Mumbai Day 10 – 20th Jan

Restarting this overdue blog, got slack with COVID19!! Not sure if I can remember it all….. 😦

Lazy morning, todays plan was very simple – head off to Santa Cruz to collect shopping and then catch up with Doc & family for Dinner.

Breakfast at Intercontinental was at the Long & Short Lounge, a smaller scale than Novotel however variety was not sacrificed and the staff were super attentive & helpful. Whilst they did not have a hot station, all that was required was asking one of the crew members and eggs were brought to our table – cooked the way I liked (Sunny side). Service just kept getting better, I was at the bread station waiting for my toast, the crew member offered to bring it over once done! Did not at all feel like a buffet breakfast – super happy with this service.

 

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Intercontinental Long & Short Lounge

Before heading out, asked the reception why my floor kept smelling of smoke – it was then I was told that we were on a SMOKING FLOOR !!!! Arrrgghhhh. Time to change please. Reception was super helpful and offered to move all our luggage once the new room was ready. Headed back to our room and packed everything into the luggage and left it in the room – fingers crossed they move us to a good room.

It was just after midday we headed out to Santa Cruz, the standard hour drive with the Mumbai traffic :(. Getting there, we diverted to the Khar Social, Nita wanted the signature khichdi – she loved that from the last trip!
Getting in there, the lower level was mostly empty, however it was the upper level that surprised me, a lot of youngsters working on their laptops – this was very different from our visit in the last trip

Khar Social

 

Food was great, never can go wrong here, the Khicdi was just what Nita needed, and my Chicken wings were very nice! Finishing off was with a nice touch, receipt presented in a cool box with the most appropriate title….

Receipts presented in this box @ Khar Social

Now to find a rickshaw to take us Station road in Santa Cruz. Nothing in sight and the few that went past were already full. We walked a bit away from the quiet street trying to find a main road with more traffic. Ended up at an intersection where more traffic was passing by. Waiting under a large tree, it was a now a waiting game.
Now something to remember with large trees, these things attract a lot of birds & birds do like to poop at the wrong times…..yes it was bound to happen. However it was not me but Nita! She got targeted and it was her hair that got it all!! Not the best of moments, it was a frantic wipe off as much as possible, however it was the warm feeling of fresh pooh on the scalp that was driving her nuts 😐  Finally got a rickshaw, now what, we needed to fix this hair problem, I knew there was a saloon on the same station rd, asked the driver to take us there.
Got to Enrich hair saloon and luckily the place were able to get Nita in without wait. Ok she was sorted, this allowed me enough time to head over to Friendship and collect the shoppings – Nita was in no mood to try them on 😦
Shopping collected and back at the Saloon, Nita was very happy with the service provided and her mood had turned brighter…phew πŸ™‚Β  Now to another collection that was just around the corner. He were ended up staying longer, ofcourse the mandatory tea was ordered and as was to be, more shopping:(Β  It was around 5:30pm when we finally got out of the store and headed back to the hotel.

Getting back, was pleased to be informed that our room had been changed to a non smoking floor and our luggage had all been moved!Β  Getting into this room, it just smelled so much better – NO SMOKE — YAY!!! The room was also slightly bigger – not complaining about that.

Now to just chill out and relax, we had a lot of time before we were to meet Doc & Tina @ 9pm.

Just after 9pm we arrived at Taj and what a coincidence, Doc & family arrived in the taxi directly in front of us!

Doc & family arriving at the same time at Taj hotel

First time for the essential photos at the Taj lobby area

Taj lobby

It was then off to the Golden Dragon, this is one place I have had soo many recommendations, was very much looking forward to this.

Dinner at Golden Dragon

Always an advantage to go out in a group, the food variety we could order was great, lots of options plus some great laughs.
The laughs continued and so did the drinks, it was close to midnight when we finally left the place – we were the last ones !

Review: Whilst food was good, it was not something that I would class as amazing, the highlight for me was the Hot and Sour soup – that was wow. Overall I am not sure if I would recommend this place 😦 .

It had been a great night, this was the final time we were meeting up with Doc & Tina in this trip – said our farewells, till we catchup back in Brisbane.

An interesting day it had been, with a great finish!

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Mumbai Day 9 – 19th Jan

It was a early start – we were on a 6am train to Mumbai – Flying Ranee.

