Fun ,Frolics , Fenny and Four Wheels !

Continuation from part 1 Thrilling journey for an exciting destination!

Day 3 (First smell of sea)

It was a lazy winter morning and we woke up in full vacation mood. Had nice shower and went for break fast. Menino’s breakfast was not up to our expectation but we finished it fast and checked out from the hotel. Next hop “Dona Paula”.

From Panjim “Dona Paula” is just 6 KM and it took around 30 minutes to reach.

Folklore says Dona and Paula, a couple deeply in love with each other jumped from the cliff here in the sea to commit suicide. We Indians like melodrama; love stories and films where lovers die at end are most popular ones and treated as epic! No wonder Dona-Paula is must see destinations for Indian travelers but I did not see many foreigners there. My reason of going there was something different though; from the top you get nearly 270-degree spectacular view of the bay and sea.

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Dona and Paula

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Bay from the top

We spent some nice time there and I took lot of pictures. It was bright and sunny day and quite hot as well. Nice ice cream gave us relief from the heat.

After some time we left for Calangute Beach, which is one of the most popular ( and crowded ) beaches in North Goa and merely an hour drive from Panjim. It was quite easy drive through the countryside; there were lot of farmlands, small colorful Portuguese style houses and churches on both sides. In fact the paddy fields made me nostalgic about my own home state. We get lot of those, back home just few kilometers outside of Kolkata. This is magic of Goa, no matter from which part of the world you are this tiny Indian state makes you feel at home!

This trip was supposed to be a beach vacation, so I was determined to stay as close to beach as possible. I booked The Spring Beach Cottage at Calangute because that was the only few beach stay places available with good reviews in Tripadvisor.

There was no surprise to reach this place only GMaps goofed up at the end to locate the cottage and we took help from locals.

They have 8 wooden cottages on the southern tip of Calangute. Rooms are basic with AC , attached toilet and a small sit-out place. From our room we could see a slice of sea because bushes in front of this property blocked the view.

It was damn hot day and AC turned out to be a savior.

A small walk took us on the beach, we missed the Sunset but the aura was still painting the sky! Roars of sea, strong winds, salty smell of the air made us feel, yes the beach hunting has began!

Aura

Aura

After casual walk for a while on the beach we sat in Rudy’s Shack and ordered some foods and drinks. Beach Shacks of Goa are one of their kinds! You go for a clam peaceful breakfast or an after swim mug of beer or casual drink in the evening or classy candle light dinner ; the moment you step in to any of these shacks the time stops there. I have been lucky to visit different places and stay in star hotels but trust me the food they serve in some of these beach shacks can give those star restaurants run for their money. You name any cuisine be it Russian, Lebanese , Oriental or any thing as a matter of fact; be rest assured at least one of those   hundreds of shacks is definitely serving it.

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Rudy’s Golden Mermaid Shack

After spending a great time at the Rudy’s we came back to our hotel, had some fennies from my stock and called it a day. I have some plan for next day!

Day 4 ( Dil chahta hain)

After waking up and having shower we headed to have our complimentary breakfast. They served very tasty aaloo patantha ( Indian pan fired bread stuffed with spicy potato ).

Due to its strategic location on Arabian sea , many rulers including Portuguese had built many forts on the Goan coastline. Aguada and Chapora are more popular ones. We had been to Auagada before so this time we decided to go to Chapora. For those you do not know, this is the place where the iconic movie “Dil chahta hain” was shot.

The road to Chapora from Calangute was quite tricky through some confusing narrow roads but managed to reach there with out any hiccups, thanks to Google maps.

The actual fort is on top of the hill, over looking the Arabian sea. So we had to hike from the parking space. By the way one should watch properly before parking. The soil is really loose here and my car got stuck!

Chapora Fort is not as gigantic as Aguada and now in its ruin. Yet it is a good place to visit. From the top of the fort one can get spectacular view of the Sea. I bet sun set would be breath taking from Chapora.

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Previous day we met one local fella at the ice cream parlor who suggested including Asvem Beach in out itinerary. This was a new place for me and we decided to go there after spending sometime in Chapora.

