Walking through Historic Forte Kochi

Up early for our walking tour. We booked with a lady at the hotel next to our homestay. She said she had an elderly gentleman who was a very good historian.

So at 7.30 sharp a very well groomed man appeared outside our homestay. Mr Anthony Thommen was smiling widely and spoke in a gentle way. He launched into a little story about himself telling us he was born in the area, was a historian an author and guide and lived alone since his wife’s death and his only child had moved away.

We began the story of Fort Cochin or Kochi as it’s known locally, in Princess St. We heard about the Portuguese arriving and settling up trading, then the arrival of the Dutch and finally the British. We wandered along the narrow streets stopping at Anthony’s street and then the large Catholic Basilica.

We heard about the rebuilding of the Basilica and how Anthony spent a year in the Seminary.

We moved along through streets dotted with houses showing distinct Dutch and English influence.

We saw our first lot of young men playing cricket! On a dusty ground.

And visited the Bishops House and Museum.

Next stop was the Dutch Cemetery. This was turning into a history / religious tour of Kochi. Not that I minded.

We visited the elephants I had seen yesterday and then spied a lot of photographers along with couples posing. Seems it is ‘post wedding photo week.’ Just before Valentines Day. Some lovely couples posed with just one in a wedding dress.

Our last stop was St Francis Church and Vasco de Gama’s house

Mr Anthony was more than keen to continue but after 2.5 hours we were ready for breakfast!

We paid him and he asked if we’d like to buy his book. How could we refuse. He was so sweet. So he found us later at the breakfast place and three of us bought his book!

By now all power was off. The poor shop keepers were beside themselves. No one was coming into their dark hot shops. Our rooms were hot and noisy – the hotel right next door had a generator making a huge racket. So I went walking by the water and eventually took my book out and enjoyed a read in the sea breeze.

Marlene and I also had another stroll and visited our Homestay’s brothers guesthouse a little further out.

It was charming. If you’re coming to this area the Delight Homestay looks good. It’s opposite a park and has lovely big rooms set in a garden. it’s also very reasonably priced. Around $A30 a night.

We had a lovely last night dinner at a hotel by the water. We all decided we had to wear something we had bought on the trip.

To top it off three of us Marlene, Linda and I all bought the same white dress! We decided we chance not ever wearing it on the same day!

Tomorrow we leave. I’ll miss the smiling faces and the colours.

It’s been such a wonderful holiday. Temples, the history, the bronze casters, mud bricks, tea plantations, dancing Shivas, beautiful people, colourful saris and men in dhoti, great food, elephants, farms, fashion, yoga and lots of laughter.

To my travelling Sari sisters. Thank you.

Exploring Tamil Nadu

Farewell to the Bangala Hotel. We loved it. But more adventures await.

On the road in our little van we had Mr Speedy with the nice hair as our driver. He took us yesterday and we found he was very ‘hair proud’. Every time we stopped he coiffed his hair!

The drive to Madurai was once again incident free. Quieter roads and plenty to see.

Madurai is big compared to our last few stops. Big, busy, noisey and dusty.

Our hotel The Heritage is set in large gardens. And has a beautiful reception area and pool. Designed by Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa it reflects is love of the natural landscape, the frangipani the symmetry of design.

The rooms we have are large so three to a room. Always interesting sharing with others! But good fun.

We left our bags and booked a driver to take us to the Gandhi museum. It cost 1200 rupee. The equivalent of $24. So cheap for a half hour drive. He waited an hour while we looked at the Museum and brought us home. Between 6 $4!

Prices here are so cheap in comparison to other countries. We are eating very well for a small amount of money.

The Gandhi museum was very interesting and helped understand just how much the people of India endured. I do wonder what Gandhi would make of present day India. There is still so much poverty. So much divide between rich and poor.

We made our way back to the hotel in time for a facial. Oh my. It sounded great and was bit in a different kind of way. The girl was lovely but quite rough in massaging my face. I had to ask her to go softly softly. But by the end my skin felt great. It was a Ayurvedic massage. Cost – about $35

Time the. Got a quick G& T on our verandah then dinner.

The Banyan Tree restaurant is good but slightly lacks something we found at the Bangala.

The manager had reserved a special table for us to make up for our rooms not being ready. It was decorated with flower petals. Ten we got a scroll which they requested we read out. I think they got us mixed up with another group. It was a message of Bon Voyage! Wishing us a safe journey saying they were proud of us for choosing to come to India. There were at least 6 points to read out. I could barely contain myself.

