Dec 29 2013

Dubai Diaries: Day 2

Roochster

Day 2- Deira City Centre, Desert Safari

Deira City CentreWe started our morning with shopping! Aah! The feeling of entering a mall! *grinning wickedly*

Deira City Centre, DubaiSo Deira City Centre is one of the malls that has the most sales which is where I did all my chocolates and baby clothes shopping.

Shopping at Deira City CentrePalak, Masi, Mummy and I posing before we head in four different directions.

Super offers at Deira City CentreThis is one awesome supermarket! Offers you just can’t resist!

Dancing at Deira City CentreSo we had a strict time limit for shopping we needed to keep up to and luckily, I had some more time left which is what made me participate in a random dance contest to win a free Signal toothbrush! Woohoo!

Lunch at Deira City CentreThis was my lunch at the Food Court at Deira City Centre. Stir fried veggies, fried rice and Mirinda! Mine was actually the best choice from all 8 of us there!

Dunkin' Donut! I had heard a lot about Dunkin’ Donuts so thought I’d try. The one I had was Boston Cream Pie which was just ok. I wouldn’t say its better than Mad Over Donuts!

Dubai Desert SafariAfter resting for less than an hour, we set out to the main attraction in Dubai! The Desert Safari! And what a ride it was! Superb! Driving a car on the dunes requires a tremendous amount of skills!

You must have a posy picture on the gorgeous Dubai sands!

Group picture at the desertIf you have long hair, be prepared to see it fly all over your face! A nice group picture clicked by Palak!

Camels at the safariOnce we reached the main area, everyone had to go for a camel ride! Not my idea of fun for sure! Scary the way the animal sits and stands man!

Quad BikingQuad Biking! Now this you must do but do it when you can see stuff and not like us when its too dark and you have a set boundary to ride around. Can get monotonous after the first ten minutes so share the ride with your friend.

Dinner at the Desert safariSo this was the stage area where all the performances of the night would take place and we would eat our dinner.

Vegetarian Dinner at the Desert SafariA bland but decent vegetarian meal. And Canada Dry! Didn’t think it would still exist!

Tanoura DanceTanoura Dance! A must see! Wow! This man was spinning for atleast 10 minutes at a stretch! Amazing stuff!

Tanoura Dance 2Some more of the Tanoura dance. This time he was spinning the skirt.

Sheesha at the Desert SafariSheesha! Didn’t get cool reactions from family but couldn’t resist having a few drags.

Bday celebrations in DubaiBack at the hotel celebrating my Maasa’s 60th birthday with awesome cake-ice cream from Baskin Robbins! Yummeh! What a day!

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Oct 30 2013

Dubai Diaries: Day 1

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Dubai Diaries- Roochster.comDay 1- Goodbye Mumbai, Hello Dubai! Walk at Dubai Marina 

0 copy  After months of planning, Dubai was finally happening. We were super excited!

1 copyLooking at Mumbai from the top only to see it again a week later. 

2 copyWhat a view! Nothing but sand dunes for miles and miles!

3 copy  Yayy! We’ve entered the city of luxuries, dates, shopping, attar and gold! 

4 copy And who would’ve thought to see Salman Khan welcoming you at Dubai airport! 😉 

5 copyThe visa lines didn’t seem to end! Took forever and we were hungry! 

6 copyAfter sorting out sim cards and visa clearance, we made it to our hotel- Star Metro, Deira- Hotel Apartments bang opposite a…mall! Haha!  

7 copyWe took a brief look at our apartment and loved it! The next 8 days would go amazing! 

8 copyLunch was simple- Theplas, Shrikhand, Bateta nu shaak and some kachoris all from Mumbai because the entire week would be outside food! 

9 copyPreparing ourselves for the next few days with important groceries from New Era Supermarket- Milk, juice, bread, butter, etc. 

10 copyAfter a short nap, we get out and get going to walk at Dubai Marina! This one’s at Salah Al Din Metro station which is 2 minutes away from our hotel. 

11 copyOur first view of the tallest tower in the world- The Burj Khalifa and many other gorgeous structures from our metro ride. 

