A 7 day trip to Goa : Nov-Dec 2012 Goa Holiday trip.
Holidays come with a bang and go with a feeling of being too short every time. This year we had selected to go to the western side of India, the land of Sun, Sand and Beaches –Goa.
Geographically Goa is primarily can be divided as North Goa, South Goa, Old Goa and Panjim area. And this is also the way to plan your trip to Goa.
While North is full of the commercially active overcrowded beaches, South is known for its pristine and peaceful beaches.
Old Goa has a charm of being a Portuguese city look alike having distinct Architecture full of Balconies and bright colored houses. So don’t be surprised to find a house in Bright chrome yellow or Indigo Blue or even a parrot green.
Goa is a UNESCO world Heritage site, Old as it has more than 12 churches located within vicinity of each other. The most revered among the lot is Basilica of Bom Jesus. The Church is known for having the Relics (Embalmed Body) of St Francis Xavier, around 400 years old, kept in a silver casket. The relics are exposed to public every ten years with one was scheduled in 2014. There are many more churches around; you can look around if you are interested in the history or visiting churches.
|Basilica of Bom Jesus|
|Relics (Embalmed Body) of St Francis Xavier, around 400 years old|
Panjim Area Other main church though not in Old Goa is the Church of our Lady Immaculate, at the Church Square, Panjim. Since we were staying at Altinho (Panjim), 5 mins walking distance from this church, so we passed by it every day. Since an auspicious month was beginning from 3 Dec we were able to witness a lot of festivities there.
|Church of our Lady Immaculate, at the Church Square, Panjim.|
Nearby the church, the Fontainhas area can be seen to see the Portuguese architecture of Panjim with narrow streets, old villas, typical Portuguese balconies, and bright colored houses in Yellow, pink and turquoise. Nearby is the chief Minister of Goa’s humble residence and Residence of the Arch Bishop of Goa.
|Chief Minister of Goa’s humble residence|
|Residence of the Arch Bishop of Goa|
Goa Beaches: What is Goa without its beaches! There are more than 20 big and small beaches in Goa.
The Northern Goa beaches: They are Baga, Calangute, Anjuna, Vegator, Ashwem, Mandrem, Morjim ( in geographical order) .
If you like crowded beaches Baga and Calangute are the ones. These beaches also have a lot of Water sports happening. Baga also boasts of the famous beach Shack brittos, where you can pacify your taste buds. Though we found Anthony was equally good. Brittos has live performances every Monday night. Very near (1 min) to Baga beach is the famous pub Tito’s. It’s an up market pub with some good Trance music played by the DJ’s. We were lucky that the day we went there, the famous MTV VJ Nikhil Chinnappa had come to perform. (Tito’s has recently opened its branch at Cavelossim Beach at Radisson Blu, just in case you miss this one!) In case you want a fine dining experience, you can go to J&A’s Little Italy which have live performances every Friday.
You go ahead from Baga to Calungute , you reach Anjuna beach, which is for those who want to have the hippy feel. Preferably visit on a Wednesday, which is the day for Anjuna Flea Market. Make sure you reach before noon, as the market closes by 6 pm. Once you have gone around the market, do visit Café Looda, for an evening filled with some live music in English (on Wednesday’s). When we went there, there was a remarkable group with lead singer called Cliff Elvis, singing wonderfully followed by acoustic performance playing jugal bandi on various instruments from a table to a drum to a trumpet. 5674
Further ahead of Anjuna beach is Chapora fort which can be seen just for the fact that Indian movie Dil Chahta Hai was shot there. Also the view of Vegator and Morjim beach from the top of the fort is nice. While you come down of the fort, nearby is a famous Ganesh Juice Centre, boasting of varied Indian and foreign juices freshly made from orange to avocado, you name it you have it. There is also a shop selling fresh fruits both Indian as well as foreign.
|Chapora Fort, where Popular Indian Movie Dil Chahta Hai was shot|
Approx 7-10 mins distance from fort is the Vegator beach, which is less crowded than Baga or Calangute beach, and has water sports too. The beach is neither too crowded, nor too serene. A good mix of Indian and Foreign tourists can be seen. A good place to enjoy the fruits we bought at Chapora.
As you go further you have Ashwem, Mandrem and Morjim beaches one after other. We went to Mandrem beach, which is dominated by the Russians. For going to Morjim you have to cross a river, so we decided to stay put till Mandrem only. However all three of these beaches are similar, serene, pristine water and less crowded. You can just swim in its clear waters, lie down on a beach bed, laze around, eat goan fishes, sip in some beer or read books. The place has the feel of just sit idle and relax.
