Monthly Archives: April 2012

Destination Mumbai

Mumbai is a city with a lot to offer travellers. There is great food, shopping, nightlife, culture. Since Mumbai is surrounded by the Sea, there are wonderful views from all around. I will mostly focus on South Mumbai, however, there are lots of other areas that are wonderful to visit.

Map of Mumbai

Where to stay?

There are lots of hotels in Mumbai that are absolutely outstanding in service, decor and overall experience.

Trident – Nariman Point, Mumbai – This hotel is located right across from the Sea. It has beautiful views and a luxurious atmosphere. It is in a central location to all of South Mumbai’s offerings. For a traveller it is a great place to stay for easy accessibility to activities and sights.

The Taj Mahal Palace – This hotel is considered one of the Leading Hotels of the World. It is beautiful and offers water views that are absolutely phenomenal.

Vivanta by Taj President – This hotel is beautiful and a great choice as it is centrally located and has great restaurants.

InterContinental Hotel – Marine Drive – This hotel is well situated to put you the a central location that with great views.

Where to eat?

There are many places to eat in Mumbai. More than I can list here, however, here is a list that is sure the please.

Swati Snacks –  Tardeo, Mumbai – This vegetarian restaurant is wonderful for excellent Gujarati food. Even the seasoned carnivore can enjoy this restaurant without feeling they have missed anything.  They offer mini meals that are spiced to perfection. You can’t go wrong at this popular eatery.

Thai Pavillion – For fabulous Thai food, this is the place. The setting is very nice with interesting and artistic decor. My children loved eating here as did we. The drinks are very unusual and tasty as well.

Konkan Cafe – This restaurant offers delicious Goan style food. They even serve some of the dishes in banana leaves. This is a classy restaurant with a relaxed vibe that pleases the palate.

Gaylord – My children loved the food here. They great part about this restaurant is that it offers tasty Indian flavor in a casual yet classy environment. This was a great place to go for a tasty lunch. Their tomato soup is worth a trip alone.

Copper Chimney – This is one of my favorites for India flavors in Mumbai. They have excellent kebabs and wonderful romali rotis.

Souk – They offer wonderful Lebanese food. The flavors are fresh and tasty. Worth a try. The drinks are wonderful as well. The service could be improved but still worth a visit.

Golden Dragon – This is one of my favorites for chinese food. Every dish I tried was outstanding. They are pricey but worth if you are in a mood to splurge.

Wasabi by Morimoto – This is a Morimoto restaurant as you can tell from the name and he does a wonderful job here. This place definitely puts a hole in your wallets but the food is fresh and outstanding. If you love sushi then this is the place to eat it if you are in Mumbai.

Leopold Cafe– This cafe has become a famous tourist cafe. They have a casual atmosphere with simple and tasty food such as sandwiches and desserts.

McDonalds – This one is something I must mention because it is a very different phenomenon in India. The menu is changed from the US version. I personally do not frequent this establishment in the US, however, it is worth one try in India. First off, the McDonald’s in India are non beef establishments. Due to the flavorful spices that people in India are accustomed to, the meals have many more spices added to them. In addition, there are many vegetarian options added to the sandwich offerings.

Creme Centre – They have the best Chola Battura dish. They are also casual and serve relatively quickly.

New Yorker – They offer mexican food with an Indian twist. Interesting and tasty for a quick bite.

Kobe Sizzlers – They offer sizzlers that are mouth-watering indeed. They bring your dish on a sizzling plate which my kids got a kick out of. The sauces are tasty and make you wanting to take another bite. This is a casual restaurant with quick and friendly service.

India Jones – This restaurant offers a great mix of asian foods. Off to one side they have a hibachi style grill where they cook the food live in front of you… a great interactive experience.

Spaghetti Kitchen – They offer great tasting salads, pizzas and pastas if you are in the mood for a bit of Italian food during your trip.

Vong Wong – This restaurant offers tasty Chinese cuisine that is casual and classy. This is a great place to head for a nice lunch.

Britannia and Company Restaurant – This restaurant is one of the few places that serves typical Parsi cuisine. They are known for their berry pulao among other dishes. Worth a try!

Where to shop?

The Shops at the Trident Hotel

Phoenix Mills Shopping – This is a large shopping mall with all kinds of stores. This is a great place to shop, however, it is similar to malls you have in places like the United States with some of the same brands, making this mall a less desirable destination for those wanting to see the real traditional sites of India.

Colaba Causeway – This is definitely a great place to shop for both inexpensive goods as well as for the culture and experience. You get an experience of the hustle and bustle of the city. Get ready to do lots of bargaining and take cash in small bills.

Breech Candy

Amara – Here you can find fancy, fashionable indian clothing with a modern twist. This is a great place for formal shopping with a boutique feel.

Kimaya – Ladies Indian clothing store with formal modern Indian attire. Nice boutique with a variety of designs.

Bhuleshwar – This is a bazaar where you can get anything and everything. They key is maneuvering your way around. Crawford market is the fruit and vegetable area. Mangaidas Market is the silk and cloth area, Chor Bazaar is the antique and furniture area and Zaveri Bazaar is the area for jewelry to name a few. If you are looking for leather goods, Dhabu Street is the place to go. Mutton street has lots of knick knacks and possible useless items but items that are fun to browse through. There are so many shops around that you get overwhelmed with the selection. This is a fun, fun place to see and is definitely a cultural experience. Go with cash in small bills and your negotiating skills. Also, wear comfortable shoes and your casual attire as it is somewhat dirty. I feel this is a must see.

What to see?

There is a gold mine of cultural sites to see in Mumbai. This gives a traveller a great opportunity to explore the many options. Here I will name a few:

Siddhi Vinayak Temple – This temple is a Jain temple that is absolutely beautiful. This is a must see in Mumbai.

