A Bonneville, a Thunderbird and Goa!

Photo of A Bonneville, a Thunderbird and Goa! by Sneha Gokarn Maingi

The alarm rang at 3:00 am, I hate to wake up to alarms you know, they are the worst, at least our modern alarms on our phones is a song or tune of our choice, remember those annoying beep beep alarm clocks? I till this day shudder to their sound.

Anywho, the reason I woke up that early was to get on top of my Thunderbird 500 and head to Goa. We have this tradition, an annual trip to Goa is a must. So every time we go there we do something different. It's not about a beach vacation all the time; this time it was about luxury. I come from a middle class family, we've always been pretty conservative about money, I grew up to possess the same make t-shirt into pocha values. So although I travel to really nice exotic places, they've always been cheap, I am not much of a spender, so my vacation stays have always been budget hotels. I'd rather spend on the place and food really.

But this time it was my husbands turn to choose and he chose luxury. We booked Taj holiday Village and Spa at Candolim got a beach facing cottage to ourselves, spent a bomb, but as Mastercard used to say, it's priceless.

We eventually started at 5 am, it was dark and raining. Under the protection of our all weather bike gear we threaded on. It was excruciating, I couldn't go faster than 50 km/hr. It was all dark with nothing but trucks around, had visibility in the 1 meter range. Meanwhile with some silly song in my head, somewhere near Wai I remember I left my wallet at home, so basically I am cashless in Goa, great!, the husband luckily had his; I hate carrying those clutch kind wallets and I blame them and not my carelessness. Tired of the incessant rain we stopped at this place to have some tea, fortunately the sun was out by then, so no blinding truck lights.

"If something can go wrong, it will"

We started our bikes, only to realize that something was wrong with the clutch of my bike. The clutch wire was on its last thread, just perfect! Replacing it wasn't easy, it took us at least an hour and a half out of our schedule. Note to self, carry an extra clutch wire with you on rides Always!!!.

Along Bangalore highway we saw some beautiful sights, travelling at almost an average of 80 km/hr we speed along. I touched 120 kmph on the Bonnie, my personal best on a bike. It's only when the wind blast hits you that you feel you're travelling that fast really, the Bonnie presents itself to be such a calming travelling mate that you forget everything when on it.

After a quick stop at McDonald's in Kohlapur, we took off the rain cover from our gear. With temperatures soaring to the later half of 30s we took a right turn to head to north Goa. It's the Amboli pass we took, around hundred kilometers sheer hell; riddled with potholes and in some places there was no road! Out of the 8 times we've traveled to Goa, this road has gotten worse every time. Although this route might be scenic, especially when you ride under the canopies, but seriously it's not worth the physical torture your bikes have to undergo. Take the road to south Goa, its longer but it's worth it.

Riding along the roads of Goa can be rather fun. Those tiny lanes filled with locals and foreigners alike, school kids waving out to us, mostly fascinated by our choice of clothes, covered head to toe on noisy bikes, I love to wave back and do tricks to fascinate them sometimes, like do the occasional standing up on the bike or going zigzag on the road. We reached Taj holiday Village, greeted by a smiling face, the man at the gate inquired if this is where we meant to go. How many patrons arrive into Taj on bikes right? This was right, we were the only two bikes in the parking lot with a parade of cars around us. After brief check-in formalities we retired to our rooms. Striping away our heavy amour of a gear, we dragged ourselves to the closed restaurant, ate whatever we could and dozed off instantly.

The pain had gone by now, I woke up to a few text messages I received from work, after a quick wash he went to get some breakfast. Huge array of cuisines; plundering the buffet we head to the pool. Taj has a brilliant swimming pool it's long and around 5 feet deep. We lazed around the pool bar, read a book and pretty much did nothing that morning. Taj village resorts has a spa as well, they have a whole menu describing their massage therapies and their effects. They offer a discount of 20 percent if you go there between 2 to 5 pm and or after 8 pm as well. As a 30 year old woman I have never up till now taken a full body massage, and to be honest after those 90 minutes my brain had nothing to think about, that's never happened before. I sat at the restaurant quietly, sipping my whiskey sour looked at the sun at the horizon, thinking luxury vacations are the bomb.

On vacations unlike work days I just wake up early naturally, sometimes 7 or 6 am even. I think it's like from the time I was a kid. We thought of going to the beach and to Fort Aguada today. The breakfast is the same both places, although I like Taj holiday village better, it has this quaint Portuguese feel to it, whereas Taj Aguada is a more formal hotel.

The fort's been refurbished into a hotel. The fort was built to protect against the Dutch and Marathas by the Portuguese in the 17th century, the fort walls are accessible to the general public. We head to the beach soon after, swam for a bit in the warm sea, downed couple of beers, Kings more specifically and head back to laze around the pool again.

These two from Bombay.

While I swam, Sumit my husband was conversing with a man at the bar, intrigued with all the laughter I joined the conversation. We met Pratul and Manali, although we kept called her Manala, the 4 of us hit it off. They were from SoBo, and we kept teasing Sumit about him being a Delhite, classic Bombayites. Can't recall the amount we drank, but getting out of the pool made us realize we're not 22 anymore. Staggering towards our cottage we got to bed. There was it no more drinking for us.

We packed or pretty much dumped our stuff into our bags, the Bonnie's panniers are useless and just for show. I have the more practical saddlebags. Bought them from a Royal Enfield store for about Rs.7500.

The staff at Taj was the highlight, they're quick, friendly and always eager to help. That I believe is the differentiator from the other hotels I have lived in, they make you feel special :).

Winding Country roads of Chorla Ghat

We decided to take the road that goes from south Goa this time. Struggling a bit with the roads within the city, we got to the highway finally, reaching Belgaum, best decision ever. The route goes through Chorla ghats, it's beautiful road to ride on.

We enjoyed the curvy roads and the greenery encompassing the side of the road. The forest had these little monkeys crossing the road. Being partially cloudy we saw sunlight fall to the earth through clouds in a heavenly way, something they show in the movies, when God chooses the one kinds. After exiting the ghats, it was straight on the highway. Making an average of 80 kmph in sprints. We went on taking only short ass resting breaks. We were home by 9 pm. Which means it took us around 10 to 11 hours this time around.

"Fill your life with experiences not things have stories to tell not things to show"

Luxury vacations are great and I have changed my opinion about them. Adventurous ones are still on the top of my list but, Taj Goa is a must try, for their quality of stay, food and staff. This was my first experience staying in a 5 star I don't know when I'll get back to it but it was surely one hell of an experience.