Judi Stewart and Guy Cowley

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The beach below our hotel
Indian beachwear!
Guy at leisure
Sunset with wife, sea and beer - might be heaven!

We had a day in hand after the Hay Festival in Trivandrum before we took possession of the flat, so we decided to overnight in Varkala on the way back to see what it was like.  Varkala is a developed beach resort but not very westernised and busy, so it sounded OK

We had pre-booked a hotel recommended by the girls we met in Trivandrum and it turned out to be very good – at the top of a cliff overlooking the beach with a garden, loungers etc.  The room was fairly standard but had a hammock and swing-seat outside to give the real holiday feel.  As usual, it was the staff who made it more than ordinary and the service was very friendly throughout.

Varkala has three beaches backed by cliffs of varying heights. We were at one end on a high cliff so had a bit of a hill to navigate to get to the main resort – however this gave us some privacy not enjoyed by those on the beach front.  We did a recce and found that the resort was more extensive than it first looked, with more around each corner.  The sea was different on each beach with waves and a steep drop in the middle and a shallower patch further on.  All in all, very pleasant and somewhere we would happily spend more time.

There were a large number of choices of similar restaurants for dinner so we took advice and aimed for one.  However, then fate took over.  On the way down the hill the rain started and by the time we were around the first restaurants, en route to our target, it was becoming very hard.  We beat a retreat to the nearest restaurant, which actually had one of the best beach views.  The meal was great – grilled fish – and was accompanied by huge flashes of lightning, loud peals of thunder and the type of torrential rain which you can only imagine unless you have been in the tropics.

Next day, back to Kochi on the train.  Long distance travel by sleeper train is normal in India and we shared a compartment with three guys who were going to Mumbai – expecting to arrive about 30 hours later after a day and a night on the train!  We have always planned to take one of these overnight trips but guest appearances by a rat and a cockroach on our way back to Kochi made the romance of such travel a little more in question!

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