We ordered a bottle of wine and the manager came over and put on such a performance. He danced with the glass as he aerated the wine. Quite spectacular! And insisted on Shelley joining him in the dance!

The rest of the dinner went without too much theatre!

Our night was quiet after that as we discussed plans for tomorrow. Yoga, swim, breakfast and then when it’s cool a visit to the Palace a rickshaw tour of the city and then the Temple for the evening puja.

Mahabalipuram: Traditions continue

Breakfast in a new place is always a treat. Indian breakfast is a whole different experience. Don’t expect a western breakfast ( well maybe in 5 star generic hotels ).

My plate contained a little rice cake called Idli, a rice donut , little accompaniments if coriander, tomato sambal and

And a rice congee. All delicious.

Kandan our driver picked us up at 8 and we set off for the 1.5 drive to Kanchipuram.

The drive through the countryside was wonderful. Past stone sculpture businesses, local markets fresh chicken shops and saries everywhere brightening the rather dusty and sadly dirty villages.

Kancheepuram is an ancient town of important Hindi temples. We visited this huge three thousand year old temple with many other Hindi people. We appeared to be the only westerners.

We started with a toilet stop and had the privilege of paying 20c each to wade through water to a communal trough. A bonding experience for a group of sheltered woman. But for us not a problem!

Then into the courtyard with our guide to remove shoes. We paid a lovely girl 100 rupee to mind our shoes.

We walked over coloured designs on the floor which our guide told us were new – ready for the festival to be held in the temple in three weeks.

The long corridor opened onto a courtyard with the famous mango tree. This tree from one 3.5 thousand years ago was famed as the place where Shiva married Kasakshi.

Nearby a wedding was taking place.

Everyone loves a wedding and an Indian one in a temple was joyful to watch. They invited us to take photos and even wanted to be in one with us.

The bride and groom were beautiful.

Continuing along the corridor we came to an altar where a Hindi priest gave us all a blessing.

We recovered our shoes and set off for another temple nearby. This one does not have the religious standing of the last one so is not part of the Hindi pilgrimage.

It was strangely quiet until we heard drumming outside. Lots of drumming.

It was a local funeral. The street was roped off. We were told it was an elderly man and following the drumming there would be drinking. So we were to stay away.

Starting back to Mahabalipuram we couldn’t resist stopping at one of the stone carving places one of many along the way. Like many local craft industries it looks a little overwhelming to see so many things together. Individually they would look lovely in a garden at home but collectively they are too much.

We asked to stop at a silk and Sari shop. There are many in this area – it’s famous for it and judging by the variety of Sari in the street they all do well.

We had a chat about the production then went to the buying floor.

It was quite a scene. Men sitting with their women looking at bolts of fabric in the most stunning colours.

We decided scarves were a better buy for us so had the scarf show!

Back on the bus

Another supermarket stop, getting lost in the aisles looking at products. I bought a few packets for the pantry. Others bought aurtheic soaps and shampoo.

Back at the hotel by 3.30 we had a refreshing swim along with chai tea.

Before we knew it it was G&T time.

Dinner was down by the water at the Santana restaurant. Choices included mint and lemon prawns, fish in carrots sauce, crispy calamari and my selection prawn biryanis. Delicious.

The walk home involved a little shopping. How can you not shop. Inviting goods: floaty tops and dresses, scarves, earrings , rings, pendants beads, bags. I bought a floral dress for $20! Marlene bought the same one!

And a stop at the shop across from our hotel to pick up a few things they made for us. The men on the machines were sewing away. Today we saw a mobile tailor shop. A sewing machine mounted on a little cart being pulled along by bike. So practical.

A full day. We haven’t wasted a minute. Tomorrow Pondicherry or Pondy as the locals call it.

The Sari Six head to India: follow along.

Tomorrow I head off to India. I wonder if my idea of India and the reality of India are one and the same.

I’m going with the HoiAn group of 4 ladies I travelled with two years ago. Only this time we are 6! In a van !

Our chief organiser, Linda, is a wonderful traveller. She has an amazing interest in history and a curiosity about other cultures that brings together an itinerary that is unique, cost effective and fun.

We’ve been labelled the Sari Six and tomorrow we begin our journey on platform 4 at Roma St station on our way to Gold Coast Airport for our cheap and cheerful Air Asia flight to Chennai via Kuala Lumpur. No business class lounge for me!

Packing has been interesting. Four of the 6 travellers have opted for 7kg of luggage! I splurged and bought the baggage allowance. I packed today. Mostly floaty soft pants, covered tops, sarong and my trusty silver FRANKie 4 walking shoes.

https://frankie4.com.au

These shoes have been everywhere. Italy, USA, Galapagos, Machu Picchu, Spain, Cambodia, France and now India.

