I dunno exactly when, how or by whom our goa trip was conceived but to give a faint idea it was about a week or so before our sems were to start. So while the other more ambitious friends of ours crammed their economics and worked through their math, the two of us adventurous lot, Sana and I kept busy contemplating the trip, calling up hotels and exploring Goa online. The tension of the exams was far taken over by the excitement of the upcoming trip. Our exams dragged by, some good and some bad, but what mattered more throughout was that we got our bookings right! so in the middle of our ICAs and calculus ,i scraped the goa guide from cover to cover , filled up and sent endless enquiry forms to hotels in goa , called up about a dozen and finally a particular MR hotel was booked.
The last exam, ever dreaded math got over on a happy note, not sure because it went surprisingly well or because we’d be leaving to goa that night!
After getting back home and quickly packing my stuff , the major task was to convince my dad to let me go ( yes I had conveniently “forgotten” to take perm all these days assuming it’d be no biggie.) but mind u I was not completely wrong as after a bit of dilly dallying he did give the green signal and off I was for the first ever all girls trip of my life . The train was to arrive at an almost non-existent railway station (the kinds you see in movies and horror shows) in banaswadi. The supposed 6 member team was reduced to a 5 (Sana Niki Nim Bableen n I) as the non-joining girl couldn’t get her dad to get past the bomb scare in goa that’d started doing the rounds a day before. (Perfect timing, I tell u)
It was a 17odd hour journey but when we left Bangalore and touched the Goan soils we hardly realized as every minute spent in the train kept us busy. Be it for going on a clicking spree, shouting out our lungs through the 18 tunnels (yes we counted) or walking through the compartments to check out the inmates of the next cabin.)
Day-1 . 16th dec.
We had our first sight of the Arabian sea at around 12 in the noon as we passed the beautiful bogmalo beach on the way to our station .At around 2 in the noon we reached vasco da gama , one of the major cities ( reminds u of josh) and navy base of goa The first thing we noticed in vasco that it was a sleepy lil peaceful town with ample greenery , quaint buildings and hardly any traffic and local women going about their shopping in smart knee length dresses. That pretty much set an initial image of things to follow in our minds. we took the local bus to panaji and from there another to Calangute where our hotel was at. A taxi reached us to our hotel. the hotel wasn’t anything we’d imagined. It wasn’t a run down dingy lil lodge which’d offer a room for 5 for 800 bucks but a nice villa kinda building with an in-house restaurant right on the beach with our room facing the sea and an occasional site of a parasailer! After quickly getting refreshed after the long journey, we set off on our first day of exploring this multifaceted land. Luckily it happened to be a Saturday, so the first thing on our itinerary was to go to the famous Ingo’s night market in arpora.But instead of taking a cab directly from the hotel , we took a walk down the calangute beach and had our first brush with the cool sands and the waves in a perfectly set evening. The walk from the c’gute beach till the baga beach is a delight, u wouldn’t know where one ends and another starts and the stretch is lined up with beach shacks ,all inviting you in their special way .Its an absolutely delight to stroll down the baga road, famously called tito’s lane as the most famous tito’s nightclub, the tito’s café, patisserie and café mambos are all flanked by each other on this road. The entire stretch from calangute to candolim and back to baga is lined with shops and markets selling designer clothes , handicrafts, silver jewelry, antiques ,leather goods, books ,music, Tibetan jewelry, Rajasthani fabrics bags ,Goan food and art , u name it ! 10mins of taxi ride later, we were at the Ingo’s night market , which is set up on the foot of the arpora hill and has hundreds of colorful and brightly lit stalls selling ethnic stuff , antiques and souvenirs from almost all the parts of the country and abroad. The number of foreign tourists outnumbers the Indian ones anyday, but later it becomes a common sight at almost every part of goa .Taking a break from the shopping, we hit the food stalls serving exotic cuisines from almost every part of the world and stopped by at a live band performance. After several hours of haggling and filled tummies and shopping bags we left the market ( not like we wanted to ) convinced that no mall in the world could beat the ingo’s night market. A Must see on a Saturday night in goa .We took a cab till the Tito’s lane and barged into the hugely famous Tito’s club. It’s a nicely done up disc with two levels with some wicked cocktails and eats which unfortunately we were too full to devour. As the others aint exactly the party kinds, we took a feel of the place and were out after ten minutes and hit the equally famous mambo’s a few buildings apart.It is an interesting place with a small cake shop in the front serving some of the meanest cakes and mousse and a shack where partying starts late in the night and seems never ending. We were told about their different theme night parties and page 3 regulars but unfortunately we dint that come across either that night but the music and the ambience was just enough to love the place.
On the walk back from mambo’s to our hotel , we stopped by to enjoy a hookah sitting onthe comfortable cane chairs set up right at the meeting point of the beach and the sea. Sitting under the starry midnight sky, with waves touching our feet and going back, feeling the cool sea breeze, is the most surreal experience I’d had so far.
