It’s bad manners to let vacation wait!

Said someone intelligent enough. Luckily, I listened.
Our 10th wedding anniversary was almost knocking at the door and I, being the “forgetful” best half of this unholy matrimony, was almost landing myself into that unpardonable zone.
We had been planning to go somewhere but nothing was ticking the box as December being December, major tourist places were already booked.
Let it be a cosmic connection that while the name Vizag suddenly popped up in Sassy’s head, I chanced upon the mailer from Marriott hotels in my mailbox, reminding me of the loyalty points accumulated through my office trips.
The wicked part of me smiled though. Treating my companion with a luxury stay seemed a great idea and that too, with my loyalty points! 😉
So then it happened. Flight tickets booked via India’s so-called coolest airline (more on that later). Hotels booked. And then we were there.
Vizag. No plans. So the word “Vagabonding”.
And like all other times, let’s start with a teaser.

Plan

With too much office work, I literally had the weekend and a Monday off.
So the plan was to reach Vizag by Friday afternoon.
Then spend the rest of the day, lazying around in the beach. Saturday & Sunday will be a beach marathon, followed by the museum visits for the mini Monkey.

Reality

India’s coolest airline ensured that our Friday plan was trashed with flight delays, followed by technical failures. Post which we checked in the hotel at 6pm. Afternoon was spent at the airport and evening only was there to laze around.

Where did we Stay

I solemnly declare that I wanted to use my Marriott Bonvoy membership and so I booked ourselves at the Fairfield by Marriott (near Airport) for Friday and then next two nights at Four Points by Sheraton. December being shaadi season, I found hotels fully booked with destination wedding parties. India shining, is it? May be for some.
None of these properties were right on the beach and frankly we had made peace with that fact due to the late plans.

Fairfield by Marriott – an experience to remember

Since they did not have my preferred room, they upgraded my room to Premium category. Generally with loyalty points booking, breakfasts are not complimentary but they instantly offered that as well. Smiling staffs were there to welcome. Not to mention that they went beyond their regular duties to ensure we had a great stay.

A surprise hand-crafted wooden peacock as a complimentary gift, followed by an array of desserts with a personalized hand written note, this one night stay will remain as one of the best experiences we had. A big shout out to Team Fairfield by Marriott and specially Anshula!

Four Points by Sheraton

The bar set by the previous one was so high that it was always difficult to match up. But still this was quite nice as well. Buffet breakfast was ok and we did have our anniversary dinner here. More on that later.

Pro Tip#1 My advice is not to stay anywhere near Ramakrishna beach as it becomes too crowded. Better to stay inside the city or stay in Rushikonda – where one can enjoy the beach peacefully.

The City and it’s Walls and soul

The first striking thing about the city of Vizag is of-course the cliffs overlooking the sea, one of its kind in this part of the country.
But the other thing which caught my attention was how clean and prim and proper the city is. Good and wide roads, clean neighborhoods and the walls of the city – I won’t be too wrong if I named this city as the City of Wall Art. The entire city has this unique wall arts, maintained perfectly, covering different social and environmental themes. Kudos to the government to bring out such initiatives. See it to believe it?

The sand and it’s stories

Of-course the highlight of the city is its beaches. Starting from maddening crowded Ramakrishna beach, right in the city, to the necklace beach of Rushikonda and the virgin isolated beach of Yarada. One can just spend days crisscrossing across the length and breadth of the city, enjoying the golden sand. Rushikonda is generally the favorite of the tourists with its overlooking beach resorts and adventure sports. Rishaan did have a great time running around.

However my favorite was Yarada beach and that unforgettable sunset that I saw. Since there are no resorts or hotels nearby and bit far (around 7 kms from Dolphin’s nose Lighthouse), this was secluded place with much less people and one can enjoy the beauty of the blue sea to themselves. I will let the images do the talking now.

Beyond Sands, a Submarine & a Plane

Vizag, for its strategic location, has long been an important place for our Naval fleet. Naturally, the key attraction was the INS Kurusura, a submarine now converted into a museum, right in the middle of Ramakrishna beach. It’s first of its kind in Asia and only the second such museum across the world. And boy, what an experience it was for us and specially Rishaan, on entering a real-life submarine and seeing how mariners even today survive inside these.
Bit of background on INS Kurusura now.

INS Kurusura is a submarine constructed by Russians in the year 1969. It reached Visakhapatnam in 1970 via the Baltic Sea and since then served the Indian Navy. INS Kurusura served the Indian Navy for 31 years and then it was decommissioned and turned into a museum in 2001. With a length of 91.3 meters and breadth of 8 meters, the INS Kurusura submarine played a vital role in a number of wars including the 1971 Indo-Pak war.

