Trip Start Nov 01, 2012
17Trip End Nov 27, 2012
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Where I stayed
Park Avenue Hotel
As I noted previously, our hotel is right in the heart of things, about 200 to 300 metres from everywhere. We're surrounded by food shops, restaurants, sari shops, nicknack shops and all manner of interesting things. It really is a nice location. The hotel itself - "absolutely 100% refurbished" - is not quite absolutely 100% refurbished
That was a short break while I popped up to our room to use the facilities. Fortunately, Jane was "resting" and the facilities were vacant. But I'm back now so back to the story...
We settled in on Sunday and went for lunch and a walk to get the feel of things. We ended up by the Chinese Fishing nets in the afternoon where there was a large gathering of Indians milling around. They were all waiting the see the Celebrity Solstice leave the harbour so we did too. What an enormous ship
That evening, we ate at a pavement cafe. Jane had a fine piece of grilled fish, with more garlic on than there is in the whole of Albrighton, and I had a very dubious chicken byriani. We tried to obtain the "Kingfisher in a teapot" that we'd heard was par for the course in unlicensed restaurants but sadly that tradition seems to have been wiped out by the constabulary. Our waiter seemed intent on showing how his gym work had toned his upper body - which he sought to prove by giving me a head massage!?!?!?!?! - and the "greeter", who walked with a limp (and old knife injury perhaps) and wore a bandana over his dreadlocks, ingratiated himself with Jane by spitting vigorously into the gutter every time he crossed it
Monday morning 10.25am. We've been for brekkie - very nice - and I've popped into the local hypermarket (cornershop) for water when I'm ambushed by Nishad, who clearly wasn't going to let us escape. So by 10.30 we were off, our first experience of the tuk tuk. Oh, what fun. Thankfully, the first half of the tour was in quietish streets while we got used to the experience. It warmed up later in the day in the crowded "Jewtown". Nishad took us to churches, museums (closed on Mondays, Peter and Margot, like you told us!!!), temples, the laundry _ fascinating!, the spice factory, a synagogue, bazaars - oh so many bazaars and no doubt every one offering him a tablespoon of petrol for his bladeless lawnmower. And it was hot, very very hot. We'd said that we wanted to do all of Mattacherry and all of Fort Kochi which he said would be two hours for 150 rupees. By 1pm, we'd only done Mattacherry and we'd had enough so we demanded that he take us back to the Park Avenue. He did and he got 300 for his trouble. But then we needed to escape so we could find a Kingfisher. We almost, very almost, committed to "part two" the following day but managed to fight him off. Still, everywhere we walked, we saw him lurking in the trees waiting to offer us luxury travel to the next street corner.... At one stage in the afternoon we stopped to have a chat with him about him perhaps taking us to the local beach - about 25 kilometres up an adjacent island
In the afternoon, we went for a stroll and walked along the "promenade" - a fairly nice footpath along the filthy coastline which is littered with fishstores next to the Chinese nets and with souvenir stalls next to the fishstalls and then we headed back inland a touch to find two spots that had been pointed out to us on the morning tour. The first was a shop called Anokhi. Well, I've never seen a woman drool so much. Almost dribbling at the prospect she was.... I read the entire Kochi section of the LP while Jane perused, selected, tried and purchased! Then on the the "film set". It appeared to be in the yard of a local restaurant and there were Bollywood dancers and all giving it large! And swarms (well, a small swarm!) of people just standing watching, taking it in. Apparently the most famous Bollywood actor in India was there. Very famous, very handsome, (very old! - 60!) our lovely little lady receptionist tells me....
The evening was soon upon us (after a short afternoon break at the only acceptable bar we've found that serves cold Kingfisher) and we consulted Lonely Planet for somewhere to eat
And we were all done and stuffed well within an hour so I suggested we walk back along the promenade as opposed to going straight back to the hotel. Jane wasn't keen but agreed. I was confident. Until we came across the hordes of Indian guys "chilling" on the beach. But we got past them before the path descended into total darkness - with shadowy figures lurking in the bushes. But we got past them and were ok until the nice dog came up to us - and went after my right ankle. Only a surface wound though so no problems. Do you know, up to this point in time, I had never either been offered or been asked for marijuana! I have now - though I declined the offer whichever of the two it was with a polite "no thank you" and we walked on! And we were on the home straight then - until the rat we almost trod on just before we reached the Chinese nets. "Look, we're ok now", I said to Jane as we approached the fishstalls. Do you know, Fort Kochi goes to bed long before 9.30 pm! There wasn't a soul about and everything was in darkness. I'm not entirely convinced Jane will want to do that evening walk again!!!! (and I'm damned sure I don't!)
Anyway, that's up to date I think. We're clearly having a quiet day today. Off to the Backwaters tomorrow for a boat trip so hope to add something afterwards.