The bloggers meet at Grand Mercure Goa had everything – great food, a little adventure and loads of madness

La Brise, Goa, drink, beach As strange as it may sound – I had to work on my relationship with Goa. The city failed to impress me the very first time I visited it 2000. I didn’t feel drawn to the beaches or awed by the orange sunsets over the Arabian sea.The lush green paddy fields faded in comparison to the ones in my native town Mangalore and the colourful temples were not as vibrant as the ones down south. I couldn’t spot the local joints for fresh seafood and the ones at upmarket restaurants didn’t tantalise my taste buds.

I wondered what the fuss was all about. Goa didn’t touch me the way it touched my friends. But I was determined to find the ‘cool’ side of Goa. Fortunately work kept taking to Goa and slowly and steadily I discovered why the happy go lucky hippies, the soul searching yogis and free thinking artists love this city and descend on it every after year. I felt the trance music of Anjuna, chomped on chorizo-pao, got drenched under Dudhsagar falls, gambled (without luck) at the floating casinos and queued up like a pro outside Mambo’s and Tito’s.

Every visit revealed a different aspect of Goa. I learnt to travel without a destination. Just zooming past sleepy villages and beaches in our rickety rented bikes. Stopping where we wanted to and eating where the locals ate.

Though there is never a bad time to visit Goa I still had to see Goa in the rains. Thankfully I could tick that off too with my recent visit for the bloggers meet.

Here’s are some of the best experiences from my latest visit to Goa

My stay at the Grand Mercure Goa Shrem
There’s something about this North Goa hotel which stays with you long after you have left. Maybe it’s the omnipresent service, the fabulous food by Chef Ganapati, the soothing spa where tensions are pummelled away and meridians realigned or just the free ice lolly treats by the pool.

pool, Grand Mercure Goa Shrem, Resort, Goa
Vitality pool at Grand Mercure Goa Shrem Resort

Nature and art coexist at Grand Mercure. Antique pieces sourced from old Portuguese homes, high pitched roofs, wide verandahs and brass lanterns add a touch of old school glamour while the constant, mesmerising soundtrack of birdsong puts you in a relaxed state of mind. The best thing to do here is float aimlessly in the infinity pool overlooking the green meadows or have your body primed, polished and pampered at the Warren Tricomi spa which resembles a rain forest.

Spa, goa
Warren Tricomi Spa

The treatment rooms come with an outdoor rain shower. There are cabanas by the poolside for those who wish to indulge in an outdoor spa experience. These come with mesmerizing views of the paddy fields and the hills around.

Since I dislike the joint cracking, muscle pounding massages I opted for the gentle and relaxing Balinese massage which is great way to melt knotty back muscles and relax tense shoulders. At the end of the 60 minute massage I felt like I’d been asleep for a month.

The Food Trail

Food was another highlight of my stay at Grand Mercure. The macaroons at the coffee shop Chy are to die for. Tea connoisseur will be impressed with the collection of teas from first flush to orange pekoe and Darjeeling tea. The vindaloo puffs and waffle sandwiches make perfect accompaniments. Kokum and lemon ice tea are served in cute jars. A blackboard menu announces the chef’s special.

Goa, Chy, tea, cafe
Chy at Grand Mercure Shrem
salad counter, food, goa
Salad counter at Festa

My personal favourite is Festa the restaurant under a huge banyan tree. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy Ganapati’s Prawn peri peri and hand tossed thin crust pizza. Festa also does a very satisfying Saraswat thali complete with clams, crabs, prompret and sol kadhi. Junho the bar does some innovative cocktails and has an impressive floor to ceiling wine wall.

Sunday brunch at La Brise
I spent a fabulous Sunday on the deck at La Brise soaking in the brilliant weather, gorgeous views of the sea, some great food and live music. This homey, casual restaurant by the beach at Candolim has the best Cajun calamari, fish tikka, lamb chops and waffles.

