8 months of traveling, the Rose Gardens we booked was not the same one that we were dropped off in Munnar. Yep, same homestay name, but different town. The “new” Rose Gardens homestay was booked up and also a lot more expensive than the one we (thought) booked. Not a good start in Munnar…Our driver then took us to another homestay that we did not like and it was getting late with pouring rain. Everyone was exhausted from the winding drive and unfortunate accommodations but we finally found a hotel in town for the night; not great but 2 beds to rest and a good meal.
Munnar is cute and we enjoyed the Tea Museum despite the crowd of tourists. We also managed to reserve another homestay where we stayed for 2 nights with a nice family and cute 3-month old puppy that the kids loved. We ate all of our meals with them – delicious local food, very tasty, and home cooked!
From Munnar we went to Thekkady and stayed at the Beaumont Plantation Retreat. It was indeed a retreat, such a relaxing place that we certainly did not want to leave. Ironically, this stay was unexpected on our part and thanks to the staff at Fort Abode for putting it together. Between hikes, eating, sleeping and eating more, we did not do much other than enjoy the views and tranquility. Louisa and I had a culinary demonstration and learned how to make some of the yummy dishes we ate. The hotel was also on the boarder of Tamil Nadu state, with wonderful views.
Our next stop was Alleppey, where we stayed for 2 nights in a forgettable place – it was bad and it was cheap. We went to the beach but did not go in the ocean as there are strong currents. Nobody was swimming either and the beach was packed of fully dressed Indians – we were the only foreigners. After 2 days in Alleppey, we started our Backwaters trip in a Houseboat, which is one of the main attractions in Kerala. Our Houseboat was quite comfortable with 2 bedrooms and a nice living area where we lounged for hours just watching the beautiful scenery. The most amazing part was also the South India food that the staff cooked for us on the boat – plenty of delicious meals for the 4 of us. We wished we had stayed one more night!
Our trip was coming to an end and we headed back to the same place in Fort Cochin. Chris had these wonderful healing Ayurvedic massages during the 1st stay which really helped the tightness on his shoulder. Amazing how a good natural massage can heal your body. We had our Farewell dinner at a great Indian restaurant that we found while walking around Fort Cochin – “51”, at the Xandari Harbour Hotel.
On our last day in India we went to an Amusement Park – WonderLa – at the recommendation of our Australian friends. I will let the kids do a separate blog on WonderLa as it was a very unique experience for us to be in a “Disneyland” type of place with hundreds of Indians and the only foreigners being our family. We had to stop every 30min or so to take group pictures with the locals, so fun. We all loved our day, it was the perfect way to finish our stay in India.