A horrible and chaotic journey from Goa back down to Kochi ensued, and 48 hours later than intended, we finally found our way back to Kerala. Our final stop in India, we felt the relief of returning somewhere familiar as we drove into little old Fort Kochi for our last few nights. This time around we stayed in a divine little hotel called Breath Inn, run by the sweetest couple, in a lovely bright room that was such amazing value for money. We wandered the colourful streets, popping into the plentiful art galleries and drinking iced teas at Qissa, Kashi Arts Cafe, and Loafers, and eating almost all our meals at Sri Krishna (I can't say no to a $1 thali plate or an 80 cent dosa). We also went to a sunrise yoga session, and did a day trip down to Alleppey, buying a $1 return local train ticket, sitting with our legs dangling out the door and watching the palm trees and backwaters of Kerala whizz past us. If you're down in Alleppey and looking for somewhere to eat, go go go to a place called Hotel Hot Kitchen, a very locals only joint where we had one of the best meals of our trip; endless Keralan rice and curries, masala dosa, and the best uttapum I've had in India, all for just a couple of dollars.

And so concludes our time in India; six weeks has flown by, but isn't that always the case when you're in a whirlwind of colour, chaos, noise, attempting to soak up and comprehend the whirlwind that is a place such as India? Next stop, Indonesia!

From the chilly north we made our way back down to the warmth, flying into Goa (bless Spicejet and their cheap flights) and heading to Palolem, a beautiful beach in the south of Goa. We spent our time swimming and soaking up the sun mostly, but also hired a kayak one morning and paddled around the coast line, did plenty of yoga including an amazing sunset yoga session on the beach with an Irish yoga teacher we met in a random restaurant, and found a few amazing places to eat. Louis also found a few good places to do some bouldering up the north end of the beach, which he was pretty stoked about.

We stayed in a hostel called Summer by the Hostelcrowd, which was a nice, relaxed place to stay just a ten minute walk out of the hubbub of town and from the beach. It didn't have the ambience of the classic coco hut on the beach situation, which is what the majority of accommodation in Palolem is, but it was cheap, quiet and had a kitchenette which we cooked a couple of meals in.

Our favourite places to eat were at the only pure veg Indian place in town called Shree Ganesh, which did decent curries, masala dosa and uttapum and had the loveliest service; at a fabulous vegan/vegetarian cafe called Zest which was filled with other travellers and chill vibes, and had a great smoothie menu, did a mean chia pudding and a super fresh sushi bowl, as well as the best rice paper rolls. We also went to a place called The Space Goa for tea one morning, which is a lush little spot with what looked like an amazing, fresh menu. They also have a little deli/grocery where I picked up some raw buckwheat crackers and gluten free muesli, plus they have other goodies like rice cakes, jams, pickled turmeric, teas etc.

Palolem was a relaxing little dream (but not too relaxing; I've never been more hassled to take a boat ride in my life) (we didn't take any boat rides, by the way) (don't tell me what to do). Here are a few photos I snapped along the way.

Throw me into a place that is said to be the home of yoga and you're bound to find me a very happy gal. Rishikesh, in particular Lakshman Jhula, the popular hippy dippy small village up river, felt like a very special place from the get go; nestled amongst the foothills of the Himalaya, mother Ganga in all her milky blue ice cold glory flowing through the middle of it, chants singing out constantly and incense burning fervently.

We spent five nights in Lakshman Jhula, staying at a hostel called Bunk Stay Hostel, which reminded me a lot of the hostels over in Europe; common areas, rooftop views, plenty of other travellers, a classic, cheap, no frills place to rest your head, with the addition of the most doped up staff out.

Whilst there, we went white water rafting (highly recommended for the phenomenal views you get just floating down the Ganga surrounded by mountains), hiked to Neergarh Waterfall, did many walks along the Ganga (if you cross over the bridge and walk left along the road, you can walk along a relatively quiet road following the river upstream for kilometres and get some beautiful views, crisp air, right up to the next bridge along), plus I had my palms read and did plenty of yoga. You can also walk along the river downstream to Ram Jhula, another small village not too far away.

