one of the world's largest ports
21.01.2009 - 22.01.2009 27 °C
Throughout the second millennium this ancient city has exported spices and coffee all over the world. What it has gained in return is culture and religion from Europe, China and the Middle East.
Our drive here was long, but informative. Our driver/guide stopped many times along the way to show us banana trees, coffee plants, cashew nut trees and even cardamom plants. We even saw how the more enterprising guys go door-to-door selling fish -- by bicycle! We buy these things every day in the grocery store but to see them in their natural habitat puts a whole new slant on things. I will 'eat' far more knowledgeably now.
Another glorious sight was the mist rising over the mountains -- remember that we came from Munnar which is about 7,000 feet above sea level. The mist made it seem like we were either gazing at snow-covered alps in Switzerland or a Japanese painting. It was gorgeous!!
We arrived in Cochin in early afternoon which was lucky for us. It meant we had time to enjoy yet another lovely hotel -- which we did -- and also repacked for our journey home. I tried to blog with some success and finally abandoned it all so I could enjoy the scenery -- starting with the picturesque view from my hotel room.
At around 5 we met for high tea -- the British influence remains -- and then we took a sunset cruise, which was beautiful. We drifted fairly slowly and saw the famous Chinese fishing nets from the water -- they look like huge hammocks spread out and it's hard to believe they're still in use today. We also enjoyed yet another magnificent sunset -- they are so incredible here. I have never seen a sky the colour it turns here -- pure scarlet!!
Dinner at the hotel and early to bed -- we had a long day ahead -- sightseeing -- our flight back to Mumbai -- and then our flight home.
After a delicious breakfast we headed out for our sightseeing:
First stop -- St. Francis Church in Fort Cochin. This is the church where Vasco da Gama was once buried. A very simple structure, but so lovely.
Then we went to see the Chinese Fishing Nets again from land -- and luckily we got to see them in action.
They were first introduced by Chinese traders in the 14th century -- and it's amazing to see that they are still used today. So primitive -- but so simple -- and so effective.
Then we made our way to the synagogue -- it is the oldest 'functioning' synagogue in India -- and today the congregation is only 11 families. They can't even make a minion -- they invite tourists to come and join them on Friday evenings and Saturdays -- but they are determined.
It is beautiful and what I found spectacular was the fact that the room is literally filled with chandeliers -- all different. The reason is that they are donated and everyone donates the chandelier of their choice. The floor is also marvelous -- 1,100 hand-painted, blue and white Chinese tiles -- again each one different -- a "gift" from a wealthy trader, Ezekiel Rahabi in the mid 18th century.
Unfortunately for security reasons we weren't allowed to take photos, so you'll have to take my word for it. This is a strictly orthodox synagogue and so the women (not tourists) are sent to sit upstairs behind a screened area.
But the real highlight of the day was meeting Sarah -- a 75-year old Jewish woman who was born in India.
She has a small shop in Jewtown where she makes and sells kippas and challah bread covers.
We loved our visit with her and we all bought some souvenirs from her shop. She looked exactly like all our grandmother's -- a typical Jewish bubbie -- all those many, many, many miles away.
Who would have thought?
Then our guide took us to a local cafe for a wonderful lunch -- I had a dosa -- it's crisp, flat, pancake -- sort of like Crepe Bretogne -- filled with a potato and vegetable curry mixture. It's really good. Mine was the 'masala' version -- which is a spicy sauce -- tomato, vegetable.
And then, alas, back to the hotel to change into our traveling clothes, collect our luggage and head to the airport. I cannot believe the trip is over.
I've said it so many times you must be bored hearing it already, but India is an amazing, amazing country. I have another blog or two coming -- a few more things I want to share with you, so stay tuned.
See you soon ...