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|16th August 2010, 12:41||#1|
Pune-Goa in my Swift Vxi
This was supposed to be my first post on TBHP when I joined earlier this year. For some reason, I never got down to posting it, though I did manage to get an identical thread going on carwale while my TB membership was being approved. So apologies to all for being a little dated (a little? 6 months in the auto industry is an eternity!) The text also is pretty much based on what I used at the other site, with some corrections and updates.
A cousin-in-law announced last year ago that she was having a beach wedding in Goa. The groom is from London where she lives, of New Zealand descent. The idea was to have a multi-cultural affair: a traditional Hindu wedding in the morning and a full-fledged Western formal do in the evening, both on a lonely South Goa beach.
We thought that was brilliant. So when the discussion came about of what our flight plans were, I just laughed aloud and said: ROADTRIP!
The wife is a faithful companion on my long drives ever since our Bangalore days when we roadtripped to pretty much everyplace worth driving to (except Coorg, one BIG sore point!) and our 3-year old seems to have inherited our wanderlust, so we started planning the trip in earnest. Actually it sort of planned itself: a friend now living in Goa had been inviting us to visit for ages. We'd even planned a trip there last June but a pesky emergency kidney stone surgery got in the way!
So the plan was: we start driving after work on Tuesday, take a halt somewhere on NH4 for the night, start early and cross the ghats in daylight, down to NH17 for the final run into Goa. We'd never bothered with hotel bookings for roadtrip night halts before, and this time was no exception. Goa stay for the first couple of nights were at the Nanutel in Margao with the rest of the wedding party, after that we would move into our friends' place at Dona Paula- we'd been told it was a huge mansion overlooking the sea and couldn't wait to see for ourselves!
Our companion for the trip- our brilliant blue Suzuki Swift Vxi 2006, with (then) 40,000 km under her belt. I got her second-hand just about 6 months ago, but she's been extremely well-maintained by her previous owner, a doctor, and decently loaded (she has a stock Kenwood MP3 player, decent speakers, foglamps, power windows and central locking). The Swift had been serviced and cleaned up by the First Choice people just before I bought it but I didn't completely trust them and did a full service with all the bells and whistles (down to replacing the windscreen wiper fluid and new wiper blades) at MyCar on NH4 at Wakad a few days before leaving. They messed with the wheel alignment and I went back and got it redone because I didn't fancy driving about with a twisted neck! Anyway, I was reasonably happy with their work and my baby was purring fine.
We hadn't done a longish roadtrip for a while so the prospect of 1200 or so km was very enticing. After checking with some friends who'd done Goa roadtrips recently, I decided we'd stop over at Belgaum since that left less driving to do on the morning of the wedding. The return trip would be non-stop via Nipani.
D-day was Tuesday 16th Feb and H-hour selected as 3 pm. We were set!
|16th August 2010, 13:27||#3|
Tuesday 16th Feb 2010
Pune- departure at 3:39 pm. (39 min behind schedule)
1st stop- McDonald's @ Kolhapur 7:04 pm- 241 km (bio-break and some quick calories for the kid)
Pune-Satara: good speed, heavy traffic.
Satara-Belgaum: Excellent road, no traffic except short stretch @ Kolhapur. The NH4 people seemed pretty proud of the Satara-Kolhapur-Kagal stretch since there were signs announcing the completion of said stretch throughout- and rightly so! The road was marvellous! 350 km in just under 5 hours, averaging better than 70kmph.
Food & Board: Dinner@ Oasis, Hotel Sanman International- chi biryani, tangdi kabab - Rs. 310/-
Room- Non A/C Royal @ Rs. 1350/-
All channels avbl. on TV, very helpful staff.
Music: FM in Pune and Kolhapur (this was a suprise!) Pearl Jam & The Beatles in between.
Wed 17th Feb 2010
Departed Belgaum 6:05 am for Goa. Asked couple of joggers for Sawantwadi Road. State Highway: 2 lanes riddled with speed breakers on Belgaum side but gets smoother. Progress steady if not spectacular. Peak speeds of about 80 kmph.
