Day 8: Talegaon (Goa) to Mumbao – RoadTrip Conclusion

When we got up in the morning, we fell in love with the place. R&S live in a row house and in the morning, with a bit of fog still hanging in the air, their backyard opens into a field. The greenery, the freshness in the air. Oh it was so great. Last question was asked to confirm that the cost of living is actually very low. Biwi is seriously thinking about Goa as a settlement destination! But all business ideas in Goa end up vacation themed.

The drive started somewhere between 9 and 9:30 and ended at ~7:30-8:00PM at home. Distance covered -~600 kms. Route taken – Talegaon, Panji, Sawantwadi, Amboli, Kolhapur, NH4, Pune, Mumbai. The last 400 odd kms were on NH4 which made it quite a fast drive back to Mumbai. Quick queues – during the monsoon, Amboli and Sawantwadi should be beautiful destinations to relax. Even otherwise, driving through the desolate ghat roads here was good fun. On the other hand, crossing Pune was a bit of pain, as well as a sudden realisation that the city is changing or has changed dramatically. It is no longer the small beautiful town that seemed a good settling city given its lifestyle, development, education and so on. Right now, far as you can see, you only see construction happening. Apartments, complexes, malls, etc. The entire highway is surrounded by them. And their ad hoardings, of course. Somewhere, the small-townness of Pune has gone AWOL.

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In the morning, after getting enough overt and covert abuses from R&S about the #eipcfail-ness of our plan to drive back to Mumbai, rather than stay over for another day to chill out in Goa, we left their place around 9:15 or so. And this was the first time in the trip that we actually left something at some place. My watch, a phone charger, biwi’s scarf, and my bluetooth headset. Why? Even I am not sure. I know that we wanted to leave in time, since the prospect of a 12 hour drive at this instant was not really appealing to me. The back had started troubling. Biwi wasn’t that well this morning either. And a day at Goa would have done nothing really to make the rest of the trip easier. Yeah. I know. Our fitness levels are at an all time low.

Till you exit Goa, the traffic continues to bother you. Its only as you start getting closer to Sawantwadi that the driving eases up. From Sawantwadi, you take the exit towards Amboli and enter the ghats. There is hardly any traffic on this road. This moves towards Gadhinglaj, Nipani, etc. before merging into NH4 between Kolhapur and Belgaum. Some of the road around Gadhinglaj etc is not awesome. The last stretch just before you hit NH4 is especially painful. And it lasts about 15 kms I think. Nevertheless, you hit the NH about 40 odd kms before Kolhapur. We stopped for a quick bite at McD on NH4 just before Kolhapur. Biwi casually remarked about the freedom with which four college students (girls) drove in on scooties to hang out at McDonald, and how that was so completely unimaginable back in the days.

From Kolhapur to Pune is a reasonable breeze of a drive. Pune was a little painful. We hit Pune at about 5PM, and had to brave part of the office traffic on the highway as well. It took us about an hour to cross over and hit the Mumbai-Pune expressway. After that, as you know, hitting Belapur is rarely ever a problem. Thankfully, today, even Belapur did not pose a problem. The only jam as we headed towards Powai was the road that connects this Thane highway to Airoli bridge. There is some construction work going on, and it took us about 25-30 minutes to finally get on the Airoli bridge. The Powai gods were smiling on us. They did not give us traffic today. In lieu of that, they gave us a scratch on the car as delivered by one of their devout bhakts – a cement mixer truck. It wasn’t major, and I was sapped out to get into an argument at that point. Plus, the car had to go to the body shop for some pending work anyway. We took the scratch prasadham and reached home.

A total of 2920kms over 8 days.

As biwi summarised – Excellent scouting trip. Gave us a lot of places to reflect on and plan vacations for the rest of our life around. Not the best leisurely vacation she has had, but she can live with the fact that this was required to plan the next one better. Biwis and planning, I tell you!! But for once, I actually agree. I guess I am getting older. Wait. I am sure I am getting older.

In a nutshell –

  • Everyone should do it.
  • Everyone should learn from our mistakes and plan the timing and duration of driving better. Avoid driving after sunset.
  • Unless you are four guys who don’t really care where you sack (including the possibility of spending a night in the car itself), make your hotel bookings before hand. Forces two things – quality as well as schedule.
  • More than one pro-driver is a good idea. Message for biwi – more practice and more practice before the next trip. Message for self – if not, identify which driving friend is also a good road trip company! 😉
  • And identify significant break points. Places where you will break for at about 36 hours. Helps “see” things.

As RoMa’s email signature said – Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead.

And yeah. Its December 13th – Happy Budday Didi!!

Next up – a back to back movie marathon featuring Hotel Transylvania, The Hobbit and The Last Act. Show Timings have been checked. Thursday the 14th, here I come.

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Day 7: Mangalore – Talegaon (Goa)

When we woke up this morning, we were a little wiser. We left Mangalore by 7:30. The plan was, yet again, to keep things simple. But we could not, yet again. So, today, instead of the earlier planned Gokarna, we ended the day at Goa (Talegaon, near Panaji) at Rati and Saurabh’s place.  We drove close to 420+ kms. On the way we stopped at Kaup, Udipi, Murudeshwar, Maruvanthe, Gangoli, Karwar. We did not, unlike the plan, stop or stay at Gokarna. Aum beach, for now, will remain a future destination. We ate at the world famous in Udipi restaurant – Diana hotel at Diana Circle as well.

