Travel is, truly, the only wholesome addiction. I keep telling myself that the best way to get over the disappointment of a trip being over is to start planning for the next one. There can never be too much of travel! So after returning from my wonderful trip to the hills of Darjeeling, I was pondering over my next destination. It seemed quite apt to alternate a mountain adventure with a beach rendezvous; and what better spot for a beach holiday than gorgeous Goa!
For a quick introduction, here’s a short roundup of my sunny, fun-filled Goan escapade.
- Most memorable beach moment: Watching a glorious sunset from the white-sand Colva beach; the sky splashed with a spectacular array of colours.
- Most exciting moment: Backpack and camera in tow, the thrill of riding public buses, mingling with the locals, asking around for directions to explore the beautiful capital Panjim.
- Most delicious meal: A mouth-watering platter of butter rice, Mexican chicken, beans in sauce and fries at a small shack a stone’s throw away from Colva beach.
- Most refreshing drink: Being a teetotaller myself, I wouldn’t be much help here! Though I must say, I had the best lime soda ever in Goa! The beaches and markets of Goa are teeming with hand-pulled carts selling the most wonderful and fresh-tasting lime soda drinks.
- A spellbinding moment: There were quite a few of them indeed. If I had to pick one, I would probably choose my first view of the palm tree-lined stretch of the Sinquerim beach by the Taj Vivanta. It was picture-perfect; like one of those beach photos one could find on calendars or motivational posters!
- An ‘awed-by-architecture’ moment: Memorable visits to the Fort Aguada (Sinquerim beach) and the Bom Jesus Basilica (Panjim).
- A ‘proud-of-myself’ moment: Learning to be a true explorer! Continuing undaunted even after spraining my foot as a result of a slip on the rocky Vagator beach.
- A ‘story-sharing’ moment: Meeting a kind, elderly Goan gentleman on the Colva beach and listening to his wonderful stories about generations of his family who have worked in the shipping industry all over India and even abroad.
Meeting a pair of Polish travellers who were rounding off a business trip to Bangalore with a Goa beach holiday. It was fun to hear them describe the high point of their trip which turned out to be an exciting elephant ride in the city of Ponda.
I had planned to split my trip equally between the beaches of north and south Goa. From the Dabolim airport I headed straight off to my north Goa base, near the Calangute beach. It was a wonderful, heady couple of days with early morning walks along the Calangute and making day trips to the nearby beaches of Baga, Vagator and Anjuna. There was a palpable sense of energy in the air – beaches teeming with tourists and revellers, bustling markets, snazzy eateries and those signature ‘shacks’; it was a riot of colours and frenzied activities. It was quite impossible not to surrender to that party spirit.
Of the beaches I visited, my favourite would have to be Vagator. Vagator has a very distinctive look which enhances its beauty. Once you go down the winding steps to descend to the beach level, you are greeted with a stretch of rocks. Negotiating these moss-covered, slippery rocks can be quite tricky as I discovered to my peril. However, in a way, it is these rocks that lend Vagator its unique look. It is such a glorious feeling to sit on the rocks and have the waves splash your feet; embrace the serenity and quiet without a care in the world. The trip to Baga would always be memorable for the lunch at the famed Britto’s. The atmosphere is so fabulously different, an exhibition of the vibrant spirit of Goa at its best.
One of the fascinating trips during this phase of my travels has to be the visit to Fort Aguada. It was, to put it simply, magnificent! Seeing the towering lighthouse from far-off immediately rekindled childhood memories of adventure stories which more often than not featured a lighthouse as the centre of all the drama and action. This massive fort overlooking the Arabian Sea is a true testimony to the Portuguese might of bygone days. It was a beautiful autumn day with the bluest skies and white cotton-puff clouds. With lush greenery all around and a seemingly endless stretch of water, coloured with a hue matching the skies, it was a breathtaking, panoramic view.
On the third day of the trip, it was time to head out to the south, with a stopover at Dona Paula on the way. The view from the Dona Paula jetty was simply marvellous – the wide expanse of azure blue waters, the swaying palm trees, and the far shoreline dotted with high rises; it was like one of those scenes one might often come across in movies!
From Dona Paula, I continued my journey southward to the Colva Beach, which was to be my base for the next couple of days. What makes Colva such a huge draw among travellers is the shimmering stretch of white sands; against a pristine blue backdrop of the skies and the seas, the white sands of Colva are a vision to behold. One of the most beautiful sights in Goa surely has to be the sunset from the Colva Beach; it is a spectacle not to be missed. And those enchanting colours spreading across the evening sky, like a dream!
While it was endlessly thrilling and fascinating to visit the umpteen beaches and notice the very distinctive nature and flavour of each, I also wanted to make a trip to the Goan capital of Panjim. So on the penultimate day of my trip, another long, exciting ride beckoned as I arrived at the Colva bus depot. It was a fun ride through the fantastically maintained Goan roads and highways; now venturing past colorful villas, pretty gardens and shady nooks; the suddenly stepping onto highways with spectacular scenery on either side. The bus driver and conductor were very kind and co-operative offering plenty of travel tips; and helped me get off at the correct bus stop to visit the Bom Jesus Basilica and the ASI Museum complex located right across the street.
The interiors of the basilica with its richly carved details, beautiful sculptures and a magnificent altar are awe-inspiring, as is the majestic outer facade. This Goan landmark is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Right on the opposite side of the street from the Bom Jesus is the ASI complex housing the museum, the Church of St. Francis of Assisi and the Se’ Cathedral. The museum proved to be a treasure-trove for a history-buff like me. The numerous displays from a different era of Goa’s history took me on a veritable time-travel through the pages of history. It was a truly enlightening experience. Unfortunately though, both churches were undergoing extensive restoration work at the time, so many sculptures and paintings were beneath protective coverings and many areas cordoned off. However, what little glimpse I could manage was more than sufficient proof of their grandeur and beauty. At the end of the day, I was a very happy traveller indeed!
My ‘Go Goa’ adventure was finally drawing to a close. It had been a lot of fun. I guess Goa has plenty to offer to all kinds of travellers. It is an intoxicating cocktail regaling the nature lovers, the adrenaline junkies, the party boppers, the foodies, the history buffs, and so on and so forth. I’m sure everyone comes back from Goa with their own fragrant bunch of special memories. And so did I!
Bookworm. Cinephile. Travel-addict. Reluctant IT Consultant. Forever dreaming of exploring new places & people; and making memories all over the world. A song that echoes my fondest desires:
“Just a small town girl livin’ in a lonely world,
She took the midnight train goin’ anywhere.”
Read more of Bidisha’s writing at her blog!