Dec 30, 2013

The Orange County experience

The only vacation we took this year was a trip to Coorg in early Sept. Finally I managed to pen down my experiences. Husband and I had been planning for a vacation for quite some time since it's been 3 years since our last one at Swaswara. We wanted to go to a place which is toddler friendly in terms of food, space and distance from Bangalore. D is 2 years now and she loves being outdoors. We enquired a few places in Kerala but the thought of taking a flight or a train was scary with D screaming within a few minutes after we board a flight/train.

So we decided to go for a drive nearby which is not more than 5 - 6 hours. We had earlier went to Mysore and it was comfortable, driving down with a toddler. We called up Orange County and bookings were done for a 3 night package. Since I had mentioned to them that this is our wedding anniversary special trip, they wanted to make it special.

The day before our trip, we were packing our things and D was quite curious and interested to see all suitcases being brought down from the loft. My travel checklist came in handy, especially when packing all the essentials for D.

On the morning of our trip, hubby and I woke up quite early, packed some sandwiches and got dressed. It was a pleasant surprise that D also decided to wake up early at 5:30 AM that day. Guess the excitement of a vacation caught up with her as well!

The drive was smooth, with some new songs added in my iPod for company. We followed the ritual of having our breakfast at Kamat. D was quite calm and slept through most of the journey. Except for the last 20 odd kms where we had to drive through bad roads, the drive was mostly smooth. We reached Orange County around 1 PM and we were welcomed with traditional music and glasses of cold coffee.

The resort is vast, nestled inside coffee plantations and with 3 different restaurants inside the estate. We were taken to our "county cottage" through a buggy ride (just like a golf cart). D was highly impressed with the ride and started calling the buggy as "auto" (like an auto-rickshaw).

The cottage was spacious, with a huge bedroom opening up to a balcony, along with a clean bathroom. After a quick shower, we headed out for lunch at the "Granary". It was a multi-cuisine buffet with an elaborate spread. The heavy lunch and the long drive pushed all three of us towards a nice afternoon siesta. We then roamed around the resort a little and had some snacks and tea. I just loved the ambience of their reading room - perfect location overlooking the paddy fields, comfortable chairs and they also serve coffee. Too bad, I couldn't spend much time there. With an active toddler who wants to explore all the time, there's no way to sit and relax with a book :-)

We had dinner at the "Pepper Corn" restaurant that night. This place serves some nice continental spread, along with barbecue starters. For a vegetarian like me, it wasn't that impressive. Also the candle lights and darkness was a little spooky for D. This is ideal for a couple but not for parents :-)

There is also a South Indian vegetarian restaurant "Banana Leaf", where we had a sumptuous lunch the next day. More than the food, I liked the location of this place, with nice views of plantations. The waiters also ensured D got a separate bowl of kichdi, wherever we had our meal.

In terms of activities, we started for a plantation walk in the evening but since it was for 2 hours, carrying a toddler around didn't sound like a good idea and so we dropped off in between. The village walk in the morning was really good, where our guide took us to a nearby village and a coracle ride across Cauvery, followed by some hot chai. D also loved this walk since she got to see many goats, dogs and cows.

The pond inside the plantation has a lot of fishes. We grabbed a bag of puffed rice from the restaurant and fed them. D was excited to see so many fishes but her main activity was to create a mess by spreading the puffed rice all over the deck and wiping them with her hands.

Hubby and I also went for massages, taking turns and baby-sitting. There is a small nook which is a play area for toddlers, with teddy bears and other soft toys. There are also other indoor games like caroms, chess and ludo which the older kids might enjoy. In the evenings, there were some dance events by native Kodava dancers which we loved, including D.

The team had arranged a surprise for our wedding anniversary, with a cake and a gift. When they came to know it was D's 23rd month birthday (yeah, we celebrate month birthdays too!!), they surprised her with a cake too. D got quite excited to see everyone singing for her.

Being our first vacation with D, it was a memorable experience at Orange County. Everyone was very courteous and friendly. Perfect location, peaceful atmosphere, pleasant weather, excellent food - what more do we need in a vacation!! I'm sure we would go there again, after few years once D is old enough to appreciate the trees, birds and nature.

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