Pune to Goa – via Amboli

For quite some time, I was longing to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Goa. Let me confess – I am still madly in love with my six-year old husband! We were classmates earlier, and then became project mates, and now life mates.

While, this was going to be our 7th Valentine’s together, the only difference was that he was not my boyfriend any longer, but my husband. So when in January I told him of my long-held desire, he nodded a yes and we started planning. I pestered him to let me know his final plan, but he held it to his chest like a top secret. I knew the destination was Goa, and nothing more.

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Valentine’s Day fell on a Friday, this year (2020). We both applied for leave from work for Thursday and Friday, as it would give us four glorious days to spend in Goa.

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We left Pune at 7 am. Knowing how good a driver my husband was, I knew we would be in Goa in just 6-7 hours. Even Google Map confirmed the drive duration of six and a half hours. After about an hour’s drive, during which I was mostly asleep, we stopped for breakfast. Although the place looked to be ordinary, it turned out to be a sumptuous breakfast.

After this halt, it was my turn to drive.

While the road was smooth and I had to hardly ever hit the brakes, I could only manage to drive for an hour, before I decided to wake up the family chauffeur and order him to take the wheels. He was more than happy to reclaim his seat and we drove on.

After grabbing a quick bite in Kolhapur, I decided to doze off. We had barely travelled for an hour, when I realised that husband dear planned to take the Amboli Ghat route. Having only seen it on YouTube, I immediately lost all my sleep, sat up alert, rolled down the windshield and began to gaze out of the car window.

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As soon as we crossed Ajara, we felt we were literally driving through the clouds. Since the weather was a little chilly at this time of the year, the clouds had turned dense and appeared to have come to rest on Western Ghat’s brown-green hill tops. This drive is about six-odd km and did not take more than an hour and half to cover, except for the curvy roads and the sharp gradients that slowed us done a bit. Shutterbugs as we far, we pulled over at so many scenic points to take pictures, play in the fog and just take-in the sheer beauty surrounding us. I realised the literal meaning of the phrase ‘walking in the clouds’ that day. It was the most amazing experience we have had till date.

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Soon, we were down to earth, literally. We entered Goa state after crossing Sawantwadi. Replacing the clouds were tall coconut and palm trees, and of course, the vast expanse of the calm sea. All this while I kept nagging my husband about the hotel, but he kept playing evasive.

Finally, when we drove into a short bylane in Calangute and at the dead end, I looked up to read the signboard - Quality Inn Ocean Palms, Goa.

The next four days were spent in a dream-like state. At Quality Inn Ocean Palms Goa, we lost all count of days or hours spent. As we crossed Amboli Ghat on our way back, we vowed to return to it, every year.