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Soul Food

I’m quite fussy when it comes to eating certain foods with texture normally being the main reason that makes me think twice about what I’m about to eat.  I was under no illusion that travelling around India would have its challenges when my belly was rumbling and wanting some nourishment.  But I also knew it was a great opportunity to try new foods and I was pleasantly surprised with the variety and the flavours of South Indian, Goan and Keralan Cuisines.

I chose to eat mainly vegetarian the entire trip only giving in towards the end with a couple of seafood meals. Being so close to the ocean in Goa, it was too tempting to resist and thankfully I survived my trip with no serious bouts of illness from anything I had eaten.

With a new appreciation for coconut water, bananas and lentils, here are some of my top recommendations of where to eat and drink in some of the cities and towns I visited.

Hotel Saravana Bhavan  I ate three times at this vegetarian restaurant, twice at different locations in Chennai and again in Kanyakumari.  Sampling South Indian cuisine for the first very time, my highlight was the Malai Kofta curry.

Dreamer’s Cafe  One of the highlights of my trip was going to Auroville and the food on offer was amazing. Being a coffee lover it was a treat to discover Dreamer’s Cafe located by the Visitors Centre when visiting the Matrimandir.  Sipping on organic coffee, it’s a great place to meet local people and visitors.  I also highly recommend having lunch at the restaurant on the same site.  All produce is freshly grown in the area.

The Dreamer's Cafe, Not The Jealous Kind

Vegan Heaven

Auroville, Not The Jealous Kind

Fresh Local Produce From Auroville

Koshy’s Bar & Restaurant  If you’re staying in Bengaluru, then a trip to Koshy’s is a must. It’s a fun spot to visit especially with a group of people.  Sample North Indian dishes, enjoy a pint of  beer and soak in its retro decor.

Karavalli  Located in the Gateway Hotel in Bengaluru, Karavalli is not for the backpackers budget!  It was one of the few places in India where I ate seafood and if you’re a fan of South Indian coastal cuisine you’ll enjoy this fine dining option. After your meal, add some glam and spice to your evening enjoying the lights and a cocktail at The Ritz Carlton.

The Ritz Carlton, Not The Jealous Kind

The Ritz Carlton

Dal Roti  I could have easily eaten here twice a day during my stay in Fort Cochin eating their delicious kati rolls.  It’s a small restaurant which I could imagine gets busy at times, but I would be happy to queue and wait for a table to enjoy their affordable meals.

There are plenty of great options for food in Fort Cochin.  I also enjoyed eating at Malabar Junction in Malabar House, the Old Harbour Hotel and a pre-dinner drink over looking the harbour at the Brunton Boatyard. It also has a quaint bar which I imagine with a group of people would be a fun place to stay for a few hours soaking in the Dutch and Portuguese architecture and atmosphere.

Art Resort  I ended up eating most of my meals here while staying in Palolem. Nice hearty, healthy meals, a great view of the beach and a good selection of wines if you fancy one. Make sure you say hi to Raj at the bar and sample a cocktail or two while enjoying a tranquil Goan sunset.

Art Resort, Not The Jealous Kind

Art Resort

Mumbai was a delight when it came to eating and drinking. In this bustling cosmopolitan city there was a lot on offer to sample.  I enjoyed everywhere I visited but I was disappointed with Leopold Cafe & Bar.  After reading Shantaram I had visualised something completely different and perhaps this is why.  However it is an institution being founded in 1871 and is a popular tourist destination that many locals and visitors enjoy.

I stayed in Colaba which had on offer excellent cafes and restaurants in the area. My favourite places (which were all within walking distance of Abode Hotel) were:

Le Pain Quotidien, where I enjoyed coffee and pastries. The Pantry and Kala Ghoda Cafe in Kala Ghoda were nice spots to rest and refuel in between visits to the local boutiques and museums.  The Table menu offered small and large plates and the hardest thing was trying to decide what to eat, (I will be back) and I had a great night out with some friends at Indigo Deli and hip new bar Colaba Social.  

