Beach time in Benaulim then inland onto Hampi and Mysuru

Sorry for the slow updates on the blog, we're not really doing much to write about so will try keep this one brief, but makes me realise that the last 4 weeks have flown by.
Plus I have been doing weekly updated on Facebook, most of you reading this will be able to access those anyway!

Benaulim was our next destination and we were looking forward to returning there, as it was one of our first stops we did on our big SE Asia trip back in 2017/18.
We initially had 10 days booked here, although we did then go on to extend that by another 7 days, more on that later. 

Our first accommodation was at Mistral Holidays, we had wanted an apartment as we were in the area a little longer than usual, but couldn't book it for the full period. So the first 2 days we were in a studio room, then we moved into one of their 1 bedroom apartments for 8 days.
It was lovely to have a big space with a proper kitchen, living room area and seperate bedroom and a lovely balcony, so we made the most of it and sometimes made egg rolls for breakfast and sit out on the balcony with our coffees.

It was also my birthday week, and even more exciting than that was that 11 of our festival family arrived in town later in the week for 4 days, and we were so looking forward to seeing them all. 
Oh and we bumped into Shiva again, a local legend who we first met in 2017 as mentioned in the blog I linked above... was great to see him again!

But first I had to go back up to Calungate to see the dentist again, it was a fair old distance from Benaulim, around 50km back up to the North, so we decided to hire scooters for the week to do this journey and also to get us around when our friends arrived.
The trip took us up the highway and over the finished (well half finished) New Zuari Bridge, which was interesting and then we got into Calungate in plenty of time.

After the dentist, we took a little drive about and looked at a couple of places in the area to potentially stay at, then headed back down to Benaulim along the coastal road, stopping along the way at a couple of the other beaches in the area to see if there was anywhere else nice we could perhaps stay at later in the trip. 

The following day was my birthday, so in the morning I went for a haircut & shave, and then we went and got breakfast from the bakers and stopped for some fresh fruit from the market.
For dinner, I had found a lovely restaurant called Cavatina and was ran by an up and coming local chef who is being noticed throughout the industry. 

It was a fantastic meal, they do 3 menu options - 7 course tasting menu, Tapas selection or A La Carte, which is what we went for. The food was amazing, the theatre and presentation top notch and will be sure to visit again when back in the area later on in the trip. 

A couple of days later our friends arrived, we spent most of the few days together either down at the little shack next to their accommodation and then going out for food at night with a few drinks! 
It was great to see them all and those few days flew by and before long we sadly said our goodbyes as they moved up the coast to Calungate. 

Another reason for getting scooters was so we could explore the area a bit more and look for places to stay, as we love Benaulim so definitely plan to return here later on this trip and perhaps for a longer stay next year too.
We found one we really liked with a gorgeous pool, slightly closer to the main crossroads in the village and lovely sized studio rooms. So we decided to book into this place for another week, as we both felt we were not ready to leave the area just yet!

Most of our final week here was spent chilling out, going to the beach, swimming in the pool and then going out for breakfasts and dinners, and we didn't have one bad meal the whole 17 days there!
Special mentions to Savios, Cinnamon and Dominiks Shack where we visited on more than one occasion and had excellent service and food.

I did have an interesting journey into Madgaon to find the Vodafone store to pay cash towards our phone bill, it wasn't where it was on Google Maps and eventually I found it and then got slightly lost coming back! 

We did have 3 days where we pretty much locked ourselves in the room as we had an online training course to do for work, and after the hotel staff providing us with our own router outside on the balcony, we had no internet issues for the zoom calls. 

Benaulim Photo Album

The last couple of days there flew by and it was soon time to move again, this time moving inland and up to the UNESCO World Heritage site at Hampi. 

We had booked the train from Madgaon - Hospete, which is a scenic daytime train ride and takes about 8 hours. The journey was fine, we passed the Dudhsagar Falls which were impressive, even with little water flowing.

We had booked 3AC which is 6 berth compartment, with a lower, middle and upper bunks. As it was a daytime journey, we didn't need to sleep but an Australian couple who were in with us wanted to, so they took the top 2 bunks. 
Then there was a local couple, who slept on and off and we made it work with putting one of the bunks down when needed.

I had booked Coconut Homestay for our 4 nights in Hampi, although we were in the next village along called Kadirampura, about 10-15 mins away from Hampi Village by auto.

The homestay arranged for their regular driver to come and collect us, Muttu who took us the short trip from the train station to the homestay, about 15 minutes away. 

I found this place on, and dealt with them on WhatsApp to sort out the final details. As we had moved the booking back a week due to the trains being cancelled for engineering works, they accommodated that for us and was lovely to deal with them.
The family we were staying with were so friendly, they had several generations living together in the downstairs area (and across the lane) and they had 2 rooms upstairs that they rented out. 
Our room was lovely, clean and comfy, plus they would cook breakfast/dinner if you wanted, which we took them up on a few times.

We had booked for 4 nights, but only had 3 full days there as we were to get our first night train to Mysuru on our last night there at around 9pm.
Wanting to maximise our time there, we took the advise of Muttu who would be our driver/guide for these 3 days, and after agreeing what we think was an overpriced figure, which in the scheme of things isn't that expensive, the plan had been set out.

