Guys, as promised here is the first installment of photographs from my trip to India. This was one fun trip because I got to visit Bombay/Mumbai (I'll keep calling it Bombay when I write about the city because that is what I grew up calling it and the name is dear to my heart) and Goa after a very, very long time and we had one huge family reunion that pretty much partied daily. My only regret, we didn't stay longer!
The period between October to December is probably the best time to visit Bombay and Goa on the west coast, the weather is warm and usually somewhere in the 80's and evenings are pleasantly cool as summers can be brutal. December also happens to be the peak season when tourists visit Goa (which I will talk about more in subsequent posts). Every season has its own charm, summers on the west coast might be hot but there are mangoes and cashews to enjoy, the monsoon season is equally fun with plenty of heavy rain and a lot of lush greenery and gushing waterfalls if you travel to some of the towns outside the big cities. Whatever season or time of the day it might be, Bombay is a city that does not sleep!
The flight is long and our official flight time was around 22 hours so were pretty thankful that we had no major delays or trouble. We stayed at the Taj Lands End hotel which is located in the center of the city making it easy to access everything. They also provide a complimentary breakfast that comes with a lot of delicious Indian, continental, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc options. You won't hungry, they have something for everyone!
Traveling around the city is generally easy though road traffic can be rather heavy but with the new sea link, things are faster if you visit Bandra (where we stayed). I recommend trying out the local rickshaws (rickshaws are not allowed to travel to South Bombay) and taxis but make sure they start their meters when you hire them. The local railways are another great option to travel in the city and several of the railway stations were built by the British and have a lot of historical importance and gorgeous architecture. Food is generally cheap and delicious and shopping is even more fun if you have a knack for bargaining! To be safe, we did avoid eating raw food, ice and tap water at most restaurants but use your own personal judgement here. Do drink fresh coconut water, coconuts grow in this region like citrus trees in California. You will see them everywhere and they taste way better than the packaged stuff, also indulge in the meat of the tender coconut once you're done drinking (there's a lot of liquid in a fresh tender coconut).
When I lived in Bombay, I stayed in Bandra. It's a beautiful suburb with lots of fun things to do, to shop and great places to eat. You will also see several large bungalows and perhaps run into a Bollywood star if you're lucky. M also became a Bollywood expert, since he got to meet and speak with actress Rekha. On another day we sat next to Babita, Karishma and Kareena of the famous Kapoor acting clan at the Christmas vigil we attended with my family.
I wanted to share a few links that you might find useful if you visit Bombay. Hotels: Taj Lands End, excellent food and service besides a great location. I highly recommend trying out Bombay chaat (street food), one of our favorite spots is the Elco Pani Puri Center in Bandra (West). When you visit South Bombay, headover to Chetna. If you like to eat unlimited vegetarian food, then their thali (Hindi for "plate") that contain several dishes and breads from the states of Rajasthan and Gujarat is a worthy indulgence.
Photos from top to bottom: Gateway of India (1-2); Vegetarian thali at Chetna restaurant (3); View from our hotel room at Taj Land's End (4); Busy Mumbai streets in Bandra (5), Fresh sugarcane juice stall (6); Pali Market vegetable and fruit stalls (7-8); Alley in Dhobi Talao (9); Bombay chaat at Elco Pani Puri Center in Bandra (10), Taj Mahal Hotel in Colaba, South Bombay (11-12).