La Brise
La Brise

food, lamb, goa, La Brise, beach

When we went boating
Cruising along Chapora river in a trimaran was the most enchanting part of my stay in Goa. Though we did not spot any crocodiles or dolphins the sights of fishermen mending nests, birds taking flight and the gorgeous scenery was all worth it. At one point we even got down the trimaran and swam across to a small island! That was a first for me.

photo 3

With blogger friend Manjulika of
With blogger friend Manjulika Pramod 
With blogger and travel ninja Siddhartha Joshi
With blogger and travel ninja Siddhartha Joshi

This trip to Goa truly connected me with the rhythm of Goa – freedom, adventure and a little madness.

Leh fashion diary – looking your best when temperatures drop



collageI am NOT a winter person. I have spent my entire life in 30 degrees and above. Snow, ice storms and temperatures dipping below 10 degrees is alien to me.

So my recent holiday to Leh was fraught with dilemmas – How do I pile on the cold weather paraphernalia like bulky sweaters, coats, boots, gloves and scarves without looking like a snow woman. Can I bundle up and still look GREAT. It was the classic comfort vs. style dilemma.

When it’s a short trip, existing in slight discomfort in the name of fashion is not so much of an issue. However, this was a week-long trip. I was looking for practical, winter-friendly styles that will let me show my flair for fashion, while protecting my tootsies from frostbite when I venture out of the car to make my first snowman!

So here’s how I crafted my looks for the Leh sojourn with help from stylists and brands.

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A date with History – Fort Jadhavgadh, Pune

the fort lit up at night

If you dig a slice of heritage and a piece of history, Fort Jadhavgadh in Pune is one vacation you just can’t miss. An impressive heritage property the 18 century fort makes you connect instinctively to its royal legacy and fascinating past. Throw in a scenic drive from Mumbai and the luxuries of today and what you have is a perfect holiday.

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The Deltin, Daman

The Deltin Exterior-2

The Deltin at Daman is a perfect getaway for Mumbaikars craving a ‘Goaesque’ weekend minus the flight. The long drive to Daman (180km from Mumbai) sets the tone for the languorous agenda ahead. There are no dramatic elements en route here; just gently curving roads and sea-scented air. Daman is a union territory just 15 km from Vapi, a border town on Gujarat-Maharashtra Border. But don’t worry. It’s not dry. In fact this luxury resort hosts the largest casino in India which will be operational very soon.

The Deltin - Classic Queen Suite
Classic Queen Suite

The rooms are luxurious with high ceiling, four poster beds, wooden flooring and sunken, white bathtubs. Lounging in the private balcony overlooking the palm fringed pool with your favourite cuppa is one of the most alluring experiences at The Deltin.

The pool shaped like a river
The pool shaped like a river

What To Do: There’s more to do at Deltin than float lazily in the pool; get your shots at the billiards table, head out to explore the forts nearby or spend an evening just walking barefoot on Devka beach. After all this exercise, recoup with a deep-tissue massage at the Deltin spa. What better way to round off the day than with fine whisky at the sexy bar titled Whiskys. While there try the whiskys infused with fruits and spices.

Restaurant - Emperor
Restaurant – Emperor

The arch shaped restaurant – Emperor serves the yummiest bamboo shoot and noodle soup, lamb chops dunked in black pepper sauce and Mango tapioca shot. The Deltin delivers the luxury that city-slickers are always longing for: solitude à deux.


Cost: Rs 20,000 for two nights three days with all meals.

How to get there: Deltin is 189 kms from Mumbai via Mumbai-Ahmedabad NH8 and takes approx 3 hours. Vapi, the nearest Railhead is 12kms away.

Address: Varkund, Nani Daman (UT) – 396210. Tel: +91 260 6699999



Madhubhan Resort – Escape to tranquility

spa entranceThe desire to escape to a quieter, more greener place as soon as it starts to pour, is so deeply woven in to my psyche that it’s practically instinctual. A quick weekend getaway in the monsoon is a must to revive and rejuvenate. And though it wasn’t a purely leisure trip for me – the visit to Madhubhan Resort in Anand, Gujarat was nothing short of marvelous.

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