(Disclaimer: These are all the right stories, not necessarily
in all the right order :)
The original idea was to fly out to Rwanda and spend the festive season with Marion in Kigali. Plans changed when Rwandair announced they were starting direct flights to Mumbai and it snowballed from there.
With a bit of luck and a bit of planning we all met up in Mumbai airport amid much greeting and hugging. Then jumping on a short haul to Goa for a three day R&R to recoup before the whirlwind tour.
The pick up at the airport went well. Drove up to north Goa – Anjuna, bounced up a side road and landed at the wonderful Hacienda de Goa (reflecting Goa’s past Portuguese connection). Copious fairylights twinkled around a sparkling blue pool (around and within which we would spend many a happy hour. The buildings were impressive, the staff friendly and helpful + a restaurant in site – what more could you ask for :)
It also happened to be my 60something birthday so we decamped to the famous Thalassa sunset restaurant. We were not let down
And the cherry on the cake M n M organised a surprise presentation of yummy cakes on a plate festooned with Happy Bday to me on chocolate piping at which point the entire restaurant burst into a rendition of “Happy Birthday” (a cameo repeated four more times during the evening as others in the room shared the same birthday :) The toast was in pink fizzy.
The following morning Goan breakfasts were consumed on-site before heading off to Old Goa and a tour of the Basilica of Bom Jesus, a church built by the Portuguese in the late 1500s. It's called a basilica because it houses the remains of St Francis Xavier whose body reputedly defies the normal rigours of time and decay except for his toe that was bitten off by a devotee relic collecter.
Followed by the Shree Mauguese Temple.
Time for a change provided by the Spice Plantation. We entered over a long wooden bridge and were met with a shower of wild petals, duly re-spotted on the forehead and offered spiced tea before heading off on an informative guided tour of part of the plantation. Navigated some of the worlds most expensive spices, circumnavigated a local still all under a bright green canopy of leaves. We left having had cold scented oil poured down the inside of our shirts :-O
A quick ice cream at Mirabar beach to cool down and back to throw ourselves in the pool.
An overnight recovery in a comfy bed, another Goan breckie and off to the Red Fort. If it were possible it was even hotter than the previous day around 32-34c.
To cool down we headed for the shoreline and the collection of local boats departing on a dolphin watch to return along the Mandovi Estuary taking in the fort and the old colonial prison + an amazing residency built on the rocks but going down five levels into the rock down to the shore.
A short trip took us to a delightful beach hut, cool Kingfisher and yummy sweats. A great place for people watching.