Best we stay another night

Posted by on 17, Mar 2024 in 2024 - An Indian Winter, Asia, India, Tilly the Tandem

Best we stay another night
Varkala Cliff

The whole point of coming to Varkala was to walk along the cliff edge restaurants and ‘posh tat’ stalls and obviously we didn’t make it having got waylaid chatting in the restaurant the night before.  So when we woke up we booked another night at the other end of the town and had a very strenuous 4.7km ride to get there that thankfully we managed to break in to two with a stop for a iced chocolate coffee – yummy!

We checked in to our new hotel and adjourned to the pool.  We had a brief swim and another English couple turned up and we got chatting. When they asked what we were doing and we said we were on Tilly they immediately told us they’d seen us a few times on the trip already – in fact we’d seen them on a boat trip earlier on as we had cycled over a bridge that they were about to go under, so we had a wonderful time chatting with them, especially as Richard was a keen cyclist.

Courtesy of Richard & Julie © who had spotted us on the road before we met ..

We eventually dragged ourselves away and walked along the cliff edge.  The path literally follows the edge of the cliff with a sheer drop on one side and stalls, restaurants, hotels and ice cream stalls on the other.  Until COVID this was off limits to the locals and for westerners only, but now it’s open to all.

The path has fallen off the cliff in places and they just build a new one around the hole. Not disconcerting that at all!

We really enjoyed the north end, which was quiet and had a nice meal and drink at a restaurant where the couple from last night were also eating as well, but we didn’t like the southern end much – too lively and noisy. Old foagies…but we spent another lovely evening chatting to ex pats Dek and Debbie.

Varkala dudes !!

After our next stay in Kollum where we watched the fishermen pulling in their nets again and locals playing beach cricket we moved on the next day to Munroe island.

Sunday morning cricket match..

This quiet remote island is criscrossed with small canals and you can take sunset boat trips there.  If you can get to it.

In typical Indian fashion the ferries that connect the island are being replaced by bridges, but the ferries have been removed before the bridges are complete.

We had a plan to go to the railway bridge and walk over on that – lots of cyclists do this – but the police were guarding it so we looked helpless and the locals yelled at a guy on the island with a canoe to come and get us, which he did.  Turned out he’s the only remaining ferry. £1.

Tilly gets a boat trip…

Our sunset boat trip through the narrow waterways was fab and the waters were quite busy with all sorts of people enjoying the scenery and quite a few just enjoying their phones.

Leaving the island we couldn’t take the canoe as he only opened at noon. Very civilised if you ask me. So had to take a long detour to the northern road that supplies the island. Up  too early for breakfast, but aiming to miss the heat the ride involved lots of poor road surfaces and slow cycling so we arrived at our hotel well after 1pm and were drenched.

After a quick shower we adjourned to the bar, which had dark green walls, black carpet and black ceiling and had a few tiny lights bulbs dotted around that provided about as much light as a dead bicycle dynamo.  It’s very seedy drinking here! But, having drunk my weight in water and actually thinking at one stage I had a puncture as the water seemed to be dripping off me faster than I could drink it, we had the only beer everyone sells – Kingfisher and it was bloody lovely.

Eating here is very late for us, breakfast start at 7.30 and so do dinners. We like to eat early and get to bed so we can be away early, so we’re the only people in the restaurant for dinner and had a personally cooked meal from the chef as he had nothing else to do!  Very nice it was too. The food here continues to be fabulous.

Breakfast wasn’t so good, their toast is warm bread and you always have to send it back and ask for it to be burnt. But we got under way for yet another day of crawling along and getting constantly distracted by things we need to stop and see.

It’s a festival here at the moment and we bumped into an elephant doing house calls with a drumming band and priests. They’d visit every house and bless it and the elephant would get fed. It’s like trick or treat for elephants. No one tricks an elephant!

We were fortunate enough to meet an Indian who spoke excellent English and was kind enough to explain it all to us and we stopped for half an hour to watch as the elephant visits one of the many shrines set up for it.

All in a day on the road…..

Our ride was so scenic as we’ve now hit the backwaters and we found ourselves on roads only just wide enough for the bike and after a rickety ferry crossing weaved our way along the sides of huge paddy fields and past the famous Kerala houseboats as they cruised down the waters. We had plenty of walking Tilly and even cycled on a Hessian sack road. Never done that before. One of our bridges was out – nothing new there – and there was a metal plank to get across. All the workman working on the new bridge stopped and carried Tilly and our luggage over.  You can’t stop them, they just love helping you, it’s so nice.

But what do you do when you resurface a road and it’s the only road to somewhere?  You can’t close it and put a diversion up so we ended up not once, but twice having to push Tilly on a mix of the verge and the virgin hot tarmac to get past the road laying equipment. We were naturally covered in sticky tar and Tilly tyres were a bit of a mess. Hey ho.

As we neared Alappuzha, the Venice of India, and home to the houseboat trade we stopped for supplies and an ice cream and for about the 6th time this trip the ice cream place was shut.  We’re not having a lot of luck with ice cream parlours!  We’ve grown rather fond of cold coffee with a dollop of chocolate ice cream in. Yummy and no where near as sweet as anything else you have.

So we settled for a Walls ice cream on the bank of the river for the house boat moorings and got repeatedly touted for a cruise. The Indians are good at bartering and don’t pester you when you say no either. They happily say no problem and smile, it’s very nice.

We rolled up at our rather luxurious hotel – we are only coming this way once so splashed out on a lakeside 5 star hotel, in an elite room, with balcony and it’s still cheaper than a bargain price at Premier Inn.  We got a welcome drink and cake on arrival –  never had a cake on arrival before.  Tilly was escorted to a safe place and as is usual here our luggage was brought to our room which overlooked the pool, the beautiful gardens and the lake with the house boats cruising past. 

Drink, cake and welcome necklace

You get showed around by the staff when you arrive and have everything explained to you in your room too, when all you really want to do is get in the shower as we are hot, sticky and covered in grime!  But we have to smile sweetly at the poor receptionist whos having to show you the toilet roll and the fridge first.

But after a shower and a lounge in the pool we just thought what an amazing day that had been.  We say this so often to each other.

Obviously we booked another day and went out on a Shakira day boat with a decadent bed at the front to lounge on whilst cruising the waters. It sounds idyllic and it is great fun and relaxing but there are hundreds of enormous houseboats cruising the waters mixed in with power boats and Shakiras all being driven in a slightly more responsible manner than the road traffic but still looking like at any moment Titanic is about to be re-enacted. But our driver managed to dodge and weave and place us right in the middle of the lake for the sunset which was fab.

Tilly was due a clean and service so as we were back on the road in the morning, I  changed the brake pads, tighten everything up and buggered my back….🙈 

One Comment

  1. The day boat looks very relaxing !

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