Hampi is a small village next to the River Tungabhadra, and as mentioned is a UNESCO Site, due to the ancient ruins discovered there and the history surrounding the place. These spread out over a huge area, and you can do the tour by foot/bike, but as we are lazy and wanted to see as much as possible, that's why we got Muttu and his tuk tuk. 
Our plan was to spend 2 days going round the Hampi side of the river and then 1 day on the other side, which used to have an area called Hippy Island but also has various sacred sites to visit.

Am not going to explain all 3 days here, and just post links to the hundreds of photos as they tell a lot more than I ever could... but the whole place is outstanding!

Day 1

We started with breakfast cooked by our hosts which was amazing, then off we set to go visit the first of what was many temples. 
After a short break for lunch, we headed back to the homestay for a few hours then back out to climb a hill to watch sunset, it was beautiful watching it set over the rocks and temples in the distance.
Then we seen a ceremony (sadly involving a temple elephant) but it was an interesting thing to watch, then after that it was time for dinner and an amazing Veg Thali cooked by our hosts!

Day 2

The next morning it was a 05:00 alarm call to climb up what felt like a mountain to watch sunrise appear over the horizon. Sadly it was a bit hazy, but was still an amazing place to sit and chill for a bit. 
Then it was back into the rickshaw for another day of exploring more temples, ending up with lunch at a local restaurant called Happy Hampi, which although it was pure veg (like most places in the area, along with no alcohol) served amazing food and we had another amazing meal there after being there the first night too. That evening we had an Paneer Masala again made by our hosts, they sure can cook!

Hampi Day 2 Photos

Day 3

The final day was started off with an another amazing breakfast at the homestay, then over the river to see a few more temples etc there. After climbing around 575 steps to the first one, I was already getting temple'd out and by the 3rd temple of the day, I let Sadie go ahead and chilled out at the bottom of another hill and spoke to some friendly Nepalese who like many Indians, love to get a selfie with us Westerners! 
Highlight of the day was going to a lake and seeing a wild otter just munch on a fish it had caught! 

After our last day tour had finished, we had a few hours to chill in the room before Muttu took us to Hospete to get the night train to Mysuru (Mysore), a journey around 12 hours and our first night train.
He dropped us off a couple of hours early as there was a festival being held in and around the Hampi temples that attracts around 40k people and roads were already starting to be closed off by the police and traffic would become a nightmare.

We had dinner at a restaurant near the station, well Sadie did, my fish arrived raw and after several attempts to actually get a manager to complain to, a farcical discussion about the service and food, we paid for the beers and then got on our train.

We had booked 2AC this time, mainly for the reason that it is a 4 berth compartment or a 2 bed side berth depending on what you book or what is available. Not as fancy as 1AC as they have actual doors, 2AC is separated by curtains, but 2AC is perfectly fine for overnight trains even for us Westerners!

Sadie slept most of the way, I had a good few hours and we reached Mysuru pretty much on time, around 09:00.
We got to the hotel, a place called Megha Comforts, which is pretty near the station and central, obviously too early to check in, so dropped our bags and went for a look round for a couple of hours till we could get into the room.

Mysuru is a pretty big city, and comes with the usual hustle and bustle as expected. Our hotel was near plenty of food places, but all local cuisine, there was no where near for simple eggs on toast here!
We found somewhere that looked decent, had a lovely breakfast and then went to the hotel and had some downtime as it had been a manic 24 hours!

Sadly Sadie took not well for 24 hours so we didn't really do much at all for 2 full days, so decided to extend our time there, and at £20 a night it was a decent clean hotel too and would give us a few days to see what we wanted to see in the city, which wasn't much to be honest!

Swiggy, which is an online food delivery app came to the rescue and we used it several times over our time there when we just didn't fancy Indian food, and we were being pretty cautious in case we picked up anything.

Sadie did manage to get out her death bed on the 2nd evening, as one of the main reasons we came to Mysuru was to visit the Palace. Once a week, on a Sunday evening between 7-8pm, the whole Palace and surrounding buildings are illuminated by over 100,000 lightbulbs and is quite spectacular.
We had befriended a rickshaw driver the first day there, so just got him to collect us both, take us down there for an hour and then back to the hotel.

Back to her normal self the following day, we went out for a walk and went to visit the railway museum. At 50p entry, I didn't expect much but we were both pleasantly surprised. It had plenty of exhibits and even a toy railway you could go on and round the small site, taking a few minutes to do so. 
After that we went back to the palace to do the tour inside, and although it was an impressive building, it was very much a tourist thing and you are sent round in the way they want you to go and was just a bit too busy for my liking.

We did plan to go visit a few temples and climb yet another hill whilst there, but after 3 days of it in Hampi, we decided we had seen enough temples for a while and mainly relaxed in the hotel and took a walk round the lovely vibrant markets etc. 
I did manage to find a couple of good places to eat dinner, one was in a cave themed restaurant in a hotel which was nice, and the evening before we left we went to a Radisson Blu hotel to experience their all you can eat buffet, and obviously we gave that our best shot! 

The only other thing we did worth mentioning was we found the university/student area where we went round a few of the local bars there, one was called Purple Haze and it was a 'rock' bar, but only in the evenings. It was like being back in a nightclub in the 80's, all dark with no windows and was very confusing at 2pm in the afternoon, but it did have cheap beers! 

Our last day there was again spent just chilling, we had again booked the room for the night as we had another night train to catch at 23:40, so ordered KFC for dinner and then got a rickshaw to the station for the overnight journey to Mangalore, which would take around 10 hours.


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