Traveling during Covid Times – Fratelli Vineyards and Japalouppe Equestrian Centre

STOP WORRYING ABOUT THE POTHOLES IN THE ROAD AND ENJOY THE JOURNEY..

BABS HOFFMAN

2020 had been a hard year for travellers around the world. All of us had to be cooped inside our homes to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe from the dreaded virus. Now we’re in 2021, and the virus is still around. The vaccines are hopefully around the corner, but some of us have started taking tiny steps to travel and be outdoors again, taking whatever precautions we can.

Traveling after covid will be different. I think all travellers will accept this fact, that traveling will now have to become more local, more responsible and definitely slower. I for one, am glad for that. Earlier, it was difficult to plan slow travel for people like me, because we had to be in office for a certain number of days. But work from home seems like the new norm, and suddenly, lots of ‘work-cation’ avenues seem to be opening up for working parents of nuclear families 🙂

So, when we returned to Pune in November, we planned our first travel trip with another friend and their family to a near Vineyard – Fratelli Vineyard. This vineyard is around 185 km from Pune along the Solapur side and it took us approximately four hours to reach here.

Pre-requisites for staying at Fratelli:

  • Book your rooms in advance
  • Need a covid test or a medical certificate confirming that you don’t have the virus
  • Arogya setu app update

We left home at 10 am from Pune and reached the facility at 2 pm. The roads were surprisingly good and thanks to all the work from home, there was hardly any traffic. We stopped by a few times for nature calls and to eat home made lunch by the roadside. We also came across this beautiful water body called Vir Dharan, just an hour into the journey and noted it down for future plans to probably come here for a picnic 🙂

Vir Dharan

The Vineyard and resort is situated in a remote end of a village and its perfect for a destination where there are hardly any people and where you can easily practise social distancing. The resort in itself is majestic, and when you reach, you are given a welcome drink – for us it was sparkling wine and pampered with a huge spread of Indian and Italian lunch. Our friends were a day early, so we had the advantage of having an opened bottle of wine and home cooked food already waiting for us 🙂 They have four rooms available for overnight stay, and we had booked all of them, so it was even better – for safety and convenience both 🙂

The view from our room 🙂

The resort has a common dining area and their wine manufacturing and tasting area is downstairs, in a separate place. The wine manufacturing tour was shut down due to covid, but that didn’t dampen our spirits one bit. We spent the next two days simply relaxing, drinking wine with cheese, and being completely pampered by the service of the staff on premise there. Our kids were delighted to be able to run around uninhibited on the property and the cooks would cook up delicious meals all through the day for us. It was the most relaxing, and fun three days that we had and I highly recommend the place, for their service, cleanliness and their wines and in-house cooked meals 🙂 I got to spend a lot of time reading on the grass, soaking up the sunlight and it was a reader’s dream come true! 🙂

The next place I want to talk about is : Japalouppe. This place is around 25Km from Balewadi, Pune, situated just before the toll on the old Mumbai highway. Imagine my surprise when I found out about this gem of a place from a friend and didn’t know that this place has been in operation since 20 years now!

Pre-requisites for Japalouppe:

  • You need to book in advance again, especially for weekends, since they seem to be overbooked lately
  • They have different batches – morning, afternoon and evening batches and separate tickets for children below 7 years and adults
  • The ticket includes a tour of the animal farm, a pony ride if you’re lucky, and a meal that is cooked in the canteen on premise

Again, we planned to go with the parents of my daughter’s friends so the children could have a weekend outing. We went for the evening batch which starts at 3 pm and wraps up by 6 pm. They’ve started these batches especially for the weekends to avoid over crowding and annoying the animals.

A little background about the place – Japalouppe actually started off as a purely Equestrian and horse riding training centre. But only a few years back, they started extending their farm to rescue and take care of abandoned animals. Their animals are the friendliest I’ve ever seen, and they mentioned they’ve adopted or rescued dogs, cows, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, pigs, and many other animals from the streets or callous owners. The children are given a little bucket with carrots, leaves and bread crumbs that they are allowed to feed as snacks to the animals. And the best part was that you can hold some animals such as birds, guinea pigs, lambs and the rabbits. My daughter was delighted and probably left a bit of her heart there 🙂

We wrapped the outing off with their high tea and canteen cooked snacks of mini pancakes with chocolate sauce, vada pav and idli chutney. We had all worked up an appetite ourselves so the snacks were even more delicious 😉

And that’s a wrap. We ensured as much as possible to have our masks on, and wash our hands or use sanitisers. Both facilities along with guests on site made sure that the required social distancing protocols were observed, which in itself is hard to do in a populated country like mine, hence commendable. I was also happy to see people being civil and mindful of the virus and following the required norms.

I can’t wait to visit few more nearby places and soak in the beaches or mountains or whatever nature has to offer. If I do manage to visit someplace nice again, I’ll write about it.

What are your travel plans for 2021? Have you started traveling to remote places with family or close friends? If yes, I’d love to read about recommendations in the comments 🙂

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