Saturday, April 19, 2014

Final train trip in India: Mumbai to Goa

We've taken our last train trip in India - yet another long, loooong trip, but we're happy that it's the last one we've planned to take.
This one was from metropolitan Mumbai to relaxed Goa.

Did I mention it's our last one?
We had already booked our ticket and planned our accommodation - as you may recall, we did the tickets all in one go in Varanasi, where we needed to change our itinerary a bit to suit the available tickets.

So, we only got two nights in Mumbai, which was probably a bit too short, but such is life.

We got up early in the morning, as the train was a daytime train, not an overnight, unfortunately.
The night before, we'd debated how to get to the CST station in Mumbai, where our train was departing from, and found a taxi who agreed to come pick us up in the morning. We got his mobile number, and even did a missed call to make sure we had the right one.

We checked out from the hotel, and I went outside to see if the cab was there. It wasn't so I called the number.
"Hello, last night we arranged for you to pick us us this morning, we're ready to go now"
"No, wrong number <click>"
What the ...??

Guess the guy wanted to sleep in and had changed his mind?

So, luckily there was another cab outside, that actually turned out to be 200 rupees cheaper than the no-show guy's quote. "Hell i uhell" as we Norwegians say. ("Luck within misfortune")
So we got to the station well before time - the station has a very nice front, which we didn't get a chance to take a photo of.
CST Station
(Image CC-BY-SA 3.0 by Joe Ravi)
We found the train easily, and got to our carriage - the door was closed and an Indian family was waiting, so we thought it was locked (which they do when the staff are cleaning, for example).
I tried the door. Not locked.

We got on the train, and although the staff were still in the last phases of clean-and-prep, we found our berths and piled in.
Locked our bags under the seat and made ourselves comfortable.
The train left as "on time" as we've seen, only about 4 minutes late. Pretty good start.

We made the top bunk's bedding, so Naomi could sleep up there if we got tired - we'd gotten up at 5am after all - and sat and read and relaxed. We also had our breakfast - eggless chocolate muffins (I also had a blueberry one, as I am a pig..).

We noted that we stopped at a station that was much closer to our hotel than CST, and regretted not researching the train's schedule more closely. Oh well..

After a while, we were nodding off, so Naomi popped "upstairs" and I made myself comfortable on the bottom bunk.

Sometime during all this, we were joined by a (as it turned out) Goan girl who was (a bit later) very chatty and friendly. In the early stages of the trip, we all were tired and were napping or reading.

Time and distance passed, and eventually we were sitting on the bottom bunk, just nibbling on snacks and reading. We got to talking with Maitrayee, the above-mentioned Goan girl, who told us all about her life. (Hi Maitrayee, if you read this..)
She was super-friendly and gave us lots of advice as well as contact details and instructions to call her if we were ever in any need of help. So nice!! She told us that this is the typical Goan attitude, to be helpful and friendly, rather than looking to rip off tourists.

So perhaps we don't need to be quite as paranoid in Goa..?
Our usual modus operandi
Guess we'll see how we go.

The train was running late, and we'd arranged to be picked up at the Madgaon station, the last stop for this line. As we drew nearer, we realised we'd done the same thing as in the morning, the closest station to the hotel was passed by the train prior to getting to the terminal.
We had the driver's number, and called him, but he was already well on the way to Madgaon, so we had to stay on the train to the end.
Looking at the map, we went about 80km extra on the train because of this.
If we were to catch more trains in India, we'd keep this lesson in mind, but instead, we'll tuck this away as a mental note for Europe, where we're making use of EuRail to get around.

The driver was there to pick us up, and we got into the car and drove for about another hour, arriving around 21:30. We'd had no dinner, just snacks after eating our packed lunch. (Naomi had made awesome sandwiches from focaccia with tomato and cheese. Yum!)
So, we were starving, tired and a bit grumpy as a result.

We saw the tiny cottage at the resort, and were disappointed.
Tiny room...
We wanted to discuss with the manager, but he'd gone home. We wanted food, but the kitchen was already closed.
Not a good start.. but we called the manager on the phone and he promised to move us to a bigger room once one was available (booked solid over the weekend, but free after Sunday check-out time), then we went to the Greek restaurant next door.

The food was great, the music retro (and thus good) and they had reasonably-priced sparkling wine by the glass! Win!!

So we ate, drank and relaxed... before heading home to a shower and a firm, but surprisingly comfortable bed.

Our big last train travel day was finally done!

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