We reached back our hotel in the wee hours after a fun walk through the sands and a night lit only by the stars and the lights from the shacks.
Day 2. 17th dec
We ventured out sometime in the noon to explore the nearby areas on foot. On the way we passed some beautiful villas and resorts, a gorgeous Scottish pub and had lunch at one of the countless restaurants in the area. The calangute candolim road is too edged by a hundreds of shops selling the stuff we were by now only too familiar with but no less eager to try out.We also checked out the Tibet market where u get some of the prettiest Tibetan jewelry.We stopped by at the coffee day at the square and watched the world go by.
After doing a round of picking up stuff off the many shops in that area and loafin our way through the lanes we got to the beach and after a chilled out time playing with the waves , we got back to our hotel for a siesta and got out again for our usual evening walk through the beach. On some friends’ recommendation, we went to the Zanzibar beach shack. It’s a nicely done up shack with comfortable sitting and the view of the wide sea ahead. while sana and nim gorged on the sea food delicacies of goa , niki bableen and me nibbled at our French fries ,the appetizers followed by a walk through the tito’s lane ( it’d become our favourite by now) to stop by at “scirocco” an Italian semi open air restaurant right next to CCD for dinner. They did a good job of their pasta and lasagna but only just.
Half way on our way back , it was discovered “our” digcam which belonged to a common friend in Bangalore was missing , after a tense walk back to scirocco we got our smiles back as the camera was waiting safely with the hotel people for us to come back n pick it up. First brush with goan honesty. The day ended with the now customary walk down the Tito’s lane through the beach till our hotel and we slept off another fulfilling day in goa.
Day 3 18th dec.
This day was reserved for our sight seeing tour and a boat cruise arranged by our friendly hotel owner, Mr. Caji Fernandez. after a quick breakfast in the in-house resto we got on our bus that promised to acquaint us better with goa .the tour was majorly occupied by the conspicuous north Indian honeymoon couples and families ( and aunties struggling to fit in their jeans and stilettos) and only one foreigner .(wonder why?!) The bus also contained our guide for the day, some Mr. Fernandez who rattled continuously about the places we’d be visiting (but being on the last seat, we hardly caught a few words ) and set us deadlines by which we had to return to the bus. First stop was at the donna paula beach jetty from where beautiful view of the Arabian sea and marmugao harbour and the rocky edges can be enjoyed. Legend has it that its named after lady donna paula de menezes who climbed off a cliff here because her love for a fisherman could not to be realized. (Something like that). After that the bus took off for old goa in panaji to visit the famous churches of goa via the national highway on the way of which we came across beautifully laid out avenues, manicured roads and Portuguese influenced architecture of goa. The guide pointed out to a children’s park overlooking the sea and the “kala academy” the art and cultural hub of goa and the venue of IFFI (international film festival of India) which had recently concluded) and Adil shah’s palace.
We stopped to visit the famous Bom Jesus basilica. The church from outside is ancient looking, has an impressive structure and inside has some beautifully carved embellishments. The main attraction of the church is that it enshrines the 450yr old dead body of st Francis Xavier the patron saint of goa kept on the right side of the altar apparently without without any preservatives or treatment. Opposite to the bom Jesus church is the magnificent Se Cathedral and a host of other churches in the vicinity which due to a time crunch we could not visit. After about an hour’s drive from there to Ponda , we stopped for a visit to the famous Mangeshi temple located on a hillock amidst lush greenery and has a 100 feet high tower of lamps at the entrance.
The Mangeshi temple was followed by the Shantadurga temple and a 350yr old English house filled with ancient antiques and curios but the scorching sun and the hot air kept us from getting down to visit either the temple nor the house We stopped next at the Colva beach of the “white sands”. The beach compared to the C’gute-baga beach is secluded and peaceful. After a round of cooling drinks in one of the shacks, and picking up handfuls of sea shells we got back in our bus. Another one hour’s drive from there took us to the Miramar , where we took a ferry ride across Mandovi river and boarded a ship which was to take us on the cruise. The cruise was called “Santa Monica” and the ship was a fairly large one with 3 levels with the upper most deck where the action of the cruise was to be at. The deck seated more than 500 people and the Emcee started off the evening by calling all the children on the cruise to come up on the stage and dance away, which was followed by the local Goan dances and a Russian limbo dance performance .the view from the ship was amazing as we caught glimpses of twinkling 5 start resorts set up on the small islands and the Reis Magos church on top of a hill. The cruise was concluded by the women on the cruise shaking their booties.
And after two hours drive back we reached Calangute from where we walked down to our hotel. The tiring and the long day compelled us to stay in our rooms for the remainder of the evening which we slept away watching the finals of nach baliye.
