Having no plans ever is quite strange, but is often the case when you’re traveling long term. There had pretty much been one date in our calendar since we left the UK and that was the date that Tom’s parents would be arriving in Goa, where we would meet them for some r’n’r and family time by the sea at the end of their 3 week adventure around India. We did however decide on two things pretty early on. The first was that 5 days with the fam was not enough and the second was that there needed to some element of surprise to our time together. This combined with the fact that we LOVE MUMBAI meant we decided to fly into India early and meet Chrissie and Nig 5 days earlier than they were expecting, at the airport in Bombay.
We were both so excited and were seriously counting down the days until we got to see Tom’s parents Aside from the fact that we missed them and were excited to catch up and have massive hugs, we really couldn’t wait to experience India with them. They had been sending us regular whatsapps with wonderful photos of places they had been, all the while we were pretending to still be in Malaysia.
We got to Mumbai a few days early to settle back into the place and to check if my favourite cat was alright, which she was.When the big day of their arrival came, we headed to the airport to wait for them. Our dear friends at India Someday were in on the surprise and so helped us by informing Chrissie and Nig that they would be receiving a complimentary taxi from the airport as the hotel was testing out a new service. That way they wouldn’t ask for any details about their driver.
We stood in and amongst all of the local taxi drivers holding a sign which said “Mr and Mrs Skelton” in big letters and waited….and waited.When eventually we saw the pair of them emerge from the airport doors, Tom whipped his camera out and I stood grinning holding the sign. As you can see from this hilarious slo-mo video, It took a while for them both to clock that it was in fact us waiting for them. We’ll never forget Nig punching the air and Chrissie literally freezing on the spot in disbelief.
The taxi journey from the airport to our hotels was full of tears, questions and “oh my goodnesses”Our original plan had been to surprise them at our favourite restaurant, Burma Burma, but we feared that Chrissie’s reaction might get us all chucked out 😉 So instead, we headed there in the evening once everyone had calmed down a bit. Superstar Abbas, who had arranged Chrissie and Nig’s whole trip came along to sign autographs.We spent Chrissie and Nig’s time in Mumbai exploring the many corners of the city. We wandered through markets admiring everything from fabrics to fruit.Sat with our legs dangling over the edge of the wall on Marine Drive.We spent a good few hours wandering around Dhobi Ghat and the surrounding area, peering into little shops and making friends with the locals. A particular hightlight of our time in Mumbai was the boys’ trip to the barber! Tom had been growing his hair and beard especially so he and his dad could enjoy an authentic local barber experience at his favourite spot in Fort.
Chrissie got as close as she could to the action to ensure that exactly the right amount of hair was cut from Nig’s beard.On one of our days together we headed over to Elephanta Island, somewhere Tom and I hadn’t been to before. We hadn’t heard the greatest of things about it, but decided to board to ferry anyway and set off on an hour-ish journey across the unusually rough Arabian sea from the port at the famous India Gate.When we arrived on the island, we had to fight our way through a very long market, climbing many stairs and avoiding some seriously huge monkeys. At one point I lobbed my can of sprite across the floor to shake of an absolutely beast of a monkey who was coming for me. Seriously, he was coming for me. Not long after, the heavens opened and upon realising that the cost of entering the caves for which the island was famous was extortionate, we decided to call it a day and head back. It didn’t go exactly according to plan but it was a lovely family day out regardless.Another new experience for us was visiting the Jehangir Art gallery where we stumbled into a beautiful watercolour exhibition. The artist himself, Arun Sonone was there to chat to us which made it even more special. His use of colour to depict the various stages of sunlight was quite stunning and I think we were all quite moved by his paintings. It was nice to be able to take Chrissie and Nig to experience the wonderful street food that Mumbai is famous for. It can be extremely daunting to try such cuisine for the first time so it was especially fun to take them to stalls we knew and had eaten at a number of times.Our whole time together was dotted with beautiful little moments that we can look back on together. India isn’t just an experience, it’s a feeling and being able to feel India together was magical.It was also quite something to cross the busy streets of Bombay together.Once we had wrapped up in Mumbai, it was time to board the train to Goa. India Someday, who had arranged the whole trip, had secretly booked us into the same first class booth as Tom’s parents.We took the day train rather than the night one as the views were meant to be amazing. Which they very much were.We all switched between gazing out of the window and hanging out of the train door, except for Nig who spent the entire 12 hour journey sitting on the floor, hanging out of the open door. His face was completely black by the time we arrived, but I’ve never seen anyone so content in all my life. Our time in Goa was spent at the beautiful Vivanta by Taj holiday village in Candolim and apart from a few jaunts to local restaurants and a walk down to the local fort, we made the absolute most of the luxury the hotel had to offer.Our mornings were mostly spent overindulging in the best breakfasts of our lives, lounging by the pool and reading, while our afternoons were mostly spent digesting our breakfast, lounging by the pool and reading. The grounds of the hotel were stunning and there was even free yoga. The staff were genuinely lovely and accommodating and we had a number of conversations about English football teams. We’ve both gotten quite good at pretending we have a clue.
Surprisingly we didn’t really spend any time on the beach as we were just so comfy where we were, but the views were just gorgeous.For dinner, we headed out several times to sample some delicious Goan cuisine. Perhaps some of the tastiest food we had tried in India. Rich and creamy but without the cream. Our absolute favourite place was Soi, which was just across from the hotel. My gosh the food was SO GOOD.In the evenings we played cards and just generally enjoyed each others’ company.
It was a super teary goodbye when we parted ways. It was such a special opportunity to have been able to share the experiences that we did and to have spent so much quality time together.