Coming your way are travel suggestions for LONG holiday weekends!
2014 has been a good year as far as long weekends go – of course, depending on the days your office choses as its 10 holidays of the year (since that’s how it works in India). August has two long weekends, one is from 15th – 17th and the other from 29th – 31st. The second one is only in Maharashtra, don’t think other parts of India take off on Ganesh Chaturthi. Lokamanya Tilak didn’t know what he was creating did he? After August, there are no holidays till that super weekend in October when both 2nd & 3rd are holidays, making it a four-day weekend. WOOHOO! (I have still not planned that and think places around Mumbai will be sold out. Oops!)
I loathe to waste a good long weekend sitting at home in Mumbai and I’m always looking for places to head out. What about you? Do you get as desperate as me?
Let me make it easy for you by giving some nice suggestions off-Mumbai (since that is where I live) along with places to stay! Takes the burden off your heads 🙂 All you need to do is BOOK! (psst… each name is hyperlinked to the website so you can check out costs + availability.)
1. Head to Goa. Capella, Bardez-Arpora (North Goa) or Vivienda Dos Palhacos, Majorda (South Goa)
Capella is a great homestay, or almost homestay! The family lives in a smaller cottage within the same compound. You share the dogs with them – and I think that’s all that matters 🙂 It is warm and friendly with the added advantage the owners are not always in your hair and you aren’t in theirs. You don’t need to eat all your meals with them. It is a common table so you will sit down for breakfast with different guests on each day – we met three sets of guests over the two nights that we stayed there! It always made for interesting conversation 🙂 Capella is close enough to Calangute & Baga to go there for a meal or the beach, if you fancy a rough swim during monsoons, but far enough to be peaceful and a very personal experience. The food is homely (read: basic). They have great homemade bread and unlimited fruit cake for a snack — whenever you feel hungry, you ask. They never say no! If you hire a car, then a whole bunch of places you can visit all within 15 minutes of driving. The support staff is very sweet and within a day you are in the kitchen chatting with them.
Vivienda is a little more done up. What I mean by that is it’s obvious it was developed as a hotel and not as a home. The owners Simon and his sister Charlotte run this restored hotel while they live a little distance away. The entire decor is amazing, quirky & amazing 🙂 There are barber chairs in the balcony, matrimonial ads along an entire wall in the bathroom and stories about the restoration that fills an entire album. For you beer lovers, this is the very Hayward family of the famed Hayward beers, though they do not run that company anymore. But this is the only place you get that brand of beer in Goa. I had only one meal there, but just thinking about it my mouth waters – that’s how delicious it was – even for a vegetarian… This recipe for Goan Pumpkin Curry is from there! Even if you stay elsewhere, give them a call, and you can drop in for a meal. Read about my visit here.
2. Alibaug – Mahua Baug or Mango or Ccaza Commodore
It’s a nice lazy drive from Mumbai. Not the best time to visit the beach, but I think the sea is so gorgeous at times like this – you can’t find the horizon, the breeze is cool, water seems to not be limited to the ground from flows freely from the skies and the hotels are generally empty! (Read – you have the beaches to yourself) Also importantly rates are lower during the monsoons. Mahua Baug is a nice lazy set of white cottages while Mango and Caza Commodore are large villas with a swimming pool – the type rich Mumbaikars built and then decided to convert into expensive, boutique hotels. If you go with a large gang you can even book the entire place to yourself. Mango even throws in a complimentary spa treatment during the monsoon – just book and go!
This is a home, and you are dragged right into it (even into the fights, mind you). Read much more about this place here. What I really like is the sensible weekend costing – you can arrive at 9am on Saturday and leave by 5pm on Sunday. If it’s non-rainy season you can sleep under the stars – that’s what I did! Go for a real experience — wonderful hosts, great food and an earthly stay.
4. Nasik – Beyond by Sula or Adiem
It’s off-season. There are no grapes and it all looks deary and grey, from the vineyard perspective. So no, you won’t get those ‘oh my god, it’s so gorgeous’ vineyard pictures. But the drive from Mumbai is just to die for. You start with the clumsy, ridiculous traffic just after Thane, then the road opens up. And from rough trees along the highway, the landscape changes. You will see those undulating & unending grassy slopes with the occasional tree – and you’ve arrived in the wine country of India. And you might even think you are outside India. Beyond is a little pricey and maybe not really worth the money — that’s what I think!Adiem – I just found online and I’m headed there on 30th August. I will report back once I am back, but I suspect it will be really nice.
5. Or just take off a few more days and head to BANGKOK! and if you do, stay at Phranakorn Norlen
It’s probably one of my most favourite places ever! And I keep wanting to head back there, maybe the next year I shall 🙂 If there are still mangoes around (late in season, but you know we are getting chausa in Mumbai, so who knows!) Do not, DO NOT miss the DELICIOUS mango shake!
There are so many more places you can go, but this is all for now. My best options! Also if you’ve already booked your holiday stay, tell me where you are going in a comment. I’ll head there next time 🙂 Have a great August!