Our car arrived on time – 5:10am, farewelled Mum and Dad and then it was off. Was about 10min and we were at the station, now the driver went back to collect Vishal – since the car was small, he had to do two rounds for this drop off!

Vishal arrived and then it was finding the right platform – which was not too bad but the confusion was around where to stand on the platform – these trains are super long and only stops here for 3 mins.

Located the place where out booked car would stop and then it was waiting.

Train arrived and as it had to be, the car did not stop where it should have, so a bit of running around to find the right car, got it and boarded all successfully. Located our seats, luggage stored nearby , now it was a four hour ride to Mumbai. Was surprised how full the carriage was – this was supposed to be first class.

Half way through, conductor comes around, checks my ticket and informs me, that this carriage had changed to a smaller capacity and I had been automatically upgraded – a higher class in front, apparently sms notification was sent out – seems like my luck, they did not send the sms to international mobiles πŸ™. It was to much effort to move now with the luggage, we decided to stay put – only two more hours.

Train got into Mumbai just after 10am, farewelled Vishal and then it was into a taxi to our hotel – Intercontinental Marine Drive.

Luck was not on our side today, Mumbai was hosting a marathon and streets were closed all over the place – resulting in traffic chaos! A ride that should have taken 10mins was taking us one hour. In addition to the delay – the last km, we had to walk with our bags as the entire road opp our hotel was locked out.

Finally made it to the hotel, wow what a relief to be in there away from the chaos outside! But it was not over yet , room was not ready till 2pmπŸ™ƒ! We were to meet Doc and family for Brunch today around midday and it was already past 11.

Their lobby bathrooms were quite large, we got freshened up there. This was the first time I was shaving in the lobby bathroom of any hotel, well who cares, people were a bit confused seeing me there just going about my shave but it all worked out ok. Quick change, bags stored with the concierge and we were in the taxi heading to St Regis in lower Parel.

Got there just after midday, first the mandatory pics at the magnificent stairs. Found Doc in the same area!

On the famous St Regis stairs
Ek selfie toh banta hai

Now to head to Seven kitchens for apparently the best brunch in Mumbai – as per online reviews!

All headed to the restaurant and got seated in the same place where we previously were for the New Years celebration !

The seven kitchens spread was wow, similar to what they had in New Years, so much to try and eat, at least this time I could enjoy the food! It was not long before we were on desserts β€” enough cried my belly!! There is a limit to what a human can eat, I wish it was not but even I had to give up πŸ€ͺ. Brunch done.

Got back to our hotel and phew, room was available now! Straight into the room for some much needed rest. We were on the 2nd floor and it did smell a bit strange – smoke but not quite the intense smoking smell??? Well we were too tired and hit the bed after a good hot shower. Room was amazingly large and the bed was soo comfy, in no time I was knocked out.

Woke up in a couple of hours and then it was just lazing around, we had a lot of hours to relax till we met Doc and family again at London Taxi @ 9pm for dinner.

Our OLA got in around 8:30pm and we were at Kamala Mills just before 9. This place is different, lots of great restaurants and bars, very different to other places.

Great looking Indian Restaurant! Mental note to self to visit this place

Got into London Taxi and it took me by surprise, I was expecting a restaurant, well this place was more like a night club/bar with food menu. Soon after Doc & family arrived. Got ourselves seated three tables from the dance floor which was filled with a private group dancing away. I was skeptical of the ambience however it quickly grew on me and in no time, was really enjoying it!!

London Taxi
Cheers!!

Food was great πŸ‘, lots of small entree’s! Was not long before we all hit the dance floor and then back again for some desserts!

Lots of dancing, eating and drinking leaving us all a bit tired, time to call it a night.

Headed out to our OLA cabs back to our respective hotels, we were meeting again the next evening at Taj Golden Dragon, hope that leaves up to it.

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Navsari Day 7/8 – 17th / 18th Jan

Activities were very limited for the next two days, I got hit by some bug that may have got me from some eating and the toilet had became my best friend!

Quick visit to Dr. Sanjay B, he gave some homeopathic medication along with antibiotics – in classic India style, tablets were all loose and provided in small plastic bags! Had to remember which one was taken when.

It was then resting :(. Only made some short trips outside to catch the Navsari glimpse, eating out was now a definite no no!

