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Old 31st December 2013, 10:44   #1
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Default Off to Goa when the Beach calls

I have marked a peculiar similarity among us car lovers. We love to have vacations as much as we love our cars. We all love vacations not for the vacations alone but also for the drive that involves around it. Like most of us, I am no different.

The craze for the drive and a long vacation becomes more when one stays away from family for a good part of four months. When I was asked to pack my bags to go on an assignment in Tokyo, somewhere during the packing I decided, a vacation would be just the need of the hour once I am back in India. As expected with any car lover, I started to miss my beast from the very second day I landed up in that earthquake prone country. Not only my car, I in fact missed the presence of my family during the entire festive season. Not to mention, wifey was furious for not having me around during Dusherrah and Diwali. Though I fully enjoyed my stay in Japan with me visiting the beautiful Mount Fuji (Drive to the Beautiful Mount Fujiyama, Japan) and the 43 Tokyo Motor Show (43rd Tokyo International Motor Show - A Visit), somewhere I feel obliged to give wife something to cheer about once I am back home.

One month into my stay in Japan, I started searching for the place to go for my upcoming vacation. I was never been to Rajasthan and certainly it always was in my list of visits. Ditto goes with Munnar in Kerla. But ultimately had to strike these two places because they were getting too long a distance for a week long vacation. I love driving but at the same time I never wanted the vacation to be entirely a driving vacation either. Then suddenly it struck me - Hell, it is close to 3 years I am been to anywhere near a sea beach. That is so unnatural with someone from Odisha, the state which has an entire east side facing the sea. How about going to the sea, I thought. And when one thinks about sea and sea beaches, nothing can come before GOA. That too the place is roughly 500 Km from Pune, just adequate distance to compensate my 4 month long no-driving existence.

I started searching for hotels and zeroed in on Mayfair Hideaway Spa & Resort in Betul, South Goa. Before I go further I must clarify, that was one heck of a selection. Just perfect on everything about the resort. I will get to the details about the hotel later when we get there but for the gist - I will for sure stay in Mayfair every time I go to Goa henceforth.

Moving forward. I landed in Mumbai on 7th December around 11 in the night. And guess who was there to meet me outside the airport? Yes, the great HVK. Had a long chat with him on my planned drive to Leh during August 2014 and the upcoming mega BHP meet in Kutch during Dec 26th weekend and left Mumbai around 1 in the morning for Pune. Reached Pune around 2:30, greeted with a huge and longish hug from wife and crashed in the bed by 3:15. Plan was to spend the next day, which was a Sunday in home. Do the servicing of my Safari since the vehicle wasn't been driven for last four months. Fix a navigator in my Beast. Have a haircut, which was due by at least a month and half. And leave for Goa on Monday morning latest by 5:30.

HVK, his legendary Scorp and Yours Truly
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5:30 plan was negated when my wife suddenly turned romantic and proposed to prepare breakfast for our onward journey and have it somewhere under a tree. After all too much of Guru Dutt and Wahida Rehman movies are really bad for your mental balance, I tell you. So the plan was rescheduled for a 6:30 start as wife asked for an hour to prepare her romantic endeavor. But plans are destined to go haywire, more so when the plan involves an early morning start. I can stick my neck out and say, the plan will fail 9 out of 10 times if it also involves women co-passengers. And that precisely what happened as we could only leave around 7:30; a good 2 hours behind the schedule.

The trusted companion ready to plunge into another 500 Km ride
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It was a working day and hence there was some traffic till we exited Pune city limits. Thanks to the IT parks in and around the highway that now looks going straight in the middle of the Pune city. It took us good one hour before we hit the Katraj tunnel.

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Hazy because wifey tried to act like a professional photographer
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After a drive of one hour and fifteen minutes, we hit the first toll booth of our journey. By the way, the highways in Maharashtra and toll booths go hand-in-hand. I am sure the one thing that can compete with numbers against the number of potholes in a stretch in Maharashtra is got to be these highway robbers. I mean, how in earth only Maharashtra have toll booths in every 30 Kms? I haven't seen such frequent appearance of a toll in any other state. How those states are managing?

