As I entered in my fifties, I re-planned my vacation schedules. I was planning a slow retirement from active workforce. This is the time, when one visits extended family more often. Most of the siblings have empty nests as children are settled in jobs in different cities.Their life has become simpler and they look forward to spend time with each other. I and RB decided that we must go on two vacations besides our family trips. 

I have settled in the western part of India. The summers are very long and harsh here. A trip to some colder destination makes sense here. Incidentally, my wedding anniversary also falls in May, so summer vacation timing is almost fixed. The second vacation is planned for winter months of December and January.

This January, 2020, our destination was Munnar in Kerala. This has been my second visit to the "God's Own Country". It was in 1989, when I first visited Kerala. 

Travel plan:      
The travel plan is simple. A flight or two to Cochin  and then to our resort in Munnar by a cab. There were no direct flights from Ahmedabad, which suited our sleep preferences.  😪 

Getting up early morning to go for a vacation is never a preferred choice for me. We opted for a late night flight connection which will bring us to Cochin in the morning hours. 
We boarded a late night flight  for Hyderabad where we have a layover of around 4.30 hours. Spending time on airports or in travel is better than getting up at an unearthly hour to pick up a direct flight. 😊  The flight touched Hyderabad in midnight. We have to spend about 2 hours in the lounge before getting ready for our next flight. Since the luggage was booked for both the flights, we went to a waiting premium lounge to spend our time and do petpuja. That refreshing aroma of coffee called me by name and I have to have that cup of coffee. I had a look at the dinner buffet from my seat. By the time we finished our coffee, they have changed the buffet .  :(
Earlier spread had popular north indian fare and aroma was very inviting. But the food did not have my stamp on them, so by the time, I  finished my coffee, the whole buffet was replaced by south Indian and chinese fare. I had idli and vada with chutney, cake slices and mysore pak barfi(s). The chinese dishes were dry manchurian and noodles but my love for them is less as  compared to my love for vada and idli. After satisfying my hunger pangs, my attention is now diverted to find a place to relax and stretch. It's then I found that sofas were meant only for  a comfortable sitting and not for sleeping for obvious reasons, you know. 😃 The innovative early birds have occupied all the available sofas without arms. They joined them to have a makeshift bed. Anyway, when I could not find any, the next best thing was to spend time with a book. I utilized my time to finish my latest book Anne Frank's Diary on Kindle. And the time flew by. Books have that magic wand, which takes away the boredom from waiting time.
From Airport to Resort:
We reached Cochin in the morning around 6.25 am. As we came out of airport, we found ourselves engulfed in aroma of fresh coffee. A small outlet was serving piping hot idli, vada, sambhar and filter coffee. Our pre-booked taxi was to come at 7.45 AM, so to kill two birds with one stone, (to satiate our hunger and kill time) we opted for a breakfast of idli, vada  sambar with chutneys and hot cuppa of filter coffee. After filling our tummies with yummies, we moved to pick-up area and waited for our cab. He came in time. A proud localite, Himod was explaining us places we were passing by. We asked him to stop at some nice eating place serving local food. 
After traveling for two hours, he stopped by a small but neat eating joint.

Sadya was a small and clean place. It's menu has the routine dosa, idli, vada and some rice dishes.  


I asked the waiter for suggesting a local dish and he suggested Puttu. In their menu, they have also highlighted puttu.Sadya has   parking and clean washrooms also. 

Puttu is made up from rice flour and coconut. It's served with kala chana , dry moong dal , rice papad and a banana. I enjoyed the simple meal. And we get back to our remaining journey to our resort in Munnar. 
Dreamcatcher Resort:
In another 1.5 hours, we reached Dreamcatcher resort. It was in the centre of a vast tea and spice garden of 35 acres. The sight  of vast green tea garden was soothing to tired eyes. 
We were so engrossed in admiring the beauty around and we missed our welcome drink. :( We went to our room and after freshening up, as I opened the sliding doors, the view was mesmerising. The high hill top, surrounded by tall trees and chirping of birds filled the atmosphere.
We have told at reception to send Tea for two with mixed veg pakoras, as this was the only snacks available at that time and the safest. By safest, I mean, no one can go wrong with pakoras. :)
The breakfast and dinners were to be served in their dining hall. They have a good spread of buffet. 
Have a look at one of the breakfast buffet :

We had three breakfasts and the breakfast spread did not seem to be repetitive or boring. The usual ensemble of cornflakes, hot and cold milk,  fresh fruits and fruit juices , bread toasts with butter and jam, eggs ( boiled or omelette ) was followed by a north Indian combo like aloo - poori or chana bhatura , some south Indian items like idli, dosa, appam, puttu etc with different types of chutnys along with tea and coffee. The dosa was not as thin as I always strive to accomplish while cooking at home. Their dosa was as thick as our chapatis and I found it to be tastier than what I make at home or served in restaurants. 

The breakfasts were very sumptuous and tasty, we never felt the need to have a full fledged lunch. Our usual routine was to have a grand breakfast and then move out from the dining hall itself to explore the vast tea estate on foot. After roaming around , clicking photographs or just absorbing the freshness of the surroundings for few hours , we used to come back to room around 1.30 - 2 pm. It becomes warmer outside. That makes an outing of almost 3 hours in the first half of the day. We have taken  some snacks with us and Wagh Bakri instant tea sachets, typical of every Gujju on the move.  Before having that beauty sleep, we used to have our favourite tea with khakhras or some other dry nashto ( as they call in Gujarat) / snacks. 
Another outing after the beauty sleep was our routine. After relishing another round of tea  from the resort with some fresh snacks, which is usually either of these three - mixed veg pakodas  or veg cutlets or paneer pakoras. The evenings were full of chirping  birds coming home , sunsets, moonlit nights and bright stars, which were missed in Ahmedabad. 

 The dinners were also an interesting affair. Dinners as usual started with soup and  starters, followed by vast dinner spread. It was comprised of  a mix of north Indian, south Indian and non vegetarian spread Inevitably, there were two desserts and my sweet tooth were very happy. They need more creativity in dessert section. No one enjoys repetition in food on a holiday. I was told that all the fresh fruits were from their own farms and it was . Specially people like me, who get their vegetables and fruits from the super markets have forgotten the taste of such fresh fruits. one corner of the dining hall was for honeymooners. That corner was kept dark without any bulbs or light and had only candles and flowers. Those marketing tactics which mentioned about candle lit dinners. :) 
For the first time, I have seen plants of green cardamom plant,  black pepper and other spices like lawang etc . 


Pineapple Chat :
I have never eaten Pineapple chat ever before. It was very tasty. It's taste has lingered on. Ripe pineapple from the estate was cut into small pieces. Mixed with finely chopped onions , add salt to taste, chaat masala and chilly did the magic.