12 copyAnd we’re off, walking on the travellator which saved a lot of time and of course from getting tanned and drained walking in the hot sun! 

13 copyAfter a bit of walking, we make it to Dubai Marina. Great view! 

14 copyThis is Dubai’s Marine Drive! Beautiful and peaceful!

15 copyRomantic, no? 

16 copyWe needed this after walking a lot! Authentic Italian pizzas from Nepoletana at Dubai Marina. Chilled out dinner but too expensive so we had only 2 pizzas. After that we walked some more (Approximately 2 hours) till we reached the metro again and went back home. We could not think further and so just went off to bed and slept with a huge smile on our faces. Here’s to a great first day in Dubai! 

 

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Apr 11 2013

Casa Fiesta Resort, Patnem Beach, Goa

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Goa is one of my favourite places and a trip there once a year is almost mandatory now. This year, my birthday and a long Holi-Easter weekend coinciding meant Goa had to happen in March anyhow and I made sure it did!

To make a plan materialise, it takes a lot of patience and convincing. So obviously, deciding which group to go with, to get everyone to agree on things, dates, hotel, mode of travel, etc. would be a pain in the ass. With less time on my hands, I decided to ask some of my best friends who immediately agreed without any difficulties. After looking up for reasonably priced hotels online, Casa Fiesta in South Goa sounded like a decent bet keeping in mind our budgets.  By booking online and paying 50% advance, we were all set to go GOA!Casa Fiesta 1

Where is it located? Casa Fiesta Beach Resort is located in South Goa at Patnem beach. Be prepared to travel atleast 2 hours from Mapusa, Goa. This place is really far away! It took us 15 hours to reach from Mumbai. From Madgaon station it is about 45 kilometres. Patnem beach is about 10 minutes away from Palolem beach which is one of South Goa’s most commercial beaches in South Goa. Agonda beach is also pretty close.

Casa Fiesta 2 What’s Casa Fiesta like? Casa Fiesta beach bungalows are not for the finicky types. There are beach bungalows (100 mts away from the beach, where we stayed) and beach huts (on the beach). Be prepared to get no room service, no drinking water, no soap/shampoo, no swimming pool and no facilities you’re too used to being pampered with at other hotels. You’ll find that the entire room and porch shakes when anyone moves and that’s because the entire cottage stands on bamboos and is made of ply and hay. The rooms are bright blue with maroonish-red curtains and bright red carpets. Don’t be surprised to find a frog or tadpole in your bathroom. There are about 8 beach bungalows- 4 ac and 4 non-ac. There’s also a glitch in that. The ac in 2 bungalows next to each other will not work together. So if one room uses the ac, the other must compromise. We were lucky to have the first and last bungalow and didn’t have to compromise.

On the contrary, expect a clean, gorgeous and an almost empty beach calling out to you at a distance of not more than 100 mts, chilled out shacks on the beach that serve superb food & drinks and double up as the most romantic, candle-lit cafes to make every dinner memorable. Expect a local market selling everything ‘Goa’ when you walk from the hotel to the beach, friendly stray dogs that have nothing but love to give and take, fantastic porches outside every cottage, reasonably priced food, alcohol and stay.

Places around– If you’re in the mood to go clubbing or to more ‘happening’ places where the crowd is, you might have to travel all the way to North Goa which is about 2 hours away. Palolem, which is the commercial beach of South Goa brimming with tourists, fishermen and families will probably seem too much if you’re already staying at Patnem or Agonda but they have a long line of shacks on the beach and a bigger market in case you want to shop. If you do plan to go to Agonda, do visit Dunhill Beach Resort. Their restaurant is classy and has awesome food! If you plan to stick to Patnem, you’ll find that almost all the shacks serve superb food!

