Published: June 18th 2012June 18th 2012
Anu kept tracking the irctc website all day in the hopes of getting the train ticket to Goa confirmed. He even used the SMS service (Rs 3 per sms) to get the PNR status. Evening he told me he already spent 50 bucks on this, and to top it, Daddy also kept doing the same all day! He had luckily booked the bus tickets as a backup. We left office early at around 6pm. went home, had yummy mix veg and paratha. Picked up our bags and left for Aundh bus depot (bus was of 8.30pm)
We reached Aundh, and were to take a shuttle bus to go to the main bus stop at Shivaji Nagar. Here we waited for some time, last 15 mins of checks for the train ticket confirmation, or the Goa bus to arrive. Finally at 9, the chart was prepared, and the seats could not get confirmed. So Bus was the final verdict to travel in...
Golden Neeta Volvo arrived at the station, we loaded our bag and took the seats. 2nd row behind the driver - nice seats for a long journey, considering we got these tickets online on the 2nd last day. We called up everybody (K parents, D parents) and said we finally going to goa by bus.
The bus picked up passengers from different areas of the city and took the highway. It arrived at Hotel Natraj on highway at around 11:30pm, where we had basic dal fry and roti (saving all the yum yum things to eat in Goa, in TAAAJ!) We slept well in the bus as we were tired since morning... (or wanted the next day to arrive sooner :) )
I got up at around 6-6.30 am, looked outside to see all dense trees and the broad lovely ghat roads in S shape. The roads were well made, and the turns were too good. Anu told me he could not sleep well as he got up every time the bus took a steep turn on the ghats. Well I slept in those parts :) I only woke up when my feet hurt and they wanted me to move them. The curved roads were a sight to see, bordered with thick tall trees. To go to Fort Aguada, we had to get off at the Mhapusa bus depot.
At around 7:15, the bus depot arrived. We got off, walked around looking for a tea stall. Nahi mila... we walked back, and finally found one. We sat there, had tea and biscuits, and decided to take the local bus transport to the hotel. We asked for the local bus depot to go to fort Aguada. It was close by, around 200 mtrs. There were huge bunches of banana varieties at the depot to be transported. All the buses here had the destinations written on it - no bus numbers as we are used to. The Candolim-Calangute bus arrived. The last stop is Fort Aguada. We got in the bus and sat on the last seat. The bus looked like the one we travelled in Trivandrum.
The bus started in around 10 mins time. Open lands – all green and open. Picture this – narrow and long kachha sadak about 2 feet wide, with tall and curved coconut trees enclosing this path from both sides… these were a common sight on the bus journey. The last stop came and we got off. We had to walk 0.5 km to the hotel from here. Thanks to the wheels and modern age, we did not have to carry any luggage J
We reached the Taj gate and they asked for some details. They called for a car from the lobby to take us in. Taj mein jaa rahe hain :D :D
The car (Swift Dezire) arrived, Vivanta and the logo designed on the body. We sat in it and drove in. the lobby was about 7-800 mtrs away! We entered the lobby, huge one, check out photos on the net for this. We checked in, got a welcome drink in small glasses (Kanjus Taj!!) we waited till the papers got ready. We walked around, saw the pool below and overlooking the pool was the beach. Lovely sight.
We were explained the package, and were taken to the cottage in the car. It was up the hill, somewhere in the forest J This Taj did not have any concrete buildings, everywhere we could see cottages. Halfway on the slope the car stopped. We could see directions for 416. We went ahead, and saw the cottage – twin sharing (415 and 416). I opened the door of 416 and saw the room. It was as displayed on the website in the virtual tour. Nice, clean, huge, TV, a bath tub, and 2 wash basins! Kewl…. I told anu, let me click some photos before we spoil the face of the room J we relaxed for 15-20 mins, didn’t speak a word…. Just kept breathing….. hmmmm…. Stomach was growling J I got up and started to make the tea in the long white mugs. We had tea and the good-day biscuits bought that morning. Then, we moved out to take a walk around the property.
It was lush green, as if we have come in a forest for camping… took the stairs to climb down and reach the lobby. From the lobby (open lobby giving the front open view of the cottages on left and right side, swimming pool below, and the beach and the trees overlooking. There were small terraces from the lobby on left and right, to sit and overlook the pool/beach side. It was nice and breezy here. We walked down (staircases in 2 opposite direction for half a floor, and then meeting again to reach the bottom. I took the left, Anu took the right J we met again. We walked around the pool, and there was a small back gate to walk to the mini fort. We went there, and saw the layer of clear water – left corner of eye to the right corner. Nice !! I turned around and saw Taj. Very nice. We checked the boundaries of the Taj, it was very long – there was a sunset point in the Taj premises, a bayview point, and the bar lounge overlooking the beach. We clicked photos around and returned to the hotel.