The Pantry, Not The Jealous Kind

The Pantry

Colaba Social, Not The Jealous Kind

The Lively Colaba Social

And finally the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.  With a variety f restaurants to choose from I enjoyed a glass of champagne at the Sea Lounge and with more time I would have enjoyed sampling their high tea.  Wasabi By Morimoto proved why it’s been recognised as one of Asia’s top 50 restaurants and with flaming cocktails at the Harbour Bar there is plenty to experience.  Finish your sampling experience at the Taj, with breakfast or lunch on the terrace or it’s poolside restaurant Aquarius. 

Harbour Bar, Not The Jealous Kind

Flaming Cocktail At Harbour Bar

The standard of restaurants and cafes in Mumbai was impressive proving it can compete on an international stage which makes it one city I would love to return to. It certainly can produce food good for the soul.

 

© Not The Jealous Kind 2015

 

 

 

 

 

Places To Stay, India

Probably one of the most frustrating things about travelling in India on my own was having a limited budget to spend on accommodation.  With two people and two budgets I could have stayed in some fabulous places. Accommodation was hit and miss in India and planning only a few days ahead at a time had its advantages and disadvantages as I discovered.  To save you some time trawling through Trip Advisor and various accommodation websites, if you’re looking for mostly mid-range accommodation, here’s where I stayed and who I recommend and which places you need to avoid like the plague.

Chennai

The Golden Fruits Business Suites.  This was my first experience of accommodation in India and it was fine by Indian standards.  I did struggle understanding the staff but I think this was due to acclimatising to India and their accents!  The breakfast buffet was average and there weren’t many restaurants close by and I found it hard to get my bearings around the area.  Its clean and tidy but I would recommend to hire a driver if you stay here to get access to better food options.

Puducherry

Hotel Bon Sejour.  With grand rooms and fresh herbal bath soaps made by Sri Aurobinda Ashram I thought this would be a great place to stay for a few nights, but looks are deceiving. After a poor check in the level of service in this hotel continued to go down hill.  They decided to pack down a conference loudly until 3am.  I was then woken up to loud music being played at 6am for no clear reason. And if that wasn’t enough to stop you sleeping there was a mosque nearby, which normally I don’t mind but after the lack of sleep two nights in a row this wasn’t helping. Avoid staying here if you can.  There are some great places to stay in the French Quarter in Puducherry such as The Promenade, but unfortunately they were all booked when I was planning my stay.  My tip for staying in Puducherry, book well in advance especially if you’re planning on staying over a weekend as it’s a popular weekend destination for locals.

Bengaluru

Hotel Bangalore International.  I stayed here with a friend who was working at a conference held at this hotel. It was another hotel with average service and I was beginning to understand that this way normal in India. With poor wi-fi (when deemed as an international hotel) and seeing the staff pick up food with their hands at breakfast, I’m sure there are better places to stay in Bengaluru!

Shreyas Retreat.  On the outskirts of Bengularu I was fortunate to stay in this luxury retreat with a friend.  With a hefty price tag it’s not for everyone’s budget but if you are looking for a retreat in India I would highly recommend staying here and you can read about it here in one of my earlier posts.

Feeling Zen At Shreyas Retreat

Feeling Zen At Shreyas Retreat

Mysore

Parkland Inn.  I was hoping to stay in Mysore at the Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel, the old queens palace and a recommendation by a friend, but unfortunately it was fully booked. I don’t understand how Parkland Inn received such great reviews from the Lonely Planet and Trip Advisor. The bathroom in this hotel was horrible.  I was welcomed with hair from an earlier guest, the hotel smelled of smoke which they said was coming from outside of the hotel and the door into my room was impossible to open.  I had to ask staff to open the door for me four times!  The only good thing about this hotel was its excellent proximity to the palace.

Wayanard

Varnam Homestay.  This was another recommendation from a friend and a wonderful place to stay.  This was my first experience staying in a homestay and a great one. Beena and her husband offer helpful friendly service, with good food and clean rooms.  With a large lawn and hammocks to lie in it’s a great place to park up for a few days to relax and unwind.  The Serai Resort was also recommended by a guest staying here if you’re looking for a more luxury wildlife experience in Kabini.

