Freedom

unwind to potential

Posts Tagged ‘holiday’

Escape to Goa

Posted by Rahul Narula on October 1, 2008

It really was something before the plan to visit Goa materialized for me. It has been roughly around 2.5 years that I have been planning to visit Goa but it never took off. Most of the times it was because I feel like vacationing in the most boring period of the year i.e June – September when there are hardly any holidays from the normal office schedule and its kinda summer/monsoon period. Now each of the past year when I thought of going to Goa during this period my plan was shot down due to the off season and monsoon period in Goa.

This year again the same thing happened but the hunch of an escape was so considerable that I couldn’t resist my temptation to plan my trip this year around. My plan got a significant boost when my parents also gave me a go ahead by agreeing to join in from Delhi. So it took another 1 hour to plan everything, considering that I have fair bit of research already done from my past plan that never went through. So the booking were completed within an hour. The dates planned were 26th September considering it to be the end of monsoons in Goa and before the peak season took off. Since this was the first time I was to be in Goa I didn’t wanted to take the risk of going in peak season when the atomosphere might not be suitable for me going with my family especially parents. Not to mention, also to take advantage of off-season rates in Goa. My only worry was that the weather shouldn’t be a spoilsport.

I booked two 4D/3N packages in Goa in Riviera de Goa resort in Arpora, North Goa. I was scheduled to reach Goa from Bangalore by bus and my parents were booked by air from Delhi. After researching a lot of the web about the preferred bus operator to Goa I decided to go with KSRTC since I had my 3.5 year daughter and also it would be my first such bus journey. I read a lot of bad reviews about Paulo Travels and the condition of their buses and slack schedule. The only other bus operator I could find who have volvo service to Goa was Seabird travels. Have not idea about how their service/buses are. I had to take on bus rather than the preferred mode train as there are only a couple of trains from Bangalore to Goa and their dates didn’t suited me. Though the return was booked on train YPR BIWEEKLY EX (number 7310). I specially wanted to write about the mode of travel as I couldn’t find too much information about it on the net.

Note : If you are planning to book either KSRTC volvo or the train (# 7310) book as early as possible as the tickets are really hard to get.

Coming to the day of my journey we reached the Platform 1 in Kempegowda Bus Station which was the departure point of the Airavath service to Panjim. The bus started right on time at 7.30 PM and was a comfortable journey. The bus was in good condition and we were provided with blankets and a bottle of water inside the bus. The journey was about 14 hours via Hubli, Karwar and we reached Panjim bus stand around 9.30 AM. We took a taxi to our resort and checked-in the resort at around 10.30 AM.

Day 1

My room

My room

The weather was near perfect with a clan sky and no sign of clouds or rain. It was still time before my parents were scheduled to arrive from Delhi. The resort was beautiful and  nicely done and was perfect for family stay. My room on the ground floor opened right on to the pool and I really couldn’t resist to cool myself off into it. So I took a dive immediately and enjoyed it thoroughly. After spending about an hour in the pool I felt too hungry and went straight off to the restaurant Flame and filled myself with some nice food. By the time we completed our lunch it was time that my parents arrived in the resort. Soon after their lunch and some rest we decided to visit the Baga Beach which was around 2 kms from the resort. Since the resort had a complimentary hourly pickup and drop to the beach reaching the beach was easy. We spent about an hour at the beautiful and clean water. I feel the beach will not remain the same when the season is on. So I felt lucky for that.  My first experience of Goa was turning out to be really good and all my worries for a rainy vacation in Goa were soon disappearing. Almost all the forums that I read were strictly suggesting me against visiting Goa in August-September period. But I feel that chance that I took was really turning to be a good one and everyone started with having a good time. Since everyone was tired after a long journey and time spent in beach we retired to bed early after having a delectable dinner in the restaurant.

Day 2

The one thing that I like about my vacation is I tend to wake up early when I am out. When in Bangalore I never remember days when I wake up before 8AM or so,

outside the room

outside the room

but when vacationing I wake up early and the same here. It was once again a beautiful day and we started the day with a trip to Baga Beach. This time we decided to walk along the beach to the nearby Calangute Beach which is around 1 KM walk down from Baga. But before we reached Calangute, Maanya (my daughter) had some different plans and we decided to break and take some rest by the side. By the beach we had good time doing some sand play.

Sand play

After making a few good sand artifacts it was time for us to return back as we had to take the sight-seeing arranged by the resort to South Goa. We planned to visit Calangute another day and returned. On our return we decided to the have the lunch at the beach side restaurant, Britto’s. It’s a great restaurant and pub right on the Baga beach.  There is plenty of place to sit and we were among the few lucky one’s to  get a seat right on the water. Otherwise one really need to be early to get those seats. The food was good had had a lot of variety especially for non-vegetarians with specialties in sea food. We being the from the vegetarian herd had to be content with veg manchurian, fried rice, noodles et al. There are a few other choices for dining though I didnt tried them.

