Travels with V

India: Mumbai & Goa

Almost naked in Mumbai

Mumbai part one

This time I would finally experience the true India (see my blog about Sri Lanka)! But with a travel plan that was not exactly our most ambitious. We were most of the time going to relax on the beaches of Goa, and have a few days in Mumbai for a start. Three days in that city would be more than enough, we thought. And Goa is pure vacation. That’s what we thought.

An early flight from Copenhagen and via a stop-over in Paris we’re supposed to reach Mumbai just after midnight. Get to the hotel and have a good night’s sleep, and wake up fresh in the morning to meet that busy city head-on. But we forgot that this is India, the bureaucratic epicenter of the world. If there’s trouble at one point, a whole chain of expected events will collapse.

Top Five in Mumbai and Goa:

  1. Hotel in Mumbai: We strongly recommend staying in Collaba, which is in a relatively calm and pleasant part of the city. Expensive hotels can be found on the southern end of Marine Drive, less pricey in Apollo Bunder.
  2. Best food in Mumbai: The Table. Modern fusion with a distinct Asian touch. Classy and warm interior. Neighbouring Indigo is also fabulous, with a more vegan profile.
  3. Best to-do in Mumbai: Elephanta Island. Lots of tour boats go there from Gateway to India, where tickets are sold. You will find a couple of decent restaurants to your right by the entrance.
  4. Best food in Goa: Ourem88. Without real competition Palolem’s best eatery. Not really Indian food here, but extremely well-cooked modern European. Brett the owner treats you like pals. Book at least a week ahead!
  5. Best beach in south Goa: If you’re looking for parties and lots of people Palolem is for you. If you want peace and quiet you will like Agonda Beach better. It’s just a short tuk-tuk ride to the north from Palolem.

Diary, day one:

01:30 – Just landed in Mumbai, almost one hour late. We’re then standing in line for immigration, which takes forever. The que is maybe 100 meters long, and it takes us 2,5 hours go get through. Never seen anything worse than this.

04:00 – We’re through immigration, but now we can’t find our luggage. In the lost luggage booth a man tells us that it wasn’t loaded in Paris. We file a lost luggage report and in a call try to calm our chauffeur who has been waiting outside for four hours in the middle of the night.

04:30 – We have to pass customs, even though we don’t have any luggage. But we’re not allowed to do pass, we have to go back to the lost luggage booth, convince an attendant to come with us to customs and give a signed statement that we don’t have any luggage. We’re about to explode. And about to faint from lack of sleep.

06:00 – we’re finally at our hotel. We sleep hard for three hours, then get up and have some breakfast. Idli and Masala Dosa (a pancake with yummy filling), fruit and coffe. Life is a wee bit lighter.

But we have no clean clothes, so we start walking down Colaba Causeway for some  shopping, Clothes, soap, deodorant  and a hairbrush. It’s our first dip in that human flood that constantly flows on every sidewalk in this town.  

We eat lunch at a legendary spot, Leopold Café, a quite large and packed place made famous by the aussie adventurer Gregory David Roberts in his novel “Shantaram”. In his days this was a place for artists, expats, thieves and crooks of all kinds, but now it’s proper as a Sunday school. The Cafe was also in the headlines in 2008 when it was a target for islamic terror.

In the afternoon we sleep some more and then walk down two blocks to the Gateway of India, a place that draws huge crowds at all times of the day. Then we enjoy a drink on the top restaurant of the neighbouring Taj Mahal Hotel. Then back to the hotel, sleep another hour, then try to get some information about our lost luggage. And after that we walk around to find some place where we can get a dinner.

We had earlier on our way from Gateway to India passed a restaurant called “The Table”, and we enter and convince the staff to find us two seats at the bar. And it’s a stroke of luck, The Table is superb! Happy and content we walk back to the hotel, expecting to find our luggage delivered.

But no. The luggage handler at the airline now says that the bags will be on the next flight from Paris, later that night. “And then we will deliver it to you!”

Next we take the sea route to a small island with a peculiar name, where the god of creation and destruction was worshipped.

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