Watch Out! What the Heck! You told me you were close by!


Watch Out! What the Heck! You told me you were close by!   

We decided to take a short trip to Goa during an extended holiday weekend. The travel time to Vasco Da Gama city, from where we were, was only four hours, and it fit well with our quest for a short break; plus, I had previously read that I could experience some of the leftover ’60s hippie counterculture there. Oh yesterday, here we come!


reachingdelphi, Goa, travel, coffee


To keep a long story short, I transferred the initial deposit to the hotel booking site, and the balance was to be settled at the hotel upon check-in. The booking site had captured our credit card information, so I knew they would impose penalties for a no-show. There was no refund for a cancelation, either. I was sold just by looking at the beautiful pictures of eco-friendly chalets by the beach; you know, like the ones only Angelina Jolie can afford to stay at. There was more, of course; the unlimited WiFi; scrumptious local and international breakfast each morning; free-flow coffee throughout the day; and complimentary yoga and dinner by the pool. With 70% knocked off the original rate, this deal was quite a steal.  There was one more thing – the icing on the cake for me – was the idea of having an attached outdoor roofless bath and toilet, with full privacy and with only the chirping birds during the day, and the glittering stars at night – the small pleasures in life that make me say yes, YES!


reachingdelphi, Goa, travel, coffee

How long would it take to get there from the airport? “Oh madam, we are close by, just half an hour.”  I was smirking ear to ear and serenading a tuneless song.  I requested the reservations officer, via email, to have dinner ready for us, as we would be arriving late.


And, in the excitement, it slipped my mind to check where the hotel was exactly. Oh, dear me!  India is a huge country and the coastal shores of Goa stretch for hundreds of miles.


Refund? Yeah, well, think again sweetheart – you do not need one when you are in paradise, I had told myself.


We arrived in Vasco da Gama late and hungry. Doc wanted to have a full dinner, I did not. “We’re only half an hour away,” I said. “Famous last words,” he replied. Based on my previous miscalculations, I knew it would be wise for me to agree, so we ordered a quick meal. The workers at the food outlet were unfriendly. I found the dosa tasteless, and even I, the one with the ‘no-coffee-after 3pm’ rule found the booster too weak. But, in all fairness it was indeed a much-needed reserve for the next leg of our trip.

 

reachingdelphi, Goa, travel, coffee


We looked at our watches uncomfortably. We had already travelled an hour on dark winding roads.

'How much longer?' I asked.

The driver replied, 'About another hour to go, at least.'

'What, are we going to Maharashtra?'

'Almost', he said.

'Oh blimey! Where are you taking us this time, Uma?'


reachingdelphi, Goa, travel

Eventually we found the place. The resort’s hippy-happy atmosphere did not wash away the fact that they had misinformed us, their guests, about their location and their services. We were two unhappy people in happy-go-lucky Goa. To add to our disappointment, we learnt that WiFi was only available in the hotel lobby, and that the breakfast dining room did not have an ocean view, which was mentioned on the booking site – more unkept promises. The eco-styled room was extremely basic. I was too upset to look up at the stars from the open-air bathroom that night, and neither did I hear chirping birds the next morning. I noticed several lizards, which I am not fond of at all. To make matters worse, the hotel refused to accept credit card  nor provide proof for cash payment. Both printer and credit card reader were faulty, they said. We did not like this at all!   


reachingdelphi, Goa, travel

The next day, we realised all the important places of interest were very far away from where we were. It would easily take two hours to travel each way, just to see the historic sites we had planned to visit. Since our holiday hours were limited, we requested a refund due to the misinformation they had provided. The booking website mentioned the hotel was only 26 kilometres from the state’s international airport, or half an hour by cab. Well, even Superman would not have been able to get us there in that time.


Stop smirking, I was terribly upset.


We checked-out on the second day, forfeited our pre-payment, travelled back to the city, and found a really charming colonial-style boutique hotel in the historic Portuguese centre. The rest of the vacation was pleasant, and that was when I fell in love with Goa! Check out the links at the bottom for more on Goa. 

reachingdelphi, Goa, travel

So, do watch out! Be aware, do your groundwork, and plan your visits before you decide where to go and places to see. Time is essential, time is money. Choose your hotel location carefully, otherwise your holiday memory will be mainly of the roads and the goat crossings.  And, Doc would call you Mandrem for life.  So, watch out and don’t assume anything.


reachingdelphi, Goa, travel

What I have learnt:

  • Time is your life. There is no dollar value attached to the limited vacation time you have, so use it wisely. Select a place to stay that minimises your travel time.
  • Each has a different interpretation of the term 'close by'. 
  • Eat a little before you start any trip. You never know what to expect on the way.
  • Roofless showers are not a deciding factor to where you want to stay.
  • The life Angelina Jolie has is not my reality. So, wake up. The coffee smells strong, the life I have is perfect as it is and so is yours! [Angelina, I love & support the humanitarian work you do 💗]
  • Know that marketers will write to captivate. That is their job. It is our duty as travellers to evaluate what is beneath all that and make a sound decision based on reviews and instinct. Explore the many advisory forums available today. Having said this, I always do the due-diligence, but for this trip, no one commented on the misinformation of distance as a concern. As a responsible traveller, I provided my feedback later online. 
  • Check the payment policy and terms before you make a booking. opt for credit card or online payments as they are more secure. It is not safe to travel with with plenty of hard-cash.
  • Confirmation of purchase is important. The hotel printer was faulty. By this time, I had completely lost trust in this hotel. We insisted on a written receipt. They eventually provided one upon checkout.
  • Purchase a local mobile service with  data and call plan for your communication needs at the airport. These days, this is an essential service, especially during an emergency. In this case, WiFi was not available, as promised by the hotel. Alternatively, your own service provider may provide international roaming services, but these can be expensive when compared to the local option. 


reachingdelphi, Goa, travel


Also in WatchOut! series:



Your GOA Guide





Footnote:
Regardless of whether you are a business traveller or vacationer, a one-time or frequent traveller – if you travel, you are exposed to risks. It’s important to understand that some of us are easier targets than others.

This series is dedicated to Doc, SV, who constantly reminded me to 'Watch Out!. Through Watch Out! Travel Mishaps from Reaching Delphi Travellers Alert series, I will share some of our travel misadventures with you. My aim is to create an awareness of such incidents and some useful suggestions to reduce the occurrence of unpleasant events. 

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