Saturday, November 9, 2013

Goa - Tavelogue


Having been staying at a five-hour-by-train distance, having visited a nondescript one day seven years back, having that rare and elusive long weekend, and also having gotten married in the meantime, we decided to make a trip to arguably India’s top tourist destination – Goa.
Travel:
Konkan railway provides quick, relaxing, and picturesque travel from Udupi (from where we travelled) to Goa.
Cost: Rs 400 (approx) for a 3rd AC travel, Rs 250 (approx) for SL class.
Time: somewhere between 3 hours 45 mins to 6 hours.

We reached Madgaon station (remember trains do not go to Panaji) in the evening and booked a cab at the pre-paid taxi counter. Though it is a tad bit expensive it is safe. Note that your GPS on phone can come in handy, it makes you feel safer and sure of direction.
Stay:
Advent of numerous online hotel booking sites have opened a plethora of options and confused a middle class to great ends! The search started long back. It included the already tested place near Calangute beach. Nice hotel but one not suitable when visiting for a relaxing time.
Studio apartment at Arpora
A blog led to an address of Capt.Dehpande at Arpora (north goa) who owns a studio apartment in one of the villas. Though one would think its on the expensive side considering its distance to beach, but for those seeing relaxation away from the humdrum, this is the place. The owners and caretakers are caring. There is a pool and the kitchen is handy for breakfasts or dinner.  
Resort swimming pool - pretty shallow :)

Back view

Cost: Negotiable, 3000 (approx) per day
Location: Right side off the Aguada-Siolim road

Day 1: North Goa
Renting a two wheeler is the best option for travelling around provided you have a valid driving licence. Your hotel guard, caretaker, would be ideal person to book one for you, else there are plenty of them at major road junctions. It is to be noted that petrol bunks are scanty and hence have a good track of how much you are filling. It is advisable to carry a bottle of petrol in the vehicle.

Cost: Gearless vehicle Rs 250 per day; Fuel: petrol is pretty cheap in Goa! (Rs 60 per Lit)
We visited Chapora fort, which has to be climbed through a rough terrain. The soft drink seller at the fort, who claims to be there for more than 20 years, says the entry is kept natural thankfully.

It can be draining to climb it in the hot sun so carry enough fluids. A shop at the base of the hillock is ideal for it. Atop the fort, (most unlikely kind of fort) view of Anjuna and Vagator on one side, the graveyard on the other is lovely.
View atop Chapora Fort - Anjuna & Vagator
Lunch at Oasis (advised by trip advisor!), on the Anjuna beach road was pretty bland in taste but decent enough for lunch, particularly after the scorching sun. I am of the view that any such eateries will do a decent job!
Unique KFC building at Calangute circle

After resting a while at the hotel, we headed to Aguada Fort, which however closes at 5:30 in the evening and thus could not make it. Drive back was good and we reached baga beach where we were ushered by the shack guys and ended up in one after securing the front row.
Cost: Rs 700 for two
However since it was early evening we ended up having dinner at a restaurant on the Aguada-Siolim road, the orange county. Lovely ambience, not so great food.
Cost: Rs 700 for two (approx)

Day 2: Old Goa
Driving 12 odd kilometres to old Goa is worth it.
Church of Bom Jesus, and the museum and Se cathedral are probably the most identifiable place in Goa.
Basilica Bom Jesus

Se Cathedral
 The road opposite Se Cathedral, leads to Adil Shah’s gateway (the last remaining structure), Viceroys gateway and church of St Cajetan.
Viceroys gate

Church of St Cajetan

The area opposite Bom Jesus leads to the beautiful remnants of St Augustinian monastery. It is worth the visit.
Ethereal remnants of St Augustinian monastery
 Back to Panaji via the riverside road is wonderful. The church which features in most movies is the Church of my lady of Immaculate Conception and is right in Panaji and will take hardly half an hour to see.
Church of My lady of immaculate conception

Trip advisor came handy to search restaurants in Panaji and the chart was topped by Ritz Classic. GPS and asking around led us to the hotel (on 17th June road) which was brimming with people and did not have a proper waiting area. The ambience was good however.
Goan fish curry and rice is the preferred dish. The lime soda was the best we ever had (perhaps accentuated by the thirst of travelling). We ordered shark rava fry, which was quite a lot for two people. The quantity is really huge considering there appeared two papads for one plate of masala papad! Advice is to order after confirming quantity with the waiter.
Fish curry rice with shark fry
 
heavenly sweet lime soda with cherry

Ritz I heard is shifting to a new place in couple of months, but is worth the visit.
Cost: Rs 700 for two (approx)
Pros: Great sea food Cons: Waiting
We headed to Dona Paula beach which was decent. Bad roads lead to it but probably the movie Singham has added to its visiting value.
Ajay Devgn uprooted some lamp post in Singham I believe
Back to North Goa where Fort Aguada was waiting for our visit.
Fort Aguada panaroma
Its a good drive and a good fort to visit. The vast expanse of sea is indeed breathtaking.
We headed to Arpora saruday night bazaar and Anjuna flea market both of which did not begin, for it starts only in mid November.
A rest at the studio apartment and in the evening to Baga beach again to have dinner at Brittos. The place lives up to its hype. Again the quantity is pretty decent so order should be placed keeping that in consideration.
Brittos special chicken with salad and chips

Cost: Rs 800 for two (approx)
Day 3: Return
Back to Mdgaon and reservation in a passenger train. Train arrived late and was irksome though it reached Udupi at a decent time in the evening.
Cost : Taxi – Rs 1000 ; Passenger train: Rs 75 per ticket
Summary:
Goa is not just for the booze and party. It is indeed a nice place for relaxation if considered in that fashion. The Nigerian murder case had just erupted the day we visited. Apart than the brouhaha in media, nothing disturbing happened on ground. It was disturbing and surprising to see local signboards of major outlets in Russian, a testimony to the increasing population of tourists from that country. Goa provides a lot of opportunity for those who love history – Portuguese, English and local. Directions are easy with signboards everywhere and cooperative nice Goan people everywhere. Go to Goa to idly roam around, have good food and just relax.

Photo courtesy: Snigdha Mishra and yours truly
 

2 comments:

  1. My long standing wish of writing on Goa has been fulfilled mostly by you in this piece. Gone there umpteen number of times, yet have not jotted down anything. Now it seems I have to directly jump into making a short movie on it as enough content and script is ready!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think that a review by someone who has been there umpteen number of times will be valuable ! Waiting for that masterpiece :)

    ReplyDelete

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