Lazing Around At Varnam Homestay

Lazing Around At Varnam Homestay

Fort Cochin

Sui House.  Located in the quieter area of Mattancherry, this bed and breakfast has large rooms, friendly hosts and you certainly won’t go hungry with a generous and substantial breakfast offering.  I had high expectations leading up to my stay here as it had been promoted as a boutique place to stay.  I felt the property was slightly over priced and the bedroom could do with a good lick of paint, but the owners were lovely and provided a great map of the area with their pick of restaurants and shops in the area. Email: suihouse@gmail.com

The Colourful Sui House

The Colourful Sui House

Bernard Bungalow.  Located in Fort Cochin, this homestay has basic rooms, is affordable and an easy walk to the local shops and restaurants.

Tip: Pack mosquito repellent if you’re staying in Fort Cochin, they were prevalent in both places I stayed.

Alleppey

Kaits Home.  Lovely friendly hosts and great food, but unfortunately it was over priced with tired old rooms. They also charge for lunch and dinner which should really be all-inclusive in the room rates due to its isolation, as alternative food and restaurants was not an option.  I ended up only staying here one night instead of two.

Varkala

Woodhouse Beach Resort.  This place was odd.  On the surface it was clean and tidy and not too far away from the main drag but far enough away for some quiet. But when I asked for soap they said I had some.  Ah, sorry no I don’t. Yes you do.  I went back and had another look and it was in a box labelled shower cap!  The tooth kit had a tooth-brush for emergencies but no toothpaste.  The doors wouldn’t shut properly and someone could have potentially smashed the door open.  There was no remote for the air-conditioning, just the one temperature and yet again poor wi-fi.  Plus they only had one room key which meant if you wanted a clean room you had to hand it back to them which they didn’t really seem to clean anyway.  I had wanted to stay in Varkala at Soul & Surf, but unfortunately it was fully booked.

Kovalam

Amrutham Gamaya.  I had a wonderful stay in this retreat, the service was excellent, but it did lacked comfort and had poor wi-fi.  You can see my review here in a previous post.

Lacking Some Confort Amruthram

Lacking Some Comfort Amruthram Gamaya

Hotel Neelakanta.  This hotel felt tired but it’s pool was clean as opposed to swimming at the beach.  I wasn’t a huge fan of Kovalam and two nights was more than enough for me.  Again I wa met with another odd moment when a staff member asked to come into my room wanting money for a tip for the bell boy.  If you can stretch your budget try staying at The Leela.

Kanyakumari

Seaview Hotel Kanyakumari.  A great place to watch the sunrise from the roof of the hotel. In fact the location couldn’t be better.  However the restaurant and breakfast was disappointing.  If staying only for one night its manageable especially with it being so close to the sea.  It’s an easy walk to watch the sunset in the evening and to the vibrant fish market in the morning, but opt to eat out in one of the local restaurants.

Madurai

Madurai JC ResidencyFinally a hotel that felt like a hotel! Excellent food and service and located not far from the temple.  I enjoyed being able to have a workout in their gym, but I would recommend bypassing any spa treatments.  I had a terrible pedicure which was always going to be a gamble!

Goa

Afonso Guest House, Panaji.  A lovely quaint guest house with nice helpful staff. There’s a lovely terrace to eat breakfast on in the morning and it’s close to everything you need.  I would stay here again.

Afonso Guesthouse

Afonso Guest House

Lotus Sutra, Arambol.  I choose to stay in a Deluxe AC Wooden Cottage for three nights. The location was good with easy access to the beach and the staff were friendly. The stay would have been better if the rooms had been swept daily due to the sand being brought in from the beach and it was slightly off-putting having stained sheets on my arrival!

Living Room Boutique, Vagator.  Again overpriced but a nice hotel and restaurant. It’s a good ten to fifteen minute walk to the beach so don’t forget to pack some water on a hot day.

The Living Room Boutique Hotel

The Living Room Boutique Hotel

Art Resort, Palolem.  I was recommended to stay at Ciaran’s in Palolem, but I found the owner arrogant when I enquired about a reservation.  It turns out I wasn’t the only one.  For the same price as Ciarans, the Art Resort was a great find and I ended up extending my stay as it was so enjoyable.  The resort is rebuilt every year offering unique bungalows and beautiful Palolem beach is right on the door step. There are thoughtfully placed outdoor mini baths to wash your feet in so you don’t drag sand throughout your room and the restaurant has excellent food and cocktails.  I literally didn’t move from the resort for nine days and I would definitely stay there again if I was on my own.