After the lunch we reached the resort from where we headed straight to the South Goa tour. The drive to the south goa tour was really fabulous which greenery all over the place. This is the best thing of Goa in monsoons. The greenery was so refreshing and the cool breeze was really something worth mentioning. Among the places covered were St Francis church in Old Goa, Panjim City, Miramar beach and the boat cruise on Mandovi river in the evening. The Miramar beach was something I really wanna not write too much about as it was really bad with litter and bad odour around. To me it seems that since this beach is right in the heart of Panjim city it was not as clean as other beaches like Baga, Calangute etc. After spending relatively less time there and enjoying some Bombay chat and bhel poori we went for some shopping in Panjim market. Bought some cashews and alcohol. Wine and alcohol is very cheap compared to Bangalore so didn’t missed the oppurtunity to stock it up. I saw people buying carets of whiskey, rum, beer.

It was around 7PM and it was time for our cruise. We reached the boarding point right on time before the boat took off. It was really fun once inside with DJ and goan dances by the performers. Once the performances was done it was time for the people to dance on the catchy songs played by the board DJ. Maanya was the only once among us to make use of the facility.

Maanya enjoying music

Maanya enjoying music on board cruise

We decided to enjoy some snacks and cool evening breeze by the river which was quite pleasant again. One hour passed by so easily and it was time for us to be back to the resort. Back in resort we decided to spend some time in the lobby and refresh ourself with some in house games like carom and dart. I and my wife had planned to go to Tito’s club after some light dinner, as it was quite nearby but we both were so tired that we decided against it. After dinner we retired in our rooms and it was within minutes that we had dozed off.

Day 3

It was the most happening day for us. Since my parents were quite tired with the last day hectic sight-seeing they decided to take some rest for a few hours. We had a north Goa tour lined up in the second half of the day. I and my wife took this opportunity to hire a bike and explore some more of Goa. I managed to get hold of an Activa right outside my resort which was arranged by the resort people only. We agreed on a price of Rs 200 for a half day rent for the scooter. After finding out about the places we can cover, we decided to go to Fort Aguada. The bike ride was quite cool and I loved driving there for a change. Though I have never enjoyed doing the same back in Bangalore or in Delhi.

Rahul on Activa

The fort was on a bit of a uphill and I enjoyed every bit of the drive. After exploring the fort we still had a lot of time left before we had to return the bike so we decided to head to Dona Paula as we heard about some water sports being available. Though the full water sports are only available when the season starts around mid October but a drive of around 20 kms from the fort didn’t disappointed us as we managed to get a jetski there. the charges were Rs 100 per person and we both took turns to enjoy the ride. It was yet another fun filled adventure,

Reshu on a jetski

Reshu on a jetski

though I was looking for a banana boat ride but couldn’t find that around. After roaming around for a while we decided to head back. After lunch we had to go to the planned North Goa tour covering Vagator, Anjuna and Calangute. All these beaches had beauty of their own but we had the maximum fun at Calangute which was the most happening beach. It is evident even before reaching the beach by looking at the amount of commercialization around. The beach was the most crowded among all beaches but still it was very good fun. The people were swimming till deep into it which to me seemed risky. There were a lot of life guards around blowing whistles at all times but everyone seemed lost in the fun.

enjoyin at Calangute Beach

enjoyin at Calangute Beach

After spending more than a hour playing in the sea it was time to head back. On the way back we enjoy some delicious chat, tikki and all the Delhi chat corner. On return to our resort I wanted to go for Go-karting the track for which being right opposite to the resort. We reached at the nick of time before it shuts down for the day. I felt very lucky to have sneaked in as I was feeling that I will almost miss the opportunity having got late returning from the beaches. But I was luck enough for that and I had the best Go Kart experience till date as the track was nice with some good chicanes. The charges were something that was the best part being Rs 150 for 10 laps. It was clearly a steal considering I have spent much more for a fewer laps at places in Delhi and Bangalore. I was pretty satisfied after the race. Again we had to say no-go to Titto’s even today after being totally out of energy. Had a few beers in my room before the dinner before retiring to the bed.

Day 4

We were planned to returned today but we had the full day in our hands as the train was in the evening at 20.45PM from Vasco station. We were also scheduled to checkout at noon due to arrivals and the resort was fully booked due to a group of around 70 students checking in a day before. The first half before checkout was spent completing the packing.

