Week 1 – From New Year in Goa to relaxation in Kerala

As you might have read on Week 1 posts (Week 1 – Get ready for India! and Week 1 – Welcome to Tamil Nadu) my first challenge of 2017 was to have a trip to India. Although I have always been a fan of Bollywood movies (I discovered them 2 years ago while browsing in the movie section of a flight between Dubai and Hong Kong) I never really thought about actually visiting the country until I met some colleagues that really made me realize what an incredible and diverse country it was.

So after Tamil Nadu, the second part of my trip was Goa, where we had planned to spend New Year’s Eve. In the South of India it was actually the only place we could party freely. It was just a 2 days stop before continuing south in Kerala.


 Goa – 2 days

Goa is the richest state of India and is visited by large numbers of international and domestic tourists each year for its beaches, places of worship, world heritage architecture and parties.

“A kaleidoscopic blend of Indian and Portuguese cultures, sweetened with sun, sea, sand, seafood and spirituality, there’s nowhere in India quite like it.”

Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/goa/introduction#ixzz4X4sRYUsJ

How we got there:

  • There are many internal flights to travel through India, we booked one last minute from Chennai for approximately 50EUR.

Where we stayed:

  • We decided to stay in the North part of Goa although there are many possible choices, it really depends on what you are planning to do. We booked an apartment on Airbnb in the residence Aqua Grandiosa Apartments and since Airbnb is not very popular yet in India we got a very good deal whereas all hotels were already booked for the occasion. However we had to compromise on Wifi (they could not provide us the password) and some items in the rooms (bottle opener, toilet paper) but nothing too dramatic. For 2 nights we paid 230EUR in 4, knowing that we willingly gave the tenant extra money to go back to the apartment and shower in the evening before leaving the city (check-out was 11am but he let us come back at 6pm to change and have a nap).

What we did:

  • Party at TITO’s Bollywood Club on Titos Ln. FYI, there were many guys and almost no women partying or in Goa in general!

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  • Go around with a bike – there are many places to rent decent motor bikes so considering the distances it is best way to travel in Goa, the traffic and the roads are not too crowded or dangerous;
  • See a million people in Candolim & Calangute beaches (normally they are not so crowded but because of New Year’s Eve many Indian tourist came to Goa to party);
  • Visit the Basilica of Bom Jesu, Se Cathedral, Church of St Francis of Assis in the Old Goa (Velha Goa);
  • See cows, everywhere bu mainly on the beach:
  • Visit the Aguada Fort – this is the site I enjoyed the most in Goa, then we stopped for a frittata and some coffee for breakfast just outside, it was the perfect start of the day;

Mangalore – 1 day

Mangalore, officially known as Mangaluru, is the chief port city of the Indian state of Karnataka and ranks amongst the cleanest cities in India.

How we got there:

  • From Goa to Mangalore we booked a night bus on RedBus.in, it was about 9hours travel (officially 6) for 8EUR each, second class tickets. You can book single or double beds and they are very comfortable although I would recommend taking the lower bed as you get a lot of movement due to the speed of the bus. Also note that the driver will wake you up screaming the stop name every now and then;

What we did:

  • Visit Shree Gokarnanatheshwara and Kudroli Shri Bhagavathi Temple;

Where we stayed:

  • Treebo Pappilon Palace – cheap (24EUR for one night) and very clean hotel, breakfast lacks of choice except for some Indian courses that were too sweet for me but they had coffee which is nice;

Wheat we ate:

  • For lunch we stopped in an amazing little place that was grilling fish in the street. I was scared to get sick but actually it was just delicious and no side effects!
  • Dominos Pizza (yes!!) – very cheap compared to European price (4EUR for a regular pizza) and it is pretty decent although you won’t find the same menu;

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Sultan Bathery – 3 days

How we got there:

  • Our destination was a village in midlands with no easy access. Therefore we took a night train to Vadakara for less than 10EUR and then rented a car with a driver for 3 days. It was done by my local friends so I don’t know how easy it is for tourists to have the same arrangements, but just for information the rental of the car with driver costed 300EUR for 3 days (and we split the cost between 4 people).

 What we did:

  • Muthanga Wildlife Safary – we woke up very early to get a change to see the wild animals but were unlucky except for some dears. While driving back though, we finally saw some elephants in the woods just behind the home we were staying, (they are actually dangerous so we were really careful not get too close);

  • Edakkal Caves – very nice spot for those who like to walk! the top part unfortunately is not accessible anymore, maybe because of some accidents;
  • Ancient Jain Temple – very small temple but nice for a 5 min stop;

Where we stayed & ate:

  • For this part of the trip we were the hosted by some very welcoming people that lent their house and made arrangements for their cook to make us dinner and lunch – we had very typical and delicious food, mainly rice with curries of different meats;

Alleppey and Tenkasi – 1 day

After staying 3 days in Sultan Bathery we had a 16 hour drive to reach Tenkasi through Alleppey, where we just had the time to stop to an amazing Ayurvedic resort, the Lake Palace Resort  (more to come on Ayurveda in the next post).

It is an expensive place but the service and the location are incredible. It doesn’t feel like India anymore so I wouldn’t stay there to get a sense of the real India, but for a relaxing honeymoon I would definitely recommend it. Also from the quick look I had, Alleppey really reminded me of an Indian Amsterdam, full of small canals crossing the city.

Karnataka and Kerala are very green regions, famous for their backwaters, tea plantations and wildlife sanctuaries. It was nice to get away from the big cities and enjoy some calm and freshness. We have been welcomed every step of the way and I am waiting to go back there to enjoy a trip on a boat on the backwaters.

With these 3 posts I covered the places I visited in these 2 weeks. It can seem like a rapid journey, which it was, but for me it was just a preview for a longer trip I hope I will be able to take soon.

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