Casa Fiesta 3 Food– Go to Chillies for breakfast and have their combo meal. A Continental breakfast would have 1 tea/coffee, Choice of egg with bread, butter, jam, any juice. All this for just Rs. 170! Casa Fiesta, Tantra & Namaste for lunch or dinner are good options. Casa Fiesta’s Baked beans on Cheese is by far the best I’ve ever had! You will find Italian, Mexican, American, Chinese, Indian & Continental food. Sea food is obviously a must if you’re a non-vegetarian. If you’d like some beer to go along with your food, Kings is light and good. Your entire meal will not cost more than Rs. 250 per person.

How much? We went at the end of March and paid Rs. 1500 for a triple sharing AC bungalow. It is a bit much considering there aren’t too many facilities there but the proximity of the beach is a huge bonus! The non-ac rooms are of course, cheaper. We decided there and then we’d stay an extra night so they gave us a non-ac triple sharing room for Rs.800. The rates might differ if you plan to go in the peak season- October to February. The person to contact would be Mr. Jagdish Dhuri for your bookings. Once you’re there, find Mahesh and he’ll try to make sure you have a pleasant stay.

Websitehttp://www.casafiestapalolem.com/index.htm

Verdict– Casa Fiesta at Patnem might not give you the luxuries or facilities you’d get in a hotel but it will make your entire trip to Goa worth it. I’d definitely go there again (with friends). This is one awesome getaway! For sure!

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May 15 2012

Bassein Fort, Vasai, Maharashtra

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Bassein Fort, also known as Vasai Fort has existed since donkey’s years and it’s so sad that most of us living in Mumbai haven’t even heard about it; or thought of going and seeing it but never really made the effort to venture out. I discovered the fort only 2 yrs ago with Fash but unfortunately had to come back after half seeing it because of a stupid problem I had with my stomach that day! Luckily, I had a chance to go there again with a group of friends that too cause one of them stays at Vasai.

Historical Importance– Bahadur Shah, a Mughal Emperor had built the Bassein Fort in the 1530s. The Portuguese came, conquered and destroyed most of it a year after it was built and started a town which was also used as a trade center for various materials. After that, in the 1700s, the Marathas took over. In the 1800s the British came and conquered it for a hundred years more until in 1917 it was finally declared by the government of Bombay as its own ancient monument that must be preserved. Let’s just say we’re lucky enough to see atleast whatever little exists of it which is a big deal in itself, especially because you wont find tight security like you do at any other popular tourist place.

How to get there? The simplest, fastest and most economical way to get to Vasai Fort would be to get to Churchgate Station, take a train that goes to Virar and get off at Vasai which would be about an hour in a fast train. The train ticket would cost you less than Rs. 10 I think. From there you can take a bus which would cost around Rs. 7 or a rickshaw which would cost more than 60 bucks for sure. If you have your own vehicle, I’ll just say it’s very far from town, around 50 kms. If you’re coming from Pune or some other place, please Google your way there! 😛

What can you expect to see there? The moment you’ll enter the fort area you’ll be surrounded by the beauty of the massive stone structures made thousands of years ago! It’s in a state of ruins but that’s because the government hasn’t really looked after preserving it and when you go there, you’ll find barely any people there, no security or any kind of touristy feel because as I said, not many people know about it. The fort has broken-down churches and huge stone walls with beautiful Portuguese carvings. If you walk down further, you’ll be led to a jetty and a lovely view of the sea! If you’re into doing adventurous things, do try climbing the fort walls. It’s definitely not my thing cause I am a fattu when it comes to doing these things but I’m sure you’ll love it!

Food/Accommodation– There’ll be a nimbu pani/cold drinks guy from whom you can buy something to quench your thirst. If you’re hungry I’ll suggest you carry your own food or go after you’ve finished eating a heavy meal. There might be restaurants within a 2 kms radius which can be easily found otherwise. If you’re coming from far, I suggest you go there in the morning, leave by afternoon and stay somewhere in proper Mumbai.

So yes, Bassein Fort should definitely be on your awesome getaway list because it is a beautiful getaway you must visit as a Mumbaikar!

