Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Day in the Life

Well, we've been in Varkala for four full days now, each day essentially taking the same shape. We usually lounge around in the mornings, heading to breakfast around 9 or 10AM. There are plenty of places for breakfast along the cliff, and we've sampled the various places. You can get an Indian breakfast of dosas (savory crepes filled with potatoes and spices) or more American/Australian breakfasts of eggs (or baked beans) and toast. Many of the breakfast places also bake good German bread. We linger over breakfast with lots of coffee, often playing Scrabble or writing in our journals.

Then, after changing into our beach attire, we walk down the stairs to the beach, rent an umbrella and hang out for a few hours, taking dips in the water in between games of Scrabble or reading. In lieu of eating a full lunch we usually buy a whole pineapple or some mangos (or both) from one of the numerous ladies plying the beach selling fruit. They slice the pineapple right in front of you, and the pineapple is so ripe you can eat the whole thing, core and all.
Then, around 5PM we pack it up and head back to our "resort" for showers and dinner. We choose from among the many restaurants along the cliff for dinner. Or, we'll walk to the Temple Junction, where there are a few local restaurants, one in particular that we've gone to twice. They serve really good thali, a staple meal of South India, which is rice served with several types of sauces including daal (lentils) and curried potatos. Traditionally you mix the rices and sauces together and eat it with your right hand, but this restaurant is nice enough to include a spoon.

After dinner we might sit in the air conditioning of the Internet cafe for a half hour or so, or hit up one of the bakeries for lassis and chocolate cake. Then we head back to our room, arrange the mosquito net and go to bed.

One of the best parts about this whole routine has been how little it's costing us. Anyone who's interested in a cheap beach vacation would do well to consider India. Yes, getting here is a hassle (and expensive), and there are Visa concerns (like applying and paying ahead of time) but it has been one of the cheapest places we've stayed so far. Here are the typical costs for the day I described above:

Room: Basic room with a mosquito net and fan costs 400 rupees per night, a little over $9 US.

Food: Breakfast at one of the tourist restaurants for the two of us is 180 rupees, about $4. A pineapple on the beach is between 60 and 80 rupees ($1.30 to $1.80), depending on size, mangos 20 or 30 rupees each (50 or 60 cents). Dinner at the local restaurant is, no kidding, 120 rupees ($2.75), including (non-alcoholic) drinks. At the tourist restaurants it's about twice that, but for variety we've had sunset views and excellent North Indian food (naan, various types of masala or korma dishes) for about 300 rupees ($6.80). If we want dessert, it will cost about 100 rupees ($2.25) for shakes and chocolate cake.

Other: Umrella rental is 150 rupees ($3.40), bottled water is about 50 rupees ($1.25) a day for the two of us. Internet is 40 rupees (about 90 cents) per hour. That's about it, as there are no transport costs since we walk everywhere.

If you add it all up, it's about $25 to $30 per day for the two of us. This is about 1/4 of our allocated budget of $100 a day for our trip. Of course, the $100 a day includes airfare and transport costs, but still, it's very cheap (and fun) here. You can see why we've stayed four days.

But, there is still a lot of ground to cover in India, so tomorrow we're heading to Alleppey, about 100 miles north of here to see the famed "backwaters" of Kerala.


  1. Can I pretend that I wrote this comment on the 5th, and wish you a very happy birthday, and many happy returns? What a great way to celebrate; beach time, good restaurants. I sure enjoy the blog & the both do such a nice job of keeping us informed and entertained. Love from Vermont.

  2. I need a Valarka Vacation for Sure!!!!


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