Hey guys welcome to Ultimate RoadTrips as usual and sticking our theme this is yet another trip to a Goa that you haven’t seen before
I guess this one is going to be longer than usual, so sit tight and fasten your seat belts.
After almost a year of being cooped up at home, and ironically before we actually tested positive for COVID-19, this was a much deserved breath of fresh air.
We left home a little past midnight as planned, and as expected the city was clear of traffic. personally i don’t think i should be wasting too much time discussing route options, for the number of times i’ve driven to Goa from bombay, it would be shame if i don’t remember the route by heart, However for those of you who haven’t, I would suggest going with common sense and picking the route that cuts in to Goa from Nipani in Karnataka.the distance may be marginally more than if you opt to go via the other route, but there is a good reason that you are going to be saving out on time.
In Spite of the obnoxiously irritating metro construction work across the city, getting out of the city at this hour was a breeze, the new flyover connecting the western express highway to the eastern express highway via BKC is a good touch, and definitely better than using SCLR.
We reached the Panvel toll plaza in and around an hour, thanks to the fact that we were practically flying on the roads, it is an absolute pleasure to drive around the city especially when there is no traffic. it was 2:45, by the time we got to the Khalapur Toll, the first toll on the expressway and this is where we encountered some traffic.
We decided to stop off at the new food mall a little ahead of the toll booth, if you are on this highway and headed towards pune this is a food plaza worth taking a pit stop at, due to the pandemic situation obviously not all foodoutlets are open 24×7 i really wanted to get a coffee for my self from starbucks but it was shut, so we ended up eating something instead.
We were out of the foodmall by 3:45 and back on the expressway, as always and from prior experience, there was a ton of traffic on the Ghat Section and it took us a good one and a half hours to cross the Lonavala exit. Once we’d crossed Lonavala and the ghats on the expressway it was back to business, and the road was pretty clear of traffic, we crossed the talegaon exit by 5:50 Am, and had entered pune by 6 in the morning. This was a good thing because we did not encounter too much city traffic early in the morning. We managed to drive across Pune city in 45 minutes and were on the Pune exit toll towards Satara by 6:45.
Our next pit stop was at Karad for breakfast, now having driven to goa multiple dozens of times, I’ve somewhat established certain fixed way points across the route and hotel Mahendra is one of them. I’ve left a link to the hotel in the description for those of you who are driving down to Goa from Mumbai Or Pune and want to take a quick mid way pitstop. So from my house to this point is a little over 300 Kilometers and which is exactly halfway to Candolim, which is where we are headed. Also this spot is a little over 40 kilometers from Kolhapur and a little over 100 kilometers from Nipani, which is where you branch off if you are approaching Goa via Amboli.
At most times it is here that I take a call on how we should ideally be entering Goa, of course there are a few factors you need to take into consideration before you finally decide which way you are going to be driving, but this time around i was pretty clear that i would be taking the route via Amboli.
We were Back on track and on the amazing Pune Bangalore Highway, there wasn’t too much of traffic and the roads, at least when we were driving this time around were in a good condition, we zipped past Kolhapur in less than 40 minutes and were at the Nipani Junction by Noon. At this point we’d covered 400 Kilometers and there were 200 more of them to go.
Once you touch Nipani, it is a 160 Kilometers of no – nonsense driving, for Mumbaikars this is normally the closest that they can get to mountain driving 🙂 There have been times, like for instance the last time that we covered Goa on the channel the roads on the Amboli ghats were in a deplorable condition, but this time around the roads had been repaired and were in a fantastic condition and an absolute bliss to drive on.
Obviously this is a very different experience from driving on a 4 lane or 6 lane express highway, you have got to be alert at all times because this is a single windy, curving lane with a lot of oncoming traffic, including scooters, bikes, busses, tractors and even bullock carts some times. So after an hour of driving on this single lane road, the actual ghat starts, this is the section i normally ask my wife to get some sleep, because if she is awake when we are driving through this patch there are a lot of unpleasant and unavoidable conversations that i end up getting into. if you know what i mean.
With the ghats done, and thankfully my wife still asleep we’d entered Goa in one piece, the hotel at Candolim was still an hour away. Ok so while i am at it let me tell you that the Bombay Goa Highway once you enter GOA is not in the best condition at the moment, there is a lot of construction work going on and the route is full of diversions, so please take care when you are on it. Also if you are like me, and have driven for over 500 kilo-meters at a stretch and you encounter such roads the probability of you being irritable is extremely high, so try to focus on getting to your destination and avoid having meaningless conversations with your co-passengers !
So it is 3:40 in the afternoon now, and we have finally reached our destination, The Deltin Suites, Candolim in Goa ! after 13 plus hours on the road it can sometimes get difficult to express in words the exact amount of joy and relief that one may experience when they finally arrive at their destination.
Any way here is a quick tour of the hotel , at first glance the entrance of Deltin Suites reminds you of a massive Portuguese villa and that experience continues through the lobby area and the reception
But once you’ve completed your check in formalities and you head towards your room is when you realise the grandeur of the property. There is a restaurant and a casino as soon as you enter and beside which is the pool which for obvious reasons was shut through the pandemic. I don’t have much footage of the room we were in, but
I can say that it lives up to the expectation of a 5 star suite and was pool facing as well.but then again if you are in Goa the only time that you’d actually be in your room is when you want to crash.. so for those of you who want to check out the rooms i will leave a link to the deltin website in the description feel free to check them out.
