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Olaulim

 

Pirkko and Savio Fernandes
live in Olaulim, Bardez
Taluka in Goa....

Overview

Pirkko and Savio Fernandes live in Olaulim, Bardez Taluka in Goa. They have a 3-acre farm that they have decided to share with other. Initially it started as a way of sharing their bounty with their family and friends and slowly it spread to TAI Partners who appreciate another Goa. They built 3 cottages and named it after the birds seen nearby – Sunbird, Hornbill and Golden Oriole and name the property the Olaulim Backyards.

The Backyards are laid out on a lake and river with a small swimming pool for those who prefer safer waters. The pleasures of the Backyards are the simple ones – reading a book, wandering through the village on cycle or on foot, kayaking, swimming, fishing, bird watching chilling totally! And in between you get fed on some great Goan food. Sounds good?


What we've planned for you...

In each cottage, Pirkko has placed a note that starts, “There is no AC, no ‘fridge, no TV, no phone or internet connection; nothing to distract you from enjoying nature to its fullest.” That sets the tone for your stay here.

Your hosts will willingly organise trips for you – full of history, culture, heritage, shopping and everything else that Goa has to offer. They will also encourage you to enjoy what the Backyards has to offer.

There are two kayaks, a canoe and a rowing boat that you can use for a leisurely trip across the lake and into the river. Don’t worry if you have never done it before – you will get used to it soon enough. Borrow a life-jacket if you are not comfortable in the water. You can take along a fishing rod or enjoy the bird life up close. There is a purple heron around the corner that waits for guests and puts up a pretty spectacular show, if you are lucky.

You will be happy to cool off in the pool when you come back – with a drink.

Or borrow the cycles and go around the surrounding villages. There is a lot of history, heritage and culture right here in a 5-km radius. A church going back to the 16th century in Aldona, Dutch heritage going back the same period in Moira, famous writers sprinkled all around – you will discover a side of Goa no guide book mentions. You could walk around just as well – then you don’t have to worry about the fact that you have not ridden a cycle in ages and so a little off balance.

At least 40 types of birds have been spotted right in the Backyards. There is a bird book available with a pair of binoculars. The Fernandes family are very knowledgeable about the birds – so ask them if you are just starting out. The Down Kitchen has a lounge area with comfortable sofas where you can put up your feet and read that book you have been meaning to. Or even start writing...

Sylvia Kerkar has a pottery studio in Nachnola and given some notice is happy to give you some lessons. You could also choose to watch her at work and admire it.

If you are lucky to be in Goa during the monsoons, river-rafting is the new activity started this year. However, this winds up by mid-October.

And if you really want to go where the “action” is, don’t just loll on the beach – head to Barracuda Dive Camp, Goa’s 5-star PADI dive. Go scuba diving or snorkelling and see a whole new side of Goa.

There is much more to Goa than its beaches. So once you have had enough of being jostled by the crowds there, head away from them.

Most people who visit Goa don’t understand that it is a state, albeit India’s smallest. It is also India’s richest state in terms of GDP and in terms of the sheer variety it packs into its small area.

Are you interested in history? Goa has this amazing mix of history with influences from the Hindu kingdoms in the north, King Ashoka and the Mauryas from the east, the Portuguese from the west and the Bahmani kings and the Vijaynagar kings from the south. This is reflected in their daily life in their food, their customs and the way their land is managed. Hand written records going back 400 years still exist in Goa and govern how the yield from the land is divided.

The Portuguese have left behind a rich heritage in Old Goa with the Church of our Lady of Rosary, the Rachol Seminary, the Church of St Francis of Assisi and the Se Cathedral and Basilica of Bom Jesus. All the major towns in Goa such as Panjim or Panaji and Madgaon show the Portuguese heritage in their buildings.

Some of the older temples such as the Shanta Durga Temple, the Mangueshi Temple or the Mahalasa Temple, also reflect the Portuguese influence. It is fascinating to see the varied influence on these temples, each with its own history arising from the strong faith of its believers. While foreigners are not allowed into these temples, Indians should visit them to understand how multi-cultural Goa has remained over the centuries.

For nature lovers, Goa offers 1512 species of plants, over 275 species of birds, 48 kinds of animals and over 60 types of reptiles. You can chose to enjoy nature sitting in your hammock in the Olaulim Backyards or go out to one of the many National Parks – The Salim Ali bird Sanctuary on the Chorao Island, or the Bondla, Molem, Cotigao, Madei, Netravati or Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuaries.

Not very popular yet is crocodile watching in the village of Cumbarjua. Make sure you go with trained guides for this activity as it is very risky.

The two main rivers in Goa are the Mandovi and Zuari. They provide not just water but are major means of transportation as well. The Dudhsagar falls and the Arvalem waterfalls are beautiful during the monsoons and tourist attractions around the year.

When...

Olaulim is a round-the-year destination with something to offer at all times. Summer, between March and May, may be warm for some. The monsoons are between June and September when it really pelts down and is enjoyed by many people as it is the “off season” in Goa. From October to February is when Olaulim parties, though the Backyards parties whenever Pirkko and Savio are around!
Tongue Teasers…

The first time I have had excellent Goa vegetarian food was when I visited the Backyards. Sharan and Sunita come in from the village to cook and help with the cleaning. So what they cook for you is what they cook for their family at home – authentic Goan food. If the flavours and spices of Goa are too much for you, Pirkko is an expert at global cuisines. Her desserts are so good that I suggest you eat it before the main meal. There is always fresh fruit available from the farm, round the year.