The Art Resort

The Art Resort

If you’re a couple and looking for something quieter and away from the main beach of Palolem, I stumbled across Turtle Hill.  A nice boutique property on a walk from Palolem to Patnem beach.  Its well worth looking into.

Mumbai

Abode.  If you’re tall and not open to using communal toilets then you may want to re-think staying in this boutique hotel.  With low ceilings in the corridors and bedrooms it can feel claustrophobic at times.  But located in the heart of Colaba and near the shops, restaurants and tourist attractions I would stay here again. The hotel has thought of everything. Guests are given mobile phones to use at will during their stay. You can attend astrology, yoga and cooking classes and the hotel supports a local school for the blind and their students studying massage, if you’re game enough to try one. And I did.  It wasn’t the best massage I’ve ever had, but at least it was going towards a good cause and the cooking classes were highly recommended to me by some guests. But the best thing about staying in Abode was at the end of the long day it was nice to go fall asleep in their comfortable, cosy, bed linen.

Dreamy Beds At Abode

Dreamy Beds At Abode

Taj Mahal Palace.  If you want to give yourself the five-star treatment then the Taj is worth a stay.  I spent my last night in India staying here and to read more about my stay you can read it here.

Looking for boutique and bespoke holidays in and around Goa and don’t have time to spend hours researching?  Try KOKOIndia to help you find that unique experience.

Happy travels.

©Not The Jealous Kind 2015

A Touch Of Taj

After two glorious months in India, my journey was coming to an end.  I was about to venture back out again into the unknown.  India had almost become a security blanket for me and I had become use to all of its quirks, delights and annoyances, it was starting to feel like home. I can understand how people are drawn to the place and never want to leave. The North was on my agenda at the start of the trip, however I never made it that far, there was too much to see and experience in the South.

Feeling accomplished for travelling on my own, knowing that at times I had to sacrifice experiences because it was “just me” I felt that I deserved for my last night in India some pampering and a bit of luxury.  And since I hadn’t travelled up North to visit the real Taj Mahal in Agra I thought what could be the next best thing? Staying at the Taj Mahal Palace of course!

So I booked a room online and was very happy with the welcome emails sitting in my inbox ensuring I was about to have a wonderful stay. Being asked if I had a pillow preference was heaven after some of the terrible nights sleep I had experienced over the past two months. But my first impressions quickly faded from this is going to be heaven to hmm this could be an interesting stay when I then had another seven emails back and forth arranging other details for my stay, where depending on the time of day I replied I would have a different person responding to my request not taking into consideration the previous correspondence. But thankfully this was the only glitch in the experience.

On arrival you have to go through what feels like airport security due to the terrible terrorist attack and bombings on the hotel in 2008. The hotel has done a superb job with the restoration. Sure there are areas of the hotel that feel tired and need updating, but to be able to keep such a magnificent building in tack is miraculous considering the horrific event. After a smooth check in I admired the view from my seafront window, though it was unfortunate to have a protective mesh covering the window, perhaps an aftermath of the terrorist attack.

Hotel Lobby

Hotel Lobby

Walking To My Hotel Room

Walking To My Hotel Room

Inside The Hotel Room

Inside The Hotel Room

The hotel on the ground floor is lined with luxury stores such as Louis Vuitton and Dior, a sign of the tourist dollar perhaps or the Bollywood revenue prominent in the city.  I opted to skip around the back of the hotel where I discovered Bombay Electric and managed to pick up a few great pieces of jewellery as a memento of my time in India.

Exterior Of The Hotel

Exterior Of The Hotel

Bombay Electric

Bombay Electric

Feeling thirsty I headed back to the hotel which has ten established restaurants and bars and headed to the Sea Lounge for a glass of champagne and to experience its sea views. Not quite the view I was expecting, I guess its hard with no balcony, but the art deco furniture and colonial charm was lovely and I was welcomed by a gentleman playing on a grand piano which all added to the ambience. If I had my time again, I would book in for high tea as the room and setting was perfect for this.