Bang opposite to the Submarine museum, is the TU142 Aircraft museum – another hit with the kids and adults! This is actually a preserved Tupolev Tu-142. It was established in 2017 after having served 29 years with the Indian Navy and had 30,000 hours of accident-free flying by the time of its retirement on 29 March 2017 at INS Rajali Arakkonam.

In & Around Vizag

Kailashgiri

This is actually on top of a cliff where they have created a Shiva temple along with a toy train ride circling the top of the hill and a exhilarating ropeway or cable car ride from the top of the hill to the bottom near the sea road. Fun place to be there for some time.

Simhachalam

The Sri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha temple, Simhachalam is a Hindu temple situated on the Simhachalam hill. It is dedicated to one of the Hindu trinity deities Vishnu, who is worshipped there as Varaha Narasimha. We went there pretty late and it was over-crowded being a Sunday. So only a photo op in front of the temple! 🙂

Pro Tip#2 Initially I had plans to go to Araku and so thought of getting Zoom car. However that being cancelled, I opted for a day Ola Rental 10 hours INR 1899 package. It was good experience for me as the drivers were very helpful and having a car driven around, was liberating for a change.

And then there’s food. Awesome food.

Vizag’s primary cuisine is Andhra-based and with a touch of coastal flavors. So our idea was that to try at least one local dish each time of the day and we tried!

Tulips in Hotel Green Park, Vizag

Located around 10 mins by auto from RK beach, this is a fine dining restaurant, nestled within the popular Hotel Green Park. Excellent service and the eager-to-make-one-happy staff will catch your attention. Amongst other things, we ordered Malabar Fish Curry with steamed rice. It had the typical coastal taste to the dish – coconut based curry, hint of curry leaves and fresh Basa. Yes, generally we avoid Basa in Kolkata but we were specifically told by the servers that it’s not the same and we should try it. I was visibly impressed by this variety of Basa – no smell, fresh white flakes and the gravy was killer with steamed rice! This will also go pretty fine with some butter nan as well.
Feedback:
Quality, quantity and service is top-notch out here. We had hot and sour soup, steamed rice, Malabar fish curry, nan and some chicken noodles here. Though priced bit on the higher side but we enjoyed this dinner very much.

Another Fine Day restaurant at Sai Priya Beach Resort, Rushikonda

After some fun beach time at Rushikonda, we were damn hungry and there were two immediate options – APTDC’s Haritha resort and Sai Priya Beach Resort. I had read about Sai Priya resort, so went ahead.
Here we ordered for a plate of Vanjaram Fish Fry and Hyderabadi Chicken Dum Biriyani! Both were delicious, specially the fish fry.
Deep fried fish with lime sprinkled was just super and I was missing some beer with it. So was the Chicken Dum Biriyani. Sassy was bit skeptical about the biriyani being too spicy but she just cleaned off the biriyani from her plate!
By the way, did you see the lemon on top of the biriyani? 😀 We really had no idea what it was doing there but we just used it with the fish fry! 😉
Feedback:
Generally it tends to get crowded over the weekend but I will say, this is worth it, rather than the ones right in front of the beach. Also post lunch, one can just roam around within the resort and enjoy the calmness. So all good here!

Flying Sphagetti Monster, Vizag city

Post the beach time in the afternoon, we wanted to have something light. 😉 We found that this place being highly recommended in Zomato and was 5 mins walk from our hotel. So it was pizza and pasta time! This place has a rustic feel about the no frills decor. Service was prompt. We ordered Pizaa Con Pollo which had good dose of roast chicken and mozzarella. We loved it! Along with that, Sassy ordered a plate of Napoletana which was ok by my opinion! It was light and Rishaan had a good Pizza time! Not to miss, we still had appetite for some dessert and we ordered Tiramisu here. Bit strong on the coffee part, this provided the perfect ending for the dinner.
Feedback:
Looking for Conti in Vizag, go here!

Restaurant at the Haritha Resort, Rushikonda

Next day lunch at Rushikonda, we wanted to try this place just because of the magnificent view of the sea from the restaurant on top of a hill. We kept it simple – again some Fish Fry complimented with some Nan and Aloo Matar. Fish Fry was again awesome – made me realize that this dish can never go wrong here! Rest was pretty standard fare but the view again was to kill for! Check out the photo below – that was taken from the balcony of the restaurant.

Final Words…

Tenth anniversary comes once, right? So I barely escaped with a fun mini-vacation this time. 😀 But the best was the city of Vizag itself.
We couldn’t make it to Araku valley this time due to shortage of time but we made a promise to ourselves that we will be back.
A city where evening descends with sun setting far beyond the hills, live music echoes through the promenade and people can forget those daily struggles with a peaceful walk by the sea – that’s niravana for us.
Signing off with an image of us, your Honumans who were part of this journey!