Come on FRANKie 4 send me a new pair!

My bag weighs only 9.5kg so I added in 2 bottles of tonic (large) for the Gin I’ll purchase in duty free on the way. Medicinal use only 😘

I’m hoping for a big sleep tonight as tomorrow night will be upright in economy with my attractive dvt avoiding stockings glued to my legs.

Keep reading……. I’ll post the itinerary tomorrow.

Goodnight and if you’ve been to India please post some hints in the Comments box.

Weekend in Adelaide

Adelaide is definitely the festival state, the event capital – an all round ‘there’s always something on’ capital.

I’ve been browsing various brochures for all the events on now and coming soon.

The Adelaide Festival is on in March. You should check it out. It looks wonderful.

https://www.adelaidefestival.com.au

This weekend is more about family for us though. The family came for dinner on Friday. Always fun with the children.

Saturday and Saturday mornings Steve and I tried the pools nearby. Saturday it was Unley pool.

Sunday it was Burnside.

Both pools are lovely. The lifeguards here take sunsafety very seriously. They wear long pants and long sleeved shirts topped off with shady hats. The pools are also partly shaded. We could learn a lesson in Sunny Qld.

On Saturday afternoon we headed into the Adelaide Hills. Niece Vashti,her husband Jeremy and their 4 children have bought a small farm. It’s not far from Hahndorf , has a creek running through it, wonderful big trees, a dam, 3 alpacas and a very large dog!

Inside the house there are multiple musical instruments and ten year old Soraya played the double bass for us. Very talented she is too!

We drove to Ambleside Gin Distillery and had a sampler flute of three different gins. I’m becoming a bit of a gin fan. In the hot weather it’s really the perfect drink!

https://www.amblesidedistillers.com

It’s in a beautiful spot and is the perfect place to go on a lazy Saturday afternoon. There were some very trendy young people there but we managed to not disgrace ourselves.

Then it was back to the farm for a walk and dinner before finishing with marshmallows on the fire.

Sunday afternoon we visited yet another historic house in Adelaide. It belonged to Edward Ayers ( a certain large rock was named after the family)

It was an interactive museum. You could touch things, use things and make things. Great for children.

The ball room where they now have concerts

The lovely dining room

They even had a dress up box which I took advantage of!

The weather has changed again. It very hot today. At least 32. So our plan for a drink on the roof top bar changed. We headed home for our own gin tasting.

Ayers House.

http://www.ayershousemuseum.org.au/events/signatureseries2018/

Adelaide’s Carrick Hill: a gem.

Adelaide is home to many historic houses.

Yesterday it was the David Roach House. Today the Carrick Hill House.

Located just 10 minutes from where I’m staying in Fullerton, this house sits on 100 areas of land. It is the most intact 20th century house in Australia.

The beautiful Carrick Hill estate was the result of a marriage, in 1935, of members of two of Adelaide’s most prominent families. Edward (Bill) Hayward was a son of the wealthy merchant family that for more than 100 years owned John Martin’s Ltd, once Adelaide’s greatest department store. Ursula Barr Smith, his bride, was a daughter of an even wealthier family of Scottish descent whose involvement in mining and pastoral activities was vital to the development of South Australia.

Her father gave them the land and during a year long honeymoon to England they bought and had shipped back 17th C wood paneling, a grand staircase, fireplace, windows, furniture from a house called Beaudesert, a Tudor manor in Staffordshire, England.

The Haywards had four houses but this was their home. They didn’t have children so left the house to the people of South Australia. What a gift. It’s lovely.

Arthur Streeton Art

They collected art, silver and beautiful William Morris fabrics for curtains and soft furnishings.

We took a tour and the house is so different to the one we saw yesterday. David Roach House was full of collectibles. This one is restrained and carefully curated.

There is beautiful art. Author Streeton, Tom Roberts, Gauguin plus many international artists. Then there are sculptures, glassware and tapestry.

Beautiful William Morris screen

1950’s bathroom.

Grand bedroom with Dior dress and Lalique

The house was built between 1937-39 and is now open to the public.

It has exhibitions regularly and at the moment there is an May Gibbs exhibition. It’s charming and makes me want to read Snuggle Pie and Cuddle Pot all over again.

The gardens are vast and spill down the hill towards the ocean.

There is a rose garden which frequently hosts weddings.

There is s children’s story time trail.

Even elephants!

The house holds many events and the one at Christmas sounds a treat. They open the grounds for carols and the ‘turn on the lights ‘ event. What could be better.

