Monday, December 11, 2017

Anything but ordinary trip to Goa!



Me and my husband make it a point to visit Goa atleast once a year, if lucky even twice. After all, Goa is the reason we met! On our first anniversary, we were in Goa and walking on Calangute beach and spotted this new property – The Park Calangute. We went and chilled at their bar – PEACE. It was then, 4 years ago that I had decided that I want to stay here once. And that happened on our 5th anniversary.

I made the bookings in August itself, when I saw a good deal – though non-refundable. Around this time there was a new train launched from Mumbai to Goa called Tejas Express, which was a luxury train and even faster than the Shatapdi. So wanted to try that, and booked tickets. Return flight tickets were booked in September and everything was in place – along with leaves applies for and approved!
We left on Sunday 26th November, as husband has working Saturdays and plus I could use that day to pack, visit the parlour, buy stuff – packing is a task when you are travelling with kids! Yes, we were going with our li’l one. He’s been to Goa before and has enjoyed a lot!

Our train departed from Panvel at 6.15am, and we were super late because our Uber driver cancelled on us and by the time the next cab got booked and driver came, we were already late! Had the train not been late by 40 minutes, we would have just reached in nick of time or maybe missed it also! The train was super empty, so even though there was no seat for the kiddo (he being under 5), he had his own seat. The journey was ok – I wish it was a sleeper, because the body gets all stiff and starts aching after sitting for so long. The kiddo was sick – he had motion sickness and vomited plus got a fever. Tejas Express has individual entertainment screens loaded with few movies, songs, games etc. Food quality is also better than normal trains and service is fast. However, bathrooms were stinking and seats are some facing front some back, so ours was backwards where you feel you’re going back – probably the reason for kiddo’s sickness. Plus, it was late, by 1 and a half hour – so we were all the more agitated – Wish they had a Thivim halt – would be closer to our hotel.
The Park Calangute had sent their car to pick us up from Karmali station and the driver Ollindo was very friendly – we were freshened up with the wet towels and water. We were at the hotel in an hour and welcome by the general manager – Mr.Saurabh Khanna. We were given mocktails/cocktails to choose from and tired by the journey, we headed to our room to freshen up.

The room was small yet cozy – with all the basic amenities and separate toilet and bathroom. On entering I saw a photo of me, husband and kiddo along with a plate of fruits and box of chocolates to welcome us! The photo was on a card that had a hand-written note welcoming us, with signatures of all the staff. Was touched by this gesture! We were missing having a verandah in the room, as the windows opened up to another hotel adjacent to this property. But we thought we were going to be outside mostly anyways.

Kiddo and I changed and stepped outside to take a look around. The best thing about the property is the location, without any doubt – it’s right at the beach! Husband joined us shortly, and while the kiddo played in the sand with his sand toys, we chilled with beer and a corn pepper salt starter that was delicious. Tired from the journey, we headed back to our room where we were given a complimentary dessert and a tray that had cashews, essential oils to help us sleep better along with the next day’s weather forecast scribbled on a peace of paper. We ordered in dal khichdi (which was okay, but missing the garlic flavor that is a must in this dish) and slept off to a cozy night only to wake up late!


Next day we had our breakfast and decided to hit the pool. It’s a 4 feet shallow pool with a small area in the front where kids can play in water or sit and chill – the same has tables put in evenings for you to chill and have a drink or two. The pool was welcoming, the best part is – even if it’s noon and the sun is scorching, the pool area is covered by palm trees so you don’t feel the heat or have the fear of getting sunburnt. There are day beds and pool chairs where you can laze around with a book or take a peaceful nap, if you’re not in the mood to swim. All three of us had a good time at the pool – the staff came to us with complimentary cocktail/mocktail shots again! We then headed out for lunch (There is this very nice veg restaurant called Sharanam that we’ve been going to since years) and then were very sleepy after the swimming and eating and took a nap.
I have a school friend – Nikita who stays in Panjim – she was so sweet to come meet me at the hotel! After she left, we went shack hunting – saw Caramali that we had heard about but then settled at good old Britto’s at end of Tito’s lane. The roads near Tito’s are very badly dug up since quite some time now – so no questions of getting a car there – bike is also a challenge – best is to walk up if you are looking at partying there.

The third day we had our breakfast and were in for a surprise – we were being upgraded to the studio room! The perks were – a plunge pool, canopy bed and also that it is on the ground floor just almost outside the pool – no more climbing a flight of stairs to the room (there are no lifts). We happily agreed, and packed up and shifted! The plunge pool was ready for us to dip in – with some rose petals in it. This whole trip was like another honeymoon for us – with the kiddo though, what do they call it, familymoon?

We had a great time in the plunge pool and then head out to the local market coz husband wanted some more beach-wear and we picked up shorts, tees etc. We were lazy and called for a pizza in the room which looked tempting but tasted bland – Domino’s has ruined us! I could only have it thanks to the oregano, chili flakes and ketchup! Can u believe since 2 days we hadn’t viewed sunset at the beach even though we were right at the beach? We headed for the beach and chilled at the shack – kiddo played with the sand toys while we relaxed with beer. Being winter, the sun set at 6.30pm and it was dark by 7pm and the shacks start wrapping up the beds and mattresses laid out. We headed back to the hotel and the pool area was finally empty (last 2 days it was occupied by groups/honeymoon couples) so we sat for a while – with feet dipped in the cool water and I had a cocktail for a change – asked the bartender to make a nice concoction for me, and so he did! It was some nice Malibu rum based drink.





We came on this trip to celebrate our 5th anniversary and each day on the trip felt like the special day. Morning we had breakfast and were wished by the staff who got a brownie with candles and asked us to celebrate with them. We then headed back to pool – since this was our last day! And yet again headed to the beach to watch one last beautiful sunset and had some fries and sandwiches with beer. We came back to our room to find it decorated with lots of red and white balloons and a beautiful cake for us! The li’l one was equally excited to find this – because balloons! We spent some peaceful quality time together and didn’t feel like leaving the comfort of the room so called for dinner again – dal makhani with tandoori rotis. This time we asked the guy to make it spicy and so he did, delicious it was!


We thought we would get up early next morning to go see the sun rise, but lazy that we are plus must have slept really well that we didn’t get up. Later packed up our luggage, had breakfast and checked-out after bidding adieu to the beautiful hotel and lovely staff! Goa airport with it’s half section shut was crowded like the flea market with no place to sit, delayed flights and only 1-2 options to grab a bite! They should really do something about this, considering the number of people visiting! Fortunately our Indigo flight was on-time, and we had a comfortable journey back to the bay with memories that we shall cherish forever.
A special thanks to the most courteous staff - Ashok, Jayee and everyone else who made us super comfortable - considering the kiddo and his tantrums! Do visit Park Calangute for your honeymoon/babymoon or just any other special occasion there is!