Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Allepey travelogue | Alappuzha beach & boating in the backwaters of Allepey

You need to visit Alappuzha, romantically known as Allepey, to understand why exactly it’s called the ‘Venice of the East’. The quaint town is just around two hours South of Cochin (which is connected by air from major cities) and Allepey is accessible by bus or train, in a two-three hours journey. The laidback vibe of the beach town interconnected by a network of canals and waterways is a perfect beach getaway, in addition to a chance to explore the mesmerising backwaters.

I reached Allepey way past midnight and found this amazing beef curry with parotta. Yumm!

The dosas that looked like pancakes were sure amazing! Street food rocks!

The town in itself, is quite small and comprises of several backwaters and narrow canals throughout. A little distance away are a bunch of villages and wildlife sanctuaries connected by the waterways. The entire town is calm and peaceful, that you are traversed into a different timezone while there. I headed to Allepey after a short stay at Munnar and Cochin, to spend two nights in this beautiful land. Considering I love both – beaches and backwaters, I was super excited for my weekend.

It was love at first sight when Mia sneaked into my bed when I woke up

Got out of the room into this beautiful space

This being my last stop in Kerala, I didn’t have a lot of time to spare, and skipped the ayurvedic massage since I got one earlier that week in Fort Kochi. So most of my time was spent chilling at the beautiful common space at Zostel Allepey. For the uninitiated, Zostel is a chain of hostels across India and this was my fourth time staying in Zostel (I’ve stayed in Jaipur, Pushkar and Fort Kochi before this). What I love about them is they’re perfect for solo women travellers considering a lot of solo travellers stay in them!

Some idli vada for breakfast

.....and some dosa with chutney and sambhar too!

So well, when I booked Zostel Allepey, I wasn’t sure about what to expect. It was just an extended trip from Cochin and it was a decision taken in haste. I constantly hoped that it didn’t disappoint, and it sure didn’t. To begin with, I was insanely late when I got there. I reached well past midnight, and the property manager Varun was there to welcome me. That was the kindest gesture. That wasn’t it. The folks at Zostel Allepey helped me plan and itinerary and assisted me in figuring the best way to explore Allepey.

One of my favourite photos of Reina's bag, Varun's computer with world map cover and Mia

Walking out of Zostel onto the beach

Mia being herself

The cherry on the cake was, it is located right next to the beach. Like, the main entrance opens right onto the beach. The terrace offers a wonderful sea view and has hammocks where you can chill all day! The common area on the ground floor is always buzzing with the best kinda people! I met some amazing people while there. I have lost track of the number of hours I’ve spent chilling on the hammocks on the terrace. Truly a wonderful experience. I truly recommend you try Zostel Allepey if you’re looking to experience staying in a backpackers hostel while traveling solo, or with a friend or two!

I couldn't get enough of her

One of the best things of travelling solo is meeting new people...here's Reina!

Love the details

The place next to Zostel

Empty Allepey beach

Walking around Zostel

The Allepey beach, was right outside Zostel. So I kept going frequently during my stay there. A short walk (approx. 900 mts) leads to the main Alappuzha beach which is buzzing with restaurants and little carts serving street food. Though the beach doesn’t have beach shacks (like we are used to in Goa), they do have beach-facing restaurants right across the road. I did enjoy dinner at one of those (I guess it was called Dreamers Restaurant) with some friends I made at the hostel.

Beautiful Allepey beach in the evening

Sunset time

Walks on the beach at sunset

...with some new found friends

...and sundowner with them

....and dinner!

You can easily walk around the beach area, or take an auto if you want to go into the town. The narrow streets are lined with really beautiful houses, has a train track and a highway cutting right in between. I wandered around a bit, before heading to the boat jetty which is lined with boats of various sizes. What’s also interesting is – they have public ferries which ferry people from one place to the other. You can easily hop onto those, or choose to take a houseboat, a shikara or a motorboat. Click here to know about the types of boats to explore thebackwaters of Allepey, Kerala.

Waking up early to head to the boat jetty

Chill time

Wonderful backwaters

Being my happy self and lovin' every moment of my boat ride

Exploring the countryside

Houseboat traffic

Pulling over at the toddy shop

Love the view

Cool captain who told me so much about the place

The villages of Kerala

People do live by the rivers and use boats for commuting 
I hopped onto a motorboat and off we sailed towards the lake and then into the villages in the vicinity! Some of the houses lining the canals have their own private boats which the folks use to go around the place and to the town. It’s a truly wonderful experience to sit and watch the world go by and the life in villages. I stopped by at a toddy shop and grabbed some to sip on while I chilled on the boat. The captain of the boat knew Hindi and I chatted up with him, and he did share some interesting insights of local life there.

Pulled over for lunch here

And met Neelkantan

...mesmerised by him

....he is twelve years old
It was then time for lunch and we pulled over at a homely restaurant in one of the villages. We docked our boat and were greeted by a pretty 12-year-old pet eagle, Neelakantan, who sat there in all his glory! The lunch menu was pretty interesting with a lot of local delicacies. They didn’t really have a menu, but served up local food, which I was super excited to try. And was it great!

They had fresh fish you could pick from

I got myself this

...along with a yummy local thali

One could choose the fresh catch of the day of local fish. I picked a medium sized fresh water fish karimeen (Green chromide) and a few tiger prawns which were cooked by the ladies of the house. I devoured it with a fish thali served on banana leaf, which comprised of rice, rasam, sambhar, a veggie, four type of pickles, buttermilk and fish curry. Every bit of my meal was delicious, and I’ll recommend trying the local food here!

After a while, we made our way back to the jetty after crossing a couple of kilometres of the backwaters. The experience is truly mesmerising and interesting. The rest of my time in Allepey was spent chilling at the hostel, meeting some amazing people and walking on the beach. This is what perfect vacations are made of…I guess?

Let me know what you think in comments below :)

I have no idea why I was attempting the Titanic pose

I met this man and tried talking to him for five whole minutes. He spoke to me, and I didn't get a word of what he said. But it felt great!

Hello there! That's the beautiful street art outside Zostel Allepey

Walking around led me to this rail track

Bumpy auto rides in town

The real 'queen' of the hostel

Catching the sunrise from Zostel terrace

Beautiful blue waters at sunrise

I'd love to do this all day, everyday....

Morning walks on the beach

Met another pet eagle on the beach

Last Kerala snack - fried banana one last time.. Until I come back again!

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