The South Goa Beaches: Towards the South We started with Colva, similar to what Calangute is, we didn’t stay longer and moved to Benaulim beach. The beach was peaceful, clean and with a lot of Foreigner crowd. Though you don’t miss Indians who are in equal nos here. There are numerous shacks here, I had one of the best pomfret here at this beach. At the sunset you can see a lot of Cows Moving, foreigners doing cycling on the beach, Hawkers, in all a interesting crowd mix.
Since we were staying at Panjim, and the distance to our next destination of Patnem Beach was almost 70 KM away from Panjim, we decided to stay overnight at a south beach. We first went to Palolem, The beach is largely unspoiled and is inhabited by both local fishermen and by foreign tourists who live in shacks along the shore or in the main village itself. The beach is shown as the Indian residence of Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) in the film The Bourne Supremacy (2004). The movie shows the natural beauty of the beach – the distinctive tree covered rocks at one end (known locally as Monkey Island – to which tours are run) and beach shacks. The best of shack we found was the Cozy Nook, run by a goan lady. But since we wanted to stay at Patnem beach ( 1 Km from Palolem), we went further. 5440
|Cozy Nook at Palolem Beach|
The Patnem Beach , the quietest of the beaches we visited. The beach has lot of staying options of bamboo cottages from Rs 700 to 5000, depending on the season and availability. The one we hired was a beach facing one, hence slightly expensive. The Crowd is mostly foreigners. The beach is peaceful and with some good still waters for both swimmers and non swimmers. The sunset is serene.
Since we were to stay overnight, it was great to have a evening stroll alongside the beach. The beach lits up all around with candles in the night with each shack putting out tables for food. Have a lovely candle lit dinner followed by a long night walk along the beach ( beware of the crabs though). As the night goes by you can hear the thunderous waves of the mighty sea all through the night.
Get up early in the morning to see fishermen going for their morning catch( as soon as 4 in the morning, when its pitch dark) and to enjoy the sight of a rising sun. Have a long walk along the beach, and see the sun rising from the trees. See the serenity of the sea and enjoying being a part of nature! You can also ask your shack person to arrange for a early morning boat ride to the dolphin areas. Though seeing a dolphin is not guaranteed.
|Relax and chill|
Food of Goa :
The primary food is fish. You get Red Snapper ( its red in colour), King Fish, Pomfret, Kalimari and Shark. Other sea food such as lobsters, Prawns and crabs are also enjoyed. Both Goan styles as well as Portuguese styles are tasty. For Indian style curries you have vindaloo or Xacuti Chilly based Chicken, fish, Pork), for Portuguese style curries you have Cafreal ( Coriander leaves based chicken, fish). You can have full fishes in English or Tandoori style as well. Shacks offer good food at the beaches. Other than that there are excellent Portuguese restaurants like Viva Panjim (Reasonable, and run by an ex teacher lady, who attends to each guest personally) and Hotel Venite (Slightly expensive, place is small but you feel like sitting in a small restaurant in Lisbon,don’t forget to take a balcony seating overlooking the street) offering authentic taste are near the Church of Our Lady Immaculate at Panjim.
For vegetarians there is Sher a Punjab Restaurant again with in the vicinity of the church of our lady Immaculate. The Vegetarian restaurant Sanyog is good, if you are tired of eating Goan food and are looking for something lighter and homely food with in the vicinity.
Beach shacks also offer vegetarian food, however Paneer ( Ricotta cheese) is at times more expensive than chicken.
Martins corner, a celebrity resturant, in Betalbatim, Salcette (South Goa) is, with excellent Crab (also written in the menu as Sachin’s favourite ( Sachin Tendulkar- the legendry cricketer) and other sea food. It’s slightly overpriced but worth a visit. There is one man band playing, which is just ok.
|the one man band at Martin’s corner|
Since we were of the opinion to eat only Goan and Portugese food while in Goa, so we didn’t try any of the Greek (Thellessa) or Italian ( J & A’s Little Italy) restaurants.
Water Sports : You have mostly two kind of Water sports there at commercial beaches like Baga, Calangute, Colva, Vegator, Para Sailing and Jet Skying.
For Moving around : Scooty, scooters, motor bikes, cars – all type of vehicles are available to be taken on rent on self driving basis. So do remember to carry your driving license. They are quite reasonable with 300-400 Rs per day rent ( petrol cost to be borne by you). You can check this from locals/ hotel chaps, restaurant chaps.
Goa has two major rivers, Mandovi and Juari. You would pass through them if you come towards or go out of Panjim . Some of the attractions on the river are the casino’s or the river cruises. We found none of them worth the experience. However for one time experience one can explore the same.
|River Mandovi, while crossing over a bridge|
|River Mandovi from Govt agency run cruise|
We even went to local fish market at Betim, to get a feel of real Goa. The experience was worth it, climbing on a ferry to cross the river, dismounting and then the maddening world at the fish market!
Hope you will have a slight idea of Goa by now, to make it easier for you to plan a trip. Bon Voyage!