Best of the West – A foodie itinerary to West India

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Best of the West – Highlights of West India Foodie Itinerary Ideas

Mumbai

Why Go?

Workers from across India, seeking to make it ‘big’ in the bright lights, bring authentic regional food  to Mumbai including India’s best range of creative street food (like Vada Pav, Behl Puri and Pao Bhaji).

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Try Parsi cuisine, originally from Persia…most fun at Britannia and Co.

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Don’t miss the dabbawallah unwritten delivery system that takes thousands of home cooked lunches to workers every day.

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Visit local food markets and Sassoon Dock fish market.

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All set against stunning colonial architecture…and surprisingly innovative and creative high density living in Mumbai’s many ‘slums’.

Check out:

Reality Tours and Travel – Excellent, great value tours around Mumbai that include the famous Mumbai street food, the dabbawallah delivery system and a socially responsible, sensitive Dharavi slum tour.

Where to Stay?

Colaba is the best area to stay, and a night in the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel (while quite expensive) is a once in a life time experience.

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Another good spot in Colaba is the Ascot Hotel  – more budget friendly prices, but still an excellent location.

http://www.ascothotel.com/

http://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Hotel_Review-g304554-d606365-Reviews-Ascot_Hotel-Mumbai_Bombay_Maharashtra.html

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How to get there?

Mumbai is a major airport in India and good airlines often have specials. Check out Singapore Airlines for regular specials.

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Jodhpur

Why Go?

Dine with fantastic rood top views of the mighty Mehrangarh Fort and beautiful ‘Blue City’.

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Head to the clock tower to try regional snack food favourites including the famous rich lassi, have lunch with a local village family and experience a delicious Rajasthani thali at Gypsy Dining Rooms.

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Where to Stay?

Raas

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But also consider Castle View Home Stay for an amazing view, very thoughtful and kind host and great prices.

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How to get there? 

Mumbai to Jodhpur return $186 Jet Airways (online booking).

Jaisalmer

Why Go?

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Dine roof top on the massive, sandcastle-like fort that rises out of the desert, above this ‘Golden City’ and enjoy regional Rajasthani dishes in between visiting gorgeous havelis and perhaps enjoying a camel safari.

 Where to Stay? 

Garh Jaisal

Gorgeous, well priced rooms with window seats, each a different colour and lovely roof top spot for drinks and breakfast.

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How to get there?

Hire a good sized car (e.g. Toyata Innova) from one of the many car and diver businesses.

(About 4.5 hours from Jodhpur. Stop for a snack or lunch at Manvar Resort and Desert Safari Camp or Samsara Resort long the way).

Goa

Why Go?

A distinct Portuguese influenced cuisine in a setting of post colonial architecture featuring whitewashed churches and colourful villas as well as beautiful beaches.

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Lunch at a spice plantation, visit local Mapusa market on a Friday and marvel at the lush greenery of rice paddies and coconut palms.

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Where to Stay?

Anjuna

(home to the famous Wednesday Flea Market)

Casa Anjuna

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or Marbella Guest House (Candolim)

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How to get there?

Mumbai to Goa return $152 Jet Airways (online booking).

Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Mumbai – a unique experience

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A night at the Taj Mahal Palace heritage hotel, is more like a themed experience than just a night’s nice accommodation.  From the hope of a possible upgrade, to the showmanship of Viren, on the heritage tour of the hotel’s history, to just enjoying the ambiance of  a hotel with such an iconic place in Mumbai’s identity, it’s all great fun.

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Also, the longer spent there, the more you find a genuine commitment to the personal needs of guests, which is truly lovely.

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The downsides are the significant cost and also a reluctance to leave the hotel and miss out on anything. It deserves full attention, so best timed after major sightseeing.

Rooms start at about $AUS 254 (Sat/Sun) for a city view in the newer Tower Wing.

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While this might miss out on some of the atmosphere of the older historic Palace Wing (Luxury Grande Rooms start at $AUS 396 (Sat/Sun)for a city view), the older rooms are limited by the era in which they were built and are quite small.

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Club Room

Paying more for a sea view of the Gateway to India ($436 (Sat/Sun)for a Luxury Grande Sea View Room in the Palace Wing), might sound good, but there is no balcony or floor length window to really enjoy it.

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The best parts of the hotel i.e. delicious breakfast by the pool, heritage tour, colonial architecture, history, sense of style, pool and luxurious atmosphere can just as easily be enjoyed when staying in the cheaper rooms. The Taj is very well located for Colaba Eateries (Olympia Coffee House, Bademiya as well as Leopold’s Cafe and Indigo Deli if you’re looking for Western foods) and enjoying the surrounding heritage architecture close by, like the Gateway of India, Royal Bombay Yacht Club, Dhunraj Mahal, Regal Cinema, Sailors Home (now Maharashtra Police Headquarters), Regal Cinema, Majestic Hotel, National Gallery of Modern Art, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya Museum (formerly ‘Prince of Wales Museum’).

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If you do decide to lash out for a Palace Wing Room, consider paying a little more ($AUS475 Sat/Sun) for a city view Club Room (includes airport pickup) on a high floor, with not only Palace Lounge Privileges (all day tea/coffee and biscuits, but also Club Room privileges of  high tea 3:30-5:30pm, cocktails and hor d’oevres (6:30-8:00pm), cognac/Bailey’s/Kalua and chocolates (9:30-10:30pm), butler service, early check in (9:00am) and late check out (6:00pm – can just squeeze in one more high tea!). (See what I mean about, needing your full attention!).

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Make the most of the weekend (Sat/Sun) rate.

But a much cheaper alternative, to still get a sense of what all the fuss is about is to visit for a full, elaborate high tea (3:30-7pm) in the Sea Lounge  that includes Mumbai street food delicacies like bhel puri, sev puri, and pani puri (for about $AUS 27 per person).

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Ascot Hotel, Colaba, a top pick for sleeping in Mumbai

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The Ascot Hotel  is in a great central location in a leafy street in atmospheric Colada. The deluxe  rooms are very large, and at least some have a sunny balcony overlooking the daily life in the street below. Accommodation is expensive in Mumbai, so at around $AUS 152 including breakfast, the deluxe room is good value. (Superior room is about $AUS 138).

There are plenty of good eating spots nearby like, Kailash Parbat, Paradise Restaurant, Olympia Coffee House, Bademiya, as well as Theobroma for coffee, light snacks and cakes, and the Colaba Sweet Mart. The Ascost is also within walking distance of major sights like the Gateway to India, the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and the Prince of Wales Museum. Other ‘must sees’ like Victoria Terminus, Marine Drive, Chowpatty Beach, Sassoon Dock and  Mumbai High Court are only a short taxi ride away.

Staff are very helpful, friendly and personal. They do everything they can to help. Breakfast is ordered from a small menu but is nicely presented, tasty and more than you can eat.

The only downside to be aware of is that is can be noisy. But nevertheless, it’s a perfect base to go to and from, between sampling Mumbai’s many dining opportunities, enjoying the fine architecture  and exploring life in Mumbai.

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Deluxe Room 102

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