Day 4.19th dec
The day chalked out for the water sports, began early and the first thing on our agenda was to go on a dolphin spotting cruise, sailing a bit of distance on a small boat we stretched our sight all around for a glimpse of the elusive creatures but there were none. after a while our guide finally pointed out to one dolphin, followed by a gorgeous group of 3 , and 3 4 odd ones after that but none of them on whole but just a momentarily glance at their sides , fins or tails while in action. We were told we were lucky to have seen even that much otherwise some unlucky ones go back disappointed without even seeing one! after jet skiing, we went for the banana boat ride. The banana boat is nothing but a rocket shaped float which seats around 5-6 people one behind another. It is tied to the main boat which rips in the water and topples the banana boat suddenly! Sounds crazy but the tightly clung lifejacket and the lifeguards ensure that the chances of drowning are as much as getting struck by lightening!
Water sports in goa cant be complete without a round of parasailing, so after haggling the prices for a while , we got on a small boat which took us to the main boat where parasailing’d kick off. Niki was the first to go and trust me tied up by a few dubious looking straps attached to a flimsy sheet of rubber (or plastic whatever material the sail is) and suspended in midair by a rope hundreds of feet above the sea could look threatening and is definitely not for the faint hearted!
But once you’re the one up there yourself ,you leave all the worries back in the boat and just enjoy the bird-like feeling enjoying the beautiful view of the turquoise sea below and all around and truly feeling on top of the world is an adreline rush seeker’s delight .
Surprisingly the water sports weren’t tiring at all and left us pumped up and rejuvenated for the rest of the rest of the day but our sand blasted clothes and itchy eyes forced us to go back to our hotel and hit the showers . Another part of this goa trip which i’d all been looking forward to was to get a tattoo done . After browsing through loads of design catalogues and photo gallery at one of the artists, I was convinced of the credentials and sat down for getting one done, impromptu! So after thirty minutes of tearless but winceful drilling on my body, there it was my first ever tattoo, an inch sized “Om” sitting comfortably under my collar bone .
in the evening we decided on a sudden trip to Club Cabana , the hottest nightspot of goa. A 15 mins ride to Arpora took us to the club which is set up in three levels atop a hill. There’s a disco on the topmost level, two bars serving exotic cocktails ( foreign bartenders )and comfortable sofas and bean bags to enjoy a drink while taking in the view of the night sea ahead. Fitted atop the disco is the mind-blowing beams of white laser lights which rotate all night and travel kilometers away as they can be seen from the c’gute baga beach .Running into Shaan while chilling out on the comfortable sofas with margaritas was a bonus for us and dancing away (“in high spirits”) at the disco (minus my non-party friends again) was fun nevertheless. We left the club after a while though as nim and babloon were slightly under the weather and I, err never mind… for the first time we took a cab till our hotel instead of a walk through the beach and dozed off in no time.
It was the last day of our trip sadly and we had only a quarter of the day to do the remaining things. We went back to the tattoo guy and while others got painted with temporary tattoos I got mine dressed again. Since it happened to be a Wednesday ,we decided to go to the Anjuna flea market though by now we knew what to expect in any market in goa. The flea market though hugely famous, has nothing much new to offer and has the familiar serpentine rows of shops selling the ubiquitous articles. Though one can see a lot more of hard selling n bargaining here. The ingo’s Saturday night market scores over the flea market by a patch . We were told the Chapora fort ( of dil chahta hai fame) was only a stone’s throw away from here , but the scorching weather and the clock ticking away we couldn’t trek up the fort. Counting down our hours at goa now, we stopped for a great lunch at “Red Indian” and did some hurried shopping. We took a walk back to the hotel and finished the last minute packing and left the hotel thanking and promising Mr. Caji that we’d be seeing him next year. We walked up till our bus stand and while our bus waited to leave, I bought a small bottle of the famous Goa Feni without which no trip to goa can be actually complete.
We got shifted to another bus in panaji which’d take us back to bangalore. After a last view of the Arabian sea, the coconut palms, , the Goan houses , we left the place ,which never left us.
15 hours later we were back to the hustle and bustle of the city , all tanned and tired but carrying back bits of goa still with us in all the shopping , the sand on our clothes , the Feni , and the endless memories of a timeless time.
· A week long stay at goa is a must to enjoy it completely ( sob sob we had only 4 days)
· Repeat with me , bargain bargain bargain. The cab fare, hotel rates, shopping , waters ports , tattoos everything which u pay for on Goan soils !
· Goa is not only about beaches .
· You don’t have to be in bikini to really enjoy the beaches .
· Carry double the cash u think you gonna be needing coz u wouldn’t know money vanishes once your there , but that doesnt mean its an expensive place.its not
· The goans are the most friendly people u can find in India. Though the local guys are a bit too friendly if you’re a group of girls.
· U don’t have to go abroad to check out cute foreigners and babes in its n bits 😉
· U cant help falling in love with the place.