We have not done any long trips these past 2 years. There were many short ones but the excitement of a long journey with some new location was always enticing. So we decided to hit Goa for our 11th marriage anniversary (and Vanathy's birthday) this time.

After a initial check, the decision was to take the train as the landscape was (supposed to be) breathtaking and of course, the journey itself is something to look for. So the onward and return journeys booked. The search for a place to stay was a bit arduous and after much research (thanks to Tripadvisor), booked our stay at the Lemontree Amarante resorts in Candolim.

Nail polish
The start of the journey in the West coast express on the 21st August was bit of an anti-climax as the RAC tickets were confirmed at different berths across the coach. So after a bit of cajoling the others and exchanging of the berths, settled down to enjoy the ride. The train was on time and the chattering from the mom-daughter duo from Agartala, who spoke perfect Malayalam, was non-ending and the change in landscape outside was amazing. We reached Mangalore on time (4.20AM, 22nd) and had to reach the Mangalore Junction for our connection to Madgaon. By the time we reached there, the Trivandrum Rajdhani was already there. So we boarded and found that we are the only people in that coach apart from a few others.

Konkan coast

The travel through the Konkan coast is something not to be missed. The early morning sun rise, the 20-22 tunnels that come through, the fields, rivers and the backwaters and the quaint little stations that are invariably deserted with a wary looking station master waving the green flag, the beauty of that area is something to be marveled at. I've driven the Pacific coast highway long back along with friends and that was nothing compared to the beauty of the Konkan coast. Kids had fun counting the tunnels, the birds that flew by, the animals around and the glimpses of the Arabian sea to be had from the mountainous terrain.

Finally, Madgaon came and we alighted. Car was waiting to take us to the hotel and all of us fell asleep promptly during the 1 hour ride. Lemontree, Candolim is not a big property and though they've given us a double upgrade of the room (a garden room with a sit-out), still the size of the room was not big. But the beautiful pool, the exemplary food in both their restaurants and impeccable service make the place highly recommendable.

After a short rest and a good lunch, we walked to the Candolim beach which is at a walkable distance from the backside of the resort. The beach was deserted and could see some people at a distance but for us the entire beach was empty. Kids had fun running around collecting shells and fighting over who got the big one. After spending some time there and then dinner at the Republic of noodles, which was excellent, retired for the day.

Bom de Jesus Cathedral

Se Cathedral

Spice plantation tour

Next day, donned the tourist hat and went around old Goa visiting the 2 huge cathedrals and then to the spice plantation for some lessons on the spices to be had in Goa, This followed a visit to the Panaji city and then onto the Dona Paula pier area.

There is a breathtaking viewpoint here and the walk across the pier was relaxing and fantastic. Next stop was the Miramar beach and it was so much fun to be at a clean beach and after playing in the water for a while, it was time for the Mandovi River cruise, It was nothing to write about, except the beautiful sun set to be seen and other than that, it was boring.
Sunset over the Arabian sea
View from Dona Paula

The next day, started with a visit to the Aguada Fort and then its time to hit the beaches again. We spent the rest of the day in the beaches, starting from Vagator, then to Anjuna and after lunch in the local Dominos, the Baga - Calungate. Myself and Vanathy got ourselves the tattoos and there is so much fun to be had there, we lost track of time.

Back in the hotel, spent more time in the pool and then its time for the anniversary dinner. The senior chef at the hotel, Mr. Venkat, took some pains to arrange for a beautiful candle-light dinner by the pool. A beautiful table setting, a separate waiter for the table, specially made starters for the dinner and fabulous food, and of course with the most beautiful girl in the world. The kids were busy in the billiards room and it was a fantastic night to remember.

Candle-lit dinner

Vanathy cutting the cake

Next day was Vanathy' birthday and after cutting the cake and distributing it, took off for some local shopping. The return journey started on the same evening and this time through the Ghats and via Hubli. It started raining the day we started back and were happy that it didn't start earlier. The train journey through the ghats was at once beautiful and of course, terrifying. With the mountains wrapped in mist and rain lashing at the windows, it was difficult not to enjoy and be scared at the same side. At one point, the Dudh sagar falls comes into full view with roaring waters and it was so beautiful that I didn't even realize to take a picture of the same.

1 comment:

Suresh K Muthuramalingam said...

Very nice and well written article anna. I will make sure to follow-up the same as soon as I land Chennai.

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