Goa is a tiny coastal state towards the southwestern coast of India. It is pretty, charming, quaint, timeless, and loads of fun. You can travel back in time on its lanes and by-lanes and go back to the Portuguese era, or you can hit the party zones by the beach and be anywhere on earth having the time of your life.
Which Goa will you choose?
On a two-day visit, I got to indulge in a bit of both and everything else in between. It is incredible how much we accomplished in two days, and yet managed to have a relaxed and laid back time.
I am usually not a fan of the ‘headless chicken syndrome’, where travelers seek to see and do as much as possible in as little time. Nope! I prefer a slow pace, soaking in the atmosphere, and letting the place seep into my pores. Since the rest of the group was like-minded, this 2 day trip worked out pretty well.
We arrived bright and early at the Dabolim Airport in Goa. A 1-hour drive past beautiful bridges and vast tracts of water brought us to the quaint town called Saligao. This is where we had booked ourselves into an old yellow painted beautiful home.
Saligao felt like we had walked into a world about 50 years ago. Tiny roads, bucket loads of greenery, an air of stillness, unhurried vehicles, all of this set the pace for us.
We found our residence. It took our breath away!
A huge yellow house, filled with plants of all shapes and colors, with quaint mosaic tiled benches, a moat going around the house, majestic lions guarding either side of the gate, the sound of distant wind chimes, and a cute dog to complete the picture. It was more than we had dreamt of, and we loved it!
Since we had sprung a surprise on the home owners by arriving too early, they were not able to serve us breakfast. That gave us the chance to go foraging for our food!!
One Must Go Biking in Goa
I have been to Goa a few times, but I had never rented a bike. The thing about going to places with different types of people is that you have different experiences.
The bunch of friends I went with this time were all for biking. We rented two Honda Activa bikes and were set to breeze around the countryside.
But first — we had to fill petrol. So we went up the road, and down, past a roundabout, and again past it, until we finally located a Petrol Bunk. It wasn’t that the petrol bunk was hard to locate, I think we were just directionally challenged. This disability became more and more apparent as the day wore on.
Meanwhile, we found a quiet little breakfast joint, and trudged up the stairs to the first level. And proceeded to have breakfast for the next 3 hours. That’s Goa for you. Unhurried, languid, sleepy.
After that interminably long and lazy breakfast, we realized that we were in Goa and must therefore visit a beach, or two.
Goa has all kinds of beaches. Someone should produce a ‘beach menu’ for Goa. The colorful beaches teeming with human life (read crowded), the action-packed beaches where the shacks are inviting and exciting, the lost beaches where no human is found, and of course, the famous hippie beaches in Goa where you can be happy 🙂
We picked something that had shacks and fewer humans. We picked a part of the Ashvem beach since one of the group had been there, done that, and could vouch for the peoplelessness of the beach. Off we went.
After about 20 minutes, one clever soul on one of the bikes felt something was amiss. At this point, we decided to consult Google. Good decision. We had traveled away in the opposite direction, and somehow we were now almost an hour away from our destination.
Pro Tip: Use Google generously at all times. Don’t be shy!
Since we were on vacation, and there was really nothing much else to do, the vote was 4–0 in favor of riding for 1 hour to discover the lost beach. And it was totally worth it.
Bike rides in Goa = simple roads sprinkled with ample palms and other greenery, the wind blowing through your hair (the pillion rider does not need to wear a helmet..:) ), stopping whenever we wanted to click a picture, or drink tender coconut water, sudden glimpses of the sea, or colorful boats, the thrills are endless.
And we reached the beach. And it was nearly empty as promised. And we found a shack. And forgot about the world. A spot in the shade. Endless supply of drinks. The sight and sound of the mighty sea lapping gently at the shore. It is easy to lose oneself.
Add to it the surprise find of a spa right by the beach, and we were almost in heaven. I had the loveliest foot and hand massage lying on a beach chair listening to the waves.
One of us walked up the beach and came back with the terrifying news that further up the beach were millions of people. We were glad we had found the right spot.
