I remember coming across a similar picture of a courtyard in one of the travel magazines. I also remember how it yanked me from my chair and ricocheted me decades back, playing in my grandma’s Malvan home, with a bunch of cousins.
How I miss those days…
That picture never really left me. The longing to be there followed and kept following until I cajoled my dear husband to celebrate our anniversary in Goa. And, he instantly agreed. That’s very rare of him. May be the universe-to-your-rescue funda worked or something 😉
So, Arco Iris…
There are sounds you must like before you get here. Sounds of rustling trees, chirping avians, sounds of bow-wow, sounds of wind chimes, sounds of absolutely nothing… quietude!
Perched atop a tableland, smiling at the seasonal Zuari river is this 200 year old colonial Portuguese manor restored to an unimaginable glory.
Plonked happily on a sprawling 1.5 acres of verdant upland, Arco Iris, is located in the sleepy village of Curtorim, away from the city hustle-bustle and yet close to Margao, the capital city of South Goa.
A good 50 minutes drive from Panjim airport later, we arrive at our destination. The car halts right at the steps and down comes Feni, tottering and sashaying, along with the rest of her family; a twig in her mouth, her style of welcoming her guests.
Feni, the cutesy, roly-poly lab is the biggest highlight of the home-stay. She’s warm, social and well-mannered than most of the kids would be. Her demeanor is so infectious that she can turn even the biggest animal-intolerant to an ardent animal lover.
Here… Isn’t she adorable!
Arco Iris means ‘Rainbow’ in Spanish. Which is why the colour of the five rooms – Indigo, Orange, Violet, Yellow and Blue. We stayed in the Yellow Room.
All of these are Wi-fi enabled and spacious. Well, spacious will be an understatement.
Unobstructed sublime views of the lush greens come rushing in through the large wood-paneled windows.
One of the doors opens into the balcony.
The lobby of yore, primordial courtyard, mighty high ceilings, four poster beds, rocking chairs, antique furniture take you through the time warp to an era gone by.
Ensuite bathrooms are so spacious you can stick a DJ in one corner and turn the place into a dance floor.
Everything here is an intricate blend of traditional grandeur and modern comforts… threads of the past delicately woven into a gorgeous carpet it is today.
Mobile phones barely receive signal. But that’s exactly what we want, don’t we? Be far, far…far away from all the noise… noise of the ringtones, alarms, beeping messages, noises in our head that remind us of the cacophonous cities we live in.
Fret not if you’ve forgotten your kindle back home. This is a place that’ll spoil you with literary options. Curl up in your rocking chair, plonk down on the veranda or sunbathe on the hammock. Evoke the reader in you and keep him awake with endless cups of coffee… without making rounds of the kitchen yourself. If this ain’t your idea of perfect relaxation, don’t know what is.
Bennita, the lady of the house runs the show along with her better half, Ganesh. She’s warm, friendly, kind and very very helpful. One email before our check-in and she had everything organised… the room, pickup, two-wheeler… She’s more than happy to share her Goan anecdotes and enlighten you with stuff to do, places to eat, thus make your stay a memorable one.
Lunch and dinner are arranged with prior notice. Buffet breakfast is complimentary with a limited menu -fluffy idlis, fresh cut fruits, jam-bread-butter and tea / coffee. The super-soft, yummy cake deserves a special mention. It’s that one time of the day when and where everyone gathers before heading out to hit the sands of Goa. And it’s this time when you make new friends from across the globe 🙂
The wishing well; you wish you never grew up…
Amidst all that holiday-spa and pampering, if you ever decide to peel your slothful self out, there are hoards of activities to indulge you.
If you are adept at spotting birds, the early mornings are totally for you. Stroll in the property gardens while soaking in the morning sun. Or take a walk along the winding roads, marvel at the beautiful old houses and admire the locals going about their daily lives.
Stone’s throw away is the Zuari river. You’ll most certainly spot the kingfishers in their beautiful, bright plumage. Amble along the banks or take a cruise when the skies are painted with sunset hues that reflect off the shimmering waters.
Benaulim, Colva and other beaches are a short ride away and offer a platter full of beach activities.
Primeval churches, archaic chapels, ceremonial temples are things you just don’t want to miss. Then, there are spice plantations, wildlife sanctuaries, museums and heritage buildings that mirror the life of the Portuguese days.
The home-stay can also arrange travel packages for you.
While you are on the wheels, exploring and eating, you obviously lose the track of time. This is when the dark slowly creeps in and it’s time to head home. South Goa goes to bed early. Really early. There isn’t a soul outside, just the Google Maps to guide you home. The dark, never-ending roads illuminated by the glistening moon and very few street lights, may feel eerie, but are totally safe.
You park your scooter in a corner of the facade and are ready to take the first step when… the mighty Feni comes charging. She’s sensed an intruder who’s about to enter her home at those freaking hours of night. 10 o’clock is not really a night in cities like Mumbai, is it.
It’s only when you smile and call out her name, does she apply her brakes and starts to nudge you. She’s welcomed you home.
Members of the house are in deep slumber. Hallway lights are dimmed. Candles at the alter are still burning. The courtyard is quiet. You tip-toe into your room, rather stealthily, so no one wakes up. You dust off the sands and shower off the fatigue, craving to sink into the cozy, cuddly bed. Instead, you make your way to the veranda. Consumed by the deafening tranquility, you sit there, on those cold, red-washed steps and let your mind wander into the night, again, through those by-lanes you just returned.
Warm welcome to BitesandPlaces!
My humble little blog has its own story to tell… my story… I’m gregarious being, vagabond at heart and have a monstrous appetite for food. I used to be a Human Resource professional until few years ago. To be among, with and for people was the reason I’d chosen this field.
Being in HR, I could only accomplish the ‘people’ part. I still yearned to be in those places I saw on TV and travel magazines and craved to eat all kinds of food that lulls you into coma. I didn’t want to be just a spectator anymore. I wanted to be in those pictures.
Luck smiled at me and I fell sick with an awful heart, lungs and liver disorder. Family said stay home. Rest.
Rest? Were they crazy? I grabbed this opportunity and quit my job; to pursue my passion – people, places and food.
Being on my own gave me lot of spare time for all the three.
I’m not a professional cook, but I’m mighty passionate about cooking. Although Indian, BitesandPlaces does not restrict itself to just the dishes of my country, which are toothsome beyond doubt. I’ve also tried to put together a bunch of mouth-watering and eye-pleasing recipes scattered from all parts the world. A lot of them are a tribute to my mum’s kitchen, the ones I grew up with. Few of them are a result of my experimentation and few others, borrowed from my generous friends 🙂
I religiously follow Andrew Zimmern’s favorite quote – what looks good to your eyes, EAT IT!! After all food is something that follows no boundaries, isn’t it.
Travel, I believe, is about exploring new places, meeting new people, building new relations, soaking in their culture, gorging on their cuisines, discovering their stories and of course, capturing all of these in my teeny-tiny camera.
After having been there and done that, I was inspired to share my travelogues with you, encourage you to travel and in some way find a bit of your happiness through me.
Thus BitesandPlaces was born!
Life’s a journey and people, places and food are all a part of it. So, come along with me and eat your way through this journey called Life…
I like staying connected. And it’ll be a frosting on my cake if you drop a line or two at firstname.lastname@example.org.