This summer of 2018 , we decided to take a family trip to Mumbai. Mumbai holds a special place in our hearts as it is what my husband calls ‘Nani ka ghar’ since his maternal grandparents passed away.
Like the typical north indian new parents , we also had made some promises before the safe arrival of our premature twins and one of them was to visit the ‘Siddhivinayak Temple’ with our children.
However besides being a religious trip , this trip also meant a chance to try out the amazing food by my favorite chefs/restaurants which I had been following on Instagram for long.
The stormy twist in the tale and the ‘accurate’ weather forecasting
While I was enthusiastically packing for our short getaway, I received a facebook notification . It was my husband who had tagged me in a news article claiming that all the dates of our travel had been marked as ‘Red Alert Days’ for ‘extremely’ heavy rainfall and floods by the Met department. I was so flabbergasted by this that I messaged my husband to cancel the trip and asked what was he intending by tagging me on such an article and creating panic.He ofcourse apologised for it (after my temper tantrum) and we just decided to go ahead with our plans with more umbrellas in the luggage.
Flying with toddlers and the ‘kaisi ma hai’ moment
We had an early morning flight to Mumbai as that was our preferred time to fly with our toddlers who are still under 2 years and qualify as lap infants. As was expected we were given separate rows as two lap infants cannot be seated in the same row due to oxygen mask issues . While my husband took seat with my 20 month old son and comfortably soothed him as well, my daugther started crying at the pitch of her voice because her preferred way of sleeping is by rocking which was impossible while the ‘seat belt’ sign was on. Hence for 5 minutes (the longest 5 minutes of my life) she cried incessantly while every stranger in the cabin stared at me , silenty screaming in their mind ‘Kaisi ma hai, bache ko chup bhi nahi kara sakti‘ .My daughter finally got tired of screaming and slept for the whole duration of flight , thank goodness for that!
Luxury Staycation at Taj Mahal Palace and the majesty of Gateway of India
The real adventure began when we landed in Mumbai amidst the cloudy sky . Initially I was not much impressed by the area near Mumbai airport but as we reached south of Mumbai , the architectural anatomy of the city took a turn for the better. The Victorian influence could be easily appreciated and the most striking feature was most of the commercial building still had the dated look to them, there was extravagance in the showrooms they gave space to but the structure itself was rustic and full of character.
As we reached the landmark ‘Gateway Of India ‘ standing in its full majesty and grandeur , and facing it the ‘Taj Mahal Palace Hotel’ the true feeling of a vacation dawned on us. This is where we were going to relax (whatever amount of relaxation which was possible while travelling with toddlers) and make some memories for a lifetime.
We were welcomed with a Teeka and tulsi ki mala and escorted to our super luxurious room in the palace wing, and while on our way got a sneak peak of the amazing pool area
We quickly changed into our swim wear and headed to the pool as nothing beats a swim to shed off all the tiredness followed by an italian spread of Pizza Vegetariana and Penne Arrabiata served immaculately by our butler in the cosy confines of our room.
I had bought arm floats and ring floats from ‘Decathlon’ for my 20 month old twins C&I which really helped us all have a gala time in the pool, without the need for anyone to sit out to take care of the kids.
Le 15 cafe and the best macaroons of India
After a brief visit to the Gateway of India , we headed for our first culinary adventure at the Le 15 cafe, a short walk from our hotel in Colaba.
We tried their Elderflower Lemon Soda which was refreshing and unique. We followed it up with the macaroons which were on our bucket list for long. We tried the Dark Chocolate , French Vanilla and Lavender macaroons. Besides looking perfectly delectable they were exceedingly delicious with Lavender topping my list.
We also tried their Chocolate Caramel Tart on their staff’s recommendation and were glad to do that. My son specifically enjoyed the tart and expressed it as well with a foodie’s happy dance .
The black and blue of it – Kala khatta
To relive my husband’s childhood memories , we headed to the nearest beach which was Goregaon chowpatty following an enchanting view of the Marine Drive and the Mumbai skyline.Though less popular than the Juhu Chowpatty, this beach offered a calm seaside with a few eateries. The pav bhaji we had here was disappointing and not up to the mark but the Kala Khatta gola – frozen ice lolly at the Jai Jawan Stall was excellent and worth another try.
A gourmet spread at Wasabi By Morimoto, boasting of fresh wasabi.
By 10 pm , we put our kids to sleep (with a babysitter by their side ) and headed to our prebooked dinner date for two at the Taj hotel’s world renowned Wasabi by Morimoto.
We ordered the must have- Rock Shrimp Tempura which was over in a jiffy despite the decent serving size. Next we tried the sushi from their special Sakura menu which was a fine one with the USP being the fresh wasabi (the only restaurant in India boasting of using it) grated by the chef at the table. We closed the meal with a matcha eclair with was a trendy filling dessert.
Showers of blessings
The next day we visited the holy places Siddhivanayak Temple , where all of us thanked God for the showers of blessings He has always bestowed on us. We also visited the Mahalaxmi Temple and Haji Ali Dargah to express our gratitude.
Thankfully till now we had been entertained only with freshening drizzles and not ‘extremely heavy rains’ as predicted.
Gary recommends and Canteen Bengali Bhoj
Next we headed out to Bandra for the much acknowledged meal at The Bombay Canteen. Recently on his visit to India, Gary Mehigan , one of the Masterchef Australia judges, had recommended this restaurant in his Fox Life show . I have also been an ardent Instagram follower of Chef Zaccharis who heads the chef team at the said place.