The Down Kitchen is always open – so help yourself to fruit, beverages, juices, et al any time it suits you.

There is an honesty bar with a variety of liquids. You need to enter what you drink into a booklet kept in the bar. Might be a good idea to fill it out before you start. Savio is on hand if you want advice on the specials for each day.

Bunk in...

Each cottage is unique and set apart from the TAI Partners to ensure privacy. The Golden Oriole is perfect for a couple with a double bed set amidst the rocks. The Hornbill has an additional bed for the kids accessed by climbing a couple of steps. The feeling is that of sleeping in a cave and the kids will love it. The Sunbird is the closest cottage on level ground and best suited for those who would prefer not to climb up to the other cottages. The furniture here is heritage and three people can sleep here comfortably.

All three cottages have bathrooms that are open to the sky. Those from cities might find it a bit awkward but after the first shower you won’t stop. The feeling of the sun shining on you while you shower is delicious and addictive. Make sure you don’t use that as an excuse to waste water though.

Shogun is the Man Friday; you see him around but never hear him. His name was originally Shagun but he was nicknamed naturally enough.
Bunk in...

The Amraee Guest House is set in a five-acre mango orchard. The four rooms are spacious, clean and comfortable. They all have western style bathrooms attached. Since power-cuts are the norm in the area, solar lanterns are provided in each room.

The guest house derives its name from its surroundings. Amraee means a mango orchard. It also is a creative conjunction of Aam (mango) and Raee (a local dance form). Besides that, there’s a herbal garden as well as an organic kitchen garden. The guest house also has a conference room that doubles as a museum of Chanderi metal work and pottery
How to get there?

Olaulim is 15 kms from the nearest railway station at Thivim and 30 kms from the Dabolim airport. The nearest town is Mapusa. Both Thivim and Dabolim are well-connected with the rest of the country. Pick up from the airport, railway station or bus stand can be organised at an additional cost on request.

If you are driving into Goa, call up and ask for directions. It is not too far off the highway.
 
Memories you can take with you...

   
shivani
shivani
shivani
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shivani shivani
       

Holiday with a difference...

Pirkko and Savio have their farm at a perfect location – they could have easily built a boutique hotel with 20 to 50 rooms. Instead they have deliberately chosen to build only 3 cottages spread wide apart to ensure that the burden on the earth is minimised.

They have set aside a part of their land for rain water harvesting and are optimistic that they will be water sufficient next year. They have solar panels for hot water showers. They provide filtered water so that guests don’t need to buy water bottles and waste plastic. Guests are requested to ask when they want their sheets and towels changed.

All waste is segregated very thoroughly – organic waste is composted while the rest is separated and sold based on type – plastic, tetrapak, etc. The staff have been trained in these practices so that they also follow it at home. Vegetables, grains and cereals are sourced from the nearby farms and are organic as far as possible. The staff are also mainly from the surrounding villages.

The number of pets that the family has is another testimony to their large hearts – all the pets have come in when in need of shelter – 3 dogs, a cat, a donkey, a guinea pig and a horse.

How Much?

  Double Occupancy Single Occupancy
October - May Rs.4500 Rs.4000
June - September Rs.4000 Rs.3500
18th December - 5th January Rs.7000  


Children up to 2 years stay free

Children between 3 and 10 years = Rs.700

Children 11 years and above and an extra adult = Rs.1400

Cancellation Policy
To confirm booking, please make 100% payment 7 days in advance
100% refund if cancelled 7 days in advance
50% refund if cancelled between 7 days and 48 hours in advance
No refund if cancelled less than 48 hours in advance

Price includes:
Stay in one of the cottages
Breakfast
All in-house activities – use of kayaks, row boat, life jackets, pool, cycles, board games, badminton racquets
Taxes

Price excludes:
Anything not specifically mentioned in inclusions above

Please follow the instructions kept in the room.

Prices are valid till 30 September 2013.

Guestspeak…

Call me parochial, but I have always thought that hospitality is a South Asian thing. Till I saw Pirkko at work that is. She is constantly pre-empting your hunger and thirst and comfort. In a way that makes you feel comfortable and very at home. Pirkko is born and brought up at Finland and married to Savio who is Goan. Their children, Manuel and Shameena, naturally have the best of both cultures and are completely at ease with guests.

When you sit around after dinner, you find that Pirkko has travelled extensively in India and is not just an excellent host, but a great conversationalist as well. Savio backs her up fully, making sure your plate and glass are never empty. And as all good hosts, they know exactly when to back off and leave you be.

The dining table is always laden with too much food, you think, till you dig in and empty all the pots and pans in no time. And at the end of a long day, with eyes drooping, when Pirkko offers me a night cap, I realise that hospitality is a human thing, not confined by national boundaries.

What I liked at the Backyards was the relaxed atmosphere, the warmth, the comfort of the whole experience. Pirkko urged me in her soft voice to try kayaking – and I went for it without stopping to be worried that I don’t know swimming. What a ride that was, especially when the heavens opened up and drenched us completely! Come here to be pampered, to be looked after, to feel at home...

Personal opinion of Gouthami

I stayed at the Backyards for a night in July 2012 at the invitation of Pirkko and Savio.
 
 
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