If you’re in Adelaide you should visit this gorgeous gem.

http://www.carrickhill.sa.gov.au/the-story/artworks/antibes

Opals: Fossicking in Lightening Ridge.

A little nightcap last night gave us s reason to have a sleep in so we wandered to breakfast around 8.30.

The town was waking and the sun was shining. Breakfast was at the Green Gecko 🦎. Another success! Delicious and served with a country smile.

We made our plans for the day and started with the Art Gallery across the road. The John Murray Gallery is a popular stop on the tourist trail. And with good reason.

The building itself screams outback. The paintings on the shed wall capture the outback in a humorous way.

Inside was just as interesting. We watched a movie with John Murray talking about his arrival in the Ridge and starting an art gallery. We saw his home with its natural materials. His art is colourful and fun and I couldn’t resist buying one or two small pieces.

No photo inside. 😫

We crossed the road walked past the emus on the wall and went into the opal cave. A renowned shop selling the famous black opal.

The shop is done out like a cave full of treasures. I spotted a beautiful black opal reflecting the most gorgeous colours. Not in any setting. A single opal for $12,000. Wow.

The sales people patiently explained how to spot a good quality opal let us look, examine and try various pieces of jewellery and good naturally farewelled us after we didn’t buy anything.

We tossed up over the next stop and decided on the underground mine. It was a few km out of town.

We hatted up and down we went. It was cool and a little claustrophobic. But fun. Another little movie explaining how to fossick. I think you’d have to be determined!

And you’d have to like being underground!

The owner of the mine was from Shorncliffe Qld. He told us if you worked hard mining you would make a good living. There are opals to be found. Perhaps a career change?

Above ground we decided it was beer o’clock. Michael promised us a tour of the 3 pubs in the scrub via the underground sculptures.

Today we could see the yellow car doors so followed them to the sculpture underground. Sadly closed for lunch. For 3 hours! So we continued heading out of town. Past the big emu.

A quick stop at the great church and then we spotted a sign. Yes it was the pub. Well one of them.

We drove across dusty, unpaved stony roads until finally The Club in the Scrub.

Such a great place complete with its own library!

We ordered food in the nick of time from the rather unsmiling waitress.

Helen ordered a large chips to share and boy …….. was it large!

What a place.

We loved it.

After lunch we decided to ‘blow this fox hole ‘. A rather fun saying meaning ‘that we got to go’

Back along some more tough roads past miners houses of varying quality.

Past a memorial to those who had died

And past Nashy’s thong tree whoever Nashy is!

And then a few dusty kilometres later the next Pub.

Disabled parking is provided with a smile.

Even bus parking!

We loved it all. Especially the friendly blokes , the miners enjoying a Friday afternoon beer. We joined them and had fun.

Before the dusty road back.

Back to Ridge and dinner at the Bowling Club. . Or as it’s known. The Bowlo!

Another great day in the big dusty outback!

Lightening Ridge: one pub at a time.

The day started with a walk around the corner to a lovely country cafe with lashings of bacon and farm fresh eggs. Nothing like a country style breakfast.

After breakfast the team split! The boys went in the direction of Boomi in search of the pub. It’s about half an hour from Goondiwindi and is a tiny town but has a great pub.

The girls stayed behind to boost the economy. I had spied some lovely bamboo deck chairs in a lovely parrot print. I had to check them out!

Main Street browsing in a country town is always a treat. Everyone seems friendly, there are things you don’t see at other places – in the city, and it doesn’t take too long.

Like Inverell from a few weeks ago Gundi, as it’s known here has a good feeling. The shops are attractive, the street scape is well cared for and the Art Deco buildings add character.

We did our best to spend a $$$. Jill bought black pants, Helen a dress and I got those deck chairs. I bought the set. They are lovely !

The chairs squeezed into the boot and off we went. We headed towards Weengallon on h’way 85. We’d been told by the dress shop owner that the community had held a fundraiser lunch there for the 5th year in a row to raise funds for breast and prostrate cancer. Over 500 attended. It sounded like a wonderful community event.

Weengallon consists of a lovely church and hall and not much more. The ladies (and men I presume) travel from km away to attend. I’d love to go but apparently it sells out in an hour!

Along the 85 we drove, anticipating our arrival at the Nindigully Pub. It’s quite famous. In a recent episode of Back Roads it featured mostly because it’s an amazing outback pub which serves up the worlds biggest hamburger. It’s as big as a pizza, costs $60 and sadly for us takes 2hrs to prepare. We didn’t order ahead so no big burger.