Have you ever seen such discipline in our toll booths? Me neither
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70 Km into the drive, I suddenly realized I don't have the vehicle papers (the smartcard they are issuing now) and the insurance paper with me. Both I had left at home while going to Tokyo. Asked wifey if she had at least the smartcard in her purse. After a frantic search she made a face like an average politician after getting caught taking bribe in a sting operation and nodded her head in denial. Now this was a situation. Crossing at least three states in the journey and we don't have any paper to suggest that we are not the real life Bunty and Bubbly to have stolen the vehicle but it belongs to us. To top it, the vehicle is in my wife's name and she wasn't even carrying any ID proof to suggest she is she. Not even her Pan Card. Horrendous. Knowing our ever so friendly cops we were in a dilemma to whether go ahead with our journey trusting our stars or turn back and and collect the same from home. Took a chance and thought of going ahead. By that time the morning hunger was starting to creep in. After the frantic search for the smart card the search for a tree beside the highway started to have our breakfast. Though trees near the highway in the Pune-Satara stretch are few many but most of them are far from the highway. Finally we got hold of one and decided to cajole our tummy Gods there. Finished up with our breakfast in 30 minutes and started towards Nipani; our next destination.

Few pictures till we reach; yes the next toll booth

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I forget the name of this Ghat, just before Mahabaleswar Exit. Anyone can recall?
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Highway Robbery
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To Be Continued...

Last edited by BeingCynical : 1st January 2014 at 11:19.
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Old 31st December 2013, 12:05   #2
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Default re: Off to Goa when the Beach calls

We drove continuously after that for couple of hours, trying hard to throw away the no document with us thoughts till Kolhapur. Just before Kolhapur we realized we need a break to address our bodily obligations and the beast also needs a break. After all it wasn't been driven at all for last four months and stretching it too far without break might upset her behavior.

Stretch from Satara to Kolhapur is just fabulous
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What they are cultivating? Any idea?
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Great roads
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Inviting; No?
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Searched for a decent place to take a bio break. As it was little hot outside, wife also was asking for a Sweet-Lime-Soda to freshen up. About 15 Km from Kolhapur, we came across this Sai International on the left. Good place with clean toilets and lots of parking place. Can't comment on their food since we never had any. But by the look of it and the way they were maintaining, I guess the food won't be too bad. Wife had her lime soda while I decided not to insult Soda. Soda with some sugar syrup and a god damn squeeze of lime? Are you kidding? Isn't it an insult to SODA? I object to such abject disrespect to SODA. But you know your revolutionary instincts goes out of the window when wife demands something.

Beast at the parking lot
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Another angle
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Wife nonchalantly disrespecting Soda
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The food court
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It was about 12:30 when we reached Nipani junction where we were supposed to bid our goodbye to the NH-4 and take the state highway till Sawantwadi.

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The roads in the Nipani-Sawantwadi stretch is nothing great to write home about. A single lane stretch that goes through the woods or so it appears. Full with potholes at scattered quarters and patrons in the hurriedness of their lives, even in blind curves as if they are participating in the famous French cross country rally. Had at least two encounters where the incoming vehicle was driven by an idiot hallucinated with the idea that his vehicle is fitted with a cryogenic engine.

Initial stretch from Nipani to Amboli
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Clock was ticking 1:30 when we were good 6 Km away from Amboli. Hunger was creeping in and to our horror we were yet to find a decent looking eating joint since we left the highway at Nipani. Just when we were about to lose any hope of food till we reach Sawantwadi, this one popped out of nowhere. Don't remember the exact name of the place but the only good restaurant that I remember in the entire Nipani-Sawantwadi stretch. It is to be precise 5 Km before you reach Amboli from the Nipani side.

Ordered for Thalis, me a Chicken one while wife a Mutton one. To go with, a bowl of Raita and some Masala Papad. Food was good and so was the surrounding. Little dissapointed with the toilets but never mind too much on such sundry facilities when it is temporary.

Hotel Minarva
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Our Yummy looking Thalis
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Vacations doesn't demand hurrying into anything. So we decided to have our lunch in our own sweet time. By the time we finished with our lunch and reached the top of Amboli Ghat, the clock was ticking around 3.

Roads till Amboli Ghat
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Not smooth but pleasure to drive
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Greenery before Amboli Ghat
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More Greenery
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Beast at the top
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To Be Continued...

