20th May 2014
A bit more than one month ago, I was about to take my plane back to Europe and leave India behind. After underestimating Delhi distances and spending a whole last day touring around in a tuk-tuk, I jumped in a cab, bribed the driver in order to don’t spend any more time unnecessarily and headed straight to New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International airport.
Still with a bunch of American dollars and Indian Rupees in my wallet but literally zero souvenirs or Indian stuff with me except for a few goodies collected through the good old KeralaBlogExpress days in every luxury hotel we stepped in a few weeks back, one thing was for sure: I wasn’t going to miss my plane due to some last-minute money exchange!
Lucky I was once again, and in no time I was sitting in my window seat while facing a little screen and getting ready to watch some 4 or 5 movies in the next few hours.Sweet!
What came next was a strange week. Stepped in Abu Dhabi, Germany and Austria to finally land in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, where I’ve been till a few days ago when the biggest Spanish Travel Blogging conference took part in the neighbour region, Asturias.
Still trying to get used to my first world life again, first days back home felt a bit weird somehow. Anyway, as time flies, I need to get over it quickly and start getting ready for my next moves that will soon take me to Italy in two days and USA next month!. Again, like every two years, I have to get done things like the mandatory ESTA and replace my dead gadgets and travelling basics that have been destroyed in my last months’ adventures.
But hey, I am not complaining! As a wise guy once said:
Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it. – Greg Anderson
So, in order to clarify my mind and start focusing in what the future will bring, I’ve decided to complete that Kerala Instagram Snapshots list I’d posted with the second part of my Indian wanderings. Around 60 square pictures, where more than 90% of them were taken with my smart phone and just a few here and there with a DLSR and goPro camera.
From Kerala, where I was surrounded by thirty more like-minded bloggers, journalists and photographers, everything was carefully taken care of by the State Tourism Department and we all were embarked in the KeralaBlogExpress blog tour living it up and saving a decent amount of money everyday since it was all complimentary; to Delhi, where my hole-in-the-wall window room in the infamous backpacker’s district costed barely 2,5€ ( around 1% of some of the rooms I had stayed in Kerala ), no schedule or plans were given to me every morning and I had no one to share a beer with in the evenings.
Choose your favorite mean of transportation and come with me trough the Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi in an Instagram journey. You won’t be disappointed!
Needless to say that before the following ones, more than 30 other #KeralaBlogExpress Instagram snapshots went live. Like this one of Estuary Island’s Poovar beach at sunset. You can find them in this other post about God’s Own country!
Every meal during the #KeralaBlogExpress was well taken care of. Like this day that we stopped at Vivanta by Taj, Kumarakom, for lunch. Amazing scenery and gardens, it also featured a lake!
Many surprises awaited us at Kumarakom village.
One of the warmest welcomes ever! A bunch of Kumarakom village kids climbed up to a backwater’s bridge to say hi when we were arriving in a canoe 🙂
Did I tell you we also enjoyed an overnight cruise through Kerala’s backwaters? Shared with 4 more travel bloggers, our boat was pure floating laid-back luxury. I just adore these guys! – Photo credit: Eva, Una Idea un Viaje
Anything could be going on truly… but sunsets were always respected. Right after stepping at The Zuri Kumarakom awesome hotel, and even before checking in, we ran and found a sweet spot to capture last sun beams.
Yep! Those are some elephants pouring water at The Zuri Kumarakom pool. Massive property and my favourite so far of all the blog tour! It was an absolute pleasure to stay there. Even if it was only for one night, I truly enjoyed it. Closest to paradise I’ve ever been 🙂 Their SPA and the amazing villa I had the opportunity to sleep in were stunning.
Moving on, Kerala Blog Express’s next stop was Thekkady. Far enough from the backwaters and seaside to enjoy a completely different scenery, here I am ready to have breakfast at The Spicy Village Resort, an eco-friendly hotel connected to the town through a short road featuring a bamboo ceiling. Nothing planned, just pure nature. LOVE IT!
