I guess Fort Kochi could easily be the most non-Kerala part of Kerala i.e. Kerala we picture in our minds. No, do not go here for the house boats and backwaters (Go to Allepy for that). Streets lined with coconut trees are better found in Munnar, more beautified with the togetherness of mountains and sea together. Plus the coffee Munnar has.
Go to Kochi to relax. To see a beautiful settlement rose out of old Dutch and Portuguese houses. For the beautiful streets lined with even more beautiful cafes. For the smell of spices in the small streets. To see the old churches and cemeteries. To pass the days in museums full of Kochi's history, full of stories of Vasco Da Gama. For the Kathakali, Mohiniyattam and Kalaripayattu performances. For the new upcoming artist scene. For the beautiful pictures. Yes this place could have been anywhere in this world. But I am glad it a part of the god's own country.
It was my first ever only-on-foot town exploring and I was not disappointed at all. Just have an umbrella ready for the sun or the rain.
Pickup a walking tour map from the Tourist Info center right opposite the bus stop (p.s. the ferry leaving point for easy identification). It has small introductory text for all the places.
Day 1 : Fort Kochi - Hit the road with the Fort Kochi map. Start around 10 in the morning. Have a quick bite from any of the cafes you like. Go to the Chinese fishing nets, St. Francis Church, The Beach, Dutch Cemetery, The (Navy) Maritime Museum. (Lunch - at Princess Street or nearby). Then head to the Santa Cruz Basilica, Indo Dutch Museum/ the Bishops house. Please note all these places open in morning, break for lunch and then close at 5 pm. End the day with a classical dance performance at a theatre of your choice (Start timings are from around 5pm to 7 pm indifferent theatres.) One could choose a Folklore theatre because of its central location or a Greenix Village because it promises something more than expectations or a Kerala Kathakali centre a little far (preferable if you go to Santa Cruz Church after the Indo Dutch Museum). Have dinner by the sea, famous being Seagull for sea food.
Day 2: Matthancherry- a 20 to 30 minute walk from Fort Kochi. Start early from Fort Kochi. See the Jewish Synagogue and then head to The Jain Temple. At 12:15 sharp the priest of the temple calls out to the pigeons for food. They emerge from the temple top, take 3 rounds of the temple and then head for their food. I missed it cause someone told me the time was 12:30. All I saw was a few hundred pigeons feeding on their food. But even that was fun. The Jew temple is a little far from the Jew Street/ Jew Synagogue so do plan accordingly. (Lunch). Then head to Dutch Palace and then the cemetery. After 5 explore the beautiful Jew Street, full of old antiques.
Day 3: Shop &Relax- Buy spices, tea and coffee. Please do not buy from those tourist shops unless you are filthy rich (Are we ever rich enough?). Head for the Bazaar Road, not a popular street for the travelers and tourists, it is where the real tea and spice merchants are situated. Ask the locals and head for these gowdowns. For Coffee and Tea there is Ravi coffee, this is what the local shops use too.
You can end the third day with a Kerala Massage (though people say donot judge Kerala massage by Kochi massage centers). I liked a particular one in Jew Town. OR go for the ferry ride to the nearby island of Wellingdon or Vypin. The Cherai Beach at Vypin (not walking from the Ferry point) is much prettier than its Kochi counterpart. The Ironic thing is that the beach at Fort Kochi is the low point of all the trip.
(Fort Kochi, Mathancherry, Welingdon, Vypin are all part of Kochi. The main Kochi city is seperate from fort kochi. The district is Ernakulum. The Train station of Ernakulum is seperate; 25 mins, Rs 80 via an auto, away from Fort Kochi. The airport is 45 mins bus journey away, Rs 80. Check the timings at the local bus stop.)
A lot of people also choose to go for small backwater rides, but I have left that as a reason to go back, next time, to Allepy and do the backwater thing in its true style.
Also, during the whole trip I kept a piece of cinnamon in my right pocket and some coffee beans in my left; and like a junkie, would smell each, alternatively, after around 15 mins each. I was high on Kochi by the end of the trip.
I am glad that I cheated on my bucket list for Kochi.