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May 7 2012

Elephanta Caves (Gharapuri), Maharashtra

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I’m a typical Arien who needs something or the other to keep me going all the time and so I get pretty random and crazy ideas when I’m bored. I had made up my mind on Friday night that I have to do something exciting to get out of my daily school routine. Basically, I needed to do something different and so; I decided to go to Elephanta Caves! After making some last minute calls on Friday night, Fash agreed to come and I was super excited to finally get out and do something ‘different’ from the usual. Saturday was one such impulsive day and I honestly don’t regret it.

How to get to Elephanta Caves? Simple. Go to Gateway of India (Mumbai), buy tickets for the ferry to go to Elephanta. They’ll be available at the entrance and priced at Rs. 130 for a return journey to Elephanta and back. If you want to go on the upper deck, its Rs. 10 extra. Mondays closed. It takes a little more than an hour to reach so make sure you carry some sweet or something in case you’re the type who gets sea sick. Once you reach the island, there’s a mini train ride that costs Rs. 10 to drop you to the entrance of the Elephanta market leading to the caves.

The Journey– Before the market, you have to pay Rs. 5 as tax to enter the island properly. The market goes uphill towards the main entrance for the caves. You’ll find everything from Indian accessories to bags to tshirts to show pieces to leaf paintings to pretty wind chimes to what not! Oh yes, you’ll also find lots of monkeys so DO NOT buy corn on your way up because you wont be able to eat even 3 bites before a monkey comes and intimidates you and snatches your corn away! That happened to both me and Fash! These monkeys are big bullies! They even snatch bottles of water! To reach the top, it took us about 20 mins or so because there were so many steps!

The entry fee is Rs. 10 for adults and Rs. 250 for foreigners. Really sad! I wish the government wouldn’t be so shameless! Anyway, so then you walk ahead and you’ll find the first cave which is the main and the best cave. There are beautifully carved stone sculptures of Shiva and other Gods. They’re all works of art and it’s amazing how people had so much time thousands of years ago that they created such beautiful things for us to see. You’ll find 3-4 other caves ahead but they’re all incomplete and not as lovely. You might get a little bored after seeing the first 2 caves but make sure you see all of them since you don’t get to go to Elephanta Caves very often!

Food– After seeing all the caves, we decided to have some nimbu pani made by a local lady which was quite nice, especially in the garmi. And then Fash had some ‘Chicken Freiad rice’ (as it said at the small restaurant in the market where we ate) and we both had Fresh Lime Soda which was quite bad! I chose not to eat cause I was having a major Mc Donald’s craving so decided to go there once we reached Gateway. I bought corn on the way back though, once we crossed the marketplace (where the stupid monkeys were). So we had left at 10am from Gateway of India and were back by 3 in the afternoon.

Overall, it was a good trip. Not a ‘wow’ place but definitely worth visiting especially if you’re a Mumbaikar or if you haven’t seen the Ajanta and Ellora caves in Aurangabad which are way better than the Elephanta caves for sure!

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Nov 1 2011

Sai Farm, Kolad

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Sometimes you just need to get away to a place where you can relax, enjoy the nature’s beauty and breathe some fresh air. Sai Farm is one such place.

Where is it located? It is located on the Mumbai-Goa highway and is about 3-4 hours (120 kms) away from South Mumbai in Maharashtra. It is very close to the river Kundalika where you can go river rafting and indulge in other adventure sports. Mind you, this place has no network in case you’re the type who works on holidays. You’ll be completely cut off from everyone.

What to do there? It is the perfect place to unwind and relax as it is surrounded by greenery and nature’s beauty. Go with your family or friends and just have a great time! The farm has 2 swimming pools, a river just a stone’s throw away, you can play badminton, cricket, football, table tennis, darts, chess and carrom. Besides that, you can get your own board games or just laze around by the poolside or riverside.  There are 2 pools out of which I like the smaller one better. It has a charm of its own. If you’re an adventure junkie, go trekking, kayaking, river crossing, river rafting and the like. So yes, there is a lot to do there.

What are the rates like? You can stay in their rooms (non-ac) depending on the number of people. They cost Rs. 1200 and Rs. 1500 per night depending on the room you choose. The cost also includes using all the facilities there and all the meals which is not bad at all! If you’re expecting luxury of any kind, this is not the place for you! If you wish to go there just for the day, the cost is Rs. 500 with one meal.