I’ve just said it. In Thekkady, we were surrounded by awesomeness.
Heading to our safari boat trip in the Periyar Tiger Reserve, Thekkady, Kerala
On March, 17th, HOLI festival took place. Mostly celebrated in the North part of the country, we had also our little festive time thanks to Carmelia Haven Restaurant and Dina @duaransel who posed for everybody like this 🙂 This girl is a gem!
After that, we reached higher lands in Kerala like Munnar, where tea plantations shape mountains and landscapes offering a unique and lush show.
Tea plantations in the Munnar hills, Kerala, India
Although the Kerala Blog Express trip would end in Kochi, we quickly passed through this same city in the middle of the blog tour and stayed at Abad Hotel one night before heading to Malabar, the north part of Kerala. As it’s commonly accepted, here is a #FromwhereIstand picture featuring the stairs of a Jewish Synagogue in Kottail Kovilagom.
Picture this. 17 days filled with incredible activities day and night. Like this mesmerizing traditional dances at Kerala Kalamandalam School.
Dance class at Kerala Kalamandalam. “Architectural, Cultural and Human energy exist in perfect harmony at Kerala Kalamandalam” . Thanks for the pic, Vijay @feelfreeorfly!
Last, but not least, we also had the opportunity of witnessing how in this same Kerala Kalamandalam school, Kerala’s traditional dance, Kathakali is preserved and studied from the very basics. Pictured here, a face make-up workshop.
But let’s get back a little bit to the amazing properties we stayed in. Like, for instance, Kozhikode’s ITC Hotel Raviz. Have you already mind the pool? High on my list of outstanding pools in Kerala. Almost two hours of glory chilling with my blogger friends confirm it! 🙂
But, hey, Wayanad’s Vythiri Resort unreal pool in the middle of nowhere was even more stunning and irresistible!
While in Wayanad, we were taken to some very cool spots like this one. Wayanad Cricket Stadium. If you aren’t a big cricket fan, it’s ok. Just don’t mess with this there, Indians love cricket!
And, among other cool stuff we also witnessed the sunset over the Western Gaths Wayanad tea plantations. It was epic!
I fell for Wayanad bamboo forests chaos and ramdomness.
And here’s a little #eralablogexpress short story. While exploring a Wayanad wildlife reserve, we stopped in a little village to catch the last sun beams and visit a temple. All of a sudden, the 27 bloggers on board the KBX bus were taking over the town and shooting everything like crazy. After driving 4 days in a row, this guy had just arrived in town and was looking pretty tired while resting a bit. Anyway, one thing is for sure: He loved posing!
Next day we visited Sargaalaya, where the KBX gang had an insight into traditional crafts like handloom
When you realize how much work it’s put into creating a carpet, you start seeing it like artwork. Sargaalaya Arts and Crafts center, Calicut, Kerala
We had a blast at Sargaalaya arts and crafts village, Iringal
From Sargaalaya Kerala Arts & Crafts Village we took a 5 minutes boat ride to a close island to learn about Kalaripaittu, an ancient martial art form.
When we saw Fort Kochi’s Chinese fishing nets, we started to realize the Kerala Blog Express was coming to an end. Still, we had two more days to explore Kochi area before saying goodbye…
Bubble madness in Fort Kochi port at sunset, Kerala.
And yes, finally managed to picture some Mayalam fishermen fixing their nets while in Fort Kochi 🙂
Here’s Fort Kochi’s dhobi ghat or how to get your laundry done in an awesome spot.
After enjoying two more days chilling in Fort Kochi, I started the rest of my Indian trip heading to Edakkad beach, Kanur, with a blogger friend. A wisely spent and much-needed down time after all KBX busy scheduled days, we stayed at Malabar Cove, a nice and very tranquil cottage by the sea. It was very nice to enjoy such a good company in a worldclass secret paradise.
Then, it was time for Goa. One week in Palolem beach. Did someone say relax? When the only thing you must ensure is to head to the Sundowner terrace for a rustic yet beautiful sunset, you know life is treating you well.
