We started early and were met by our very camp, lively tour guide who was going to be showing us the sites of Fort Cochin for the day.
His english was a tad broken but this just made it all the more enjoyable since his personality was so flamboyant and with lots of hand gestures we got the gist of the history.
Kochi (Cochin) has had an interesting history over the last 600 years and within such a small area you can find a 400 year old synagogue, Chinese fishing nets, ancient mosques, Portuguese houses and remains of the British Raj. Kochi began as a fishing village but then was passed onto the Portuguese in 1503 by the Rajah of Kochi.
In 1683 the Dutch captured the territory from the Portuguese and destroyed many of the original buildings including the initial Fort. They held Fort Kochi for 112 years until 1795, which was when the British defeated the Dutch and took control.
Our guide started us off with the standard tourist attractions where you had to fight through the groups of cruise ships that land for the day and head straight for the synagogue within ‘Jew Town’.
But then he took us a little off the beaten track to Ginger House cafe which is a treasure cove of restored antique furniture. They do hope you’ll buy something but also get great joy in showing you around from the small to the large pieces on offer. The cafe at the back has a nice view across the port and you can see the construction work going on.
After taking us via the traditional washing houses that are still in use we then asked if we could stop somewhere to change up our English pounds.
Our guide took us right into the old part of town where are there no tourists and unfortunately since it was a Sunday the little money exchange shop was closed.
Being a local himself he said wait here and headed off into one of the houses behind. We were then ushered into the house owner’s front room where the deal was done, great fun.
As we were in the area our guide took us to ‘the best biryani in the city’, as the only white people we sat down and were served with traditional beef biryani. They took pity on us and gave us cutlery which the other diners found very amusing. Well worth it though and a great place to have our first biryani.
We continued on our journey to the Chinese fishing nets which is one of the most well known tourist attractions in the area.
Our guide took us onto one and we had the chance to pull the nets with the fisherman and caught our two fish (it’s out of season for fishing so just do it for the tourists). The callouses on the guys hand from constant pulling was pretty impressive.
It was a fun day and nice to be able to wander around the town but does feel very touristy.
We settled down to watch the sunset although rather distracted by the piles of rubbish, which their reasoning is ‘It’s God’s Own Country’.
On Maxwell Scott Travel’s recommendation we headed to Hotel Cochin Fort for food which from the outside doesn’t look anything special but for fresh fish and unbelievably cheap prices this is the place to go.
You head up to the fridge to pick your fish and then they ask your spice preferences to cook them in (would recommend medium as even that’s rather fiery).
The other plus point was Kerala has introduced an alcohol ban every Sunday across all restaurants, bars and hotels but they kindly offered us ‘Special tea’. As you can guess this was beer in a mug and even on the bill they labelled it as ‘special tea’.
The fresh fish in seaweed was incredible and we couldn’t resist trying one of the massive prawns each to finish off the meal.
Cochin is an area you need to go visit but the number of tourists around slightly put us off from spending anymore than two days there which is what we had. Not too many more Indian posts to go, I promise!