Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Goa: The Frequent Traveler's Guide

Now, I have been to Goa so often, that if and when I start working as a guide there, there would be a queue of takers. From the engineering days of little to no money to the current days of well, a little more money on a relative scale, I have been there. All seasons. All sorts of budget. I am not a fan of luxury trips. They just seem so easy! Like the true middle class Indian that I am, I love value for money. So, here's my list of stuff to do in Goa without burning a hole in your wallet. I might miss out on quite a few things, but the ones that are written here are all tried and tested.

1. When to go - I'd say try all seasons except summers. I remember we used to make it a point to go to Goa right when the monsoon begins. I think first week of May. Prices used to be dirt cheap. Seeing monsoon hit the beaches used to be beautiful! The only time when even Baga used to be empty. We used to stay drenched and drive around the entire city in Activas. New year ofcourse is the usual time to go, but it is a tad hard on your pockets. We did go for News Years this year, and it wasn't so bad. Try the places we tried and you might end up a little less poorer too. October, November, Feb and March are by far the best months if you want to call it even between weather and money. 

2. Stay away from Calangute and Baga. I really don't get it why people flock there. And flock they do! In season, you probably would have to push away a couple of people, remove a few kids from your way and then step into the sea. Okay well, a bit of exaggeration, but some days, it is truly like that! I like my beaches empty and serene. I'd say stay in extreme South Goa (Agonda, Palolem) or extreme North Goa (Ashwem, Morjim). 
Baga during a March sunset!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Couchsurfing Guest Post: [The Perils of] African Overland Adventures

My list of guest posts grows longer. Well I admit, people are traveling more than I am. :) Kathleen couchsurfed at my place for a couple of days. I hope you know what is Couchsurfing by now, else refer to the post by Anne. So, Kathleen is on this amazing Michael B. Keegan Travel Fellowship, thanks to which she gets to travel around the world. I don't remember being more jealous. Ever! Meeting travelers and hearing their stories is always an eye opener. Sort of reminds you that life should not just boil down to the eight hours in office and meetings. Life will always compel you to do the mundane. These people teach you otherwise. :) Oh, and she writes beautifully too! Do visit her fellowship blog when you find the time. This story is a tad scary one. The kind which you can only enjoy on hindsight with the knowledge that it has a happy ending.
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I hug my knees to my chest, trying to relieve the pain in my back. A cockroach runs across my feet. I shudder, knocking into the legs of the man behind me. I have extended beyond my allotted space in the aisle of the bus. I know the beauty of Tanzania – the reason I decided to travel overland – is just out the window. From my spot on the floor, I see only legs. I look at my watch: 11 hours left to go.
This journey began over three days ago in Livingstone, Zambia, home of the wondrous Victoria Falls. Graham, a traveler from Ireland, and I met on a 22-hour bus ride to Livingstone from Windhoek, Namibia, and stayed at the same hostel – Jollyboy’s Backpackers. We both intended to go to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, but had loose plans for getting there. After talking to several travelers at the hostel who came from Dar, we decided to team up and take the Kilamajaro Express – an epic 48+ -hour train ride starting in Kapiri Mposhi, Zambia, and rambling into and across Tanzania.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Guest Post: Naren's Death Valley Roadtrip

+Naren - our runaway friend. The guy who was a part of all our plans crappy or super! Our rasam maker during fever days. The ass who is sitting in Sacramento now. Well, this one's a post by him about his roadtrip during new year week to Death Valley, California. Needless to say, the photos are a stunner. :)


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Sometimes, unplanned trips turn out to be the best ones. Mostly because you have zero expectations. This was one of those trips.

I'd been on the Pacific Coast highway (more popularly known as the California 1 highway) before and remembered very pretty sights, but I was not on the driving seat back then. So, I decided to take that road this time around and experience the drive. But this is just an 8-hour drive San Francisco to L.A, and I had almost a week's time. So I started looking for other "scenic" drives. That's when I stumbled upon the "Death Valley scenic byway". The suggested route to take for this road was from Las Vegas, and so I planned my route from San Francisco down to L.A and then to Las Vegas, coming back home by driving through Death Valley. I had not ordered the camera when I planned this trip, and I knew I had to get the camera before it happened. And so I ordered it right away. The 4 year long wait to buy the DSLR had come to an end, thanks to the last-minute planning! :)