|picture courtesy- Rhea|
Tuesday, 19 July 2016
For a long time now, cruise has been on my mind. There have been many occassions when I have made plans, but it has not materialised. Mainly because I have to make a trip to someplace in Europe, Asia or America to take a cruise to exotic destinations. So, my happiness knew no bounds when I heard about this Costa Classica that will begin their cruise from my home town Mumbai. It is a brilliant idea mainly because the cost of travelling is slashed, no more travelling to another place to board the ship, nor any hassle of passport and Visa, its just pack my bags and I am on the go.
I was invited for the launch of ‘First time cruising between Mumbai and Maldives’ at Lotus Room in Trident Hotel. I was eager to learn about their services. Cruising is like a floating city with new view every day without any hassle of packing and unpacking at every port.
Like every other cruise, there is lots of entertainment on board like casino, theatre, disco, ballroom, etc. This classic cruise ship has a total of 654 cabins (with a capacity of 1700 passengers) including sea view cabins and suites with private balconies. It also has jogging track, pools, jacuzzis, library and shopping centre.
Not to forget the food, there will be Indian cuisine, vegetarian and Jain food in addition to their Italian regional menus, a choice of dishes representing different regions of Italy reflecting their culinary heritage.
Cruise of one week will start from Mumbai, pass through enchanting destinations within India such as Goa, Cochin, Colombo and Maldives at the price as low as 42K. Costa neoClassica will perform a series of weekly sailing from 16th December2016 – 18th March 2017.
Sanjay Bhatia, Chairman of Mumbai port, plans to make Mumbai port of International standard with latest technology and sound security. He spoke about opening the eastern front of Mumbai that will change the coastal line of the city.
Valsa Nair Singh, the Principal Secretary Tourism of Maharastra looked positive towards the future tourism where people could come back with happy memories. “This is the perfect mode of ‘Me’ time where you can unwind and just enjoy the cruise” he said.
Nalini Gupta, Costa Cruise India Head, was sure that it would attract lots of corporates, Bollywood clan, religious groups, senior citizens, etc. “We are conducting regular training and workshops for the travel agents to educate them on the product. Cruising is the future and we offer great value for money. We are targeting customers across the board, with kids go free policy,” said Gupta.
“India is one of our strategically strong markets for Costa Asia. With a large population base of 1.3 billion and economic growth, we are confident that India will become a key source for cruising. We have charted out an interesting itinerary for the Mumbai-Male route. This will be a home-port sailing for three months, providing unique experience of nature and culture, along with a customize holidays.” Said Kelvin Wong, Vice President Commercial Costa Cruise Asia,
This idea has appealed me so much that I am looking to contacting my closed circle of friends to accompany me for this trip.
Wednesday, 20 January 2016
I have been to Goa many times and always with set of friends/relatives who want to have a great time. Each time, I get to see Goa in a different perspective. There is Sun, beach, culture and food, Depending on your interest, you need to plan your itinerary. In old Goa, the history comes alive with churches like St.Agustine Church, Basillica of Bom Jesus Church, or you visit temples like Balaji temple, Mangesh temple, Mahalasa Naryani temple, Shanta Durga temple, Mahalaxmi temple, or you could also visit forts and museums. You take a cruise through Mandovi River, and the cultural program, that is performed on the boat is splendid. And of course, there are beaches every where, The city is full of tourist from all over the world and when you go for shopping, you feel as if you are in distant land, there are rows and rows of shopping lanes that look like a flea market showcasing beach-ware, hats, sun glasses, handicraft, jewellery and odds and ends. The city is clean and walking down the dirt roads or on the sand by the beach is pure delight.
This trip, touring around the city was not on my itinerary, this was purely a trip to spend quality time with bunch of friends (32 women to be exact) in some comfortable resort (we had checked in Aguada Anchorage resort). Most of our time was spend at the resort itself with lunches and dinners at nearby exotic places.
During my 3-days-stay at the resort, a secret outing was planned by the organisers. We were asked to get into the hotel bus and go some place. The suspense was unrevealed when we reach Coco beach.
The excitement grew as soon as we saw the boats anchored at the shore. All of us hurried towards the hat stall and started shopping for hats and sun glasses (Yes, we women are like that only, if we see something, we patronise the person who making a living, we have to BUY, if not for ourselves, then for people back home)
One hat on our head and two held in our hands, we walked down the stony, uneven path to aboard the boats (I wish there was a smooth steady path leading towards the boat, there are hundreds of tourists visiting these places everyday, but it was not easily accessible for the old and the handicap, getting into the boat was quite an effort)
But once, into the boat, it was an awsom ride. The cool breeze caressing our faces, the gentle swaying of the boat was soothing as we rowed down the stream. The boatman shared his knowledge, pointing out to the buildings lining up the shores, showiing us the Goa Central jail, fort Aguada, a house where “Hasina Maan Jaygi’ was shot, then there was Bollywood stars, (Jacky Shroff’s and Amir Khan) houses. and surprises of surprises, when I saw two Dolphins shoot up in the mid air for fraction of a second and dive back in.