Asvem is further north to Calangute and it’s a relatively new beach with not much crowd. After reaching there we realized it’s worth to drive this far! Asvem Beach is shaped like a boomerang; its clean and pristine. Fine white sand, blue water and clear sky was a mesmerizing combination.

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Pristine Asvem

We could not see much people there other than some foreigners swimming and taking sunbath. After a good time on the beach (we regretted not bringing our swimming gears, the water was damn too tempting!) we had nice lunch at one of those sea-facing shacks.

After coming back to our hotel we took some rest and then headed to beach; this time before sunset. The sunset was awesome! Blue sky painted with splash of hundreds of shades of orange, pink and red; it was flabbergasting! We walked and walked and walked on the beach till it was dark. I feel when you are walking on beach; it brings out the kid within you. You worry about your hairstyle yet you want the wind to mess up your hairs; you are worried about your shoes yet careful enough to walk carelessly as close to water as possible because you want tides to touch your feet!

After spending some good time on the beach we headed to Calangute market and did some shopping, I got a temporary tattoo on my arm. We returned to our cottage after a wholesome dinner in a shack and sat on the deck for some time before going to bed.

Day 5 (Our little piece of heaven!)

We woke up casually, packed our stuffs had breakfast and checked out from The Spring Beach Cottage. The destination was Palolem Beach; our piece of heaven we found 10 years back during our honeymoon! Next 4 days were planned for nothing. We wanted to eat, drink, relax, chill out and soak the magic of Palolem.

Palolem is situated in South Goa and it takes to two hours to reach there from Calangute. The road was good but damn congested on stretches when we had to cross cities. Last stretch of the drive was through some picturesque hills and jungles and I felt great behind the steering specially when driving trough Kalamghat and Nagorcem sections.

After usual check in business in the Royal Touch Beach Huts I wanted to have a look of the room. We booked a sea facing hut and mailed the owner well in advance mentioning “I want the best sea facing room as this is a very special trip for us”. He kept his word; the room was right on the beach! I have never stayed in a place like that! It was a temporary wooden cottage elevated 14 foot high on beach. There was attached toilet with 24 hours of water supply (limited time for hot water) and a balcony overlooking the sea. During high tide you can literally throw stone on the water! At INR 4500 / night its on a higher side for a basic accommodation in Palolem , but this time I wanted to give my queen and princess some royal treatment indeed.

IMG_7349 IMG_7353We left our stuffs at room and went to have lunch. We just loved the food there. One more thing I liked about this resort was they assign attendants for their boarders. Its not that others will not take your order or not serve your needs but you can reach out to that fella any time with your special requirements. The moment we stepped in to the restaurant Vikash came to us with a smile. He is a Nepali guy from Kalimpong, he did everything to make our stay special there.

The restaurant is on the beachfront and gives a wide view of the sea and beach. We enjoyed our beers and lunch. It was a hot day and we headed to our room.

After watching the sunset from our balcony and we went to have a stroll on the beach.  In the evening Palolem turns into a magical land. The shacks are decorated with fancy lights and many of those are based on some theme. They setup tables on the beach and most of the bigger shacks hold weekly live performances.

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Sunset from balcony

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Endless shades !

You can sit and enjoy the music while sipping into coffee or wine. There is no way to capture the mood of Palolem, you have to be there to experience it.

We walked from one tip of the long beach to other. This was our third visit to Palolem ; the last one was 7years back. There were lot of changes we observed; some of the smaller shacks and hotels grew bigger while some vanished. But the charm of Palolem remained same, you feel “yes this is the place I always wanted to be” !.

Next 3 days (Yes I am lucky to be here)

Everyday our morning started in a refreshing mood; no rush for office or school or any other damn thing. We idly watched the morning sea and pristine beach from our balcony and breathed fresh air. Some times we took casual walk on the beach. The resort served complimentary breakfast everyday, which was really fulfilling and just too good in taste. We could order from selection of English breakfast options, which they prepared to perfection. They played some calm Buddhist prayer songs every morning, which complemented the laid back atmosphere.

