12 January 2011

Goa, India (2009 - 2010)

Today I have decided to blog about a city that is without a doubt one of my favourites, Goa in India. I love this city so much that I visited it 3 times in 6 months. The great advantage to my recurring visits was that I was fortunate enough to experience Goa during both the Monsoon season and the peak tourist season, winter. Now for those who don't know the history of Goa, Goa was colonized by the Portuguese in the early 1500's so you'll see lots of churches amongst the temples and mosques, also areas and roads names show proof of Goa's previous rulers. 

@ Dona Paula

Church in central Panjim

My first trip to Goa was during the monsoon season and as you obviously know, during the the monsoon season it rains almost all 24 hours of the day. The humidity is extremely high to a point of being unpleasant, but I'm generally a happy traveler and didn't really mind. I think I was far too consumed merely by the excitement of being there that I wasn't really bothered by the weather. I landed in Mumbai after an approximate 13 hour flight via Dubai and was pleased that the flight to Goa was just 45 minutes. However I soon realized that I was in India when my flight to Goa was delayed for almost 4 hours. I eventually landed in Goa in the middle of the night and due to my flight delay, my colleague whom I was visiting in Goa had decided to meet with me the following day and was I forced to stay at the "Palacio De Goa" for that 1 night. A word of advise... If you ever decide to travel to Goa do not stay at the "Palacio De Goa". I won't elaborate on the hotel and I think my warning/advise speaks for itself. The very next day I moved hotels to the Vivanta by Taj Hotels. Absolutely amazing would be an understatement as this hotel was top class in every aspect. And being that the monsoon meant "off-season" the rates were extremely well priced. I loved this hotel so much that I booked it for my second trip to Goa and was given a free night by the manager. Now that accommodation was sorted it was time to explore.

My Room at the Vivanta by Taj Hotel

Goa is broken up into a few parts, North and South Goa both lined with absolutely breathtaking beaches, Panaji (also known as Panjim) is the capital and CBD, and also an area called Vasco de Gama which is a smaller business district close to Goa's international airport Dabolim. Since I was staying in Panaji, I traveled to the northern beaches by scooter which was about 25km from my hotel. The beaches were quite deserted during the monsoon season so there was really was not much to see. So I spent the rest of the time visiting old churches and enjoying the cuisine in the city. I must admit that alot of the Goan styled food involves coconut as a main ingredient and even though I'm not a huge fan of coconut, the food was very tasty. As a South African earning in Rands you'll be pleased to know that in India our currency has buying power :-) Things are generally cheap and there's lots to buy so be prepared for a great shopping experience. From my experiences, Goan people are friendly, helpful and extremely hospitable. My local friend, Zahur, was kind enough to show me around as well, especially since riding a scooter wasn't really the smartest idea during the monsoon rains. Miramar beach and Dona Paula are tourist attractions in Panjim city, some what similiar to Seapoint pavillion back home but with an Indian twist (lol). Dona Paula is the Goan version of Romeo and Juliet if you may...

Dona Paula
My stay in Goa during the monsoon was a short one but even though short I was enticed on returning for the winter (December to February). So I returned to Goa in January of 2010.I was on business this time however, but was determined to spend some time exploring areas of Goa that I had not seen before. This is the winter season which in comparison is like Cape Town's summer without the wind. The weather is absolutely amazing and the beaches of Goa come alive. I spent 2 nights at the Royal Orchid Hotel in South Goa. A beautiful 4 star hotel and even though it was peak season, at R650 ($100) per night, I still found it well priced. The southern beaches of Goa are much more serene than those of the northern beaches which are considered to be the more party beaches similar to beaches in Thailand like Patong Beach. At the Royal Orchid I enjoyed a peaceful yet beautiful sunset over the Arabian sea. Truly a euphoric experience.   

Royal Orchid Hotel, South Goa

Sunset @ the Royal Orchid Hotel, South Goa

Enjoying the sunset, South Goa
After a brief stay in the south, I travelled to the northern beaches of Baga and Calagnute. I was eager to see how much these beaches have changed since my last visit during the monsoon. On my arrival I was pleasantly surprised to say the least. It was as if I was visiting these beaches for the first time! Baga and Calagnute beaches come alive in the peak season. Swarms of tourists from all over Europe, Russia, Iran and the USA. Malick, my friend from back home whom I was travelling with, managed to find the perfect accommodation thanks to TripAdvisor, The Baga Marina Beach Hotel. The rates were well priced and was matched by well-equipped rooms and great service. The hotel was a stone throw away from Baga beach and popular restuarants including one named Cape Town :-) The beaches were alive with bars, clubs, great seafood cuisine and endless water sports. I, ofcourse, tried and tested all that the beaches had to offer including water sports which were priced way cheaper than in South Africa. The Arabian sea is a warm ocean, perfect for swimming in and great swell offers great waves for all sorts of water sports. At night the bars on the beaches are converted into restaurants where one can enjoy various seafood dishes or even just a simple pizza. After dinner we enjoyed an Okka pipe with a cocktail (virgin Mojito for me thank you).

Baga Marina Beach Hotel

Baga Marina Beach Hotel
Seafood available @ restaurants on the beach

Sunset over Baga Beach

Sunset over Baga Beach
On my last night in Goa, Malick and I rented scooters and decided to take a trip through the 'jungle' to experience Goa's famous night market in a beautiful place called Anjuna. The night market was amazing! From scottitsh-stlyled bag pipe live bands, food stalls, stalls run by Goa's infamous Hippies and a Goan trance party up on a hill within the market. This was truly an unforgettable experience! Goa is famous for its trance parties and during high season there are tons of these parties happening on the beaches and in the jungle. If trance parties is your kinda thing then checking this out is highly recommended. 

Night market in Anjuna

So after an exciting time spent in magical Goa it was finally time to head back home. The time I spent in Goa during the winter was definitely the highlight of all my visits here. Those carefree days on the beaches of Goa is what will always have me yearning to return. This is exactly why Goa is and will always be one of my favourite places to visit, the people, the culture, the foods and the mesmerizing sunsets will remain imprinted in the back of my mind forever! 

1 comment:

  1. Extremely well written and informative blog supported by very professional looking photographs. I was getting a feeling of reading a brochure of Goa with very vivid description. This years Christmas will be celebrate in Goa.

    thanks a lot for sharing
    Christmas Gift Ideas