The Grand Stairwell Leading To The Sea Lounge

The Grand Stairwell Leading To The Sea Lounge

By this stage I was hungry and after heading up to Souk for dinner and to enjoy their rooftop views, being disappointed with this view also, I managed to get a reservation at Wasabi by Morimoto instead.  It was an amazing meal and you see why this restaurant was recognised as one of Asia’s Top 50 restaurants.  It had a lot more atmosphere than Souk, potentially due to it’s more intimate size, but it was exactly what I was after.  It was a refreshing change after eating Indian vegetarian meals for the past two months.  Part of me was still however nervous eating meat in India as you hear of food poisoning occurring in hotel restaurants, but thankfully there were no issues here! To close my evening I couldn’t leave Morimotos’ without walking through Harbour Bar.  How could I resist a cheeky flaming cocktail on departure. I was tempted to stay for another but I had done enough damage for one evening.

Harbour Bar

Harbour Bar

Flaming Cocktail

Flaming Cocktail

Harbour Bar

Harbour Bar

I woke up refreshed after a very comfortable nights sleep, yes the pillows were heaven and I enjoyed a nice breakfast outside on the terrace by the pool.  One coffee down and I was starting to become accustomed again to my vices I had neglected for the past two months. My toes were in dire straits and with Dubai as my next destination there was no way I was going to have my feet on show in the current state they were in.  The spa at the hotel was excellent and it was such a nice change after the disastrous pedicure I had in Madurai.  A lovely gentleman potentially in his early 60’s did my pedicure. His father had also worked at the Taj prior to him and his son was a hairdresser in Dublin.  I think I possibly experienced the best polish I’ve ever had.

The Terrace

The Terrace

Courtyard And Swimming Pool

Courtyard And Swimming Pool

My last appointment before I headed off to the airport was a Vedic Astrology session.  I had never had one before and curiosity got the better of me.  Astrology remains an important aspect of many Hindus lives and I was intrigued to see why. After a fascinating hour session and feeling more educated on this ancient Indian science based on planetary movement and the effects they have on people, it was time for me to check out and make my way to the airport. The past 24 hours spent at the Taj Mahal Palace had been a great way to end my time in India.  Yes it was slightly extravagant and with the taxes added on top of everything, I could have purchased a luxury handbag, but I figure it’s not everyday you get to stay in such a grand setting.  Plus it was a good way to ease me into the extreme wealth I was about to see in Dubai!

As my taxi pulled away from the hotel, I had a sense of melancholy knowing I was about to leave this glorious city and country.  I was excited to be continuing on with my travels and looking forward to catching up with friends and family, but India has left me with lasting impressions in my mind and an allure that is wanting to draw me back.  With so much more to see and experience I hope that time eventuated again soon.

Namaste.

©Not The Jealous Kind 2015

The Gateway To India

I will forever have a lasting memory of my first sighting of Mumbai formerly known as the city of Bombay. I was flying in from Goa, it was mid afternoon on a beautiful sunny day and I was unable to see the landscape below sadly due to a heavy layer of smog.  The approach into Mumbai felt similar to flying into Queenstown in New Zealand, out of nowhere appeared rocky formations outside the plane window giving you the sense that they were too close!  But what really struck me as we descended low enough to see what was on the ground below, was the extensive rows of slums, falling on top of each other. It is believed that over 50% of Mumbai’s population are living in slums.

Once on the ground however you discover a bustling cosmopolitan city which I loved experiencing what culturally they had to offer with their museums, restaurants and shops putting them on par with other great cities around the world. You could sense the Bollywood revenue infiltrating its way through parts of the city. Should I feel guilty for enjoying Mumbai’s twist on Western delights when there are people sleeping on the pavement in front of you?  It was difficult not to and I ended up purchasing a large tub of baby formula for one man as he followed me relentlessly down the street.  Potentially a scam, but how could I say no when he had a baby with a running nose strapped to his hip, pleading his baby was hungry!

I stayed in a great boutique hotel in Colaba which was walking distance to many restaurants, cafes, museums and the Gateway Of India (opening picture).  I even bumped into an old school friend staying there.  What are the chances? Abode hotel (recommended by Conde´ Nast Traveller) provided a fantastic map of the area with their recommendations of where to eat, shop and the local sites to see.  They also arranged a yoga class for me to attend and a massage from a Mumbai based school for the blind.  It wasn’t the best I had experienced but it was helping a good cause. It was a tough decision trying to decide where to eat and drink with an extensive list to choose from.  My favourites were The Table, Indigo Deli, The Pantry and a great new bar called Colaba Social which I went to with a great Australian couple I met from Adelaide who were also staying at Abode. Ofcourse I finally meet some people at the end of my trip…….