When we started at 7:30, we laid our cards on the table. They involved a few things. The fact that a little bit of fatigue was setting in. The fact that driving over the last two three days had been very tiring, for sure. The biwi was somewhat under the weather, having taken crocin continuously for the last couple of days. My back pain was starting to make its presence felt and I had already had a moov-y nite on the trip. And we were about 1000+ kms away from Mumbai as per the planned route. And finally, the acknowledgement that from hereon the route offers destinations every 50-100 kms.  We evaluated a lot of things and identified Murudeshwar as the next decision making point.

The road between Udipi and Mangalore at that time of the day is quite comfortable and we could have got to Udipi in a little over an hour. But we saw an exit to Kaup beach and decided to check it out. The beach has a lighthouse for chrissake. 🙂 When you’re about to exit towards Kaup, you come across signages announcing adventure sports, etc. When you get in, you search for more signages. Finally you reach the lighthouse officer’s office. Then you cross it. A little later, you realize that you’ve most likely skipped the beach. So you turn around. Go back to the lighthouse office. And then you realize that between the shops and a couple other things, there is a small track that takes you to the beach. When you get to the beach, you realize one more thing. And you say it out loud – Damn, this is beautiful! Yep. That’s how you it happens.

We hit the beach at a time when there was no one around. Not a soul. Actually, one. There was a bird, and a very camera shy one that. It looked like a beach which is still used for evening binge sessions since there were places where liquor bottles were scattered just like that. But otherwise, it was fairly clean. And with a pay-and-use toilet in one corner. Closed, of course. We went up to lighthouse. And we realized that there is another beach extending on the other side of the lighthouse. Equally beautiful. With a couple of stay-in cottages. At least that’s what it seemed like from a distance. Biwi and I absorbed that beauty for some time, and then headed onwards towards Udipi.

Udipi. Quiet and quaint. It was the only quiet place in our entire trip I’d think. We had heard about the famous Diana hotel at the Diana circle. So, we promptly parked the car in a lane next to Diana, and had a hearty breakfast involving idli, vada, dosa, dahi vada, coffee and gadbad icecream. All for a total of 180 bucks. In that moment, I could have shifted to Udipi in search of a better life. The food was excellent, and their sambar, one of the best I have had in a very long time. After the breakfast, we decided to do walk down to the famous Shri Krishna Temple. All was well until I was asked to take off my shirt and showcase my paunchy magnificience inside the temple. I survived that. And having clicked a few pictures here and there before setting off for the next part.

The drive is bad and good. The road qualities could be much better, but it was not crowded like yesterday. And  it did not necessarily cross all the villages. The concept of a by-pass existed here. In a coupl of hours (12:30ish), we hit Maruvanthe. Now, Maruvanthe, is a place you are automatically going to pull over to your left and click some pictures. It helps that there are several small shanties selling coconut water. I missed not having a fish-eye lens on my camera then. Its difficult to capture that image with a normal lens. But it is gorgeous as you drive for a kilometer or two with the ocean on your left and an estuary on your right.
As we were sipping coconut water, the shop fella suggested that we go back and check out Gangoli. He did not actually tell us the name, but he gave us some directions and said that its a place where five rivers merge into the ocean. In reality, its five branches of probably 2 different rivers that merge. But, it, again, is a very delightful view. However, not recommended for the weak hearted and vegetairans. The stench of fish is almost unbearable here, since its a fisherman’s cove as well. Lots of fishing boats around.

From Gangoli, we crossed Maruvanthe again, and headed towards Murudeshwar, which is about an hour and half away. Murudeshwar is a reasonably modern construction on a very old shiva-lingam. There is a huge Shiva statue and a large temple constructed, and you can also see a representation of Shiva givinga s shivaling to Ravana. The beach next to Murudeshwawr is a majorly touristy place. Watersports, shanties, hotels, drinking joints, you name it and you havae it. It is so crowded that you can be put off even before you’ve parked your car. The twin descriptors of a being a beach as well a temple is a sure fire receipe for working up a giant crowd. We had a thali at Kamat’s there, which was strictly sub-par.

RoadtripDuring the lunch, we reassessed and we came to the conclusion that it’s hitting us now. And rather than the planned Gokarna-Ganapathiphule-Mumbai or Gokarna-Tarkarli-Chiploon-Mumbai route, maybe we should just head back home with one stop. And hence, we picked Goa for a stop over at Rati and Saurabh’s. And the road trip hence, resembles, something like what’s on the left side here.  Biwi wanted to meet Rati much. So, we started driving through the Konkan highway. Surprisingly, the place that really caught our imagination along the route was . It is quite beautiful, and has made it to our list of potential destinations.

We made a tiny mistake. We went to Talegaon from inside Goa, rather than sticking to NH66. So, in essence, we spent the last two hours just navigating the last 40 odd kms. Also, at about 5 or so, as we were entering Goa from Karwar, we felt like stopping for a cup of coffee. Unfortunately, once you’ve entered Goa, all you get for miles and miles are bars. And if you stop at one, try having Thums Up for caffiene content. The coffee can put you to sleep.

We reached Rati’s place at 7:30 or so. And we managed to stay awake till about 11:30 or so. And by then we were sure what were going to do the next morning! 🙂

p.s. A part of the conversation with Saurabh is going to make it to some other post. It was about the “need for appreciation” in office. Most managers would know what I mean! 😉

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