We did enjoy the meals we had though. Smaller burgers! And steak sandwiches. And the atmosphere of the pub first serving drinks in 1864.

The indoor dining room.

We enjoyed a beer and explored the pub both indoors and out. It’s a fascinating part of Australian history. And obviously very popular with travellers and the grey Nomads (retired older people who travel Australia in caravans)

After lunch we headed into Thallon. It’s become a tourist stop – (again seen on Back Roads) for its big Wombat and it’s painted silos. The wombat is hugh and has footholds up one side to encourage climbers. Such fun.

The silos are beautiful. They stand proudly against a blue sky and are just so Australian.

I have to share this joke at Thallon’s expense. Our friend Helen’s daughter sent a message saying ‘Nice place you’re in – is there a beauty thallon, hair thallon or maybe a nail thallon! ‘ 😂

Back into the cars we drove in convoy to our next stop.

The Hebel Hotel. This journey is becoming a pub crawl. And why not. There are some excellent pubs! This one is again not really part of a town. It’s a destination.

We had a drink – —drivers not enjoying a beer 😢 but able to enjoy the challenge of a game of darts.

Aware that the afternoon was passing and wanting to avoid the kamikaze kangaroos we tackled the last half hour into Lightening Ridge.

Driving into the Ridge we faced the population sign. Instead of a number it just had a ?

Anybody’s guess. People definitely come and go from the town as they try their luck finding opals. Especially the Black Opal.

The art around town is fun

We checked into our motel and had a drink as we were so dry! Then decided to drive to the ‘Night Sky Spectacular. ‘

It was 3 km out of town following the yellow car doors. Only problem, it was dark, we couldn’t see the car doors in the trees (a substitute for arrows) it was pitch dark. So we were late. It had rained a little so the show was moved into a shed. We crept in and watched a 30 min film about Lightening Ridge and fossicking for opals. Sadly no Night Sky Spectacular tonight!

Looking forward to fossicking tomorrow.

Mt Agung holds us in Bali

If you have to be held hostage somewhere Bali isn’t a bad place to be.

We’ve spent the day just lounging in a cabana by the pool. With the pool in front and green lawn and the beach behind it’s pretty good.

There has been a little to and fro from the reception trying to organise rooms in case we had to stay another night.

So it seems the Qantas flight is going tonight ( or early tomorrow) at 12.30am. This is a surprise to us as the Virgin crew flying with me to Brisbane have been partying by the pool all day and said ‘if we don’t fly then Qantas won’t ‘ seems she was wrong!

So I’ll be here alone night and tomorrow after they all leave the hotel at 9.30 pm. Then the dreaded overnight flight.

The kids have been in and out of the pool all day. Great fun.

We had a little walk along the beach and chatted to a few locals offering manicures, massage and a chat!

So people who come to Bali should not complain if they get held up here due to volcanic activity. The airlines don’t like it , the locals don’t like it, but there’s nothing you can do.

There is no insurance to cover the hold up, so plan for it or perhaps don’t come to Bali.

Safe travels everyone.

Passing Time in Bali

It’s amazing how time passes when you’re not doing much!

Bali is super relaxed.

A day goes like this:

Wake up when a 3 year old Zali or 4 year old Jack appear at the bedroom door. Chat in bed. Share a story or play a game.

Prepare for breakfast- walk to the restaurant. Share the delicious breakfast and the chat, the hat swapping and some games.

Back to the villa for a swim and playing games together.

Then have a walk to another area we haven’t explored . Catch a buggy to the gate or for exercise walk! Walk!

The streets aren’t the easiest places to walk so we manoeuvre the ups and downs of the pavements which have a gold star in a red square every few metres.

Today we walked and explored the W hotel by the beach. It’s beautifully done – from the tree lined drive way

to the restaurant with a lovely pool area. Just right for a G&T!

The graffiti/ street art livens up the buildings

We usually have a sleep in the afternoon before heading out for dinner.

Last night we went to Bikini.

What a great restaurant. I’ll do a whole separate post on the restaurants we visited.

Tonight we walked down a long drive to Potato Head Beach Club. What a scene! It’s a great place to relax with a drink and watch the sun set.

We sat on the lounges near the pool. The dress seemed to be Bikinis 👙. The smaller the better. But we maintained our standard and dressed up, not down!

We watched the sunset with a cocktail in our hand and talked about the great week we’ve had together.

There was a large sculpture at the entrance which depicted the waste all salvaged along the shores of Bali’s west coast. 5,000 thongs or flip flops as they are known in some countries!

Another lovely day.

Tomorrow we pack and leave late at night.