Apr 11 2013

Casa Fiesta Resort, Patnem Beach, Goa

Roochster

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

Roochster

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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