Goa Palolem’s Dreamcatcher resulted to be the most upscale shacks of the beach. And I loved mine although it was called “honeymoon cottage”. Scary, isn’t it?
Just a pink pineaple that resulted in a later Instagram some 10 days after the Kerala Blog Express was over. It was taken at a spicy plantation in Wayanad, Kerala.
I need to go back to Goa soon I said to myself as I was clicking this one.
Simple routines took part there too. Like say hi to this idol of Shiva every morning at Little World cafe, Palolem. It would welcome @feelfreeorfly and me right before having our one to four cups of the best masala chai in all Palolem beach, Goa.
Do you feel the urge to find a sunset spot wherever you go? You are not alone. Although, let’s be honest: Some of them are difficult to beat. Sundowner at Palolem, Goa. How I knew I was going to miss that!
So no more Instagrams of Palolem or Goa from here on since right after this I headed North on my own but please, take me back there! What an amazing and chilled week I had there and how much I am missing it right now.
Not an Indian snapshot but a Galician (Spain) one, this is just how I felt when my Mumbai – Jodhpur train ticket got confirmed after purchasing it hours before departure. A waiting list tix wasn’t something I was looking forward to but being the only foreigner at Bandra Terminus as well as getting a bit LUCKY did wonders! Little I knew when I posted it that I would be sharing a berth with a complete stranger! (luckily again, he finally slept somewhere else after a while). Second time in this city in one month, second time I left without checking it out properly. I’ll have to come back to Mumbai!
Indian trains and me: a love-hate relationship. On my way to Jaisalmer, still more than 15 hours ahead of me by then!
When I finally arrived, I got the warmest welcome by Mystic Jaisalmer hostel staff in their beautiful city Jaisalmer! After 45 hectic hours travelling by train and bus from Goa, I quickly embarked in a little trip to the desert dunes. Thanks @feelfreeorfly for all your help finding a place to stay there. Here’s a tribute pic.
After taking us to the Thar Desert dunes, Ali and his friend left enjoying a brief camel race at sunset. A visit to a gypsy village and an abandoned town, our time at the desert and a traditional dinner under the stars made my day indeed!
From urban furniture to palaces and the omnipresent fort, everything in Jaisalmer showcases an intricate artwork and delicate design. Loved this city more than any other in India to date. And that’s something already 🙂
Gadisar Lake, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan at sunset.
Jaisalmer Fort from Patwa Haveli palaces complex top floor.
Gadisar Lake, Jaisalmer, at sunset.
And here’s another caption of Jaisalmer havalis before moving on and heading to Jodhpur, Rajasthan.
Here’s what you can’t afford to miss when visiting Jodhpur: Admiring Jodhpur blue city from Fort Mehrangarh!. Special thanks to Zostel Hostel for briefing me about Rajasthan beautiful cities!
After Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Jaipur, I arrived to Agra. HELLO TAJ MAHAL!
Being an evening person, I can only say wonders about waking up early and witnessing sunrise from one of the World Wonders: The Taj Mahal in Agra, India
India short stories: This is happening right now. Managed to score a fifth of a berth in a crowded sleeper class train wagon from Agra to Delhi after purchasing a 80RS General Compartment ticket… No words can describe how crazy packed was the other one! Luckily, I am almost there and no one asked for my ticket so far. Well, as if the TC could run throughout the train… India can’t stop amazing me!
At this point I was already being very aware of my little hours left in the country. How to say goodbye when all you want is to stay for longer? Well, visiting Delhi’s Lotus Temple helps.
Continuing with the last days super budget Indian travel stories: Paharganj, NewDehi. 48 hours back I was booking a room for less than 3€ in this backpackers district. Now, already pretty far away, I can only think of coming back to India. Even when the room was one of the worst ever!
A quick stopover in Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) in between Delhi and Frankfurt…
And finally the last leg of my trip back to Europe. I will never get tired of waking up to a sunrise above the clouds.
Thanks India. I’ll be back soon