AT 30, I’m too old to go backpacking (I need air con and somewhere to plug in my hair-straighteners).
But I’m not too old to want to explore new places.
India has always been on my list and when it was recently voted the No1 country to visit, the shameless fashion victim in me knew the time had come.
My idea of a perfect getaway is a foodie haven featuring five-star hotels and lazy beaches like the classic kerala luxury holiday package.
My husband is more of a culture vulture who loves to indulge in a sexy spa.
So we opted for Kerala in south India where we hoped to find a bit of everything.
The result was a trip that blew away every preconception we had about India and now is at the top of our Best Ever Holiday list.
Kerala is a lush state famous for its sun-drenched beaches and Kerala houseboat packages in lazy backwaters.
It’s a place of extremes: bustling towns and lazy villages, boutique hotels and shacks on riverbanks, cheap street food and award-winning cuisine.
From the moment we were welcomed off the plane with fresh jasmine garlands we were constantly surprised and delighted by the place and its people.
One day we would be breakfasting on the balcony of our five-star hotel and 24 hours later drinking tea from metal mugs at a truck stop in the hills.
Our itinerary was created around us and what we wanted to get out of our holidays. (KTC offer off-the-peg Romantic, Activity and Family packages as well as bespoke holidays.)
The extras in our itinerary, including ayurvedic massages, Spice Village walks, cookery classes and a backwater boat tour, meant we got to see parts many tourists miss, and fell in love with them as a result.
The accommodation choices were spot on, especially the CGH Earth eco resorts where comfort doesn’t have to cost the earth (literally).
We loved Marari Beach for chilling in hammocks, Spice Village for its outstanding food and the Brunton Boatyard for a taste of the colonial life.
Our driver, Prakash, acted as a guide and historian as we meandered our way around the state via tea plantations, cattle sales, fish markets and riverside villages.
We soon learnt that Kerala is famous – even in India – for its cuisine.
Though spicy, it is flavoursome with coconut as a predominant ingredient. We loved the curried paneer.
On our first night walking around Trivandrum, the capital, we came upon a small procession of dancers.
Within minutes my husband had been swept up with them and was being handed home-made snacks and colourful flowers.
Being cynical Londoners, we checked for our wallets the second the procession had passed, but we soon learnt that people in Kerala are happy to meet strangers.
Kerala is the perfect place to experience something new in comfort and style.
An article cross posted from The Sun – UK