Sand Marvel

Sand Marvel

One can imagine the time spent for packing with kids along. We checked out at noon and headed to Baga for the final time. Had lunch at Britto’s and spent a cool 3-4 hours relaxing and sand playing. Time just passed by and it was soon time for us to be dropped off the station which was again part of the package.

The train took off on time and my memorable first trip to Goa came to an end. The train reached Yeshvantpur station 1 hour late and it took around 1.5 hrs to reach my place. It was enough for me to realize that the honeymoon was over and I am back in reality named Bangalore.

For more pictures of my trip checkout my picasa gallery

Advertisements

Posted in General, vacation | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Wayanad – A travelogue

Posted by Rahul Narula on July 29, 2007

Start : Bangalore
Destination
: Kalpetta, Wayanad, North Kerala, God’s own country
Dates : 20 July – 22 July 2007
Travellers : Rahul, Reshma, Maanya and Himani
Travel Mode
: Self driven car
Distance & Route : 275 km via Mysore – Gundalpet -Bandipur – Sultan Bathery – Kalpetta. Route Map

After planning a bit too much finally I managed to escape to a short vacation the last weekend. The choice of place was easier to make as I wanted to go to a place I can drive myself. Though monsoon rains did their best to cancel my plans but it was too late for them to disturb my plan. Though there were a couple of places I looked at before chosing Wayanad, in the end I feel I took the right decision.

A day before was hectic packing and getting set for the early morning start on 20th July. I went and got the tank full and air pressure checked for my car so that I don’t have make unnecessary stops during my journey. Also bought some snacks, drinks that will help us munching on the route. I dont like too many breaks in my journey.

Start Day : 20th July 2007 Time 5:00 am We had decided to leave as early as possible to avoid the ever worsening Bangalore traffic and reach the place as early to make full advantage of the short time we had. Cafe Coffee DayFinally after loading all the bags in the car we started sharp at 5.30am. The decision to take a gamble to try the new coming up NICE road, which connects Bannerghatta road and Mysore road over Kanakapura road, paid off and within 20 mins from my start I was cruising along the Mysore Road around 100 km/hr. The early morning drive was like dream come true and had always hoped the drive could ever be even 10% as a pleasure on Bangalore roads as I was enjoying. Since we left home early we thought of stopping at the only one undisputed place on the Bangalore -Mysore highway i.e the Cafe Coffee Day(CCD) for a early sip. But my hopes seemed dashed when I suddenly realized that I had already left the CCD, I was planning to stop, a few kms behind. I was just repenting the lost opportunity to sip a chilled Tropical Iceberg, when I zoomed past a milestone reading CCD 1 km ahead. By the time I could understand what it was about I came across a new CCD on the left on the highway. I was delighted to see the new(new for me atleast) CCD outlet on the first floor on the Bangalore – Mysore highway near Mandya. I quickly went & grabbed a coffee for myself as no one else was interested in the early morning coffee.

The journey continued, with me sipping my favorite coffee and we crossed Mandya district on an excellent traffic less highway. As we were about to reach Mysore, we decided to take the Mysore bypass & had to follow NH212 road to Calicut. There was no problem taking the right road as there were lot of sign boards indicating the correct way. We crossed Mysore through the bypass around 8:00am and head towards Gundalpet. The Mysore -Gundalpet stretch is a single road unlike Bangalore -Mysore. But since it was early morning we managed to zip pass pretty quickly and reached Gundalpet around 9.00 am. On way to GundalpetFrom Gundalpet we took a right along with NH 212. After about 30 mins of not so good road, we entered Bandipur National Park. The road was very good in there and by then slight shower started which made crossing the forest area even more beautiful. Though we had thought of sighting a few animals on our way, but couldnt find any except a few deers. The journey was going as I anticipated and we reached Karnataka border and entered Kerala. The road got even better at the Kerala side. The distance from border to Kalpetta(our destination) was about 50km through typical Kerala greenary and cool breeze.

Finally at about 10.30am we reached our destination Hotel Green Gates just off NH212 on the outskirts of Kalpetta. The trip meter had clocked 289 km. We reached well ahead of our planned time. Though I had not had prior reservation, I took that chance due to the monsoon off season. I was just lucky to get the last luxury room in the hotel. To my surprise the hotel was fully booked due to a few groups. The place is really nice and the best part I liked was the hospitality of the service staff. On the way Himani was not feeling pretty well and we suspected food poisoning, we didnt wanted to take any chances. Hence on reaching the hotel we asked for a doctor and the hotel travel manager was courteous enough to accompany us to a nearby hospital. After thorough inspection by the doctor on a priority basis(thanks to the travel manager’s contact), she was administered some injections and a dose of medicine to keep her fine atleast during the trip.