We looked at the watch, it was not 12:30pm yet! We were very hungry, kept thinking when can we enter the restaurant L they were still setting up the buffet inside. We walked towards the garden on the left side…there were 2 hammocks tied to the tall coconut trees. I sat on one then adjusted for about 5 minutes to come to the center of the ropes and get proper balance. It was so huge! 22 ropes joined into 1 thick band that was tied around the trunk J Anu relaxed on the other hammock. He tried to touch the grass, I was counting the clouds in the sky. Good tp, but we were still hungry. As soon as it was 12:30, we headed for Latitude. We took the table by the glass door, facing the poolside. Unloaded mobiles, camera and headed for the buffet. Took 2 rounds then picked up our plates and attacked! Soup, salad, soft bread, tikkis, bhindi sol, other veggies, tikkis again, raspberry yogurt, rotis, noodles, dessert, all gopp gopp eaten in 30 mins time J haaaashhhh…. Food was of course very fresh and authentic, but we were missing the Bombay style khana… a bit more spicy and tastier. But it was still great…
We went back to the room and relaxed. Saw TV without any deadlines. We got up at 3.30pm and went to play squash. Shoes were a problem, but the trainer let us play after our requests. I played squash for the first time, it is a very heavy exercise! And the player can be very mean, bouncing the ball close to the wall so that u miss it. And the wall to hit the ball is so far!! So much strength to apply yaar! Anu has played squash before, and he was thrilled to play and win all the points! Cheater! Next game – TT. A bit easy for me I thought, but most of my shots were bad. L the sports complex of Taj is outside the main hotel, and shared between the 2 Taj properties (Fort Aguada and the Village). We returned to the hotel after 1.5 hrs… changed, and headed for the swimming pool J it was so crowded! Looked like all the GOA crowd is inside the pool! It was nice to be in the cool water during the sunny days… we got out and took a shower under the fish holding shower outlet in her mouth, and just lay back on the shacks for a while. We ordered garam garam onion pakoda and tea. It took sometime to come, but when they came, they were finished in 15 mins J they tasted very well (I was thinking roadside bhajiyas would have tasted better) but these were nice too, especially when 1 plate costed 500 bucks!! Wah Taj!
we went back to the room, to get dressed and return for dinner (hungry na J) of course we could not climb so many stairs to our cottage, so we asked the guard to call for a car to drop us up near our room. We entered our room and there was a surprise – the room was made and there were 2 cotton white swans with black paper eyes sitting on our bed. To add, there were bubbles in the bath tub! Wow! Dinner??? Delay it!! J
we had a nice buffet dinner at Latitude. There was live music, goans singing English songs and entertaining us (Anuraag more, since was more familiar with the songs). We took a walk around the pool, and lay back on the shacks again for a while. We both dozed off!! In sometime, we called for the car and went to the room and dozed away.
Next day we got up early morning, Anu did the train bookings for return journey (why!!!) we went for breakfast, had very good options. Dosas, poha, croissants, fruits, (pineapple was yum yum) enjoyed… we went outside towards the beach for a walk, negotiated with the locals and hired an Activa and went inside the hotel up the road to the room. We then went to the Calangute beach. The roads were good, and too many shops – clothes, slippers, wine shops, hats, glares what not…looked like Phuket! We parked once we reached the beach area. Looked around, there was a lot of crowd, and water sports in full swing in the sea. We did many of them – Jet ski (twice), Para sailing, bumper ride, boat ride. Jet ski was the best for me, (first time for me) and we did it twice. To do parasailing, the simple 8-10 seater boat takes us 1 km from the beach into the sea, where the speed boats are and on that you do parasailing. Oh, parasailing – you do together-together – means, it’s a ride for 2 J we enjoyed on the beach thoroughly, there was a place on the beach to take shower. We gave Rs. 30 for the shower and walked out for lunch. We were looking for a recommended veggie restaurant. It was crowded, but we luckily got a table. We had good alu gobi and roti – had it after soooo long J(the dish, not food) oh yes, I also had butta and moongfally on the beach before entering the restaurant. Phir, headed back to hotel at around 4.30pm. we went higher up the road inside, towards the bayview point. It was lovely – sight from left to right – clear water, with a few boats, one speed boat – speeding from right to left. We went to the room to remove the wet clothes from the bag. Anu could not find his favorite swim shorts. He was sure he had forgotten in the shower room at the beach! We went back to the beach JJ anything better to do?? Evening time, there was more crowd, and the setup of beach was changed – all bamboo chairs and tables were out for customers to sit by the beach. We headed for the shower room and saw the shorts hanging by the bamboo sticks! Hahahaahhaa. We walked around and stepped outside. We entered into a shop to see the Goa t-shirts. We found Polo t-shirts! For 250 only.
