Sunday, 23 December 2007
Holiday in Goa
Goa was our holiday from the trip that we needed. We were here for 10 days and we didn't intend to move. Goa is a former Portuguese colony and the influences are apparent everywhere, especially in the Catholic shrines that are on every street corner. The food too is quite different from the rest of India, consisting of heavier meet, including beef and a strong appreciation of garlic.
Our first stop in Goa was a beach called Anjuna. With a string of restaurants in big beach shacks by the water and a couple of roads coming back up from the beach with other restaurants and guest houses on it, the village is really pretty small. Our Guesthouse did fabulous breakfasts and the restaurants around the village were all of an exceptional standard. We were quite taken aback by the standard of the cuisine, and our days seemed to spent eating, punctuated with short periods of idleness.
After fitting in three big meals, a dip in the sea and a wee wander somewhere or another, the day was pretty much over so we spent another four days doing that to make sure we didn't miss anything. We hired a scooter one day and took a ride up to another beach where a restaurant there, owned by two French chefs serves food that would seriously sit beside world class cuisine anywhere else in the world. It wasn't cheap by India's standards, but we had a good feed each for the price of a glass of wine in a comparative place back home.
With about three days left we moved down the coast to Benaulim, the biggest beach resort in Goa. We had deliberately avoided this at first because we thought it would be full of tourists and touts exploiting them and the area. We came for the last couple of days though because it was close to the train station from where we would be departing to go to Mumbai.
Getting from Anjuna to Benaulim was going to be arduous. It was further than the distance from the airport, and the cost of the taxi from there had equalled a night's accommodation so we were keen to find an alternative method. The only option available to us though was by bus, and it was likely to take us all day, having to use four separate buses and move between bus stations. It seems the Goans are so laid back because everything just seems to fall together here. Our buses, given our past experiences could have been an utter nightmare, and the chances of getting a wrong bus or getting off at the wrong place or missing the last connection, or anything else, would in any other place be astronomically high. Somehow though, it all slotted together perfectly as if it was all supposed to. Even when our bags got stuck down the front of the bus and we got stuck up the back with about 60 people between us (on a bus rated to carry about 25), it all worked out fine. Joy of joys, we found a little Coffee Day and I guarded the bags while Nikki and a girl on the bus with us went off in search of accommodation.
Anjuna had been one of our most expensive stops, and we expected this to be even more so but it turned out to be really cheap, with accommodation every bit as good and food also on par, at less than half the price. The tourist trap thing didn't seem to exist either we were delighted to discover. The beach too was lovely, with silver sand that squeaked as you walked on it. The sea was ever so slightly cooler than up the coast, but as the mid-winter sun beat upon our backs, it offered a blessed relief. It was great wading out into the sea because the sand declined into the water at such a shallow gradient, you could walk out for what seemed like miles, then finding a sandbar, you would come back up a bit and then down slowly again. We could stand a good 150 meters or more from the sand and still only be above waste deep. The water was pretty calm too. Our next three days passed in a similar routine to Anjuna and at the end of the three days, we were thoroughly relaxed and ready to face Bombay for our final week of our adventure.