We decided to rest for a while but Maanya had other plans. She wanted to have fun around, so we decided to take her to the children’s park in the hotel. The place was well accepted by Maanya and she had a lovely time with all the swings & slides. Maanya enjoying the slidesAfter about a hour play there we finally decided to have some rest. After lunch we decided to take the half day sight seeing which was included in the package we took at the hotel. We were given a personal taxi for a visit to places which included Pookot lake, Lakkidi point & Chain tree.Lakkidi Point in the clouds Though we couldnt enjoy the boating at Pookat lake thanks to showers that started as I was about to get the boat tickets, we had a very good time at Lakkidi Point. For about 5 kms our car was driven into the clouds and it reminded me of the dense Delhi fog in January (thanks I was not at the wheels). It was the most beautiful thing and each one of us had a very good time. After the trip we came back to the hotel and after the dinner we retired in our room.

The next day I was surprised to see myself wake up at 7am. My mornings in Bangalore starts not before 8:30-9:00 usually. Reshma and me decided to go for a early morning walk around. It was a good pleasant walk. After which we decided on the days plans. After talking to people I figured out that the only places we can visit during this season was Soochipara Waterfalls and Edakkal caves. There was not much fun going to other places like Kurupadweep, Tholpetty Wildlife Sanctuary as it was monsoons and I heard that Wayanad received the highest rainfalls in the last 11 years or so. So I decided on Soochipara Waterfall as the place to visit as we were told Edakkal caves can be covered on our return journey. Soochipara Water Falls

We began our pursuit to Soochipara Waterfall which was around 28km from hotel. The drive was awesome with tea gardens laid as the green carpet. Tea gardensOn reaching the place we came to know about the dangers involved for reaching the fall with leaches around and the treacherous hilly, slippery trek. But since we came here we decided to take a go and weather was holding good for us. It was indeed a very risky trek especially with me holding Maanya. It is very ill maintained and I would say no more that 5 ppl can stand there to see the fall. I would say I will thank God that he made our visit possible. I would frankly advice people with kids to avoid this. After returning back fully tired to the car and resting for about 30 mins we headed back. On reaching Kalpetta we thought of having some lunch and then we thought of visiting Banasura Sagar Dam. Though the speed boating would have been the best thing to do there, we were out of luck as the boating was temporarily stopped due to heightened water levels. But we didnt repented going there and enjoyed the scenic beauty to the fullest. We had to hire a jeep from the entrance to the dam site. View from dam siteI would advice families especially with children not to think twice about taking the jeep.

The day’s journey was coming to the end. I decided to relax for a while in the pool when we reached hotel and the day came to an end after a delectable dinner. Since Himani didnt wanted to take any chances with food she used to visit the kitchen and request for stomach friendly food like kichidi. I was surprised to find the chef obliging her on more than one occasion and that too at no extra charge. I was really impressed with this gesture.

I could again manage to wake up early the next morning. We had to depart today and after having breakfast we checked out around 11am. On the way back to Bangalore we had to cover Eddakal caaves on our way. On reaching Sultan Bathery, we had to take a right for Edakkal. The road was good for the most part but got very narrow for some part. It was fun driving here too. After reaching the point till where we could we were told about the caves by a localite student who agreed to our guide for the caves for Rs 100. He also advised us to hire a jeep for a further about a km before we can walk further. I think it was a sensible decision we took once we began the upward steep journey. The teamThe return fees for the jeep was Rs 70. By the time we reached the point from where we had to walk to the caves, it had started drizzling. On reaching the cave entry point Himani had already given up & decided to go any further. So leaving Maanya with her Reshma, the guide & me decided to go futher. On crossing the 1st cave Reshma had given up sighting very difficult upward climb. So the guide who was very courteous helped me to the second cave. The name “Edakkal” literally means “a stone in between” and I was facinated to see the design. I didnt stopped there for much longer as Reshma was waiting just after first cave and Himani was there at the cave entrance. We quickly came down from the caves. After having tea we began our return journey to Bangalore.

On the way back we encountered heavy rain from Mandya till outskirts of Bangalore. I stopped at the CCD(the one I missed on my onward journey) but decided to have some meal at Indradanush. After waiting for rain to stop, which didnt, for about 30 mins we decided to continue. We reached back our home at 8.45pm ending our eventful weekend getaway. It was a memorable trip for us also being the first highway driving for me from Bangalore.

Odometer reading:  719km for the entire trip.

If you managed to reach here and wanna experience a bit more of beautiful Wanayad, visit my Picasaweb Gallery

Posted in kerala, travel, vacation, wayanad | Tagged: , , , , , | 10 Comments »