Fruit market in Navsari

Dilesh & family all arrived on the 17th, house was now much more lively!

Just missing Bhavik!

Last day in Navsari was simply collecting and organising all the shopping, a couple of morning calls to stores that had not delivered our shopping by the time promised – luckily all arrived by the afternoon and we were able to get it to a freight forwarder on time before they closed for the day!

Navsari was mostly done, tomorrow morning we were headed back to Mumbai, getting a ride with Vishal to the train station – he had already organised a car :).

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Navsari/Surat Day 6 – 16th Jan

Early rise, our Surat car was booked for 9:30, aim was to get back quickly and not waste time visiting malls and unnecessary places – learnings from last trip!

It was just mum, Nita and I going, Dad decided to stay back – not the shopping guy, this actually did work well for mum, no one to rush her !

Driving to Surat, a normal sight here, Highway is blocked by bulls…

Car was there on time, by 10:30 we were in Surat in the Lal Gate area, first stop was Vivah and then Paris. Not many times you are the first ones in the store- this was one of those moments, the shutters were just opening and we were there outside, felt very weird waiting for the doors to open!

Shopping commenced. Just after midday we finished off Vivah and we’re heading to Paris, when Nita and Mum saw a fruit seller – sorry no idea what that stuff was but it did taste good!!(I saw need to record these names)

It was Paris next and it finished just after 2. Still had not had lunch, found a Udupi restaurant close by, headed there – I remembered the great Udupi place in Valsad that we had been to in the prior trip!

Getting to Udupi, it was not the same great environment but we were in no mood to find another place and needed quick refueling.

Ordered a couple of Dosa’s, masala and Mysore. We opted for the butter cooked option for the extra yumm taste – never tried that before – will see if that is actually any better or just a money making exercise?? Mum requested the masala be provided separate and not inside the dosa, this was a good idea as I found out later, kept the Dosa’s so crispy!

The Dosa’s were soooo soooo good!! Two Dosa’s were perfect to share between the three of us. What a tasty and fulfilling lunch, and the cost was so so so cheap!!!! Do not judge Udupi at Lal Gate based on looks, food here is amazing ⭐️.

Took an auto back to outside Vivah, our driver was coming to pick us from there.

Whilst waiting for our car pickup, noticed a street side vendor selling men’s kurti’s and he had a yellow one. Cost was only 300INR!! Bharti kaki had mentioned something about all being dressed in yellow for one of the days during the wedding – whilst I was not too keen on it previously, at $6 AUD, this was a no brainer. No trial rooms there, simply tried it on the streets and even though the largest size available was slightly tight, decided to buy it and convinced myself of loosing some weight before the wedding – well that is the plan, not sure if I will stick to it though??!

Next was a visit to a Jewellery store, a place Nita and mum enjoyed!

Around 4:30pm, we were all done and returned back to Navsari.

Dad was surprised to see us back in Navsari during daylight, all our previous visits to Surat always had our return post dinner – this was a good change πŸ‘.

Coming early allowed us to quickly go out to enjoy Neha & Pooja’s favourite chaat wala – Raju Samosa!

This place is sooo amazing, Pani Puri to die for and the Serv Puri was wow!! Chaat fix done, now for a quick walk through the bazaar.

On the return leg to home, Nita wanted to stop by at her Aji’s place – it was a good thing, we met up with her Masi and Masa from Toronto and Rupal Masi and her daughters!

Whilst there, got to try some fresh bhajiya that Rupal & Vanita masi had made. Was nice catching up with them all, tomorrow Rupal masi and family were heading back to Mumbai.

Got home and saw Doc and family arriving next door to his Aji’s home, and just then we could hear a load wedding procession going through the streets near by, we all ran there and danced a bit in that “Baraat” – no idea whose Baraat it was but who cares!!

Doc then forced me to come over to his Aji’s place for some drinks. Was good just chatting with Doc, Tina, Pushpa kaki and Doc’s Aji – she is super nice, still remember the first time we came with kids, our first meal was at his Aji’s place and my girls so loved it – something’s you just do not forget!

Got home soon after and mum and Nita had finished cooking dinner – fish was on the menu – yumm.

Around 9pm, the fire truck came by to refill our water tank – the joy of Navsari and its water problems 😬.