We went back to our hotel, had a nice dinner and went for a walk on the beach. There was hardly any crowd on the beach, it was nice and breezy, and the hotels were all lit up with fancy lights. The view was very nice. We came back to the room and saw a surprise again – room decorated with flower petals and candles, and the same 2 swans occupying my bed again! The bathroom was also all red flowers… and the tub decorated! Dil garden garden ho gaya!! We had got the Hangover2 DVD from hotel, watched that at night and slept.
Next morning we got ready to see some dolphins in the day. We finished breakfast and went out to the beach, and negotiated with Mr. Hanuman for the ride. After settlement, we climbed down narrow staircase made of logs, tied with ropes, and came on the shore waiting for the boat. We saw a speed boat approaching us from a distance, wow… we are going right into the sea! Mummmmmyyyyyyyy! We wore the life jackets, I made sure it was tight and locked, got onto the boat, and the guys pushed the boat into the water to get a start. Zoom….zooooom it went, we removed our slippers, I held on tight to the boat edge. The boat jumped over the sea waves and went way into the sea. Koool! No roads, no trees, no jungle, no pollution! All water!! I had never been so deep in the waters, this was a totally different experience. Aisa bhi hota hai? I could not see the shore behind me anymore. There were mountains ahead of me, but very far. We looked into the waters, searching for some movement other than the waves. The boatwala stopped the boat at a spot, he also looked around for 5 mins, didn’t see anything, then started and went ahead. Again he stopped after 10 mins, I was looking at the shining water – golden rays of sun piercing the surface, shining, you see the ways forming in front of you, and then flowing under you! What an experience! JJ the boatwala asked to look at the right near the water bank, he had seen some movement there. We saw with a lot of concentration, after 3-4 mins of hard sight, I could see the beak coming out of the surface, swaying left and right, then slowly its face emerged – dolphin!!! Ye eeee – wow! It leaped back into the water making a circle (what we usually see in movies). There was another small curve seen behind it – baby dolphin was there too! They made a lot of arcs in the water – swimming further. Another 10-20 meters ahead, we saw another dolphin – 3 dolphins we saw that day! The guide said the baby dolphin is just some months old. We followed them from a distance – as they go away from the noise of the boat. We just kept staring at them for sometime, studied them and then headed back for the shores. Not directly though… we saw a huge bunglow on far off lands, isolated. It was the Goan Governor’s house! On the other side of the sea, there was another huge bunglow, with a lot of dome structures. The owner stays somewhere in Mumbai, and a movie scene from Haseena Maan Jaayegi was shot here, where Govinda goes to the heroine’s room at late night and Aruna Irani is by the window waiting for him to come. Then there was the Jail, the Fort Aguada, then the Taj property. We reached the starting point, and got off and up the stairs. Amazing experience! Woweeee! We went back to the hotel in the afternoon. Since there are 2 Taj hotels closeby, guests are welcome to choose the venue of their lunch or dinner. Today, we decided to go to Taj Village for our lunch. We went to the lobby and requested for the car to drop us at Village. We got off at the lobby of Village, as the driver said, due to narrow paths, the car cannot go upto the buffet restaurant. Instead, he suggested we take the “buggi”. “Buggi”?? it’s the mini car that we usually see on a golf course! Kewl.. we took a “buggi”, the driver drove through narrow paths, like those in the villages, all greenery around. Turn left, turn right, curvy roads, 1 floor cottages around, nice place to be. The buffet was also served in village style – the vegetables were served in copper vessels, spoons old style, nice ambience. I was thinking, Taj Aguada guests have their meals in air conditioned restaurant, Taj Village have to bear the heat! I felt happy we had chosen Aguada J
We went back to our hotel, and spent the afternoon completing Hangover2. Evening we took the bike again, refilled 1 ltr petrol (Rs. 70) and went towards the beaches. There was a diversion of Anjuna beach, we took that. The road was awesome, remember the lanes in the movie Kabhi haan Kabhi na? all green land, tall coconut trees, churches on the way, narrow lanes? It was awesome. Anjuna beach was much quiet, hardly any crowd. There was a group of Karate kids practicing there, running on the sand!! We could just manage to walk on sand, and these guys were running a race!! Kool! We had dinner at Taj and rested.
Next morning, again lovely breakfast buffet, I tasted the chocolate Danish croissant – yum!!! Wow!!!! I went and got another piece! JJ we took the activa and went on road trip to Panaji. We had heard the bridge is very good and many highways running parallel to the sea. It was great fun on the bike, go left – go straight – seen enough – go back J
We returned to the hotel, returned the bike, and did the final packing to check out.