Varkala Beach, in Kerala state, was my last stop in Southern India and my last stop in India. I stayed for nearly ten days waiting for my flight from the nearby city of Trivandrum to London and decided to splurge a little.
I would be the first person to admit that I don’t really like the beach all that much. Although I grew up practically in the ocean, by the time I was a teenager I was bored by endless hours doing nothing on sand and grew more attached to my computer instead.
Yes, I was a nerd.
But each time I smell that familiar scent of suncream and seawater, it makes me smile. And after my experiences in Fort Cochin, smiling and sunshine was just what I needed.
So for almost ten days, my routine was the same.
Wake up at 1o in the morning.
Have brunch at a cafe on the cliff overlooking the beach.
Read on the beach.
Read on the beach.
Drink a lime soda and use the cafe’s wifi.
Eat fish for dinner.
And it was awesome.
The guesthouse I stayed in was pretty awesome, too. Hill View Beach Resort was recommended to me by a Tibetan woman who owned a shop nearby, and at first I was worried it would be way out of my budget.
However, it was apparently the slowest start to the high season Varkala had ever seen and the place was basically empty, so it didn’t take much effort on my part to bargain the little hut down from 1400 rupees to 700 rupees a night ($14).
Of course, by the time I left, a few days before Christmas, the place was packed.
I even had a fancy bathroom (see! not all bathrooms in India are like those in Varanasi!) with a western toilet, a bath-tub and shower. And I had a fridge! I love it when I get a fridge!
Varkala is fabulously laid back. The food is great and the fish is fresh, and second-hand bookstalls line the cliff above the beach. It’s a completely different world from the rest of India.
The most drama I experienced while I was there was when two guys working in the kitchen at my guesthouse’s adjoining cafe, Cafe del Mar, had a huge fight, one threatening the other with a meat cleaver.
If you’ve got a little cash to burn and want a friendly, clean and comfortable stay, I highly recommend Hill View, my home for nearly two weeks and when I go back to Varkala, that’s where I’ll stay. It’s a great place for solo female travellers – the staff are friendly without being intrusive, a welcome change after some of my experiences in India.
When I left Varkala, it meant I was leaving India. The guesthouse arranged a driver to pick me up just before midnight for my red-eye flight to London from Trivandrum airport, about an hour away, and as we sped through the dark and shuttered streets of Kerala, I realised I was incredibly sad to be leaving India, just when it seemed like we were starting to understand each other.
There are some places in the world that when I visit I know without a doubt I will return to, many times in my life. Nepal. New York City. London. Bangkok.
And India. Because this?
Is a love affair that’s just beginning.