I am not much of a Gambler, actually apart from Bluff and Uno I haven’t really played any card games all my life, but the objective of this trip was to do some thing different and by that I mean explore another side of GOA, that’s precisely why we’re on this trip and part of the reason we’re staying at a hotel that not only has a casino in the hotel but also gives us an opportunity to get off the road and on to a cruise, again you guessed it right with 3 floors of Casinos on them !
After some much needed rest, we decided to take a look at Deltin JAQK which is one of the river cruise casinos we wanted to explore.
The guys at Deltin Suites arranged a shuttle cab for us which picked us up from the hotel and drove us to the Deltin Jetty at Panjim. Truth be told i was a little tired of the driving and that was the only reason i chose to get into the cab.
It is only once you board the ferry to the Cruise that you realise how many cruise casinos are there in GOA, while the cruises are open 24 by 7 the best time to head out to one would be after sun set, this is really when you get to experience the grandeur of the night life that GOA has to offer.
This cruise has 3 floors, the main deck is home to the gaming floor which has a VIP room, a Card Room and a gaming area with slot machines and anything else you’d normally expect at a casino. There is a restaurant by the name of Vegas on the second level and a rooftop sky bar on the third level, there is absolutely no dearth of food, drinks and lively entertainment.
Day 2 in Goa
was time to check out the Deltin Casino Royale Ship. I did wake up for breakfast at the hotel, but it was strictly only for breakfast, as soon as we were done eating we went back to the room and passed out, we woke up only in the evening and right in time to head out to Casino Royale, today i decided that we had drive down to Panjim and so we exactly did just that.
We left candolim a little past 6 in the evening and just as the sun was setting, Panjim is a 40 minute to an hour away depending on traffic conditions, we reached the jetty by 7 in the evening, and waited to board the ferry that would take us to Casino Royale.
The ferry took not more than 10 minutes to get us to the Cruise, and one thing i must tell you is that when you get on this ship, you don’t actually feel that it is a ship it feels like you are very much on land and getting into a 5 star hotel nonetheless. The casino Royale is bigger than JAKQ and has 5 levels, level one has a casino and card room level two is where the restaurants are at, there are 2 restaurants on this one vegas as well as the Whisky lounge which is for members. level 3 is a repeat of level one level 4 has a casino and VIP rooms Level 5 is the sky deck, a grander version of the one that we were on at JAKQ
I tried my hand at some card games today, also if you are someone like me there is a section dedicated to noobs, where they educate you on how to play etc. not like it makes too much of a difference though, ultimately if you are lucky you may just end up winning.. and if you’re not there is not too much any one can do 🙂 After some amateur card playing, we headed up to the sky bar to get some much needed refreshments and food.
Leaving Goa is never easy , but there is only that much that one can do, so with a heavy heart it was time to pack up and head back to bombay.
On short trips I try to give my body as much rest as I can before getting back on the road, there is no denying the fact that I absolutely enjoy driving, But that said it is important to give your body enough rest so that you can focus on the drive.
By the time I woke up it was 12 in the afternoon, packing up and getting ready to check out are two things we hate the most about the end of any vacation. fighting the procrastination and laziness comes with practice i guess, at the end of it we managed to get ourselves into the car and on the road by 2pm .
as far as route options go, the idea was to stick to the same route that we took while getting here, which surprisingly i have rarely ever done ,most times when i come back from goa i always end up going via Bicholim and belgaum, but this time around it was the amboli ghat that i decided to take.
my stomach was rumbling after an hour and a half of driving, we had not had breakfast so i decided to stop off at sawantwadi to get some lunch normally i am of the opinion that driving on an empty stomach is a good thing, but as you can see my stomach had different ideas
done with lunch we got back on the road by 4:30 pm, with barely 100 kms done, there was a whole 500 kilometers ahead of me before we could get home, this is when i realised how important it was for my body to get some rest before we started out, it helped me fight off the sleep and i remained focussed on the task at hand.
an hour later we were nearing Nipani, the sun had started to set and the evening was nothing short of spectacular, it was a good decision to take this route driving on this road through the sunset is an experience in itself.
A couple of hours later, is when I took my next pitstop, I had 400 kilometers of highway ahead of me and the night had set in, After a quick bio break and some tea it was time to get back on the road.
Once we got back on the road, I do not remember a single instance where my leg had come off the accelerator pedal, I was determined to make sure that we reached home as soon as possible.
we had crossed satara by 9:45 , which meant that we were down to 250 kilometers or so,we entered pune by 11 ish and once again thanks to our timing we did not face much of the city traffic. In the next 45 minutes we were on the mumbai pune expressway.
I normally treat this stretch of highway with a lot of respect, and try to ensure that i drive peacefully i am not saying i was irresponsible, but this time around i showed no such restraint we we were home in a couple of hours.
To find out more on Deltin’s Casino’s you can visit : https://www.deltin.com/deltin-royale-casino/