Fort Kochi is an interesting place: when walking around its streets lined by European-style mansions, it is almost hard to remember that you are in India. Everything seems to be a bit more relaxed here than in the other parts of India we visited, and more traveller friendly. It clearly embraces its rich cultural heritage, following spells of control by the Portuguese, Dutch, and British. To a certain extent, the city reminds me of Cape Town in South Africa: while Fort Kochi is in some ways clearly Indian, and while Cape Town is in some ways clearly South African, there is something about these places which makes me feel comfortable here as a European...
We arrived in Fort Kochi on Saturday, after taking a train from Coimbatore to Ernakulam and a ferry from Ernakulam to Fort Kochi. After my previous rants about the difficulty of booking seats on Indian trains, it was a pleasant surprise to find that travelling by train still is pretty comfortable here, just like I found 3 years ago in northern India.
Since arriving here in Kochi, we have taken things easy. We spent a day visiting the backwaters (as described in my previous post)
and have made our way around the main historical sights that Kochi has to offer: the Santa Cruz Basilica and St Francis Church (made briefly famous by being the final resting place of Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, before his remains were taken to Portugal), the Mattancherry palace with its beautiful murals, Jew Town (one of the centres of the Kochi spice trade), and the Chinese fishing nets. We stayed in one of the many comfortable hotels and visited some of the many nice restaurants (with Kashi Art Cafe being our clear favourite). All in all, Fort Kochi is a nice place to chill out for a couple of days if the hustle and bustle of India starts getting to you!
From here, we will be taking an overnight train to Goa this evening, where we will stay for four nights, before taking a train to Mumbai, which will be the final destination of the Indian leg of our adventure. I'll keep you posted, if I can be bothered to leave the Goan beaches, that is!
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