Last edited by BeingCynical : 31st December 2013 at 14:22.
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Old 31st December 2013, 14:32   #3
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Default re: Off to Goa when the Beach calls

Those who swear by the pleasure in driving through Amboli Ghat, weren't wrong at all with their fascination. It was all scenic till one reaches from Amboli to Sawantwadi. A Ghat stretch of around 20Km and every inch of those 20Km is full with greenery. Soothing to the eyes and soul in those roads. But I still have a grudge. Can't the authorities improve the road condition of the Ghat section a little bit to improve the driving pleasure? or is it too much of an asking?

Few pictures depicting what it feels driving through Amboli Ghat

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The road looks romantic; No?
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Can't they improve the road?
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Yours truly trying to be a smart jack
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Couple more pictures before we reach Sawantwadi

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When we reached Sawantwadi it was already 4:30. Still some distance to go before we call it a complete onward journey.

I must say, the road from Sawantwadi to Panjim has improved by some quarters since the last time I driven to Goa during 2007. Those times the roads weren't that bad but not good as they are now. Didn't took us much time to reach Panaji. Just zoomed off on those wide tarmacs and before the closk could hit 6 we were entering Panaji.

Wide roads
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Entering Mafusa
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Mafusa to Panaji
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The iconic bridge that greets while entering Panaji
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To Be Continued...

Last edited by BeingCynical : 31st December 2013 at 14:50.
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Old 31st December 2013, 15:00   #4
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Default re: Off to Goa when the Beach calls

Now it is time to elaborate about the resort where we were planning to stay. For those who love the hustle and bustle of North Goa, this resort is not the place for you; let me add this as a caveat. But if you are for some relaxed time, far from the madding crowd then this place is perfect in every sense. As the name suggests, it is literally hideaway from the public glare. A four star property with a surrounding trademark to any Mayfair property. Gives you that feel like a jungle resort. Rooms are very spacious with bathroom easily surpassing the room size of many equally charged other resorts. Food is absolutely finger licking and to top it all, the staffs are as hospitable as any one can get.

Room - Pool facing, Deluxe
Tariffs - 9000/- per night including breakfast
Location - Betul
Distance from Panaji - Roughly 35 Km
Sales office - Mansoor 9326112995
EMail - Sales.Goa@mayfairhotels.com


Of course this place would be nearer for people traveling from south like Bangalore and Chennai. Since it was a working day and that too in the evening, it took us good hour and half to reach our resort. Few snaps from Panaji to Betul

View of Panaji City
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Sun setting in
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Since I talked a great length about the resort, it would be unfair if I don't post few pictures of the room we were staying.

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Got myself dipped in the hot bath tub for good one hour to shake off the tiredness that has crept in post 600 Km long drive. Even took a 15 minute power nap during the act and only got out of the tub when wifey shouted for dinner. Went to the the pool side dinning area. Ordered for some Chilly Chicken to start with. Gulped it down while fondly remembering Vijay Mallya and ordered some Odia delicacy for dinner. By the way, the chief Chef is an Odia and he precisely knows our taste bud

Didn't disappointed with any of the items that we had ordered.

Pool area
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Nautica pool side bar
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Pool bed
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Came back to room after a hot pipping dinner. Since the next day was wifey's birthday, I kept myself awake as well as her till it clocks 12 for the surprise that I had planned for her to come. As arranged with the hotel staffs, they came to room sharply at 12 with the ordered cake. Had a small and very private celebration and we crashed in the bed by 12:30 and slept like there is no tomorrow.

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To Be Continued...

Last edited by BeingCynical : 31st December 2013 at 15:57.
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Old 31st December 2013, 16:04   #5
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Default re: Off to Goa when the Beach calls

Woke up little late the next day. Took our time to get ready as we didn't had too many travel plans in and around Goa. Went for the breakfast around 10 and were ready to move out by 11. The plan was to go to Baga beach and spend the entire day there. Just relaxing by the sea and have some good food from Brittos for lunch. If mood permits, some water sports. Honestly, neither me nor wifey are too enthusiastic about getting into the sea or ride some god damn Banana boat. Had done this zillion of time since childhood. Remember, we people belong to the sea anyway.

Entrance of the resort
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Without wasting much time we drove off from the resort for Baga beach. Baga beach is around 52 Km from where we were staying and it took us around one hour to reach the beach. Some snaps of south Goa on our way to Baga

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Now here an interesting thing happened. The moment we parked at the Baga sea beach parking lot, two touts appeared from nowhere. they gave us two scratch cards and said we need to scratch them to see if we have won anything. Well, well, well, my wife was lucky and she won something like an apple iPod. But there is a catch to win the prize, the tout told us. We have to spend an hour with another bunch of touts who designate themselves as the marketing team of some unknown but alleged world number one travel club group. In fact the prize goes to my wife because the said group was celebrating their 20 years anniversary. Generous people no?

