We decide to catch the boat to Ernakulam but I want to buy something silver so when I ask Leelu where's best she offers to drive us as she is going anyway. Also, a fellow guest, Katherine, is going to the station so Leelu takes her most of the way too. She's a really lovely hostess, very helpful and kind.
Leelu drops us at a recommended shop but it's gold only so we go to another where things are nice but not quite what I want. Then we find the silver branch of the first shop and I find a pretty ring with a moving section, engraved with flowers. Silver is sold by weight and it is 8.7 grams and 590rs. It is soon in my possession!
Then it's time for lunch and we choose a place called Subhishkar which is part of a hotel. It's got aircon which is bliss in today's humidity, and is on the wonderfully named Durbar Hall Road.
Lunch is buffet style but it is piping hot and the place is vegetarian and popular so I think it risk free. And it's rather good - a wide choice and the vegetable pilao rice is lovely, with what tastes like caraway.
At the end we have some Mysore Pak - a fudgey sweet. This version is hard and crumbly and tastes like good shortbread. The sugar will keep me going some hours! It's 320rs for both of us.
Afterwards we take a walk towards the ferry past some lovely gardens and lots of coconut sellers. We pass one man with a lot of chicks for sale.
The ferry has a divided queue for men and ladies. Just as S is close to the front the ticket office closes for about 15 mins. It's baking hot and humid and we have to wait till someone arrives to reopen the ticket office. I smile at children and make them giggle shyly.
Our tickets are 2rs 50 each and the trip is about 15 minutes. We get a grand view of docks, cranes, waterside apartment blocks and the coast of other islands.
Back in Fort Kochi we stop for some lime water and then go to the basilica. On our way it's the end of school run and children are being loaded into tuk tuks - 5 or 6 or more, and onto motorbikes.
The basilica of Santa Cruz is the second largest cathedral in India and is really lovely - it's of French design and has beautiful arches with a slightly Moorish influence and some impressive paintings. The guide is helpful and pictures are allowed.
The current building is from 1880 or so and is on the site of a much older church of 1505.
After this we go to the Indo-Portugese museum which is a fantastic collection of church articles, furniture, clothing, relics and mass items. Favourites include a splendid amethyst cross and a lovely chalice with enamel cartouches of symbols of the crucifixion - nails, wheat, a cockerel, dice and others - it is just beautiful in it's construction and symbolism.
Last is a huge map from the East India Company in 1829 with thousands of villages marked. It's such a feat of cartography and very impressive. I'd love a poster or a postcard but there are none. And a card wouldn't really do it justice...
Again the guide, Joseph, is really helpful and informative and presses our hands warmly when we leave.
As we head back the skies darken a bit and by 6ish it is raining really hard with thunder and lightning. After a while it hasn't eased off so we get the waterproofs out and go in search of dinner. We have decided on a place called The Old Courtyard, but of course the outside tables are unusable and they are full inside. Instead of waiting we make a second visit to Shala as it is nearby and was so good 2 nights ago. It has tables free and once again it doesn't disappoint, S has the veg special which is a black bean curry, like a dhal, and I have fish curry which is rich and tasty, not too spiced. The sides are something that I think is green banana and a grated beetroot dish which is good. We drink refreshing lime water.
Then it's a quick dash back as it is still raining. But it's still warm!
Our car is booked for 9am tomorrow morning so it's an earlyish night to be ready to go houseboating. If it's rainy it could be 'interesting' and rain is forecast...
Next blog may be delayed, I don't expect a signal out in the backwaters.
Onwards to the backwaters