What about the food? Oh that’s something you just can’t worry about! The food is yum and me saying that, means it really is yum! For lunch and dinner you’ll get roti, sabzi, dal, chawal and some sweet dish. Breakfast and snacks are also good so just don’t worry about the food! You’ll be taken care of!

Contact Info

Call: Gabby: 9869208251 Mukta: 9869118763

Email:

Website: www.saifarm.com

Thank you Tunali Mukherjee and Nikhil Gonsalves for the awesome getaway!

 

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Jul 20 2011

Club Mahindra Varca Beach Resort, Goa

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Club Mahindra Resorts are very famous all over India and known for their lovely resorts in Goa, Munnar and a few other places. I recently went to the one in Varca, South Goa and I’m just going to tell you why it’s an awesome getaway.

I went to Mahindra in June (rainy season) with my family. We were 10 of us and trust me, we had a super time! People who say going to Goa with family is ridiculous are crazy or they just don’t know how to have a good time with their family. So anyway, Mahindra Resorts, Varca is beautiful! I loved it the moment I walked in. They have 2 restaurants, a bar, 2 swimming pools, an activity centre, a private beach, a shack at the beach, a paintball field, aqua zorbing, a kids’ play pen, a gym, a spa, loads of rooms and what not!

Mahindra Varca Beach Resort, GoaMahindra is all about luxurious living. The service is great, the food is pretty good. Do not miss the pizzas and the lovely breakfast buffet! The rooms are amazing! We had taken 3 rooms. The one I stayed in was for 4 adults with an attached mini kitchen. It was fun ‘cause we made some of our meals in the room too and ate together as a family.

In case you want to try different food, there are a few restaurants just 5 mins away from the resort and a couple of Hotels around too so you can go and get a taste of the flavour of Goa too.

It’s a place I recommend for sure! If you’re a member of Mahindra or a RCI member you must visit this resort for an absolutely memorable experience and even if you’re not, do give this is a shot!

Rating– 4/5

How to get there? Railway- Madgaon Station- 11 kms

Air- Dabolim Airport- 30 kms

AddressClub Mahindra Varca Beach Resort
Survey No 176/1, Varca Village
Salcete Taluka, Goa – 403 721. India.

More information: http://www.clubmahindra.com/res_goa_factSheet.pdf

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Aug 16 2010

The Hidden Village, Atgaon

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On India’s 63rd Independence Day, the Roly-poly Gang a.k.a , K, S, F & R (me) set out to explore “The Hidden Village” located at Atgaon in Maharashtra.  By the way this sad name (Roly-Poly Gang) was thought of by none other than Mr. K!

Being a Sunday, we were lucky enough to catch an empty train from C.S.T (earlier, and still known as V.T). Tony, the owner of The Hidden Village, instructed us to take a Kasara fast train and get off at Atgaon station from where a rickshaw driver called Sudham would come and pick us up. [People who are too cool for trains can go by car also!]

We were super duper excited about this trip, more so ‘cause it’s a very different place from any other we’ve been to! The moment we entered, there was this old stone which had “Hidden Village” engraved on it and trees all around. A little wooden bridge connected the entrance to the resort. The weather was awesome! It kept drizzling from time to time. We were greeted by a big black turkey that made funny sounds along with its follower turkeys. There was also a little lamb under a big hay basket. We couldn’t wait to start our day and were quite hungry so we jaldi se ate breakfast- anda bhurji, matki, roti and chai and headed to our room. Ashok was the guy in charge there.

Our cottage was sweet. 2 rooms with 2 double beds, 2 clean bathrooms, a tv and a refrigerator. Quite fancy for a place I thought was like a typical village. Each cottage had an open shower and a stone tub outside which I thought was quite cool!

