Monday, 29 October 2012

Varkala

15th-23rd October

Another bus journey from Alleppey and we arrived in the beautiful Varkala. Based on a recommendation from a Dutch couple we met in Fort Cochin, we'd booked a few nights at a place called the Woodhouse at the north end of town.

We arrived to blank looks from the few staff that were loitering around reception. A quick phone call to the absent manager and we were shown to a room, not the one we'd booked but a sneaky upgrade. Mmmm... We insisted on changing, but after this shaky start, things didn't improve. In our new room, half the light bulbs were out, the sheets on the bed were stained and the advertised Wi-Fi wasn't turned on. All this was greeted by shrugs from the staff. After grabbing a bite to eat from the surprisingly good attached restaurant (pakora and Tibetan momos – Chinese dumplings basically), we headed south up the cliff to find ourselves some better accommodation.

Our new hotel, the Hill View was better in every way: better location, cheaper, cleaner and just better run. The views from the cliff were spectacular and there were loads of places to eat nearby, the pick of the bunch being the Coffee Temple for breakfast (porridge and cappuccino), Little Tibet (good, cheap Indian and Tibetan food) and Abba (not the band). The attached restaurant - Cafe Del Mar - was also pretty good.

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View south from the beach
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View south from the cliff
For the next week we did a whole lot of not very much. We sunbathed, we belly-surfed (braving the fierce undertow), we watched the sunset over beers, we ate pizza in our room with the football on the telly, we watched the sea eagles (and a mad French man) ride the updrafts over the cliffs, we read our Kindles and we relaxed.

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View north from the beach
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Looking south from the cliff (again)
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Karen's expert photo of a thermal-riding sea eagle
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Now this looks like fun!
It really is an idyllic location – there are other beaches in Kerala, but I can't imagine any being better than Varkala.

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Sunset over the Arabian Sea
Finally, it was time to leave. We rounded off our stay in Kerala with one night in another nice homestay (the Graceful Homestay) in the state capital, Trivandrum, a short train journey south of Varkala. Then it was off to the airport to fly north to Delhi and the Indian Grand Prix.

Current location: Delhi until tomorrow
Next stop: Agra

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