Waking up in the palace was the most lovely feeling – Sara had drawn a bath (a phrase I have never is used but one that seems important for this level of opulence). We lounged together in our robes and then dressed & headed down to Shamiana – a gorgeous restaurant in the Taj for breakfast and to show the world how Sara and I do brunch.
Buzzing on delicious coffee and ALL of the food possible, Sara and I decided to tackle the mission of walking to the reserve bank of India where we were told was the only place Sara could exchange her 500 rupee notes (she had managed to get scammed into transferring cash into the old unaccepted notes while in Cambodia!). It was only on this walk that we both began to really feel the stares from locals that so many people had warned us of and in the heat of the morning too it was incredibly uncomfortable. What made this all worse was not only our route along a pavement-less main road but a sign at the bank informing us that only Indian citizens could exchange cash…. Defeated we braved the trek back and flopped ourselves at the pool to recuperate before our taxi and flight to Goa.
Later, settling onto our little Air India plane Sara and I soon became aware that our toothless neighbour had instructed a friend to start taking pictures of us together – a firm “no pictures” slowed him down but didn’t stop him trying a selfie before we took off… our anger at his bold behaviour subsided a little however when we realised at approx 50 years old this was his first time on a plane as he attempted to work out his seatbelt and asked the air hostesses detailed questions about the plane itself. Nonetheless we decided that he was still creepy and aside from helping him out with health and safety (explaining the seatbelt) we refused to be friends. However if we thought this guy was odd, after take off we were presented with one of the most bizarre plane meals – a single tomato lettuce sandwich with no crusts, ketchup and a mango juice… needless to say mr selfie loved it.
Finally in Goa we headed to our first destination- Panjim, the Portuguese town and our hostel in the old quarter. The hostel was gorgeous – very hipster with books suspended from the ceiling and vegan power ball snacks for sale. We headed to our dorm which was furnished with two metal bunk beds and under bed cages for our stuff. After we had settled in we headed off to find food via Panjim’s super lively night market. The market was so crowded as motorbikes drove their way through the streets and street sides were lined with market stalls packed with plastic children’s toys, hot street food snacks and toys. When we finally found a recommended veggie restaurant/local caf we settled down to a delicious meal of garlic naan, mutter paneer and butter dal – all so delicious and headed to bed after an odd day but improved as always with food!