On a last minute whim, we decided to take off on a three day break to Fort Kochi. Kochi had always been on our to-do list as we had heard about its many charming boutique hotels, the awesome food and its arty reputation.
Travel for us has always been about three things – the food, the atmosphere and the people. And Fort Kochi ticked all those boxes – in style! Here’s our rundown of the FIVE best things to do in Fort Kochi and if you haven’t been already…we urge you plan a trip soon. You won’t be disappointed.
TOP FIVE THINGS TO DO IN FORT KOCHI
1.Stay at the Old Harbour Hotel
While, I am sure the many other boutique hotels and home stays are charming in their own right, the Old Harbour Hotel ideally located near the seafront and the iconic Chinese Fishing Nets wowed us from the moment we entered its gracious lobby. A private residence now turned boutique hotel, the Old Harbour has only 13 rooms. Each one tastefully done up with local antiques and period furniture. Some rooms overlook the gorgeous garden and pool area while the suites offer a view of the promenade and the sea front. The ivy creeping over the white washed walls and the wooden accents throughout create a restful ambience while the ever friendly and helpful staff and the yummy breakfasts made our stay idyllic.
2. Walk. Walk. And Then Walk Some More
Fort Kochi is a small place. Surprisingly compact and full of pretty little alleys and streets intertwined within each other. Walking around is the only way to fully absorb the almost continental boho vibe of the place. Let yourself get lost and you are sure to stumble across some hidden gem or the other – whether its a Basilica dating back to the 1500s or a tiny cafe serving the best panini this side of Europe.
3. Explore the Wonderful Cafes
Fort Kochi has some amazing cafes. Truly amazing. For someone like me, who swoons at the sight of a quirky shop front or drools at an unusual menu, Fort Kochi was heaven. The Kashi Art Cafe around the corner from The Old Harbour Hotel has that perfect arty-hippie air about it while The Teapot Cafe on a nearby street was quirk personified with teapots of every shape and form and offered an eclectic menu of Anglo Indian treats. Masala Rarebit anyone? Our favourite cafe however was one that oozed shabby chic – The Pepper House is the hub of activity during the Kochi Biennale and hosts not only a cozy cafe but also a reading room stuffed with art and design books as well as a gift shop. While the menu is spare, let’s be honest now – its not the food one goes to Pepper House for but rather its peaceful dreamy ambience.
4. Shop for Spices
The Mattancherry Spice Market at Fort Kochi is walking distance away from our hotel. That said, we did give in and hailed an autorickshaw to take us there. You must go to stock up on specialities such as vanilla, green, pink and black peppercorns and a variety of home ground masalas. Ranging from 100 to 150 Rs each, we returned with packets and packets of curry powders for all the Kerala favourites – Allepey fish curry, Malabar chicken curry, green pepper curry, prawn chutney, tamarind chutney, dosa gunpowder, meat masala and coconut curry powder. Can’t wait to start cooking!
5. The Food – Oh My Lord – the Food!
This should actually be reason no. 1 for visiting Fort Kochi but at the risk of sounding too greedy, I demurred and put this last 🙂 The food is astounding in Fort Kochi. There really is no other word for it. The highlight of this foodie journey are the “You Buy, We Cook” stalls that dot the sea front where we bought lobsters, jumbo prawns and squid for a steal and had them cooked to perfection in the style we preferred. Just next to our hotel was a tiny little roadside stall serving authentic Italian thin crust pizzas with seafood toppings made by an Italian who now called Kochi his home. And of course, if you can wing a home cooked meal (like we did), nothing beats good old Kerala parotthas with beef curry *sigh*
And there you have it – our top to dos for Fort Kochi. We only have one last point to add – go back soon!!!