Hey guys its been a minute :). The last time we talked I was taking a train from Goa to Gujarat. Its been 13 days and so much has happened am not even sure this post can handle it.I am not even in Gujarat anymore!. Well if you follow me on IG (shishilestrange) you know that I was sick. Well technically am still under the weather but I think the worst is over for now. I had a real good scare with my first experience at an indian hospital. They never tell you this about travelling, how your body can just choose to not cooperate ;(
So back to the train ride 🙂 .The train was scheduled to leave at 6:30 pm at Madgaon Station in south Goa. I was so psyched and got there by 5.45 ish, aah the usual staring followed by lots of pointing was present #storyofmylife ha ha. The train finally arrived four packets of crisps later, after a one and a half hour delay 😦 .
The train ride itself put in one word is EXHAUSTING. I got a rough deal on my ticket as my sleeper bed was on the corridor and unlike the ones in the cabin the bed was really narrow. And I even got the best class tickets available on the train, called 2AC. So what do you do with yourself when you have 21hours on a train in an uncomfortable bed? Listen to music, eat snacks, sleep, mostly eat more snacks & Repeat #heycalories LOL. The internet is not going to be good on your phone mostly so being online is out of the question,
21 HOURS LATER-VADADORA.
Vadadora was previously known as Baroda and is still know as Baroda in Hindi. To many its referred to as the cultural city of Gujarat and its also the third largest city in this state. To be honest Vadadora and the entire state of Gujarat was not even in my India plans. I just wanted to get to Rajasthan via Train but was told such a trip would take me several days and it would be better to just break down the trip. So Vadadora it was.
On getting there you have to realize I was completely, utterly ,clueless about the city, and after getting the phone to work again the first hotel near the train station is where I wanted to be. Alpha hotel. The name even sounded good, and I was like “Thanks travel gods ya`all are the real thing“.
My first impression of Vadadora was not a good one, the driver of the taxi went through really horrible back roads and I just kept thinking how screwed I was at that moment. Then on getting at the hotel, ooh snap there is no room you should have booked ahead and by the way good luck in finding a vacant hotel because there is an expo happening and all hotels are booked to the max!. What!!.
So I stand there for like 5 minutes totally confused and ask if we can just sit by the lobby eat some potato chips as we think about our next plan. 10 minutes later the same guy says, oh btw I just cancelled someones booking so there is a room now, but on condition you stay atleatst 3days. *Travel gods fistbump I knew you would come through for me*:). A much needed shower later and a couple of google searches it was time to see Vadadora at night.
First things first, let me make it clear that alcohol is illegal in the whole Gujarat state and only foreigners can buy alcohol and at very specific hotels. To do that you need to go bring your passport too. Yikes all that for a hangover? Not happening bruh. At this point I could swear that Goa is not in INDIA!!
Standing outside the hotel this guy approaches and introduces himself as Shemi, and asks if its okay to hang out with him as there is a festival happening. Am super skeptical and looking at him like he has horns on his head but he reassures us that he is perfectly a good guy he just wants to make new friends. So what the hell if we go with this guy, India is literally crowded and we can shout for help and well our instincts seem to like this guy. Well that turned out to be a very good decision. Shemi turned out to be a very good friend and through him we met lots of people that we really enjoyed hanging out with. It goes to show that you really dont need alcohol to have fun ha ha.
I have two main highlights in Vadadora. One was the Navratri festival, Navratri in Sanskrit means nine nights. The festival runs through nine nights and ten days at the beginning of October. It was so beautiful and for the three days we were there we went out everynight to watch them perform the Garba dance. Both Men and Women wear colourful costumes while performing the dance and it usually involves a lot of spinning around.
My Second highlight was the night food market which is a very good place if you genuinely love food. There is so much to choose from with a wide variety of cuisines. Hundreds of people gather here every night to fill their stomachs with many delicacies offered by the hundreds of restaurants here. There is even a Dominoes if you are not feeling courageous enough to try spicy treats.
There are other several small things I enjoyed like the Sayaji park, aah I got to see many animals including a white peacock which I had no clue existed, do my crow pose in front of a not so happy leopard, drinking a tiny cup of chai by the roadside at night, stopping by the highway to sit by the roadside and watch the city, trying indian candy by tiny cafes, taking pictures of the holy cow, chilling with new friends over a smoke etc. This are memories am gonna cherish forever.
Vadadora turned out to be amazing mostly thanks to three dudes. This post is for you my friends Shemi, Irfan and Kunar, Thank you so much for everything and I hope to see you again someday.
P/S: I did not get a chance to visit the Siddi village which is inhabited by Africans who are believed to have lived in India for over 400 years now. They are said to have arrived in India mostly as slaves and now see themselves as Indians, their village is 35kms from Vadadora and regret not going there;(
Thanks for reading this very long post guys. Lots of love. Cheers.