Coping with the current pandemic has not been easy for anyone. COVID-19 has brought the whole world to its feet. With the imposition of numerous lockdowns since April, most of my travel plans for the year got shelved. Now after seven long months, our lives are slowly coming back to normal. Also, with the government easing travel restrictions, most travelers are now re-working on their much-awaited travel plans. It wasn’t any different for me. With confinement, and the new work from home routine for the last seven months, it was the most stressful time I probably had ever witnessed. Hence, when two of my best pals suggested a getaway to Surat, I couldn’t let go of this opportunity.
We decided to leave Mumbai at around six in the morning to beat the city traffic. We booked a dependable and sanitized Mumbai to Surat Cab with a reliable driver, and thus began our unforgettable road trip. Before we started, we decided to follow all the COVID-19 safety protocols of wearing a mask, washing hands with soap, sanitizing, and maintaining social distancing. Traveling responsibly was indeed the need of the hour!
First Pit Stop – Mc. Donald’s
The distance between Mumbai to Surat is about 290 km. Our first place to halt was at Mc. Donald’s on Dahisar highway for our breakfast. This is the most common pit stop for many whilst still on Mumbai roads. Currently, Mc. Donald’s is following complete contactless takeout and adhering to all safety and hygiene protocols. While I have never been a huge fan of McDonald’s, the joy of having breakfast with my friends was a good enough reason to relish every bite of the burger and fries. The on-the-go breakfast was simply a delight, especially after the lockdown.
Walk by the Vaitarna River, Manor
Manor is a getaway on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway set on the banks of the Vaitarna River. Getting off the Vaitarna Bridge, we walked along the banks of the river to some breathtaking views. The cool and fresh breeze is just what I had ached for. Feeling relaxed and peaceful, we spent around 30 minutes by the river, soaked in all the fresh air, clicked a few pictures, and headed back to our cab to continue the journey.
Stopover at Ahura
To satiate our gastronomical needs, we decided to stop at Hotel Ahura. This is an authentic joint, serving exceptional Parsi cuisine. We ordered kheema cutlet, salli boti and dhansak. The Salli boti was cooked to perfection! You know the mutton is good when it melts in your mouth. Needless to say, the best salli boti I ever had. Ended the meal with the traditional Lagan Nu Custard, worth a try for those with a sweet tooth.
The exceptionally good food that we ate, kept us going for a good couple of hours. We decided to take a final halt at Navsari. This is a small town situated around 40 km from Surat. Back in the day, Navsari was known for its trade and industry. This quaint and innocent town of Navsari is known as the Home to the Parsis. We decided to explore the famous Mota Bazaar. A walk around this bazaar will make you want to explore this market until the end, simply because the area is so clean and not crowded. Something unusual for us Mumbaikars. From basic grocery needs and vegetables to designer clothes, you can find everything under one roof at Mota Bazaar.
India is infamous for its shabby roads, but at the same time, there are many fantastic driving roads spread through the length and width of our beautiful country. The NH-48 did not fail to disappoint us. The route is well paved and is completely devoid of any potholes or unmarked speed breakers. We reached our destination after spending roughly about eight hours (including all our pit stops) on the road, exploring the most scenic countryside. An unforgettable trip indeed! We stayed in Surat for three days, before heading back to our city, came back rejuvenated, and are already making plans for our next trip!