God’s Own Country: Kerala |1| India

January 14, 2010 0 comment

A bit like you’ll see on Florida car plates, “the sunshine state”, well, in India, Kerala is called “God’s Own Country”.

While we’re on the subject, I read The God of Small Things when Arundhati Roy got the Booker prize in 1997, and it moved me like no other book. Perhaps it was the reason behind wanting to discover Kerala one day. That’s where the story takes place. Please run to your local book shop if you have not read it yet. It’s so incredibly beautiful and intense.

So we’re just back from South India with my husband, no kids, a treat of a trip for just the 2 of us. Some guilt feeling on the departure, for sure, but everyone wiped out the tears quite quickly and while the children were being spoiled by their grandparents, we were having some serious discovery time.

That said, Kerala is the perfect trip with teenagers. As a matter of fact, we kept on bumping into families with 2, 3, 4 children between 10 and 20 years old. While I’m glad we did not bring Amalya, Marcelo would have been perfectly happy. The food was never an issue. On the contrary, always delicious and spicy-customizable. Wherever we stayed, it was spotless clean. Yes, there were a few mosquitoes but malaria is not a concern there. We were able to travel comfortable without compromising authenticity. We stayed in a few homestays, we traveled by road quite a bit, and everything was so atmospheric, rich in experiences, that any child would have been eyes wide open as much as we were.

Sometimes words can’t speak, so I’ve decided to tell the trip with my photos, over a few successive blog posts. I’ll start on Monday with Kochi (aka Cochin). I can’t wait to show you!

Here is our itinerary over 12 days:

– Flight into Bangalore . 11hours from London with BA, plenty of international direct flights as it’s the IT capital of India and the newest airport in the country. Did you know that: When you call your bank customer service toll-free number, chances are, you are actually speaking to someone in Bangalore!

– Straight into Kochi with direct flight from Bangalore, Kingfisher airlines or Jet Airways.

– 3 nights in Kochi, plus an extra “forced day” due to the general strike. Stayed at Trinity House, an extension of Malabar House.

– 2 nights in a farm & coconut plantation, Phillip Kutty’s homestay, near Kumarakom. Fantastic experience, cottage by the river, living at the pace of backwater life.

– 1 night on a houseboat near Allepey, just the 2 of us and the small crew. Full moon for new years eve, we could not have asked for more.

– Fly to Mangalore from Kochi airport, and then a three hours drive south towards Kasaragod.

– 3 nights at Neeleshwar Hermitage, a real treat. Luxury but nothing ostentatious. One of the most unspoilt beaches we have ever since, picture-perfect. Sixteen cottages, calm and serenity, books, ayurvedic massages, yoga class etc

– After 5 hours drive, 1 night at Coorg School Estate, a coffee plantation. Another homestay with 6 rooms, in the state of Karnataka. A little piece of Eden. In the heart of the Coorg mountains, on the way back to Bangalore via Mysore the next day.

– Last night at the Taj West End in Bangalore, before catching our early flight back to London.

Ps: While I am not normally the type to use a travel agent, we did this time, for serious lack of free time before the departure. And I want to praise the work of Miranda at Original Travel, who did such a good job at selecting the places that exactly fitted our wishes. You pay a premium when using an agent, because there’s also the local agent to pay, but it was worth it to find those little gems.

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