Going to Goa was on my bucket list since quite a long time. Located on the west coast of India, the quaint state of Goa is known for its brilliant beaches, scrumptious food, Portuguese heritage and vibrant nightlife. With a coastline stretching for over 100 kilometers, Goa has numerous beaches from the tip to the toe of the state that attracts ample of tourists to this state .So recently, when I got a chance to go on a partly sponsored trip to Goa for an intercollegiate competition, I jumped on this one time opportunity to witness this little wonderland called Goa.
I was accompanied by 3 of my friends. We had planned a 3 day trip, two days for exploring Goa and one entire day at campus for this competition. We boarded a flight from Mumbai; it was almost 1.5 hr flight from Mumbai to Goa. We had booked this hostel ‘Pappi Chulo’ in Goa. It was pretty affordable and looked good in the images online.
The concept of hostel is now garnering popularity in India thanks to the influx of backpackers and solo travelers here. It was one hour drive from Goa airport to our hostel. And what a wonderful drive it was! The meandering roads, verdant fields, colourful buildings, overhanging trees, beautiful beach and laidback music; it was certainly a drive to remember.
Singing and chirping we reach our hostels, only to realize in some time that my friend had lost her wallet. Immediately we called the airlines to check if they have found any wallet in the plane. Luckily, they confirmed that they had found her wallet and had kept it safely with them.
So two of my friends took a bike and went to airport to collect the wallet. We had rented two bikes for Rs.500 each to roam around freely. While they headed for airport, I and my other friend freshened up and went for a walk in the vicinity, aiming to check out the bars and restaurants nearby.
Interestingly, we came across this beach club restaurant ‘Antares’ owned and operated by MasterChef contestant Sarah Todd. The catchy music and the breezy vibes pulled us in. We ordered few drinks and chilled at the bar, while our friends returned from the airport.
They joined us after an hour. Later, for dinner, we ordered some wood fired pizzas, white sauce pasta and Coconut panna cotta. Everything was incredibly delicious, but the star dish was our dessert, coconut panna cotta. The tenderness of fresh coconut and the creaminess of panna cotta rendered it a perfectly divine taste.
We were planning to hit the beaches, may be go to some karaoke bar or night clubs after our dinner. But sadly it started raining heavily and our plans got washed away with it.
Dejected, we reach the hotel, consoling ourselves that we will sleep early, wake up early and see Goa in its morning glory. However, the fate was not very kind to us that day. There was a power outage in entire area, and our hostel didn’t have spare generator for emergencies like this. Grumbling and groaning, we try to sleep without AC, fans and night lamp.
Actually our hostel was really disappointing; a lot of basic amenities and facilities were missing, no electricity, no AC remote, no geyser. There was poor hygiene, the beds were itchy and we found smoke ash in corners of our room. Sadly there was no one available at the service desk after 10 p.m.
I think this was the first time that I had a horrible booking experience. And it does dampen your mood; after all you come for a holiday to rejuvenate your senses, not to tense it by petty disorders. We could have easily booked a better property for the same price but we fell prey to hyped reviews and images on the internet.
Next morning, I woke up the earliest, eager to break out of that dungeon and escape to beaches. I was most excited about beaches; the sun, sand and splashing waves, the palm groves, cool breeze and cocktails. Fortunately, it was a bright sunny day, perfect to enjoy the beaches.
Before hitting the beaches we had brunch at this hip café ‘Artjuna’. While my friends relished some famous non vegetarian dishes, I was savoring my cup of hot cappuccino, some fresh croissants and sandwiches. By the way, Goa is paradise for non vegetarians and their cuisine is beautiful blend of Portuguese and South Indian cuisine. Portuguese ruled Goa for almost 450 years and their influence is definitely visible in the cuisine, architecture and lifestyle of Goa.
After sumptuous meals, we arrived at Anjuna Beach. Usually Goan beaches are buzzing with water sports and beach shacks, but since it was monsoon, most of these things were shut. And I think it was blessing in disguise, as there were less tourists which meant less crowded and more beautiful beaches.
I feel just being by the beach is the best natural therapy for the soul. Strolling along the shore, listening to the sounds of waves, basking in the golden sunshine while dipping the feet in soft sand. The beach brought instant smile to my face.
En route to beach, we saw many shops selling beautiful bags, bohemian apparels and colorful jewelleries at cheap bargain.
After Anjuna beach we went to Baga Beach. Usually we would have avoided this beach; it is too commercialized and crowded. However due to off season, it was pretty serene and soothing. Also, Baga and Calangute were only beaches to have beach shacks in monsoon. We enjoyed a laidback evening, laying on the shacks, sipping cocktails, leaving only after the sun had dipped into the Arabian Sea. I even made this sand castle, got a temporary tattoo and was almost convinced to get bohemian braids as well.
After Baga, we had some snacks at ‘ Baba Au Rhum’ and we left for the college. Because of time crunch, we could not explore Goa beyond this.
That was my trip, short and sweet. This pocket sized paradise has a lot more to offer and may be next time when I visit Goa; I will experience more of it.