Like any other hotels The Royal Touch Beach Huts also setup sunbathing beds and garden umbrellas and Vikash advised us to reserve ours before we go anywhere, otherwise it would be difficult to get one later. Foreigners love to get tanned and take long hours of sun bath so during busy seasons its better to reserve your bed. How to do that? simple , just keep a towel on the bed so others will come to know it has been taken.

After long breakfast we either walked to visit other nearby beaches like Patnem and Colomb, or took a boat ride to spot dolphins.

Patnem is 1.5 km further south and its like what Palolem used to be 10 years back. Really secluded and pristine with some great themed cottages to stay and I found the rates are lesser than Palolem. But I did not like the water, it was not clear and the beach had blackish coarse sand.

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Colomb is the tiniest beach I have ever seen. Hidden between Palolem and Patnem this is just a slice of rocky land with a bit of beach. But I saw few colorful cottages built on large rocks.

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Local boatmen offer trip for dolphin spotting and they also take you to some nearby Islands. Though we could not spot any dolphin but it was a very exiting trip. They took us far inside the sea and suddenly stopped the engine.  We had water, water and water everywhere and no sight of land in any side; we felt of being lost from civilization; which really gave us goose bumps!

After coming back from our exploration I simply used to occupy our sunbed and order chilled beers with some kababs or grills. I spent quite some lazy hours every day by sitting on the sunbed, drinking beers and reading detective stories of “Byomkesh Bakshi”. The kid used to build sand castles with other kids she befriended and wify used to toggle between her and me. After finishing few bottles it was time to go into the water. We spent good amount of time everyday in water (you can not cut it short if you have a kid!) and enjoyed a lot. It is pretty safe in Palolem to swim, surf and raft if you do it correctly. After a long time in water we inevitably felt hungry and went to have lunch outside. Our resort served impeccable food but they do not prepare traditional Goan cuisine so we used to go out and enjoy Goan fish curry, prawn curry and vindaloo with rice. I am a big fan of Goan cuisine.

The sunset in Palolem is magical. When sun takes a dip in the horizon-leaving splash of color in the sky and the sea, the monkey island in the backdrop looks surreal. Every one comes out of their cottage and there will be crowd of casual walker on beach. All shack guys busy to set up the tables on the beach silently yet hurriedly.

Palolem welcomes evening by lighting thousands of candles on those beach tables. Each colorful shack looks really exotic yet idyllic. Many of such shacks display fresh catches , you can select your own seafood and enjoy the fresh preparation right on the beach.

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Candles outshine the starts

Each evening after watching the sunset and walking aimlessly on the beach we used to settle down in on of those tables on beach. The casual cup of coffee used to get extended to evening cocktails of supper and eventually to dinner. We used to just sit there for hours soaking the atmosphere, eating, drinking and talking. Romance is in the air of Palolem and you cannot ignore it!

Even after coming back to room I used to take a chair in the balcony for long time and watch shacks to close down one by one for the day. Once the lights are off and the beach is deserted; the roar of sea , moonshine on water and ghostly silhouette of monkey island turns everything into a unworldly scene. I was in my dreams but not asleep!

That Magical Night ♥

The main purpose of this trip was to celebrate our 10th marriage anniversary and we wanted it happen here because this was the place we came for our honeymoon!

I wanted to make it very very special for my lady and already had some plan. I discussed the same with Vikash and he also gave some suggestions. On the evening of 30th Jan a special table was set up for us on the beach. As per my request they arranged a bouquet of red roses. We cut the cake as everyone around clapped. In fact on that day the hotel held a live performance and the performers announced our names and mentioned about our anniversary several times from the stage! We felt special very special! We had candle light dinner on beach with some fine wines and lobsters.

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The event ended with some fireworks, which I arranged with help of Vikash. Truly the celebration could not have been better than this! Royal Touch team owes big thanks from me!