Dire Straits, RHCP on the stereo. Reached Amboli at 7.35, stopped @ Vitthal Kamat for breakfast. Hot upma, idli-wada and coffee.
Crossed Sawantwadi- beautiful little town with a lovely waterfront. Vowed to take a break for pictures on the way back. Hit NH17 at Sawantwadi- a small piece of coastal highway heaven. Crossed Goa border around 10.30- roughly 4 1/2 hours out of Belgaum. Scenery turned increasingly beautiful. Immediately across the border the soil turned a rich red.
It was fun to hear Konkani on FM radio, though rather surprising that there's only 1 channel- Radio Mirchi. (Actually there are many more: Radio City 91.1, Go 92.7 etc. but only Mirchi was tunable at S'wadi!
I knew we had to hit NH4A towards Londa/Belgaum but just to cross-check called up a Goa-expert friend in Pune on her cell. She told us to head towards Panaji and turn left towards Ponda at a roundabout just after the bridge. We didn’t figure there’d be so many roundabouts on a national highway! So ended up asking some residents and finally a bunch of traffic cops the way. They all pointed us the same way and we finally ended up on NH4A towards Belgaum- on which the temple trail of Shantadurga and Mangeshi lie. In case you’re wondering, we avoided the rather obvious NH4A directly from Belgaum because we’d been warned about mining trucks that make life hell for motorists on the Belgaum-Londa stretch. Also, Anamod ghat is a bit of a nightmare to navigate, it seems. However, my brother in law took that route when he made the trip in May and said that it is a much more direct and quick route to Goa and the truck menace isn't all that it's made out to be (of course he drives an Innova, not a tiny Swift!)
By this time, we'd confirmed by phone that we’d missed the temple ceremony at Shantadurga but that we’d catch up with the rest of the wedding party at the Nanutel at Madgaon, from where the bus to the venue was departing at 3 pm. It was a race against time compounded by the fact that it was blazingly hot, some access roads to temples were blocked etc.
But we did it- hurried through Shantadurga, Mangeshi and Mahalaxmi temples and paid the mandatory obeisance. The temples look beautiful een through my rather crappy JVC video cam in still mode (note to self- BUY THAT SLR!)
Shots of Mangeshi
By the time we arrived (spiritually cleansed!) at the Nanutel Madgaon, it was almost 2 pm. I pulled into the parking lot with 596 km on the trip meter.
Last edited by noopster : 6th February 2012 at 23:30. Reason: Please check forum rules, esp rule #11. Thanks.
|16th August 2010, 13:57||#4|
Rest of Wed & Thu 18th Feb 2010- the wedding at a resort in South Goa
Drove there picnic-style with the whole family in a big bus. My little Swift rested in the hotel parking lot. Plenty of good food, booze (I wasn't driving, yay!) and great company: an assortment of Kiwis, Brits and the odd Aussie from the groom's side and an entire contingent of desi folk from the bride's.
The beach was something awesome:
Did I mention the beach was awesome?
In the morning was a truncated traditional Hindu ceremony. This is a shot of the pandal and how it looked from the beach:
Here comes the groom!
That's me (extreme right) taking care of the guests
The evening programme was a Western-style wedding with vows and rings exchanged, speeches made annd toasts raised. I always think Western weddings are beautiful, but this was on the beach- just took it to a different level altogether!
After the formal part of the evening, there was a hell of a lot of partying. The Verve champagne, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and of course the ubiquitous Kingfisher was flowing, along with- in my case- about 5 litres of water to avoid dehydration (it was absolutely sweltering in Goa).
Don't I look happy?
My memory gets a little fuzzy (just like these photographs!) as the evening progressed, but it culminated the new couple cutting the bridal cake somewhere in the early hours. Have no recollection of actually eating it, though!
Last edited by noopster : 6th February 2012 at 23:34.
|16th August 2010, 15:11||#5|
Friday 19th Feb
The wedding over, we called up the friend we were supposed to stay with the rest of our time in Goa- by a nice coincidence it was her birthday, so we called up first thing in the morning and wished her. She'd already started cooking lunch (!) and was eager to know how soon we'd be getting over to Dona Paula. Got some directions- apparently GMC on NH17 was the closest landmark- and promised to be there earliest. That proved to be easier said than done. Breakfast at the Nanutel was a leisurely affair, thanks to Goan susegaad setting in; and then we needed to pack all our stuff (sand-filled wedding finery is not pleasant to pack!).