The Pantry

The Perfect Lunch Spot At The Pantry

The Lively Colaba Social

The Lively Colaba Social

It was nice to experience finally a well executed museum at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaji Vastu Sangrahalaya (formerly Prince of Wales Museum of Western India). I had visited some doozies in India and it was great to see ancient artefacts carefully preserved on display.  The surrounding streets were easy to wander around including the lovely art district of Kala Ghoda and taking in further sites such as the grand Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (Victoria Terminus), the High Court and Oval Maidan where you can watch young cricketers in the making.  My father if there, would have stayed there for hours.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya

Streets Of Kala Ghoda

Streets Of Kala Ghoda

Kala Ghoda, Mumbai

Kala Ghoda, Mumbai

Blue Synagogue, Kala Ghoda

Blue Synagogue, Kala Ghoda

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus

Oval Maidan

Oval Maidan

Having read the book Shantaram I had created visions in my head of what Mumbai was like and a trip to watch the sunset at Girgaum Chowpatty beach was on the list to do and see.  I had visualised the beach to be a lot further away from the city and less populated. Instead I was greeted with an inner city beach with uninviting water to dip my toes into, however it was still nice to sit and watch the local way of life. Feeling thirsty, I then headed to Leopold Cafe. I had also envisaged the famous cafe & bar (which opened in 1871) to be a cool hippy den where you could disappear for a night nestled amongst cushions in a dark seedy corner.  Instead it felt like an American diner, completely out of context to the city surrounding it. Tick another one off the list.

Girgaum Chowpatty

Girgaum Chowpatty

Sunset At Chowpatty

Sunset At Chowpatty

Daily Commuters

Daily Commuters

My last night and days in Mumbai (and in India) were spent visiting Elephanta Island, shopping and experiencing a night in the Taj Mahal Palace which I’ll write about in my next post.  Elephanta Island was worth the hour-long boat trip each way and the climb up many stairs in the heat to see these awe-inspiring caves and carvings of Shiva.  It was nice to have one last cultural fix before I indulged in some shopping and a night of luxury at the Taj Mahal Palace.  I loved Abode hotels recommendation to shop at Bombay Electric, definitely my favourite find in Mumbai.

Shiva On Elephanta Island

Shiva On Elephanta Island

Elephanta Island

Elephanta Island

Elephanta Island

Elephanta Island

Elephanta Island

Elephanta Island

World Heritage Site, Elephanta Island

World Heritage Site, Elephanta Island

More Caves On Elephanta Island. Make Sure You Try And Beat The Heat.

More Caves On Elephanta Island. Make Sure You Try And Beat The Heat.

View Of The Gateway Of India From The Ferry

The Gateway Of India

Taj Mahal Palace

Taj Mahal Palace

Taj Mahal Palace

Taj Mahal Palace

If you’re heading to Southern India or Goa and are unsure of which port to use as your gateway of entry into India, I would highly recommend Mumbai as a destination to fly into or out of if you have time.  It has a lot to offer with its diversity making it truly the Gateway to India.

The Gateway Of India

The Gateway Of India

The Gateway Of India

The Gateway Of India

Images Shot On A Fuji FilmXT100 and iPhone 4s  ©Not The Jealous Kind 2015

Under The Goan Sun

It was time to head north to relax and enjoy some time on the beach.  I had ten days to experience the beaches of Goa and I was planning on splitting my time between Arambol, Vagator and Palolem.  All had been recommended by friends to visit. Known for their party vibes, I was warned Arambol and Vagator wouldn’t be quiet destinations, however the beaches were very quiet everywhere, but it was still nice to see more foreigners around. It was now April and with the season starting to wind down, each day resorts would dismantle their properties in preparation for the monsoon season ahead.  It was quite eerie to watch especially when the restaurant I had dined in Palolem the night prior, had disappeared the next day.

