A BIG Hello to everyone out there! It’s the first blog of the year and the excitement is palpable since it’s also the first Travel Special! The truth behind it being so late was a bout of flu which plagued me for almost two weeks. Hence, going forward, I have decided to not take my body for granted and prefer quality work over quantity.
Holiday season ushers in happiness, the joy of meeting friends, the excitement of exploring new places and of course, gorging on some good local cuisine. So, this New Years, we decided to make Fort Kochi our pit stop with a few of my Hubs’ close friends from his college days. It of course, was a big and lovely reunion for all of them and how they beautifully reminisced about their friendship and ‘those golden days’.
Fort Kochi is a coastal town in God’s Own Country – Kerala and carries a very visible imprint of Dutch, Portugese, and British cultures. The architecture of old buildings, the laid-back nature of people, the quaint cafés – everything suggests that it’s a beautiful and unique melting pot of more than one lifestyle.
We stayed in a luxury boutique hotel called Ayana. Its actually a 200 year old courthouse which was restored into a heritage resort with art deco influences and a lot of sophistication. Take a look:
I instantly fell in love with the black and white checkered floors, something you don’t get to see normally. Ayana’s library had so much character, quiet, and royalty to it that I could sit there for hours together…
We were lucky enough to stay in a place where all the beautiful cafes were at a stone throwaway distance – hence I came back with at least 4 kilos of ‘incremental’ weight on my body if not less!
The Brunton Boatyard was on everybody’s New Years eve list – they have a live band, lots of dancing and good liquor and amazing sea food that sets the ball rolling. A CGH Earth property, it was originally a shipyard in the British era which was later converted into a regal hotel. Hubs and I (along with the munchkins of course) went on an early morning walk towards the ferry station, discovering this exquisite hotel on the way. Think high, lofty ceilings, old, fashioned fans, colonial style pillars…you might have got the drift, but let the pictures do the talking –
And then there was this open courtyard facing the water front which took our hearts away…and by the way, it looks spectacular at night!
While we had the most delectable Appams and coconut stews almost everywhere we went, visiting the cafes in Fort Kochi were a high point during our trip – Kashi Art Cafe, Mocha Art Cafe, Pepper House Cafe were a few places where we had the most amazing food during the trip – and I am literally salivating even now when I think about that gorgeous hand-rolled melt-in-the-mouth spinach-ricotta ravioli, or the whiff of fresh home baked bread or that big scoop of the salted caramel sundae that took me straight to heaven! Oh! now I have to go there again!! Below are a few images from the Kashi and the Pepper House Cafes (wish I had taken a few pics of the food too!)
Fort Kochi has a number of spa and wellness centres too which are immensely popular among the foreigners. Sukhayus was one of them and I loved it for its openness, ambience, and good satvik meals.
And now comes my favourite part of the trip – SHOPPING! I had done my bit of research before coming to Fort Kochi and knew that Jew Town was at the heart of it and was thronged by local and foreigners alike. So, I set my eyes on a handful of stores (thanks to Google) where I had to satiate my decor desires.
First stop – Sheratone from where I bought a few beautifully hand painted cow heads. They had been for long on my to-buy list –
Even as I try to fit in these cow heads in my home, my six year old has already made up his mind to plant them on one of the walls in his room; still sometime before I put them on, here’s a glimpse nevertheless:
Next was a traditional Kerala rowing boat. I explored quite a few stores including Crafters, Ethnic Passage, and Heritage Arts, but ultimately settled for one from Krishna Handicrafts. The reason was that the boats elsewhere were too huge for me to carry and this store had exactly the size of boat I had in mind. I tugged it all the way from Kochi to Bangalore and then finally got it to Pune to my lovely MIL. You might have come across my Instagram post on that. Here are a couple of images…
More images from various antique stores in Fort Kochi…
If you look closely in the pictures above, you can see an ornamental orange wooden box. This is known as Nettur Petti. In Kerala, these boxes were traditionally used by women of royalty as well as temples to store their jewels. Handcrafted originally out of rich rosewood, with brass/bronze embellishments, these boxes are indigenous, beautiful, and speak volumes of an era gone. I had to get a small box for my home and after some deliberation, I settled for a bright red Nettur Petti; I still have to style it, but for now it sits pretty in my living room.
This trip to Fort Kochi has been very memorable from many aspects – One, experiencing a laid-back, slow lifestyle full of tranquility and contentment (living in fast paced metros makes us work like robots and hence this place was such a welcome change); Two, amazing, lip-smacking local cuisine and shopping (yes, apart from appams, one can also indulge in awesome continental fare and burn a big, round hole in their wallets buying brass, bronze and wooden artefacts, like moi); and Three, a heaven for those who love to deep dive into the history of a place, Fort Kochi has plenty of it! All it needs is time. On my next trip to this beautiful coastal city, I am going to be virtually on foot exploring the nooks and crannies of this charming town, taking in the aroma of homegrown spices, digging up the architectural history behind old, picturesque buildings, and of course, glutton in full glory, although only vegetarian food 🙂
I hope you all like my first Travel blog. Do let me know what you think in the comments below.
Have a great week ahead! Cheers…