We both looked at each other and decided what we have to do. Since it was extremely hot, we thought going to listen to their blabber is a better option than roaming around the sea beach under the hot sun. Anyway, the touts would at least put us inside an A/C room and by courtesy they would at least offer a glass of soft drink.

After that, we subjected ourselves to the audio visual torture of a group of frauds. We never made it too obvious that we were enjoying their ploy so that the intensity remains intact. They told us how we can have vacation in their worldclass resorts spread across the world, enjoyed only by the likes of Michel Jackson, Bill Gates, Rihan and many like by paying them 3 lakh as joining fee and a meager 18K every year. They also had an EMI plan for us poor mortals to pay the joining fee. Yes 60K on that very day and rest in equal installments spreading over next 3 years. Frauds after frauds with different designation, rising up to the level of Chief Operating Officer of their Indian operation came and urged me to give my Debit card to them so that they can swipe the amount and run away to oblivion.

Tolerated their torture for 2 hours till 3 when hunger cramps started violence in our tummies. Woke up at once and told them that I am not interested with their blabber and moved out to the dismay of the damsel who was acting too clever by half all this while. By the way, in the mean time I had gulped down 3 glasses of Mirinda and two cups of Coffee. Only when I came out, I found the so called COO ferociously kicking a decade old Honda Activa to bring it to its life. So much for being COO of the world's number one travel company

Moved to Brittos for a late lunch. Had some simple Dal Tadka and Alu Gobi with some Raita and Papad while enjoying the sea in front.

The spread
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Till the sunset we enjoyed the sea and the setting sun. Mountains on the backdrop added to the pleasure. And how can I forget the foor Malish and Champi? Great, those were. But I think the service provider conned me their with his charges.

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Let me assure you, the tummy that is trying desperately to bulge out of my Goan shirt is a temporary affair. I have already started my due efforts to arrest such nonsense and I promise, I won't be an embarrassment to the rest Team-Bhpians
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To Be Continued..

Last edited by BeingCynical : 31st December 2013 at 17:16.
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Old 31st December 2013, 17:21   #6
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There can't be anything better than the sun setting down in the sea. Soothing to the eyes. It was after long 3 years that I was seeing the sun dipping down the sea at the far end. Few snaps to showcase the marvel

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Moved from Baga Beach around 7 and reached our resort by 8:30. Had a warm bath and had some Odia style Rohu fish curry and rice by the pool and called it a day while discussing the poor COO and his Honda Activa.

To Be Continued...
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Old 31st December 2013, 17:24   #7
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Next day the plan was to go to Fort Aguda in the early part. Have a stupendous lunch at Martin's Corner and wind up our vacation with a visit to Old Goa. So got up little early vis-a-vis the 10 AM previous day standard. Got ready and rushed for the complementary breakfast. I guess I haven't yet mentioned about the breakfast but it is awesome by every stretch of imagination. Varieties are too many to count and they do change it every day.

Pathway to the common dinning area
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Entrance to the dinning area
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While I tried to remain a true Indian with my South Indian spread, wifey acted like as if just landed in an alien country called India from Europe and stuck to her Continental nonsense

Mine
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Wife's
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After a filling breakfast we ventured out to accomplish our plans. First hault was Fort Aguda. Few snaps along the way

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When we reached the fort gates, it was hot like summer. Sigh!! all for this Goa weather.

Entrance to the fort
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Some lesson on history as well as discipline
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First view of the interiors
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To Be Continued...

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Old 1st January 2014, 09:07   #8
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Fort Aguda was different from other forts, for it being the only fort I have seen built specifically for monitoring purpose. But honestly found it to be little over hyped. But hey, if I am not mistaken, at least I have seen one CID episode been shot in this location. Few snaps from the fort Aguda

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Hype or not, but the view of the sea from the fort is absolutely marvelous.

