We had an early flight booked from Udaipur to Goa. The Udaipur airport was eerily empty and the guard on the door with his giant gun was less than friendly when I asked to exit the building to use an ATM. Don’t argue with the man with the gun at 4am.
Arriving in Goa was a bit exciting – we were ready to hit the beach. We spent our first night in Anjuna and were a bit disappointed (I don’t know what we were expecting to be honest) although the sun set and the surrounding areas with its Portugese influence were altogether lovely.
On the second day we hired a scooter and after a slight disagreement with a police officer, (we didn’t have our international driver licences on us – he wanted money – he took my passport while we drove 20 minutes back to get the licences – I was nervous I’d never see my passport again – upon seeing our licences he wanted slightly less money) we checked out all the surrounding beaches and settled on Arambol. We returned, picked up our gear and got a rickshaw to drop us up the coast.
As with most of our accommodation in India, there was always a small hiccup somewhere along the way. We’d found a lovely room with it’s own bathroom and balcony facing the beach. The only problem: fire ants in the mattress. It’s a real shame we only discovered this part way though the night. If only there had been a chair or some other furniture to sit on other than the mattress. Needless to say, a bit like Groundhog Day, we packed our thing and promptly moved a few guesthouses down which turned out to be possibly the nicest, cleanest and biggest room we had while in India. Seven nights locked and loaded. Very happy.
We didn’t do much in Arambol – mainly reading, swimming and beering with our new found friend Dave from Canada and his buddy, Happy the dog.
The food was blimmin’ good. Two standouts were the amazing wee restaurant that served cheese and crackers as well as beef burgers – sounds basic but with most of the country not eating red meat, especially beef, it was a bit of a treat. And the cheese. Oh the cheese. And I’m talking brie and blue. I cannot describe how good it tasted, how expensive it was (probably not but it felt expensive at the time), and how many times I went back and simply had cheese and crackers for dinner. HOT DOG!
The second standout was the curry. Look at it. No words needed.
Our last stop in India was Mumbai. As we flew in from Goa and I remember being taken aback by the look of the city from the air. From here things got a little confusing. Our flight had been delayed by five or so hours so arriving in Mumbai after dark, without accommodation, was less than ideal. To add to this, we needed to get on the internet to tell Kate where to get a taxi to (she was mid air Perth – Mumbai on her way to meet us). Hours passed. Kate’s still not here. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Long story short, if you’re doing the 30 day Indian Visa on Arrival, make sure you have proof of accommodation with you. Kate: 1. India: 0. Only slightly!
We ticked all the tourist boxes in Mumbai- Elephant Island, henna tattoos (by me – pretty much an expert by this stage of our trip), street food, a beer at the Taj Mahal Hotel, a IPL Mumbai Indians cricket game, bed bugs, ruby signs, checking out local life and staying in the same room as described in Shantaram at the India Guest House.
Most importantly, we had Kate with us ready for our next leg – Africa. Whoop, Whoop.