The tour starts at 08:30 hours- the time Fort Cochin locals head out to their work places. Once inside the bus the Guide will help your clients find their seats. There are seats reserved for ladies, senior citizens and the differently abled too. The Bus Conductor will keep calling out the names of the various stops between Fort Cochin and Ernakulam, which is a 45 minute ride. Go past the Willingdon Island – much of it is claimed from the Lake of Cochin, constructed by filling in dredged soil around a natural island that existed previously. It is home to the Port of Cochin and Cochin Naval Base, as well as other government establishments. Your clients will buy the bus tickets (monies will be provided by the Guide – INR 15 per person from Cochin to Ernakulam) from the conductor. The Guide can do it too on their behalf, but we rather clients buy it from the conductor as a part of the experience. No need to go anywhere while doing so. The conductor will come near their seats. It is considered polite to offer your seat to the elderly/pregnant ladies/women with small children. I offered my seat to an elderly lady. She was hesitant as it was quite obvious that Iam not a local but a tourist. But she finally agreed. Your clients may want to do so just like a local would do and take it as a part of the experience.
When they get down at Ernakulam – the business district of Cochin, your clients will be taken on a tuk-tuk to the charming Broadway Market. A walk on the Broadway is like hitching a ride in a travelling circus. A surprise lurks at every corner. You have wholesalers and retail shops – about 300 of them, some with third or fourth generation family owners – packed end to end on each street and alley leading in and out of Broadway. You’ll find an entire street packed with stores selling utensils and in another you will have many shoe stores. Others are known for oils, clothes, furniture, books, electronic parts, spices, toys, bicycles, vegetables, fruits, fish and just about everything you could possibly think of. Explore the many nooks, crannies and alleys at your own pace. Great photo opportunities too. Later, have coffee at the Indian Coffee House which is a fascinating story of India’s largest chain of employee run and employee owned restaurants. The return journey from Ernakulam to Fort Cochin is a breezy ride of 15 minutes on the public ferry and costs INR 3 per person. Your clients will stand in the queue and buy tickets for their ferry ride, just like the locals. On this ferry ride get to see the clear division and contrast between the business district of Ernakulam, Willingdon Island and Fort Cochin. On Willingdon Island stands the old Port Trust Office which is a beautiful heritage structure. Next to the old building stands the new office, which is a modern construction, yet striking in its own way. The shore of Matancherry and Fort Cochin is lined with old, colonial structures, some more majestic than the others, a few of them now heritage hotels such as the Brunton Boatyard. We will get to see some of the venues of the Kochi Muzuris Biennale – India’s first ever biennial of international contemporary art- such as the Pepper House Café and Aspinwall House.