Finally at around 12:45 pm we took off towards Panaji while the rest of the family (except my BIL who joined us) headed to Dabolim for their return flights. Back on the road after a two-day rest, my Swift was purring sweetly although lying in a corner of an open-air hotel parking lot had left her a little dusty. I promised her a bath soon and for the moment a couple of squirts of wiper fluid would hve to suffice. We needed the full blast of the AC because Goa is just too oppresively hot. You'd expect it to be milder in February which is technically still winter but no! Traffic was moderately heavy but I was in just too much of a holiday mood to be affected by it. The missus was shocked at how easily I'd move to the slow lane to let others pass- she hasn't seen me do that too often in Mumbai-Pune. It took us an hour or so to cover the 25 odd km to GMC and then the turnoffs through Goa university to reach our destination.
Just before reaching the house, the road takes a sharp dip and when you rise up again you can see the shimmering expanse of ocean glinting in the sunshine. It's a sight guaranteed to raise your spirits and for the next coupe of days every time we crossed that spot, I'd feel uplifted.
And then we saw the house.
Our host is in the automobile dealership business and his garage reflects his loyalties: a black Elantra and white Getz sit side-by-side. He also told us he is starting off with Mercedes Benz pretty soon so am hoping that next time we can ride around in a nice CLK or something!
My baby resting beside our hosts' vehicles.
After a long leiurely homecooked meal of assorted seafood delicacies, the girls caught up on years of gossip while my BIL and I devoured the newspapers and took little siestas. In the evening we got dressed up for our hostess's birthday dinner celebration. Only thing left was to select the venue: my BIL suggested Souza Lobo's at Calangute but was vetoed by our hosts in favour of Zeebop on the Sea, in the South. We drove the Elantra, our host at the wheel and my BIL playing his "tall boy" card to call shotgun (he is six foot four and easily dwarfs my 5'10" frame). So that left me with the ladies in the back seat- but needn't have worried; the Elantra has enough room in back.
We took about 40 minutes to reach Zeebop. This is speciality seafood reataurant on the beach and we gorged on rawa-fried prawns and mussels followed by crab and snapperfish in butter garlic sauce, all sopped up with delicious garlic bread, seemingly home-baked. I washed it down with Smirnoff in honour of the myriad Russians who dotted the place, while the ladies had Breezers and my BIL Kingfisher. It's so nice not having to drive after!
The place closed at eleven and we were the last ones out, which surprised me since I'd assumed Goa was a party-all-night kinda place.
Saturday 20th Feb
We drove around lazily, soaking in some noontime sun and surf at Miramar, an amazing red-sand beach not too far from where our hosts lived.
The route to Miramar was a picturesque scene righ out of somewhere in Europe and I was amazed at how good Goan roads are. Smooth and paved, with excellent signage, they are certainly the best I have seen in India. What delighted me also were the Goans' driving manners- they don't cut you off or honk madly and it's one of the few places in India that I've seen roundabouts work without having to post a cop 24X7!
In the late afternoon we took off to Calangute. The big girls wanted to do some shopping so I excused myself and took my daughter for a long walk down Calangute market to the beachfront.
A church in the twilight at Calangute:
Calangute was (relatively) dirty, noisy and chockfull of pesky salesmen and other tourists, but I was in another world. My little girl's hand was clasped tightly in mine and for about an hour we just walked, saying very little except when she pointed out something she liked, like pink cotton candy on a stick!
I shall never forget that feeling of sheer contentment as we walked hand in hand along the beach and market: another reason why I now love Goa!