On seeing the beauty around me, I quickly removed my camera from my bag and started clicking while K made sheesha for us. S as usual was posing away to glory. All 3 of them wanted to chill for some time while I wanted to explore the place and get pictures of the strangest creatures and other things with my camera. I was super restless! It was lunch time at 2 and I was hoping I’d get to eat some junk food, even though I knew we’d get only home type of food. They made gobi, chana, chicken, dal, roti, rice, chhaas & kheer. F and K enjoyed eating their chicken while S and I somehow tried to enjoy eating our veg food. It was quite spicy!

We were prepared to get into the water right after lunch, especially under the awesome waterfall! The feeling was great… being in the running river. There was also a small space where those Garra Rufas or Doctor Fish come and nibble on your feet… but the rainy season is not the best time for them so I couldn’t get my Fish Spa! F, S and K didn’t really care much about it…they were just chilling in the water. The waterfall was strong! It’s like getting a back massage or something. The water comes with so much force! Oh and something really funny happened. K and I saw ducks on the other end of the river and we started flapping our arms on the water like them. That must’ve scared the ducks ‘cause they came flying towards us and in turn scared the shit out of us!  Hahahah it was kinda funny now that I think about it! We were all running for our lives! As soon as that happened, we were out and headed back to our cottage. We didn’t spend much time in the river unfortunately. It was soon snacks time at 5ish and so they sent us Poha and Chai to our room and we happily ate!

After some more sheesha and feeling clean after a good bath, we headed to play some games. At the Hidden Village you’ll find a Games room which has Pool, T.T and Carrom. The good thing was that since it was Sunday evening, almost everyone had left. We had the entire Games room to ourselves! Good fun! We played T.T, Pool and Carrom after sooo long! The only sad part was that there was no fan there and it was very hot!

It wasn’t time for dinner yet so we headed back to our room, this time with the help of the resort people and their torches, since it was quite dark. S was fattoing already and thought it would be better if we sat in the room and ate; but we thought it was better to go back down and eat as there would be a lot of stuff for them to get to our room.

So we went down for dinner at about 8 30. For veg there was bhindi, cauliflower, dal, roti, rice; and for non-veg there was fish. I didn’t like the sabjis at all so I asked them if they could get dahi. Unfortunately the dahi was sour! We felt bad wasting it. The thing is that these people make the food with so much love and there’s always one person standing there to see if everything is ok, that you end up feeling really bad for wasting food.

But anyway, dinner was over and we proceeded to our room again. I slipped on the way because of my stupid slippers! By the time we reached it was only 9 30. We were wondering what to do for the rest of the night considering we didn’t really have any games or anything for time pass. We had sheesha, music and ourselves for conversations and that’s it. Of course, there were insects there too flying around and annoying us. Luckily we had Odomos to protect ourselves from the giant-sized mosquitoes. They gave us Odomos and Kachhua also.  F was already sleepy and went to sleep at 10! She came back an hour later though. The funny thing is that we thought we’d get bored and probably be asleep by 11 considering there was nothing to do really. But somehow we bonded and were up till 1 a.m talking! S and K told us about their love story which was very sweet! K also killed 2 big grasshoppers with his CAT shoes!

After getting good sleep at night, we woke up to leave. I didn’t want to, to be honest. I was loving the place. Oh and I also spotted a small snake crawling pretty close to where our cottage was… Scary! We quickly walked to the eating area and waited for the chai & biscuits to come but it was getting too late. We had a train at 8:40 and the next one at 10:25 and Fash had to get to work. So we had a few quick bites, paid up for the stay, food and thanked Ashok and the others and left in a hurry.

One thing I must say… The people working there took really good care of us. In fact, they were awake for us even at night and made sure we were happy with everything. Great service and great ambience! Ok the food was not my kind of food, but I guess it was just for a day so it’s fine. Next time I go there I’ll make sure someone or the other gets games or something for entertainment!

On reaching CST, S, K and I were hungry so we went to Radio Club for breakfast. Ate like bhukkads! Felt nice to be back to aamchi Mumbai but this one day trip was a much needed change. I will definitely want to go there again! 🙂

Psst!  Raj Parekh! Thanks to you I got to know about The Hidden Village. Awesome experience!

Website- www.hiddenvillage.in

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