15th February 2016
After 24 hours of travelling and two restless nights spent attempting to sleep wither in airports or on a plane, I finally made it to Kerala yesterday morning. It took almost an hour to get through security as they are very strict with visa’s here in India and really took their time processing each and every one of our e-visas. It was harmless enough though and we were out of the airport in no time and were greeted the most incredible welcome.
Upon walking outside the doors of Trivandrum airport, we were greeted as if we were celebrities! There were cameras flashing, cheering, personalized signs with our names on them and best of all…a beautiful bunch of roses for every blogger. I was seriously blown away by the hospitality we were shown within mere minutes of arriving.
Just case you missed why exactly I am in India, and why I was given such an incredible welcome, I have been chosen to participate in a blogger tour of Kerala, a province in the south west of India, by Tourism Kerala. I will be spending the next 2 weeks on a ‘blogger bus’ with 29 other bloggers from 25 countries around the world. The trip is 100% funded by Tourism Kerala and if the first two days are anything to go by, this trip is going to be one to remember for years to come. Look out for the hashtag #keralablogexpress on Instagram and Twitter to follow our journey.
Once we had gotten over the shock of being welcomed to India by an entire delegation of team members from Kerala Tourism, we were whisked to our hotel for the first night, the Leela Kovalam. I am not in anyway exaggerating when I say this was the best and most luxurious hotel I have ever stayed in.
From the moment we walked through the wide open doors of this hotel, we were all in heaven. We were greeted by staff members who applied red bindi’s to our foreheads, our bags were brought to our rooms and we were showered with shell necklaces and fresh coconuts. Every single room in the hotel has a huge balcony with a spectacular view of Kovalam beach below and what looked like miles upon miles of palm trees. There were freshly picked flowers and fruit in our room as well as an assortment of handmade chocolate which we quickly devoured.
I sat down by the pool at 12pm and counted the minutes until lunch would be served. The smell of the curries alone made me fall totally in love with India food ever before it ever had touched my lips. Once it was time to eat I was not disappointed and ended up devouring two plates full of various different curries of varying degrees of spiciness! Apparently there was a dessert table too…which I somehow managed to miss! I then spent the rest of the afternoon napping and enjoying the heated infinity pool with a view to die for.
By the time the rest of the bloggers (12 in total) had arrived in the hotel and settled in, it was time for sunset cocktails which were very kindly on the house. We were again welcomed to the hotel by the General Manager and the head chef even came out to the Sky Bar to greet us and tell all about the food that was being cooked for dinner, where it has come from and what he believed would be the best dishes for us to try out. We were also all presented with a single red rose to celebrate Valentine’s Day which was incredibly sweet and thoughtful.
Dinner, like lunch, was buffet style and there were simply too many dishes to even attempt to taste them all. I thankfully did not miss the dessert table this time and was in choco-heaven after just one spoonful. I could probably write a whole blog post just about the food in this hotel but I’ll try to keep it short!!
This morning we were pretty sad to be leaving the Leela Korvalam, along with it’s impeccable service, infinity pool and 3 hour long happy hour!! But alas, all good things must come to an end….and it also marked the beginning of the #KeralaBlogExpress tour so we were pretty excited to see our bus for the first time and meet the other Bloggers staying at various hotels in the area.
Our day was pretty crazy and a total first for me, as we were the subject of a large press conference being held in our honor for local media and journalists. We all had to speak for a few seconds/minutes about our blogs, the Minister of Tourism gave a short speech and then we all went outside to our awesome bus for a massive photo shoot which included more selfies than I care to remember! You can read the first published news article about our trip here.
We spent the afternoon looking around a Hindu temple (as we are not Hindu we were not allowed in but we took some photos from a distance) followed by a trip to the beach and more coconuts and tea at the Samudra Kovalam Hotel, which had some perfect perches (and hammocks) from which to watch the sunset.
It’s been a busy two days but I am almost giddy with excitement about the next 2 weeks…it’s sure to the trip of a lifetime.