Elephanta Caves – These are a group of sculpted caves. They are beautifully carved and very interesting to see.

Mahalaxmi Temple – Beautiful hindu temple. It is worth visit.

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Destination Goa

Beautiful Goa, India is a place for pure relaxation. There are miles and miles of beach as far as the eye can see. Our trip to Goa with our children was definitely enjoyable for everyone. There is a sort of rustic charm that surrounds Goa that makes it a must see beach. The local people are very cheerful and happy overall in my experience. Goa has a feel of a newly developed area in an old culture where the kinks are being worked out to make the 2 meet. In the midst, there are many nooks and cranny’s of interesting sights to see. My children had a wonderful time, as did we, exploring all the wonderful and quirky things around us. We found that Goa has a large mix of people from different cultures visiting from all over. In particular, there was a great deal of Russian influence. So much so that many of the street signs were written in 3 languages: Russian, Hindi and English.

beach shacks

Goa is a large span of land and many people distinguish the areas as the south side and the north side. The north side is more populated. There is more of everything… people, restaurants, tourists, hotels. The beaches are filled up with more people and the vendors are plenty. The south side has the same things in much less quantity. The beaches are cleaner with fewer people. The area is relatively quiet in the evenings and it does not have as much activity. Choosing which side to stay on is definitely a matter of the type of vacation you are looking for. If lots of activity is what you want then the north side is the place. If quiet and fewer people is what you want then the south side is what you want.

Map of Goa

Where to stay?

We opted to stay a bit on the southern side in Benaulim Beach. We had a great experience. There are, however, some great places in both sides to fit a variety of budgets.

Some fantastic and beautiful places to stay are the following:

Near Benaulim Beach (toward the southern part of Goa) is Taj Exotica. This is an absolutely beautiful hotel. You feel like you are in a magical place upon entering. The service is wonderful and very kid friendly. The restaurants are amazing as well. This is definitely a pricy hotel but worth if it fits your budget.

A bit further south in Cavelossim Beach is the Leela Goa. This hotel is wonderful and beautiful as well. Great service and a luxury experience.

In Cavelossim Beach as well is the Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa. This resort is a newer hotel. They have a beautiful setting with lots of activities for both adults and children. For children they have a kids club where they do activities and you are able to drop off the kids with great childcare providers for a few hours if you like.

On the north side is a hotel called Vivanta by Taj – Fort Aguada, Goa. This hotel is wonderful and in the mix of lots of activity. There is not much of a beach on this waterfront property as it has eroded away over the years with the tide, however, it is a wonderful hotel and in a great location for the nightlife of north Goa.

What to do?

There are many wonderful things to do in Goa. It was key, however, to hire a car and English-speaking driver during our stay to take us around the areas to see all the wonderful things there were to see. Of course, you can always opt to spend your trip getting massages and enjoying the beach. There are plenty of places to get a massage and many of them specialize in Ayurvedic massages. We opted to do a mix of both sight-seeing and beach relaxation.

A must see in Goa is the Anjuna Flea Market. This market is located near Anjuna beach in the north. It is only on Wednesdays during the day. It is mostly a souvenir market, however, there is a very interesting mix of people, food, and animals to see. My children loved seeing this market.

Cow eating corn

Teas

Lady selling goods at the market

Spices

In Goa, the spice plantations are a great destination. Goa’s dense forested areas make this a wonderful experience . The favorable climatic conditions make it possible for a variety of spices to grow. My children really enjoyed seeing where all the spices come from. The spice plantation we visited was the Sahakari Spice Farms.

This spice market grows a vast variety of spices such as betel nut, cardamom, vanilla bean, chili peppers, as well as many others. The spices that grow high up on the trees are collected by people who climb up the trees and swing from tree to tree to save time and not miss a tree. This was exciting for my children to see.

Worker climbing the tree to retrieve the spices.

Betel Nut

bananas

There are many other activities that are going on at the spice plantation. There were ladies dancing and singing, there were elephant rides and elephant baths, and there was a wonderful lunch served at the end of our tour.

Women dancing and singing at spice plantation.

Elephant getting a bath at the spice plantation.

In Goa, there are lots of Temples and Churches that are wonderful to explore. They have a lot of unique characteristics and beauty in them. They are wonderful to explore when visiting Goa.

What to eat?

Goan food is very unique and wonderful. The food has a blend of flavors that is absolutely mouth-watering. They have a lot of seafood specialities as it is a coastal region, however, there are many options of food for every kind of palette.

I found it wonderful to be able to sit on the beach and taste the wonderful food served at the beach shacks. The servers bring you your food and drink order right to the beach. This is casual but flavorful food. I would say this experience is worth a try indeed. There are beach shacks all over Goa so you would be able to spot them wherever you are on the beach.

Here are some other restaurants in Goa, some of which I have been to and others that have been recommended to me:

Mum’s Kitchen – They offer wonderful Goan cuisine in a charming atmosphere. They strive to preserve the Goan culture and cuisine.

Brittos’s – This restaurant is great for the experience mostly and great if you are spending time on the beach and want to grab and quick bite. They are located on the north side of Goa in Baga Beach (the party central of Goa). The restaurant is on the beach itself with the floor being the sand of the beach. There is a wide variety of foods offered. This is a tourist spot for sure but might be worth seeing.

Allegria – This restaurant is located in the Taj Exotica Hotel in the area near Benaulim Beach. They offer Goan cuisine. This restaurant is wonderful. The food is outstanding and very flavorful. The atmosphere is quaint and luxurious. This is a great outing for a nice dinner.

These are only a handful of the many selections in Goa. If you are looking for other cuisines besides Goan food, there are many to choose from as well. My children had all the selection they needed, as did we to find the type of food we were looking for during our trip.

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