Coming Home

A delay in writing this final Goa 23 blog for reasons that will become obvious….

We had a last breakfast at Eve’s on Friday morning and then loaded our taxi amidst hugs and waves from Eva, Clive Marylyn, Candy and Nitesh. The journey to the airport in Dabolim was smooth and there was no problem checking in for our Air India flight to Delhi. The flight was on time and they served us a nice hot meal during the 2 and a quarter hours we were in the air.

I’d booked the hotel car from the Marriott Aloft hotel at Aerocity. It was £9 but it just seemed the simplest thing with all our luggage and I’m glad we did. Wow, Delhi airport has improved in the years since we’ve been there. Terminal 3 is very flash and nice. A far cry from the mosquito ridden hangar like place I remember from our first visit in 1999.

Aerocity is a new neighbourhood about 10 minutes from the airport full of business hotels and conference facilities. Marriott representatives were waiting at arrivals and we were ushered to our car very quickly and effortlessly. By 5pm we were in the hotel. It’s very very modern with a lounge like ambience downstairs ie very buzzy and openplan. Our room was also spacious, modern and looked very new. It had every convenience. We’d booked on points. We booked the car to take us back to the airport at 4am. Urrrggggg…..

We showered and changed and went down for a quick early dinner. There were 3 restaurants but we fancied the Japanese one so chose that. I wasn’t feeling very hungry, my cold was getting worse… we had a plate of salmon sushi, a bowl of soupy noodles with prawn tempura and a plate of vegetable tempura. It was all very good and a nice change after 3 months of Indian food.

Turned in about 8pm and slept ok till the alarm went off at 315. The car took us back to the airport and we were there to check in at 4am. I liked the Aloft hotel and I’d definitely stay there again. We hardly used the facilities but there was a nice looking pool and the breakfast which sounded great although we left too early to get any.

Another easy check in, and through the usual multiple security checks – India does more than anywhere else – and we got a bit of breakfast in a Lavazzo coffee shop. The flight was bang on time with a tail wind which got it down to under 9 hours. Our luck continued as we got 3 seats between the two of us, although it was pretty full. A new looking Dreamliner and everything seemed to be working. I watched a movie, ate the omelette breakfast and took a sleeping pill. Next thing I knew we had 90 minutes to go and they were serving lunch. This was another nice meal with a good selection of drinks. Much better than our flight out in January. I guess Delhi is their flagship run….

We landed nearly an hour early at 1030 and had a record fast trip through London Heathrow. The machine read my passport first time and our luggage was waiting for us at the belt. My cold was now pretty heavy – it had clearly saved itself for our return to the UK!!!! We went down to the underground and picked up the Piccadilly line direct to Kings Cross/St Pancras. We were going to be able to get the 107 direct train to Folkestone, hours earlier than we expected to be.

At this point our run of luck deserted us……. The 1307 was cancelled, then the 1327…… then the 1407 delayed…… we were sitting there waiting and waiting. It was cold. I was in a winter weight dress with a thick shawl wrapped around me but I was frozen, coughing and streaming with cold. Oddly enough, we had a bench all to ourselves!!!!!

Finally we got the train at about 220 and at 310 we pulled into Folkestone Central. Dear Pen was there with the car waiting for us!! How lovely to see her. I put a mask on because there was just a chance this was more than a cold – impossible to test in Patnem.

We got home and found the house all fine except one fence panel at the back hanging down – a rotten post has given way, the panel is ok. Lovely to come into the warm and find everything all waiting for us. I was feeling terrible by now and went straight to bed. Where I have remained ever since and where I still am!!!!!! Did 2 tests, both negative, so it is just a cold, but quite the worst I have had in years. The cough sounds like galloping consumption. We’ve cancelled two catch up dinners with friends this week – I’m not fit company for anyone – and rearranged a dental visit. What a horrid end to a winter of health and sun!!!!!

It was so wonderful to be back in Patnem again after our nearly 3 year gap. There have been a few changes there but nothing too significant, unlike in Palolem, which in my opinion has tipped over the edge to being ruined. Too many boats pulled up all along the beach, blocking the water, blackening the sand. I hope and pray Patnem sees sense and does not increase their tourist boat fleet. This has come about in the covid years to cater for Indian tourists who don’t swim so need them to get out on the water. Patnem must not go the same way. The other “bad” change is also as a result of this – at weekends – big SUV style cars blocking the narrow roads around the beach. Plus, because the bus services in Patnem were cancelled in covid, everyone bought a scooter. The bus services have never been re-instated so there are still far, far too many scooters on the roads. It’s a shame and it will result in an accident before very long.

Otherwise, everything was wonderful as ever. Eve’s is better than ever, lovely rooms, lovely people. We love staying there. We hope next year, the Nepali restaurant and bakery is up and running again. We missed that this year.

In short, we are already planning our long winter break in Patnem 2024 and there is already a large group of friends planning to join us. We can’t wait.

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