We drove back from Calangute to find our host (who'd returned from work) hard at work on the prawns! There was sand “stuck in all the wrong places” as my Mom would say so I excused myself for a quick shower and change of clothes before reassembling on the terrace. That wasn’t such a good idea as it turned out: the mosquitoes were killing us. So we retired indoors to the comfort of air conditioning and big screen TV. Our host had a typically Goan excitability when conversing that was infectious: soon we were all tripping down memory lane and having a lovely time: we came down for the biryani only about 4 in the morning (prawns were long gone by then!) My daughter was tired from all the walking and slept through it all. After "dinner" (more like a very early breakfast actually) I don’t even remember nodding off, but woke up the next day feeling wonderful.
Sunday 21st Feb
Our last day in Goa. We had decided to leave for Pune after breakfast and drive till we felt hungry again. Good strategy. After a good brunch of toast and eggs, it was almost noon when we hit NH17 northwards. The run to Sawantwadi was uneventful and though we missed the right turn towards Amboli, we corrected quickly enough with no time lost.
We’d stopped at Vithal Kamath’s on the onward journey so did the same on the way back- around 2 pm- but realised we weren’t hungry at all. So instead used Mr Kamath’s ultra-clean alfresco loos to clean out our systems and hit the road again.
I knew we needed to turn left well before we neared Belgaum so asked my faithful navigator- the wife- to keep an eye out for signs. Needn’t have worried.
Spring was in the air.
I wished, not for the first time, that I'd carried a better camera.
Just one stop- near Nippani about 15 minutes before hitting NH4 again- at a nice resort we found for a nice chicken Kolhapuri lunch.
Wish we could have stayed and taken a nap in the hammock.
Some interesting Warli art of display.
Last edited by noopster : 6th February 2012 at 23:39.
|16th August 2010, 15:48||#6|
After a glorious long weekend in exotic locales and surrounded by family and friends, getting back to reality was bound to be painful. NH4 from Nippani to Pune was fairly uneventful, except that we were returning on a Sunday evening and got stuck at several toll booths along the way (NHAI needs to figure out a more efficient tollway system or risk it all falling apart pretty soon). Satara was especially bad, and by the time we got onto the home stretch into Pune, it was dark already.
Distance covered: 1298 km
Pune --> Kolhapur ---> Belgaum on NH4
Belgaum ---> Amboli --> Sawantwadi using State Highways (SH 121 and the SH 97)
Sawantwadi --> Goa on NH 17
Goa --> Sawantwadi (NH17)--> Amboli (same route)
Amboli--> Ajara--> (towards) Gadhinglaj (SH121) ---> turn off towards NH4
Nippani--> Pune on NH4
Fuel Consumed: 86 litres (started off with tankful of Shell Super Petrol, then refilled Speed/Premium in Goa at BP & HP COCO outlets).
Fuel consumption: 15 kmpl
Avg Speed: 50 kmph. This was suprising- I was expecting higher, given that the NH4 is a delight. The state highways slow you down because they throw up unexpected bumps and craters. We also stopped pretty regularly for breaks and didn't really tear along the way other folks were (some TBHPians am sure!). Also, we did not jump the toll queues on NH4 and that must have added at least an hour.
Highlights: the Goan roads & Goans' road manners, the awesome beach wedding, no accidents or unpleasant incidents of any sort and an extremely well-behaved child in the backseat.
Lowlights: The bumpy state highways especially on Belgaum-Amboli stretch, needed a better camera, atrocious queueing habits of fellow drivers at Satara toll. But I'm nitpicking here.
Overall: A roadtrip we will never forget. I want to do Mumbai --> Goa --> Mangalore with my parents sometime soon, covering all of North and South Kanara and maybe even down to Kerala if we can pull it off. This trip has really inspired me to start writing again as well, for which I will be ever thankful!
|16th August 2010, 18:30||#7|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Jun 2007
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Nice writeup.Drive more so that you have reasons to write moreHappy & Safe motoring
|16th August 2010, 19:20||#8|
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Amazing write up. In fact I'd just read your so called 'confession' regarding the Tata Manza and 'ROFL'ing when I opened this thread. Nice narration- made me read every sentence
|16th August 2010, 19:35||#9|
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|16th August 2010, 21:43||#11|
|17th August 2010, 12:43||#12|
Senior - BHPian
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Last edited by deutscheafrikar : 17th August 2010 at 12:47.
|2nd September 2010, 11:12||#15|
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