Arambol with its long stretching coastline was an idyllic spot to rest for a few days. It was windy making it a popular destination for kite surfers, but it was nice to walk along the beach and enjoy the warmth of the sun.  I was greeted with the Buddha quote “The greatest prayer is patience” in the resort I was staying at, helping me to transform into relaxation.  I wanted to try some yoga while I was there but most of the places had closed for the season.  You could definitely see in the height of the season that the place would have a completely different vibe.

Arambol Beach

Arambol Beach

Arambol Beach

Arambol Beach

DSCF3233

Beautiful Sunsets

Beautiful Sunsets

From Arambol, I spent two nights staying in a boutique hotel in Vagator, visiting Little Vagator and Anjuna.  During a sunset at Anjuna I watched a ceremony where they rang a bell to give thanks to the day and at dusk in Vagator, eagles would fly over Little Vagator making it feel very majestic and by day the beaches were partial to some very friendly cows!

Sunset at Anjuna

Sunset at Anjuna

Dusk At Anjuna Beach

Dusk At Anjuna Beach

Vagator Beach

Vagator Beach

Little Vagator Beach

Little Vagator Beach

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Cows On The Beach!

Cows On The Beach!

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After a couple of nights in Vagator I headed south the Palolem.  I was planning to stay for four nights and then make the long trip to Hampi on my way to Mumbai. But unfortunately it was proving again to be a big journey. I didn’t want to catch the train on my own which was over ten hours.  The overnight buses had poor reviews and a taxi was proving to be really expensive and then I had the same issue moving on from Hampi to Mumbai.  Many of the accommodation places I had looked at where closed for the season and I was told it would be extremely hot there and it wasn’t the best time to go. Reluctantly, I decided not to go which I’m still gutted about, but I’ll have to try getting there another time.

Instead I spent the next ten days at Palolem, soaking in the last of the sun before my adventure in India came closer to its end.  I stayed at the Art Resort which had great food (and cocktails), nice staff and I basically did nothing but yoga, meditate, sleep, eat, drink and swim for my entire stay.  The only down side to Goa is the water clarity.  It isn’t amazing and there are plenty of dogs (and cows) roaming the beaches which doesn’t help, but Palolem beach was cleaned daily of rubbish making it a really nice place to park up and relax and I would definitely return again some day.

Palolem Beach

Palolem Beach

IMG_4870

My Bungalow At The Art Resort

My Bungalow At The Art Resort

Art Resort

Art Resort

A Royal Enfield, Seen All Over Goa

A Royal Enfield, Seen All Over Goa

Walk to Patnem Beach From Palolem

Colomb Bay, A Nice Walk From Palolem On The Way To Patnem Beach

Patnem Beach

Patnem Beach

No-one To Rescue

No-one To Rescue

Just My Foot Steps

Just My Foot Steps

Boutique In Patnem

Boutique In Patnem

Palolem

Palolem At High Tide

Silent Disco Anyone?

Silent Disco Anyone?

Low Tide At Palolem

Low Tide At Palolem

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Shark Alert!

Shark Alert!

Lagoon At Palolem

Lagoon At Palolem

The Lagoon

The Lagoon

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DSCF3271

Beautiful Sunset At Palolem

Beautiful Sunset At Palolem

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“There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way” – Buddha

Images shot on a Fujifilm XT100 or iPhone4s  ©Not The Jealous Kind 2015

Old Versus New

Goa was one of those intriguing places I wanted to visit.  I had heard so many mixed stories about it, from people loathing the place and it’s trance party night life, to others who never wanted to leave.  For me, my purpose was purely to relax by the sea. I was warned it would be quiet as it was heading into low season, but that didn’t bother me.  It had been quiet generally everywhere anyway.

My first stop was in Panaji, in central Goa.  I arrived late on Good Friday evening, and I spent three nights there.  With it’s Portuguese influence, it was a great place to wonder and admire the architecture. Being Easter places were closed, but there was enough to do and see to keep me occupied.  I spent my first day walking through the streets of the new town and my second day visiting Old Goa.  I stayed in a fabulous guest house in a great location which made my stay that more enjoyable.