Pee Time Tales
After an endless supply of drinks, one must do what one must do to make way for more drinks. One must pee. Shacks are shacks and come with bare minimum frills. So the toilet was nothing but a thatched enclosure with a potty and running water. It was usable.
If you are fussy like me, carry packets of tissues, a small bottle of soap, and a small bottle of hand sanitizer. I always, always carry these 3 essentials.
Time for Some Action
Having lazed around enough, we decided to find some action spots. On the road that leads to Baga beach, there is a lot of action. We picked a place called Cape Town Cafe that had a view of the road side. And spent the rest of the evening and into the night eating, drinking, and dancing around our table. Life is good!!
After a day filled with quiet laziness and energetic dancing, we rode home and crashed out.
Next morning we woke up to bird calls and bright light. A peek in the window got us moving fast when we saw our breakfast table getting ready. The homeowners, a sweet Goan couple brought out fresh cut fruits, scrambled eggs, hot coffee/tea, and a special Goan bread call Poi.
The additional bonus was the great conversation we had with the delightful homeowners. Again, an unhurried breakfast, extra cups of coffee, and catching up on life in Goa, made for a great start to day 2.
Must Try Driving Around Too
Since we had had our fill of riding around, we decided to rent a car for Day 2. It was fun because we all got to travel together, listen to music, fight with Alexa since she refused to play our songs, and generally have a fun time together.
Today’s agenda was Fort Reis Magos. The fort has been restored beautifully. The views from the fort were spectacular. We spent a lot of time just soaking in the views.
I was highly taken in by this great Banyan tree that stood there guarding the fort like a sentinel from the old times.
Next stop was obviously lunch. We found a cozy place overlooking the sea. Lunch was good, the drinks were cool and tasty. But best of all was the live music provided by a lady. She rendered old jazz numbers with a voice that transported us back in time along country roads to places we have never been. It was mesmerizing!
You have done nothing in Goa if you have not gone clubbing. We rushed home, changed, and set out again to find a club and drink and dance the night away.
Before that, we had to buy cashew nuts, and take a peek at the Mario Miranda gallery.
By around 8 pm we were set to go clubbing. One hitch! We couldn’t agree on which club to go to. When there are 4 people, there can be at least 6 opinions, we found. People kept changing their minds. We even drove down to a couple of places to check the ambience. How can we possibly tell? Clubs look one way by day and totally different after 10 pm!
All this driving up and down wore a path down the road. We had a huge sense of deja vu since we kept passing by the same shops and restaurants again, and again!
Then we decided it was best to finish dinner before we entered any club. More driving up and down, and dinner was done. By this time, it was nearly 11 pm.
Pro Tip: Always good to appoint one of the group as Leader and follow what they say. Democracy will only find you going up and down the road.
We finally found a club we all agreed on, and went in. There were many drinks, and a great dance floor. We danced for a bit, and then found that the place was getting packed by the minute. We decided it was too packed and had to leave when we found that neighboring dancers were washing their hair in our beer!
Trooped home by 2 am, but not before losing our way once again. We never learn!
Time to Leave
Next morning, again, we woke up to bird song and Poi bread. Sigh! This is life.
We also found some time to walk around the lanes and by lanes of the place where we were staying. We saw some beautiful old house wearing a fresh coat of paint and standing proud, and we saw some once beautiful homes falling into ruins. We also found smiling locals who wished us a good morning, and locals who wondered if we were lost and wanted to help.
The highlight was this couple who invited us in to look around their garden, and admire their prized collection of Rottweilers!! They had 6 handsome Rottweilers. We left quickly from there 🙂
You will not find much mention of food because I am vegetarian. But a blog about Goa is incomplete without sea food! The rest of the gang had too much of a good time gorging on the sea food — prawns, fish, and so on.
Just saying…the food was very good apparently. I can vouch for it based on the sheer bliss that was pasted on their faces.
Too soon, the trip ended, and we found ourselves back home, looking forward to the next vacation!!