It took us a little more than one hour to complete fort Aguda visit. As per our next plan, we were off to Martin's Corner for our lunch. Those who know Aguda and Martin's Corner as well, can easily guess the distance between them. I am not sure but I think it won't be less than 35Km. So moved out of the parking lot of Fort Aguda around 12 noon for Martin's Corner. Few snaps of Goa interior on our way to Martin's Corner

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After an hour and half we were at the parking lot of Martin's Corner. Can't remember the names but we decided to taste some Goan delicacies. I must say, Martin's has maintained their flavor since their inception. Not a single taste bud has deteriorated since I had first dinned there some 8 years back. Same great taste, same great people. Ohh, yes; they have improved their washrooms though.

The parking Lot (grown bigger since last time)
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The Spread
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After a filling meal which again we took our own sweet time to finish, we headed for Old Goa, the last destination for the day.

To Be Continued...

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Old 1st January 2014, 09:29   #9
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When we talk about Old Goa, two prominent things comes to our mind. The Church and the ASI maintained museum. Few snaps from our drive to Old Goa church from Martin's

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We reached the Church around 5:15. Surprise, surprise; there was some mass wedding going on there. For the first time I witnessed the post christian wedding "Kiss The Bride" phenomena. Impressed by the quick and religious wedding process which in case of Hindus take a whole night.

Few snaps of the church and the wedding

Entrance
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Mass wedding going on
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Can you spot the Bride & the Groom?
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By the time we reached the museum, it was already closed for the day. So no pictures of inside but nonetheless few snaps from outside

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After done with Old Goa, we roam around Panaji a little and went to Dona Paula beach. By the time we were there it was already dark and all shops in and around were already closing down. Spend some 15 minutes there and made a move for our resort. Reached resort around 9. Took a good bath and some pipping hot Odia delicacies for dinner and crashed on the bed. Tomorrow is the day we were moving back to Pune. Were feeling little sorry that the long awaited vacation coming to an end.

To Be Continued..

Last edited by BeingCynical : 1st January 2014 at 09:51.
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Old 1st January 2014, 10:04   #10
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Woke up early around 8 since we had to drive back 500 Km. Had the breakfast, settled the bill and moved out for our long journey back home around 10 from the resort. The upcoming drive through the pictureous Amboli Ghat was making us eagerly looking forward to that stretch.

Few snaps of the same Ghat from a different angle. Somehow while going through it 4 days back we had missed the fall. I don't know how but somehow we missed it.

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We also found some very serious guys en-route.

Contemplating whether to form the Govt or not
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The water fall that we missed while going
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This time we took the Belgaum route. Reached Belgaum around 1:30 and had some great South Indian Thali at Baba Ramdev hotel and started for our last leg of 340 Km journey around 3.

Enjoyed the last leg of drive by never crossing the spedo beyond 80 Km/Hr. Reached Pune around 9 PM.

That ends another satisfying and fulfilling vacation.

P.S - I was never harassed by a single Cop in the whole trip. Thanks to our stars that we crossed two states in our journey without vehicle papers and yet not been harassed.

The End...

Last edited by BeingCynical : 1st January 2014 at 10:11.
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Old 2nd January 2014, 07:03   #11
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) (http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/announ...m-section.html (The "Assembly Line" Forum section)) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 2nd January 2014, 10:25   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BeingCynical View Post
I forget the name of this Ghat, just before Mahabaleswar Exit. Anyone can recall?
This is called as a Khambataki Ghat, once notorious for deadly accidents. Now, it has been converted to One-Way. I remember, there used to be a Check Post before the Ghat Starts (from Satara to Pune direction) for Maharashtra ST buses.

One slight correction - Mafusa is incorrect. The correct name is Mapusa (alternative: Mhapasa ). IIRC the name Mapusa is actually a portugese influence.
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Old 2nd January 2014, 11:58   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmplog View Post
This is called as a Khambataki Ghat, once notorious for deadly accidents. Now, it has been converted to One-Way. I remember, there used to be a Check Post before the Ghat Starts (from Satara to Pune direction) for Maharashtra ST buses.

One slight correction - Mafusa is incorrect. The correct name is Mapusa (alternative: Mhapasa ). IIRC the name Mapusa is actually a portugese influence.
Thanks for the clarification. Hey, I always thought it to be "Mafusa". If I am not wrong, I remember seeing some mile stones depicting the same spelling. Never knew the name had a history behind it. Thanks again
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Old 29th January 2014, 17:26   #14
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@Being Cynical

Thank you for this post. I had visited Goa last year and thereon have relived the experience through your post today. May be it will inspire me for Round Two.
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