We both liked the sound of Goa. We started to do more research about the place from the internet as well as from known people. Glenn was great at calming my nerves. As well as giving me valuable information about the place and giving me tips on the do’s and don’ts. We got to know Glenn through my youngest son. He was the Director for many of the drama productions my son was involved in. Glenn is white on the outside but truly an Indian on the inside. He visits and at times lives in India for long periods. At this particular time he was living in Mumbai and regularly visiting Goa.
The advise we heard from many was to avoid South Goa. Russian mafia seems to have an influence in that part of Goa and makes it an unsavoury place for Tourists. But, then again it would depend on your age group and your interests I think. Glenn summed it up nicely. He said South Goa for Russians is like Bali for Aussies. Glenn also gave me places to eat and have a drink. Places where if I say his name and said I was Glenn’s friend I would be treated well.
I also had a chat to another friend and work colleague. She was from Goa, or her family was from Goa. She was born in Africa but her family originally comes from Goa and she still had many cousins who lived there. She gave me a array of phone numbers, just in case we needed some help.
Armed with places to eat and phone numbers to call we were now feeling a lot more confident in booking our flights and accommodation.
Once again my buddy became a fly at the buffet. For weeks we were stripping Trip Advisor website to shreds. Every review was scrutanised. In the meantime one of her friends parted the words “you must stay at Taj holiday village”. https://vivanta.tajhotels.com/en-in/holiday-village-goa/
We had looked at this previously (many a times I might add), but now when we were finally ready to book, they did not have the dates available. The only option given to us was that they could accommodate us for the last two of the dates of our holiday. Jan was happy to take it, I was happy to take any thing. Horray, at least two days of our holidays we had a bed to sleep on.
So now we had to find another place for the beginning. Finally we settled on Acron Waterfront. In a way it was good that we did not get more than two days to stay at Taj as it was very pricey. https://www.acronwaterfrontresortgoa.com/
Along with trying to get accommodation in Goa, we also tried our best to align our itineraries. So, for me it was Aus to Singapore, Singapore to Mumbai, Mumbai to Goa. I was supposed to reach Mumbai around 9.00pm and then our flight to Goa was next morning at 5.00am. Jan after her million flights would reach Mumbai at 1.00am and leave for Goa on the same flight as me at 5.00am. Return journey, we would reach the airport at the same time but I leave to Mumbai and she would to Bangalore to get her connection for Kerala. This way we thought we could share the same cab/shuttle to and from the airport. Strength in numbers was our thinking.
I had a five or six hour stay in Singapore. I wasn’t concerned about that, I love that airport. I could spend a whole day without any trouble, my credit card might, but I have no issues of a lengthy stay at Singapore airport. On the other hand I was rather worried about my stay at the Mumbai airport. Found out that Mumbai had a Airport Transit hotel. So I made a booking for me, per my memory they do hourly or 4hr blocks. http://www.nirantahotels.com/
I was taking every precaution I could, I even bought a new handbag just for my travels. No, it wasn’t an excuse to buy another handbag. All my handbags are designed so I could just dump stuff in there. No zips or any other sealing mechanism. So I bought one that had a zip, straps that I could put it across my shoulder. All this to prevent the bag snatching.
Glenn kept assuring me that Mumbai was very safe and there was a lot of respect for “aunty” age people. But, I kept thinking what would a “white man” know. And he had just ticked me off by putting me in the “aunty” age group. For the benefit of other possible travelers to India, the other advise given to me was mainly regarding water. So only bottled water and no salads.
I did get a few jabs. Can’t remember what they were for… possibly for Malaria, Hep B and Hep C and something else. Not sure which Hep I took. Sometimes people have natural immunity to one of them. It’s best to do a blood test to find out if you have this natural immunity. You need to start on the jabs about a month before. My advise would be to check with your GP a month ahead rather than rely on the above information.
Applied online for the Indian Visa. Be aware there are many bogus websites. I guess one way to find out if you are in the right website is in the number of stupid questions asked. If you are in the right website, then you would need information on pretty much everyone and everything. I was surprised they did not have a question about my cat. It would have been hard to explain that I do not own a cat. The problem also was that until you answer the question you cannot go to the next page. My dad passed away 30 years ago, they needed his occupation, qualification etc. Anyway, I diligently got all the information and submitted my application as I did not want to be deported. I uttered “bloody Indians” many a times (don’t judge me yet, I am apologetic for my judgement by the end of the trip). My visa arrived within about 2-3 days.
My dog was sulking as I started packing.