Friday, May 01, 2009

Post 600 : Drive to a village and back….(Mumbai – Chiplun – Goa – Mumbai drive)

Prologue : Wifey and me decided it would be good to drive around. We almost zoomed in on Hotel Hillock, Mount Abu or Orange County, Coorg as the places to be driving to….but then for some reason both fizzled out. We were supposed to drive out on Friday (24th April), but right until 22rd night, it was almost a “no”.
On 23rd, on a whim, we decided to drive down to good old Goa. It did help that close friends and colleagues were moving base there as well (for vacation, I mean).
Our first long trip on the Honda City, now 5 months old.

Travelogue : 25th April 2009 (Saturday 8am) to 29th April 2009 Wednesday (11pm)
Cast : Sri, Smi, Kavin aka Suresh and Kavya

Odometer for the trip : 1194 kms door to door, costing exactly 70 litres of petrol. An average of around 17kmpl, not as good as the Santro’s 20 on long drives, but thats the price you pay for comfort.

Route :
25th - Day 1 –> Panvel Chiplun (250 through NH17 – 4 hours 30 mins including breaks)
26th - Day2 –> Chiplun Panaji Candolim (330 through NH17 7 hours including breaks)
29th – Day 5 –>Candolim Panaji Chiplun Panvel Mumbai (590 via NH17 13 hours including breaks)

25th  - Day 1 – @ QualityInn Riverview Chiplun – 4.7k for the night including meals. What I like about this place (second time I am living here) “outstanding food” probably the best food @ a restaurant attached to a hotel. Rating 5 on a 5. Meets all my expectations from a good hotel.
26,27,28,29 (morning) – 3 nights 4 days @ Taj Holiday Village – 24k including all meals. I was slightly disappointed by the place. Breath-taking rooms and “below average” everything else. On a rating of 5, I would rate this as 3. Very so-so place. Not Taj like at all.

Life in a village:

Day 1
- Left early (by our standards) at 8am
- Halted at Kamat’s Panvel for breakfast (once you enter NH17 20kms into it)
- Straight drive from there (930) to Chiplun at 1pm
- Chiplun @ 255kms
- Bought Rajapuri Mangoes at Roha
- Stay @ QualityInn Riverview Chiplun
- Lunch consisted of arahar kokum dal, Lal Mat chi subji (red spinach), bhakar vadi chaat (bhakar vadis spiced up with onions, chillies and masala), masala bhath, poha papad, sol kadi and fresh lime soda
- In the evening we had a walk on that property – it has orange shrubs(really tiny ripe oranges), water apples, pine apples and a garden which has a great overlook into the Vaishista river (The last image is a tiny snail)

DSCN1747 DSCN1749 DSCN1761 DSCN1763 DSCN1766 DSCN1773 DSCN1784 DSCN1753
- Dinner was Alu Paratha, Ajwain Paratha with rice and raita

Day 2
Breakfast was eggs for me and thali pith and medhu wada for wifey
- Left hotel at 830am, except for a rest break – drove straight until Sawantwadi – where we ate at Kamat’s (another favorite of ours) – batata wada with awesome sweet raita and mirchi dipped in sugar-garlic water, misal pav
- Bought wooden toys from a store we like on the Sawantwadi circle. This is a shop we visit everytime we pass through the place.
- 4.30pm we reached Taj Holiday Village having driven 335 kms. This is on Candolim beach – very shady approach roads and absolutely no signage from Taj along the way to help you. (Sadly, this place was not recognized by Vinod’s garmin, which we had borrowed for the trip, whereas it recognizes QualityInn perfectly as a destination).
- Rooms at Taj Holiday Village are way above usual. It is the attention to detail that is completely missing from this experience.
- Food at Holiday Village was way below Taj quality and I wont waste too many words on it – my keyword “avoid”. (I love Taj Land’s end at Mumbai, Taj Banjara @ Hyd, Taj Calicut….so believe me I am not biased at all).

Day 3, Day 4
- Great supermarket called Newton near Candolim, 3kms before you hit Taj Village and 4 from Fort Aguada. Its probably at par with a place in Mumbai.
- Visit to Fort Aguada, a sad slur on what is supposed to be a heritage monument (with a Sintex Water Tank)
- Our room had a garden which had a mango tree – brought about 4 mangoes down using a iron rod.


Day 5
- Drive out from Goa at 9am, headed to Chiplun.
- Reach Chiplun @ 4pm, decide to drive straight through instead of a halting at Chiplun.
- Halt at Sawantwadi (70 from Goa), Raigad (400 from goa), Panvel (500 from goa) – all at Kamat’s. We also halted at Madhuban at Ratnagiri and Abhiruchi @ Chiplun.
- Reached home at 11pm.
- Mangoes @ Ratnagiri – we bought 4 dozen at 600

Highlights of the trip
- Beboo and his cutesy life, Nona and her race against food :-)
- Quality time with dear friends (not to mention a bumbling “sister” and her avenging son…)
- Wifey and me bonding big time during driving (imagine sitting in 5 sq ft with a person for 14 hrs straight)
- Good food at Chiplun
- Beboo’s final day revenge on me (because I had passed a slur on his mom :-) (also maybe I had re-christened him to “Suresh”)

Lows of the trip
- Without cribbing much, Taj Holiday Village is a sad excuse for a Taj. Go to Club Mahindra or Mariott at Goa.
- Fort Aguada – what a sad historical monument
- Heat @ Goa
- (Not really a low but worth a mention….) a big marine liner dotting the Taj Village shore (photo below). Supposedly abandoned by Salgaonkar’s for years. I wonder (if that is true) how come there is no move to clean it up…..My point is such a large thing cannot be an orphan. There must be quite a few licenses, ownership details available….but then, this is the magic of a land called India.



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