My interest was now focused in waiting for those Dolphin again. I mean, they were so quick, jumping above waters, then dispearing into waters, with their slimy dynamic black bodies twirling in synchrony, much to our delight. Nobody had warned me about this. This was the surprise. I followed their movements, straining to see under water, watching their every moment as they swam across at a high speed. "Look there! Look there!" everybody was squealing as they followed their movements.
There were many boats on the waters, but they were no threat to the dolphins, this was a no-fishing-zone (Dolphins knew that)
This was thirty minutes ride, but most satisfying one.
Monday, 22 June 2015
When summer heat is too much to bear and you need to get away from Mumbai, there are many interesting places to visit in Maharashtra where you can spend few days or weekend perhaps.
Just 275kms away from Mumbai is the hill station called Mahabaleshwar. The scene changes drastically and you are transported to a cleaner air, that has sweet fragrance of plants and flowers, lush green foliage, red mud path, misty sky with extra icing of cool weather and tasty meals.
The road leading to this place is interesting too. There are waterfalls and narrow winding paths as you climb up the hills to reach the city.
I went last weekend and the weather was beautiful. Although its rainy season, we were lucky that it rained only when we were indoors. The sky remained misty most of the time. But we had fun walking through the market place, to some scenic spots and through beautiful parks.
My friends did some shopping like buying foot ware and shawls but I enjoyed nibbling on street food that was available every few meters.
The food was excellent, specially the Maharastrain fare of pohas, sabudhana vadas and lentils. The vegetables used were fresh and locally grown. The stalls looked colorful with carrots and strawberries lining the roads at market place and also at all points of interest
Wednesday, 11 March 2015
Continuing with my series on ‘Touring the City of Mumbai’ I guide you to some places in Mumbai that you can also explore on your own. I have lived in Mumbai for most of my life and have loved every moment. Many times I get guests from abroad who want to see the city. I don’t always go out with them but yes I do guide them at no extra cost.
All I give is the information on where to go. What to do and what you see, is for your eyes only. You can always come back and share your pictures with me. I will be happy to post your experiences on my blog.
So, lets start our tour from Nariman point..
First things first. Rent a car. You can either book a car for one full day, or you can call a cab, 30minutes before the ride from any venue for a short trip. There are many taxi services in Mumbai (Read about Taxiservices in Mumbai from my earlier post.)
I would prefer to rent a car if I just want to drive around the city, but if I have to see the depth of the place, I would rather call for a cab for shorter distances.
So lets start from Nariman point at 7am
Enjoy the sea breeze while you wait for a cab to take you to Gateway of India
Drop the cab and walk around the sea shore. Take a boat ride to enjoy the sea.
Opposite Gateway of India is the beautiful architecture, you can admire of TajMahal hotel
Would you like to go for breakfast of egg and sausages in a coffee shop at Taj Mahal Hotel? Or else, there are many more restaurants around that area…...take your pick.
Call for a cab at 10am
Ask him at take you to Victoria Garden, (also called Veermata Jijbai udyan) at Byculla in the heart of Mumbai. Some time can be spend in this beautiful garden that has botanical garden, zoo, and also AlbertMuseum now known as The Bhau Daji Lad Museum that contains large collection of archeological artifacts
A light lunch would be advisable, perhaps a sandwich or some light street food. There is an Iranian restaurant in Byculla where you could try some cakes and pastries.
At 4pm call for cab to take you to Malabar hill via Mahalaxmi
Where you can see Dhobi Ghat, a big laundry area.
And pass via Hajii Ali
If you are not too tired, you could walk the path through sea and go to see the mosque.
Or else, proceed to Kamala Nehru Park at Malabar hill.
Drop the cab.
Spend some time walking around the park
Spend some time walking around the park
And Hanging gardens
And enjoy the great view of Chowpathy from up above.
At 6pm call for a cab to take you to back to Nariman point.
On you route you can pass via heritage sites like
Victoria Terminus now known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus
and via Marine drive, back to Nariman point. Now relax and have lovely dinner at Trident……
My earlier post on ‘Touring The City’
The name "Bombay" was derived from 'Bom Bahia' (The Good Bay),
.... a name given by Portuguese sailor Francis Almeida, in 1508 ....“Bounce back Mumbai” .....as it is called by the locals, it is a city that has been through a lot in the recent past – floods, bomb blasts, riots – and come out stronger each time.
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