This one felt far from our comfort zone, but it didn’t need to be. While India can be an overwhelming experience, we laugh that Kochin is ‘India light.’ Yes, you will see plenty of cows and coats and garbage, but with much less traffic and pollution.
We came to Kochin for my birthday-alone-for just a couple days. This was our first trip without kids, so I was excited and nervous all at the time same time.
We decided to stay at Le Merdian which was a good choice. It was a really nice clean hotel with friendly staff and an excellent breakfast. The grounds overlooked the river which was beautiful with palm trees as far as you can see. Location was so-so, but it didn’t seem like there was any specific play to stay so it was fine.
While our plan was to avoid all local food and water (we didn’t want to get sick given our short time frame and the risk of getting stuck without kids) we compromised on hotel food, but no other food. We took a long leisurely breakfast with an amazing staff who made helpful suggestions and encouraged us to try as much of the local fare as we could handle. It was super interesting and fun!
With full tummies, we headed out to town to a museum we had read rave reviews about. The Kerala Folklore Museum is located on a side street in an old house. It is jammed (literally) with artifacts dating hundreds and thousands of years old. The guides are extremely helpful and I loved visiting the place. It’s a few levels up and you can spend as long or short as you want here. We spent about 1.5 hours enjoying the artifacts and then headed out to our next location.
We went to visit JewTown, a street which contains of the oldest Jewish synagogues outside Israel. It was fascinating to learn about this community of Jews that had lived for thousands of years and see how much was intact. Today, there are only two Jews left and you can visit their shops on Jewstreet.
Aroudn the neighborhood there are a few shops that worth a visit to. Close by we also visited a museum nearby (I can’t remember the name) though it wasn’t that great.
When it comes to Kochin, we would strongly recommend you take the time to talk around the neighborhoods and find what suits your tastes. There are ancient churches, small shops and lots of museums. We just enjoyed walking around, casually soaking up the city.
Examples of some things we saw:
(inside, employees were working with tried spices)
We even had a tuk tuk driver ask us to walk into some shops so he can get petrol coupons and he drove us around to some really interesting shops and areas. We bought local spices (they were so amazing I wish I had bought more!!!), bought locally made candlesticks-stunning- and explored some old colonial buildings that really took me back in time.
We even got to visit a laundry washing place to that was set up for charity. We participated in using the coal hand iron (so much better than electric!) and of course, left a few dollars for the cause.
That evening, we went to a famous kathakali show. There are many offered in the city and we hadn’t done our research properly. If you go, I suggest you research ahead of time the best ones to attend and purchase tickets in advance. Either way, the dances of fascinating cultural experiences that you surely won’t want to miss.
On the second day, we only had a few hours with our flight home. We visited the fishing nets-an area overlooking the water with the traditional fishing nets that are used by the local fishermen. This rea, while not particularly beautiful, is colorful and cultural and I would encourage you to visit this area with time to walk around and take in your surroundings.
We then decided to hope on a ferry and go exploring. While we definitely got a few looks (I guess Wester tourists don’t take the local ferry?) we loved the experience and sites along the way. It was a great way to get a feel for Kochin beyond the tourists streets and sites.
While we didn’t have time for a backwater boat, I would have loved to go on one. If you make it there-take the boat and leave a note to let me know how it was!