What Happens when you suddenly decide to drive 1200 kms on a Sunday afternoon
The car was (and still is) new. You could still smell the pristine upholstery. The beige exteriors had not yet received it’s first visit to the car spa. And the driving was still just as little done. It was a weekend. In fact, it was more towards the end of it; Sunday, almost noon. The break came and went like the usual blink.
Being in a travel writing career, travel is literally in the veins. And nothing beats roadtrips. Had written extensively on it, but always as the editorial bloke who clung along the actual travelers. This week however, claustrophobia had set in big time. City and work regime choked all sense of freedom. We needed a break. Period!
I told the lady of the house (and always the equal partner in crime) that we needed a break. She nodded, not looking up from the book. I repeated myself. She did not respond this time. That was rather unusual of her. I was running through articles, playing around with Google maps, teasing myself with destinations to drive to.
I was thinking aloud, by then; “Nandi Hills? Bannerghatta? One of those many river lodges?” But this time, the lady was chipping in with “too close, boring, just not sounding right”. “Let’s go Goa!”. “Are you serious?” We looked at each other for whole two seconds.
What followed was a sudden rummaging of chairs being pushed away from tables, foot-stools being dragged to the shelves, wardrobes being flung open and clothes flying into the bags. Laptops? Nah! Phone charged? Not so much. The lady sits with the maps, charts out the route, downloads it to the phone for offline viewing if the connectivity fails for GPS. Camera – check, wallet – check, towel – check. The bag was zipped, we dressed. It had been 25 minutes since she had spoken the words.
We took the simplest one. Upon reading up later, we figured that perhaps that was the best one to go for anyway. While it is the best for the views (only in comparison) but the roads were great for the most part and certainly doable for the rest.
The route was Bangalore – Tumkur via NICE Rd – Chitradurga – Devanagere – Haveri – left turn from Kalghatgi – Yellapur – Ankola – Karwar – Agonda
We hadn’t been driving for long. Being slightly off the main city, we had access to small inlet roads into the country side from the apartment and we took as much an advantage as we could of them. Which were not too many. The farthest we had driven at a stretch till then was about 15 kms give or take. This one was going to be 655 kms one way. Did we consider that before leaving? No? Foolish? Certainly!
By the time we were off the city-touches, we are well into early afternoon. Lunch was skipped and the stomach rumbled. Pretty badly. Right after the NICE road ended and little while along, we found a place. Food was great, for the hungry stomach. Pardon me, I have forgotten the name of it. But we had to go off the highway to reach it and getting back onto the highways was bit of a pain.
The Alto K10 was sheer pleasure. I had read the rave reviews for her before but nothing could have prepared me for the butter smooth experience. The car cruised at 125-130 Kmph most of the way, touched 150 kmph for a while and whenever there was any congestion, it strolled around at 50-80 kmph. We drove safe, signaled well, followed all rules. We never faced any of the shudder of the steering-wheel or the lightness of the vehicle that some have complained about.
The drive was spectacular to say the least. Hadn’t yet discovered the pleasure of Shell Super Unleaded and managed with Indian Oil. Topped it up around 3 hrs into the drive. Crazy man in dhoti gave a bit of a scare once and we swerved a little on an empty patch trying to avoid a dead dog (God rest his poor soul). But apart from that, it was everything a self-driven roadtrip promised to be. Great sights with those massive windmills, funny bikers with huge loads of colourful plastic-ware, and finally, the drive into the setting sun.
Night fell well around the time we entered Kalghati. Post that, it was bit of a slow drive along the Anshi National Park. There were numerous curves and because we could not really see too far (promise to install some add-on fog lamps apart from the stock ones), we kept to the 60’s on the speedometer.
We were hungry again but all of the populated (if you can call them that) places looked a little bit too creepy to stop by. Found a restaurant which promptly turned out to be a bar-and-restaurant with a conveniently attached hotel. Seeing my reluctance, the waiter offered to serve us in a room in the hotel. Needless to say, we fled. The next place that came along was no better.
Lesson learned: start early, pack food, drive right trough in between meal times.
Enter Agonda and it’s 12:30 AM. Everything’s closed, obviously. We were contemplating driving by the resort townships all along the coast to Panaji, Calangute or Arambol and keep winding back till it’s dawn maybe. Phone batteries were nearly dead, maps were down, and it was, well, pretty hopeless. At last, found a resort. But the prices were a bit too high for comfort. Thinking that we’d have to come back if we found nothing else, we moved along.
That’s when we came across Peter. German hippie on a longish vacation. Asked him where he stayed and he replied the place was just a bit away. It turned out to be the perfect haven, right opposite Agonda Beach. The fact that I spoke some amount of German got us together pretty well. No dinner, it was already Monday. But we could hear the waves in the night.