Day 9 (Will be back, promise)

Our fairytale like vacation was over and we had to return. The bags were already packed and we were ready by 6 am to leave. I wanted to leave as realistically early as possible because we had around 650 kms to drive in a single day. Though it is not impossible but tough considering me being single driver on-board and the old small hatch can not go as fast as the SUVs or sedans. Plus sitting behind the steering for 13 hours is not absolutely comfortable in Alto. So the plan was to start early and take breaks as and when required. I wanted to reach home within 14 hours considering 2 hours of breaks including lunch and breakfast. The kitchen of Royal Touch opens after 7.30 but Vikash was kind enough to pack some breads and boiled eggs in that early hour.

We said goodbye to Palolem with a promise to come back again and left precisely at 6.30. We entered Goa from North and while coming back our planned route was through south via Karwar. The weather was cold and roads were pretty much empty, there were many twists and turns but nothing challenging. It took us just an hour to cross Karwar and we continued on NH17 till Ankola. From this place we diverted on NH67 . This road was pure bliss; well laid, wide and with forestation on both sides ;it was very scenic too. I was able to maintain speed between 80 and 100. But the road was at times boringly empty and could not spot much of restaurants or dhabas. We got one dhaba near Ramanguli and stopped for our breakfast. After the pit stop we continued on NH63 towards Hubli , soon we passed Yellapur and reached Hubli before 11 am . I was happy with the progress so far as we reached there before estimated time. Awesome and traffic free road made it possible.

We did not enter Hubli city rather took bypass to hit NH4 directly. From this point the route was same as our inward journey. On NH4 I was maintaining speed between 100 and 120. We had the liberty to stop for another tea break near Haveri as we were 30 minutes ahead of the schedule. I continued at same speed till we reached Devangere. We stopped for our lunch at Apoorva Resorts, the same place we had our dinner while coming to Goa. This time the place was crowded and service was delayed but it was welcoming break after driving 370 odd kilometers.

After a wholesome spicy and hot lunch we resumed at 2.30 . More than half of the journey was done and I was not feeling tired at all. It seemed we would reach home by 8.30 conveniently considering bottlenecks at Bangalore entry tolls due to high weekend traffic.

It was a hot and sunny day, the car AC was blowing at fool speed. Queen and princess were taking a nap and I was tightly behind the steering driving with a spirited mood while listening to a suspense audio story. The speed was between 80 to 120 and suddenly there was huge noise of a burst from the back of the car and the entire vehicle was rattling like anything! Both of them woke up in utter shock ! I sensed a rear tyre burst and out of desperation and in pure reflex I engaged the brake ( MISTAKE A BLOUNDEROUS MISTAKE !). As soon as the brake was applied I lost total control of the car; it continued to rattle even more and was dragged to the other lane. The car took 180-degree rotation and stopped just few inches before the median. If it had hit the median in that speed would either topple or get smashed. Adding further to our luck there were two trucks coming from behind in other two lanes but not in this one otherwise we would have been crashed! I got down from the car and found the left rear tyre exploded like a Chinese cracker, it was such a bad explosion even the iron mesh was out and pieces of rubber were scattered here and there on the highway. Some villagers rushed to us and said you are lucky to be alive, they extended their hands to replace it with spare. I said to myself “dude you just survived a tyre burst at 100+ speed that too in an old car without ABS and airbag, you’re more than lucky”. Later I did some research and found in such case braking is actually a suicidal action. When a tyre bursts the dynamics of car changes and sudden action like braking and steering would cause unpredictable and uncontrolled behavior. One should avoid these actions and keep tight control on the steering to keep a linear motion, after a brief acceleration release the gas pedal, warn other vehicles on road. The natural retardation of the vehicle will eventually reduce the speed and once the speed is less than 30 kmph, take it off the road by steering slowly and stop it by gently applying brake.

The incident shook us like anything and I was driving very carefully, restricting the speed below 80. We encountered hell lot of traffic staring from Tumkur and finally reached home at 10.30 PM, two hours late.

The entire trip was like a dream! The drive, places, people, food and small small special moments made it a journey to remember for life.

I still remember during that nights live performance one of the singers, Lucy said we are all lucky because we are all here tonight enjoying this moment. Yes I feel lucky, extremely lucky for being there!

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