Breakfast is pretty splendid at the Sherlock, served in a light and airy conservatory and featuring a cheery chef who cooks omelettes to order. This morning he had a notice offering sausage and egg. R has discovered parathas, both stuffed and with spiced hash potatoes, and will now be expecting them everywhere. We have enjoyed our stay at the hotel very much helped by the cheerful and attentive approach of all of the staff from the manager down. We settle up, leave munificent tips (according to D) and climb into the waiting car for our trip to Coimbatore. The train times have conspired against us taking the trip by rail.
The road is awful, the traffic is quite heavy and the general driving standard is appalling so nothing new there. Coming up to Ooty on the train there is a fairly steady climb and the direction maintained is pretty consistent. Travelling by road you get more of an idea of the height that has been climbed as the road zig-zags across the mountain face, descending in a series of steep hairpins until suddenly we are on the plain passing through palm groves. From Mettupalayam the road passes mainly through built up areas and progress is erratic but we have allowed plenty of time.
We arrive at 11.40 which gives time to find our platform, buy some water and have a nosey round. The lady platform sweepers appear to have a new toy although they may have missed out on the training course. Our train left the north east of India 50 hours previously but is only 10 minutes late arriving in Coimbatore. We hustle down the very long platform (tip for travellers - the seat numbers are painted on the outside of the coach underneath the windows). Surprisingly the coach is less than half full and we have no problem settling in to our window seats.
For the first stage of the journey the train threads it's way though some spectacular conical hills studded with rocky outcrops. As usual the best photo opportunities fly by at full speed, but we slow to a crawl giving D the chance to take photos from the open coach door.
Train 13351 is classed as an express which means that it stops for long periods at unlikely wayside stations. Shoranur takes the biscuit as we sit there for 50 minutes. It gives us plenty of time to examine the local spelling idiosyncrasies. Here the train reverses direction and we head south in a similar stop/start manner.
The last part of the journey is in the dark so we decide to type up today's rather thin offering. As we choose photos we realise that we have an audience. This steadily grows until 5 of the onboard catering team are sitting watching a slideshow of our holiday snaps so far. We have never had such an attentive audience. These guys are based in Alleppey, do a three day trip to Dhanbad, then return the next day on a three day trip home, then have one day off before starting again. We finally get to Alleppey where we are collected by an auto sent from our guest house. Alleppey is pretty warm even at 10 p.m.