India may be the Marmite of destinations but I love it.
Mention India and it tends to gets quite a polarised reaction. People either love it or can’t think of a worse place to go. It really is the Marmite of destinations but for me, however, it was love at first sight. (For all you non-Brits who don’t know what Marmite is I’ve added a postscript below!)
In 2014 I finally took my first trip to India. I say finally because it had been on my list for a long time but sadly not a choice for my ex and so it was only after my divorce and I began to travel solo that I could fulfill my dream and explore the country.
I have to be honest and admit that I eased my way in gently by taking my first trip to Kerala in southern India, famous for its palm-lined beaches and network of canals known as the backwaters. I’d seen it on a cookery program and decided it was the place for me – funny how many of my travel choices are influenced by food!
I also have to admit that I did this trip with a bit of style, staying in a tiny, 4 bungalow resort called A Beach Symphony, Just moments from the sea, my bungalow had its own pool and came with a private chef to cater all my meals! It was here that I discovered my love of curry for breakfast and the joys of riding in a tuk-tuk.
After 5 blissful days of beach, massages, eating and general lazing around, I moved on to Philip Kutty’s Farm. Nestled in the Keralan backwaters, the working farm, which practices sustainable/organic methods, was visited by Rick Stein on his food tour of India and so a ‘must visit’ for me. The home cooked meals were a revelation and it was here that I learned how to cook an authentic Keralan fish curry, spent hours watching the locals diving for mussels, as well as experiencing first hand how many of the spices are grown.
Top of the list for most tourists in this area is to spend a night on one of the boats that tour around the backwaters. As a solo female, I felt a little uncomfortable doing that alone and so I chose to do a day trip instead. I was amazed when I saw the comfort and facilities on the boat and the crew prepared the most delicious food – I did wonder whether I should have been brave enough to spend a night onboard but decided I was happy with my day trip – it really was a fabulous way to see the countryside and all the local sights.
I’m really a city girl at heart and so after 4 days here, I was ready for a bit of action. I returned to Cochin, ready for my flight home. It was certainly a bit of a shock to the system to be back in a city after so many quiet days relaxing but Cochin has plenty to offer and is definitely worth a tour. Not to be missed is a stroll along the waterfront to see the fishermen who still use the Chinese style nets – they always draw a crowd. As a last hurrah, I decided to treat myself to a wonderful last meal in a fancy restaurant which was all going very well until the waiter suggested I try the local Indian wine. It does have a pretty good reputation and so I foolishly agreed to order some. It was actually pretty expensive and supposedly world class. It wasn’t! And in fact, the meal wasn’t a patch on the home cooked food I’d had at both Beach Symphony and Philip Kutty, but then that’s so often the case, right?
This taste of India left me wanting more. In fact, I wanted to experience the full-on, senses overload, in your face India that we all imagine, and I desperately wanted to see the Taj Mahal. It took me another 2 years to go back to India and my second trip could not have been more different than this first one. Stay tuned for my next blog when I finally get the ‘true’ Indian experience and all it has to offer!
‘Marmite is a sticky, dark brown food paste with a distinctive, powerful flavour, which is extremely salty. This distinctive taste is reflected in the marketing slogan: “Love it or hate it.” Such is its prominence in British popular culture that the product’s name has entered British English as a metaphor for something that is an acquired taste or tends to polarise opinions’. Personally, I love Marmite, spread on toast or crumpets – you can’t beat it!
Like my Facebook page Deborah Ives, Solo In Style or join my Facebook group Solo In Style: Females Over 50 Travelling Solo & Loving It
You can follow all my travels on Instagram
I booked this trip with Original Travel