It was then time to call it a night – tomorrow we could sleep in, no rush!

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Navsari – Day 5 – 15th Jan

Lazy start – Slept in a bit – recovering from the big night at Jayesh’s place. Not many times I get to have a relaxed breakfast with mum, being in Navsari together, these moments were treasured 😍.

For lunch it was off to Ramanand restaurant, for us, a visit to Navsari is not compete without a meal here. Highly recommended place!!

The Serv Puri was amazing, next was the sabjhi and butter roti – just wow !! I could became a vegetarian here 😜.

Recharged, now for some local shopping, off to the recommended new outlet – Chandni, this place is big , over 3 levels! This is massive for Navsari. It has everything, menswear, ladies wear, electronics, personal items and lots more – a first true department store here.

Nita got into browsing the ladies wear and we ended staying there for a while. It was funny, Nita would try on an outfit and I would say – “yeah that looks good, is that for Neha or Pooja?”. This continued without me really realising what was happening and turned out at the end she bought a lot for the kids and only a couple for herself πŸ™, Doh!!

Enough shopping , and it was back home, mum & Dad had invited Dilip kaka and Bharti kaki for dinner.

Dinner was good, lots of chatting around how each ones visit had been so far.

Finished off not too late, tomorrow was an early start, off to Surat….for more shopping 😬

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Mumbai Day 4 – travel to Navsari & Makar Sankranti

Today we were headed to my grandparents home town – Navsari. Had booked the train ride through the IRCTC site – I recommend this site for all independent travellers like me who enjoy organising things themselves, this is a great site for organising train travel.

Our train was scheduled for midday departure, allowing enough time for Nita to make a quick pit stop at a Hair saloon for a wash and blow dry – something I do not need anymore ;).

Checked out of Novotel and then headed to JW Marriott for Nita’s hair appointment. There we ran into the Meghji family and Nitin & Rekha Gandhi – all here for the wedding.

Next stop was the Looks Hairsaloon in the same hotel. Nita’s hair appt finished close to 11, jumped into our OLA and then off to Bandra Terminus to catch our train, the Paschim Express.

Ride to station was loooong, lots of traffic :(. Finally made it around 11:40, hired a coolie (people who transport your luggage to your train carriage) for 400INR, he took us to our seats and helped us storing the luggage.

We were in an AC Sleeper class, lots of space and very comfortable. Love the trains here !! Still had around 10 mins, time for a some chai from the stalls – nice!!

Train departed on the dot at 12 midday. Journey was very smooth, and by 3:30 we were in Navsari – this was sooo much easier than a private car ride from Mumbai which takes around 5-6 hours in a confined area.

Back in Navsari after 2 years!! The platform had been upgraded – much better than our last experience.

Got a Rickshaw, loaded the luggage in it – this was impressive how such a small vehicle could squeeze in two suitcases and 2 passengers! It was then off to Juna Thana. The place was still the same, dusty, crowded and cows/bulls roaming the streets.

Reached home, was so good to see mum and dad there! They were the reason we were in town! Unfortunately both were not too well, always a problem with Navsari/India, eat or drink something wrong and the toilet becomes your best friend😬.

A much needed afternoon tea break then it was a quick freshen up and out on the streets – today was the festival of kites – Makar Sankranti. Whilst it was mainly kite flying, the entire neighbourhood had music being played loudly, everyone in a joyous mood. First stop Pushpa kaki’s place – turning the corner to their place, and we run into Doc and Tina!! Lol we were coming to see them!! A few stories exchanged, then it was time to head out to Jayesh and Priya’s place. From a distance was able to see them all on the rooftop, needed a few loud yells to catch his attention to let us in.

Good to catchup there with all, Dilip kaka and Bharti kaki were also there.

Lots of laughs and fun flying a few kites!!

Next stop was Nita’s Aji’s place, her dad and mum were also there. Quick 3 minute walk and we there. Rupal Masi and her daughters Vrindha and Sidhi were also there.

Quick hi hellos’ done, now back to Doc’s place, reached there and due to a power outage we had to work up 8 floors to reach the rooftop terrace! But was definitely worth it, lots of people to meet there, Kishore and Hansu fua, Vinod kaka & Ramesh kaka. Now for some kite flying with Doc….