NEW

Church Of Our Lady Of The Immaculate Conception

Church Of Our Lady Of The Immaculate Conception

Portuguese Influence

Portuguese Influence On The Streets Of Panaji

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Great Little Home Stay

Great Little Home Stay

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You can catch a bus from Panaji to Old Goa.  It was my first and only time on a bus during my time in India.  I managed to get around without using them!

OLD

Se Cathedral

Se Cathedral And Church Of St Francis Of Assisi

Se Cathedral Built In The First Quarter 17th Century

Se Cathedral Built In The First Quarter 17th Century

Inside Se Cathedral

Inside Se Cathedral

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Church Of St Francis Of Assisi Goa

Church Of St Francis Of Assisi Goa

Inside Church Of St Francis Of Assisi

Inside Church Of St Francis Of Assisi

Church Of Cajetan

Church Of Cajetan

Inside Church Of Catejan

Inside Church Of Catejan

Basilica Of Bom Jesus

Basilica Of Bom Jesus

Basilica Of Bom Jesus

Basilica Of Bom Jesus

Lighting A Candle In Memory Of My Father

Lighting A Candle In Memory Of My Father

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Monastery Of St Augustine

Monastery Of St Augustine

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After two days of walking in the heat, it was time to head to the beach!  Next stop North Goa.

Photos shot on a Fujifilm XT100 ©Not The Jealous Kind 2015

The Only Way Is Up

After leaving Amrutham Ayurvedic Village Resort refreshed, revived and rejuvenated, I was getting ready to head back up the continent with the view to visiting Hampi, Goa and Mumbai.  But before I made my way there I wanted to visit Madurai and Thanjuvar for their magnificent temples. Logistically it was a large area to cover on my own and I was having a dilemma of how to travel to each destination as I didn’t want to miss anything.

But because I had diverted slightly at the start of my trip to meet a friend in Bengularu, I was going to have to zigzag my way back up which was proving to be difficult due to long train journeys, and flights weren’t flying directly to where I wanted to be.  In the end with another recommendation from a friend, I hired a taxi and looped from Kovalam down to the very bottom tip of India to Cape Comorin and then on to Madurai.

Kovalam was my least favourite place and I couldn’t wait to leave.  I felt like I was on set of the programme Benidorm.  I spent just two nights there and would far rather have spent them in Varkala.

Kovalam Beach

Kovalam Beach

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From Kovalam I headed down to the very bottom of India to Cape Comorin, Kanyakumari, and I’m glad I ventured there to see this vibrant fishing village. Because of it’s geographical location, you can watch the sunset and sunrise literally within walking distance of each other.  It’s also where the Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea all meet.  A spiritual place for worship, there is plenty to see on an overnight stop-over.

Vivekananda Rock and Thiruvalluvar Statue

Vivekananda Rock and Thiruvalluvar Statue

Thiruvalluvar Statue

Thiruvalluvar Statue

Vivekananda Memorial

Vivekananda Memorial

Toes of Thiruvalluvar Statue

Toes of Thiruvalluvar Statue

Sunset

Sunset

Fishing boats ready to head out in the morning

Fishing boats ready to head out in the morning

Dusk

Dusk

Tona spotted!

Tona spotted!

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Sunrise view from the hotel roof

Sunrise view from the hotel roof

Sunrise

Sunrise

Fisherman's market

Fisherman’s market

There was an abundance of fish

There was an abundance of fish

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Then it was time to started heading up!  A 300km drive past an extensive wind farm which was encouraging to see, I arrived in Madurai.  Madurai is famous for it’s temple Meenakshi Amman. An impressive site and well worth the visit.

Wind farm driving towards Madurai

Wind farm driving towards Madurai

First view of the temple from afar

First view of the temple from afar

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Gandhi Museum

Gandhi Museum

Unfortunately I didn’t make it to Thanjuvar to visit Brihadishwara Temple, it was proving too difficult on my own to get there and I opted to fly instead from Madurai to Goa.  I was trying to get to Hampi on the way to Goa, but again is was a struggle to get there, so I decided to go to Goa first and then make my way to Hampi from there. Frustrating! If I had a companion I would have taken the long train journeys ahead, but alas it wasn’t meant to be this time.  And in true Indian style, the only way I could fly to Goa from Madurai was to go in the opposite direction flying back to Chennai having to catch two flights!

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