Travel a little and see more…

Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else.” — Lawrence Block

So your planning a trip to India…you’ve got a bucket list…the Taj Mahal, Rishikesh, the backwaters of Kerala, Varanasi and so on. Wait…stop! India is a very BIG country. The map may say 100kms between your destination towns but that distance may take you three hours not one because…well…because it’s India. When you travel the roads you share it with buses, cars, bikes, trucks, motorbikes, auto-rickshaws, people walking, chickens, dogs, elephants and a myriad of other unexpected things.

My advice to people when travelling to India is to see a smaller area of India in more detail. If you rush around to all the destinations you want, you can tick them off your list but you will arrive home exhausted. If you stick to one state you may not see everything in India on your bucket list but you will get a much more special and relaxed view. India is a country where a special surprise is always waiting around the corner. I’d much rather a slice of Indian life than a huge slab of rushed temples and famous tourist sights.

Make sure you get to see more than just the big cities and towns. Some of my most precious Indian memories have been found in small villages and back roads. Take your time and you’ll get see a much more authentic and rich side to Indian life.

Getting around India can be a tricky exercise. Trains are fantastic…especially the small trains like the Nilgiri Mountain Railway. Buses give you an interesting but sometimes hair-raising experience. Autorickshaws are a quick, cheap and fast way to travel short distances.

However sometimes the places you want to visit are off the beaten track. That is when a driver/taxi is necessary. Even when not travelling to “hard to get to destinations” drivers allow you to travel when you want to. They allow you to feel relaxed as you know you will be greeted at the International airport by someone who is specifically there for you!

For the last 12 years I have been using the same tourist taxi company to travel in India ~ PRINCE TRAVELS. It is run by Rusi and Dinu Billimoria. Their motto “We love to serve” is demonstrated every time you get in the car. All their drivers are careful, safe and courteous. They are based in Bangalore and are experts at making your trip easy and stress-free. They can assist with hotels and all types of destinations. They have become like members of our family and they are the major contributing factor to ALL our perfect trips to India.

Rusi and Dinu can be contacted at:

rusdin@sify.com  or   rusidinu@gmail.com

“Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey.” — Fitzhugh Mullan

Hip Hotels ~ Tower House, Fort Cochin, India…

“We don’t let history become a bygone” is the mantra of the Neemrana group of hotels. That strong sense of history is resplendent in the beautiful Tower House at Fort Cochin. Padma and I stayed in this gorgeous hotel in … Continue reading

Lakshmi’s Indian Hotel picks ~ The Old Courtyard, Fort Cochin…

“Wherever I lay my hat that’s my home “…Marvin Gaye

I love the words to this song. Obviously when you travel you don’t want your hotel to be just like home otherwise you would never travel at all. However, when I travel, the hotels I stay in are my “home” for those few days. I don’t need the perfection of five-star hotels but I do look for certain things to make my stay perfect.

  • Cleanliness is top of the list. I don’t mind a little faded and jaded as long as it is clean.
  • Safe and secure.
  • Character is very important. I love staying at places with little details that catch the eye.
  • Location is the key to getting the most out of your stay.
  • Great staff are the icing on the cake that complete your stay.

If you are visiting Fort Cochin in Kerala, India The Old Courtyard ticks all these boxes. The character filled heritage building is located right in the heart of Fort Cochin in Princess Street (just around the corner from the Kashi Art Cafe). It’s rooms are light and airy and filled with quaint old antiques and crisp white bed-linen. My room overlooked the lovely lush courtyard and I could lie on my bed and watch squirrels chasing each other on the roof tops.

The tasty breakfast was included and the menu changed each day. The staff here were so friendly and chatty and were eager to help us with anything we needed.

After a few days at the perfect Old Courtyard Hotel I really was wishing it was my home…

Great ways to travel ~ the Indian ferry…

“We are the boat, we are the sea. I sail in you, you sail in me”…Lorre Wyatt

One of the fantastic ways to travel in Kerala is by ferry boat. This leisurely transport is the ideal way to see the sights and reach interesting points of interest in the Keralan backwaters.

On our last trip to Kerala Padma and I spent our 10 rupees and had a wonderful trip from Fort Cochin to Ernakulum. Not only was the trip relaxed and scenic but it allowed us to be a part of everyday life in India. I have always loved “people watching” and travelling on the ferry gives you a perfect opportunity to do this. One sight which really gave us a laugh was a sweet young man who was travelling with his bike. His brand of jeans really made us smile as you can see below.

Hunkster

“Hunkstar” has now entered our vocabulary and I love to call Rahul my Hunkstar! This is a perfect example of why I love India so much…the smallest sights can really delight your imagination and sense of humour.