Navsari Sunset done, invited Doc and family to Dad’s place for some drinks before we all headed of to Sheetal.

It was drinks in the dark due to the Power outage….

Just before 8 we all headed out to Sheetal, down to the main road to find a few Rickshaws. A get-together has been organised at Sheetal with Jayesh / Priya family, Hiren/Seema, Doc & family, Mum and Dad, Dilip kaka, Bharti kaki, Nita’s mum and Dad. Hiren was left in charge of ordering – he knew what to get and we were being treated to some amazing food!! Complimenting these entrees was Docs premixed Limca!! 😬! To top it off, we celebrated Prashil’s birthday – Hiren was able to organise a last minute large Ice Cream slice which served as a birthday cake!!

Dinner done, but the fun was only just starting. Decided to meet up at Jayesh’s place for after dinner drinks. First to get mum and Dad home, change to something more comfortable and Nita needed a shawl – the place was getting Cold at night!!

Walked over to Docs place, he did not know the way, we 4 then headed to Jayesh’s place. Hiren & Seema were already there. Now it was time for Gin and Sprite. The drinks, chatter and laughter continued till just after 2:30 am, around the time we decide to call it a night .

Walk back was creepy, we were walking the quite streets of Navsari around 2:30am and all Tina could think of was booth being there πŸ‘»πŸ˜±.

Was surprised we all made it to our places safely even with all the talk around booths πŸ‘».

It had been a great day and Night!!

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Mumbai Day 3 – 13th Jan

Early wake up and off for a morning walk. This was the first time Nita had set foot on Juhu beach.

The number of people on the beach was wow as was the activities going on there. A young group doing a power fitness class, another group with yoga mats performing yoga/gym exercises and then an elderly group performing the laughing yoga exercise and more – just amazing seeing the Indian beach lifestyle.

Back at the hotel, shower / breakfast done, now to hit the road again, this time to visit some boutique stores on Linking Rd and pickup some parcels from yesterday’s shopping. It was still only 9:15am, had a lot of time to kill, decided to take a walk on the beach towards Juhu Chowpatty, from there we would catch the auto and also get a different angle of the place whilst using up some time.

The beach was not as busy as the early morning phase, this was more now couples, families roaming about, even had a couple of photographers approaching us to take pics.

Then it was off to linking road via my fav means of transport – the Auto.

First stop had a few stores with both ladies and menswear stores around. We split up and finally made my first purchase!! Next was Levi’s and then off to the ladies things.

Around 1 we headed to pickup our parcels from yesterday’s shopping. Got them to get us more of the amazing grilled sandwich and followed by more shopping 😱.

There we met Dr. Bhagat from Lautoka, amazing small world, he was here for the Meghji wedding in Jaipur.

We then headed back to hotel to relax with a few drinks in their happy hour.

The Novotel outdoor area is highly recommended for afternoon sunset drinks, nice view of the sunset over the Arabian Sea. Ordered a round of drinks and aloo Chaat.

Nice relaxing moments, around 6 we got a call from the laundry man who collects and delivers clothes for washing – much cheaper than using hotel laundry (thanks Doc for the tip). Clothes delivered, we headed back to our room, clothes were all washed and nicely ironed eland folded – 5 ⭐️ . Next to pack all our excess luggage that we did not need in Navsari – these we were going to move to our next hotel (Intercontinental Marine drive) and reduce the number of bags we had to carry to Navsari.

Bags packed, called an OLA to take us to Marine drive – drive time of 1.5hrs!

South Mumbai does feel different, no auto’s, bit more organised driving (most cars actually stayed in marked lanes) and more historic buildings. Passed the massive house Ambani gifted his daughter for their wedding, then also saw his own house – the tower.

Reached Intercontinental, amazing lobby area and staff, quick to help us with the luggage and put it into storage.

That sorted, it was then to Cream Centre at Chowpatty. We got there after 9 and the place was packed – so different to back home in Brisbane. Was only a 5 min wait and we were seated.

Ordered Manchurian soup, Masala papad, some Sabji recommended by the wait staff and roti paratha. The food was super, Veg food is simply superb here – I love it β™₯️.

It was a hearty meal, so fulfilling!

Got an OLA back to Novotel and call it a night.

Tomorrow we were off to Navsari!

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