It was jam packed when we arrived. Fortunately we secured a table in time . The staff was extremely polite and pleasant specially while dealing with my boy who was roaming around in the restaurant the whole time.
Though there are a lot of fusion restaurants in Delhi, the food at The Bombay Canteen was not some meaningless amalgamation of cuisines. The dishes were thoughtfully conceptualized and in harmony to the actual classic they were representing.
The non-alcoholic drinks were exceptional and kept up to the high standards of beverages Mumbai had been offering us. We tried the Cinnamon and Curry Leaf Iced TEa and the Mango Mint ICed Tea, both were revitalising and stunning.
For starters , we tried the desi tacos – methi theplas with rawalpindi chhole , which though not expectional but were tasty and worth a try.
What truly deserves an applause was their pav bhaji – where the bhaji was filled inside the dough and baked as a whole. It was brought scalding hot on the table, served in the skillet it had been baked in.A thoroughly inventive yet droolworthy dish.
We also enjoyed their special ‘Canteen Bengali Bhoj ‘ menu, from which we ordered a Goalondo Steamer chicken curry with steamed rice.We were duly warned about it being floating in mustard oil, but that is what we love about bengali food and devoured it with much love.
The dinner was at the Fort region, where we dined at the Copper Chimney. Nothing spectacular here which deserves any mention except the roomali masala papad/roti.
Breakfast at the Sea Lounge
Next morning we chose the Sea Lounge at the Taj for breakfast and were pleasantly surprised by the breathtaking view of the Gateway Of India and Arabian Sea. Enjoying fresh bakes while gawking at the colorful umbrellas of pedestrians of Mumbai was the perfect way to start our day. The service at the Sea Lounge was exceptional and the buffet was limited to residents of Palace wing of Taj.
I see a gold fish looking at me
After the scrumptious breakfast buffet we headed to the Tarapore Aquarium opposite Marine Drive to entertain the kids with some aquatic life. Both C&I love to watch fishes in aquarium and hence they thoroughly enjoyed the otherwise humble attraction.
Berry Berry Yummy
Lunch was at the legendary and the very authentic Brittania & Co. famous for its Parsi food. Starting from Raspberry Soda, Caramel custard to the Berry Pulao and Sali Boti , everything was finger licking , mind boggling-ly delicious.
The place has 20’s feel to it and I suppose hasn’t been renovated much to keep the dated feeling intact. All in all , it was a great lunch , priced aptly for its food quality however not up to the mark in terms of service being provided.
Cloudy with a chance of pav
Our next halt was the Juhu Chowpatty (chowpatty being the marathi term for beach). Though crowded it was positively enthralling with a happy cohort of tourists and locals. Despite not being one of the best beaches I have been to, it still was sea , sand and sunset ,enough to cheer anyone up. While we wrapped up a quick snack of pav bhaji at one of the stalls there , it started to rain and we were engulfed amidst the beauty of Mumbai monsoons. Finally we managed to get hold of a cab and reach our hotel just in time while avoiding any water logging we were wary of.
On our way , while the clouds showered, we crossed the Mumbai sea link , which definitely lives up to the name and is the new-age symbol of Mumbai after the heritage laden Gateway.
Dinner at souk -unremarkable
Later that night we decided to enjoy some offbeat Lebanese cuisine at the much hyped Souk – at the Taj Mahal Palace. From the ambiance to the food, nothing lived up to the expectations. You can definitely give this a miss.
Seafood and Bombay Sandwich
Before we headed back home, the last culinary adventure that lay ahead was at the Leopold Cafe at Colaba causaway along with some flea shopping.Initially it seemed like a big botch up , to enter a roadside open casual cafe with no air conditioning on a humid Mumbai afternoon with two young kids . But as we got settled (after getting our bags checked by the guards outside, a routine ritual here) we ordered Penne Vodka Prawns as their specialty is seafood with a side of bombay sandwich. The pasta was excellent and enough to explain why the place was buzzing with people and packed to the core.
Before we checked out of Taj, we tried some sweet and savoury bakes at La Patisserie and satisfied our sweet tooth.
A quick detour to eat the street
As we were heading to the airport, much before time to avoid getting stuck in traffic or waterlogged streets, my husband insisted and took a detour near Juhu and led us to his favourite Anand stall near Mithibai college to have vada-pav and also to get some packed for our family back home. Eating the vada-pav at its home base definitely increased my respect for this humble street food which is no less than a play of culinary genius. The true essence of vada pav lies in its assembly and the way it is served – a hot batata vada in a cold pav.
Overall we managed to fulfil and cross most of the items off our bucketlist in this short trip with our kiddos.
Experience of travelling with toddlers
Travelling with kids is always a mixed bag . There are good times and bad times. They may go through a whole busy day without making a sound or might cry for a tiny demand. What definitely helps is keeping them well rested at night and allowing for a nap time which usually can be accommodated while in transit. Kids do well in open spaces and tend to lose patience in closed restaurants and sites. Hence I always suggest a beach destination with no itinerary atleast till kids become physically less dependent.
Food was not much of an issue as we were travelling domestic and mostly dining at high-end places with good overall hygiene.
The staff at Taj Mahal Palace was extremely courteous and provided dishes specially made for kids on demand like Banana shake, suji upma and paranthas.
Do remeber to take your arm floats and ring floats to have a gala time at the pool without the need for sitting out.
I would not say it is easy to travel with kids but you definitely appreciate a new aspect of a city when you observe it from a toddler’s perspective.
Pin it for later :