Probably on account of all the yogis in training, Lakshman Jhula had plentiful vegan options for eating. Also probably on account of it being situated way up in the mountains, the food wasn't as fresh as you'd hope and a few of the cafes we went to were a little underwhelming. However! Some of my favourite, not-underwhelming, tasty cafes were:

Ramana's, a beautiful organic cafe which grows their own produce, making it a safe place to eat a salad and get your greens in! It's attached to an orphanage and school in which the children help out with the cafe and with growing all the produce, and all proceeds are directed back into the school. There's also an amazing organic store called Pundir General Store in the village, which sells so many goodies from rice cakes and gluten free muesli to tahini, fresh almond butter, soy milk and "soy paneer" aka tofu (ha ha). They also have a selection of freshly baked cakes, including vegan doughnuts and cookies. Amazing. Plus they have a cafe above the store which we didn't actually eat at but had many a coconut milk chai and coconut milk banana lassi at. My other cafe recommendation is Cafe Okieri, an absolutely beautiful little cafe run by a Japanese lady which does sushi on Sundays (glory glory!) and Japanese thali plates through out the week. Finally, we found a place called Mocha's Dosa House (random, I know) near the bridge which did some decent and cheap masala dosa and uttapum.

Here are a handful of photos from beautiful Lakshman Jhula!

We spent only a couple of days in Bundi, a small town in Rajasthan. I'd heard some good things about it, mostly because of its quietness and locals-only feel. It definitely was a change of pace to the cities of Rajasthan, and the locals were always down for a chai. The highlight of Bundi is its amazing Fort which looks down upon the town, so very old and run down and decrepit, beauty in the ruins. A local showed us around the Fort, helping us to scare off monkeys and fight our way through the vines that have taken over the place. Beyond the Fort, there wasn't too much to do in Bundi and I didn't feel we needed to stay very long at all. There are a few step wells to be found in town, but no one takes much care of them and they're a bit of a sorry sight. Here are a handful of photos I took whilst in Bundi!

Sweet, soft, dreamy Udaipur, I would have been perfectly content to swan around your cobblestoned streets for days and days. No photos that I took of this city seemed to do it justice. Udaipur is soft and romantic, nestled amongst layers of mountains, Lake Pichola at its heart. The dreamiest architecture, rooftop restaurants that line the water's edge, smiling locals who take so much pride in their city, fresh food; most definitely a winning combination. Every time we came down to the water's edge and looked out across the lake my heart skipped a little beat; this city is honestly the Venice of the East.

We found an amazing little self-contained apartment on airBnB called Silver Moon Haveli, which was right in the heart of the old city, super close to the City Palace and a short walk down to the lake. Having our own kitchen was the best thing (I've missed cooking so much!) and we made quite a few of our own meals with produce we'd sourced from the most amazingly fresh local markets (which we were told is grown locally without chemicals!). As a result, I don't actually have too many restaurant suggestions for Udaipur. However we did have lunch at a place called Millets of Mewar a couple of times which had such beautiful relaxed vibes, an adorable resident kitten, and completely vegan, fresh, tasty food. We asked them to tone down the oil and they were more than happy to, making our meals that much more fresh. The "thai" green curry, the aloo gobi, the mixed veg curry and the chapatti were all so great. We also ate quite a few times at a random tiny South Indian place super close to the City Palace; when you're facing the City Palace, it's just up a little alley way to the right. The dosa was okay, but we mainly went because his uttapum were so fresh and tasty (and because everywhere we go requires hunting down the nearest South Indian joint).

Whilst in Udaipur we spent most of our time wandering the streets, meandering the amazingly fresh fruit and veggie markets (ask any local, they'll direct you in the right way), climbing up a nearby mountain a couple of times for some killer views out across the city and the lake, visiting the City Palace museum (not really worth the money in my opinion, you're better off just having a wander around the grounds), watching 007 Octopussy at a rooftop restaurant one evening, and, of course, we went on a sunset boat ride around Lake Pichola. We also couldn't leave without a sunset rooftop drink at a divine hotel called Lake Pichola Hotel, although there are so many beautiful luxury hotels along the water's edge you're really spoiled for choice. It was all so relaxed and I felt so comfortable within the city so quickly; real talk, if you only have time to go one city in Rajasthan, make it Udaipur.