I am one of those people who have visited Goa numerous times (for all of us who live in Mumbai that’s the closest holiday destination and an anytime quick trip). But I must say, that despite the numerous trips, my holiday has never been repetitive and neither have I ever felt that I have explored Goa completely. There is still so much more that I have to see here.
But my most memorable one has been my last trip to Goa, which was a lazy mad trip with 2 of my equally mad friends, where the most important decision we took was which beach to go to and which shack to choose to plonk ourselves in for the day.
This trip was quite an impromptu one, that we decided to take just a week before the actual travel dates and for some reason we decided that this trip has to be an ultra budget trip (since it was year-end we didn’t want to show the bosses that we had money). Since we were visiting in February, it was anyways slightly off-season and we got a good deal with our hotel – Ronil’s Beach resort. We then decided to go by train that too in the ultra cheap sleeper class and booked tickets in tatkal (“urgent category”).
Well the train ride was fun with friends and the views on the Konkan route are stunning, but in the sleeper class we also had the company of numerous cockroaches, a lot of people who didn’t have tickets and decided to sleep on every available space / surface around the berths. Also without the a/c and blankets, it was super cold. So my recommendation to everyone reading this post is – the train journey is fun and convenient, but please book an AC 2 tier or AC 3 tier.
After an overnight journey we reached Goa in the morning and booked a pre-paid cab from the station to our hotel. We had decided that we will stay at the Baga beach (as we wanted to be around the action in Goa) and Ronil’s Beach resort is very close (easy walking distance) to this beach. Apart from the location, it also has some really nice small villas, good-sized rooms with a good service.
After settling in and a quick shower we decided to hit the beach. We started with the Calangute beach. This is a short walk from the market side (30 – 45 minute walk depending on your pace) and since we were on a budget trip we decided to walk all the way. Calangute gave us a sense of a beach swamped with tourists from all surrounding states of Goa and complete mayhem all around. So we decided to indulge in some beach sports. We spoke to a couple of guys for these water sports, negotiated real hard (there is a lot of competition and be sure to clearly specify the amount and the minutes of the ride) and then finalised a vendor. We then had an awesome time on the water scooter and the para-gliding…. Super Super Fun.
We then walked up to the Baga beach (if you start walking along the beach in a particular direction, you can reach Baga). If was a fun and water-soaked walk as for some reason we thought that soaking each other while walking was a super hilarious activity. We then arrived at Baga, found a comfortable shack and spent the entire afternoon between hitting the water and lying down on a sun-bed in the shack. While you are lounging here, you have options of shopping for small things that people keep peddling, getting a massage done, simply read a book or best just doze off. We then spent a nice pensive evening watching the sunset on Baga beach.
For dinner, we checked the Lonely Planet and it recommended a place called “Fiesta” on the Baga beach. And of course we 3 mad hatters did not check on what kind of place it was but just landed up there in our typical Goa holiday clothes and that too without a reservation. When we entered the place, despite how we looked, the staff was extremely cordial to us and even gave us a table. That’s when we then discovered that “Fiesta” is quite a classy / upscaly place. This place has beautiful naturally done interiors (nature integrated seating, tables, walls etc), awesome food and amazing service. They even have a small well inside and naturally growing very small coconut trees. It’s a must visit place for dinner.We were extremely tired by then (as we had not slept the whole of the previous night because of cockroaches and the cold) so we retired early.
The next day we decided to start bright and early with a sumptuous breakfast at a nearby coffee shop and then go beach hopping. So we again bargained very hard and finalised a cab to take us to the Anjuna Beach and the Vagator Beach.
We first went to the Anjuna beach. This is a small rocky beach in Goa, not as clean and no major activity around it but it’s very famous with the hippies. We had a nice time here collecting different colored and shaped rocks and taking funny pictures. This beach also has a famous flea market on a particular day in the week but we couldn’t stay for that.
We then went to the Vagator beach. This is one beautiful beach with loads of coconut trees and white sands. This is also not as commercial as the Baga beach. So we had a nice time walking around this beach,playing in the water and walking about. While walking around we came across a beautiful and completely deserted beach. We then hung around here all afternoon, lazying around, seeing the various crabs and sea shells and rocks. We also went up to see the now famous ruins of a fort. It’s quite a sight of various beaches from up there.
We then returned to our hotel for a quick rest and in the evening went to the Candolem beach. We went to this beach closer to sunset and had quite a scary time. Now this beach has a huge ship stuck very close to it and you can see this ship looming all over in the background and is very scary after dark. We hung around this beach post sunset and for some reason, that I fail to understand now, we decided to walk all the way to Baga. If anyone of you reading this post also gets this idea, please drop it at that instant itself. It’s too far a distance and just not worth it. We ended up walking for about 3 hours without reaching anywhere. For some reason even this beach got extremely deserted and post sunset the huge ship started looking haunted and so scary. Then one of our friends started telling us all kinds of ghost stories which combined with the things around really spooked us. So much so that we literally ran to the road, paid a cabbie an exorbitant amount to just drop us back to our hotel… Phew that was one scary evening…
But once we saw civilisation we got our bearings back and then had a good dinner and sat on the Baga beach till early morning watching the stars, listening to the sound of waves and generally thinking. To think of it none of the 3 of us remembers speaking but we didn’t feel for the need for it either. Guess that’s what being with yourself is.
Anyways the third day was our last day in Goa, so we decided to generally chill out, laze on the Baga beach and then shop for all kinds of stuff in the local street shops. We found these really cute coasters, auto rickshaw key chains and fridge magnets, and amazing embroidered devil sling bags. Some more beach lazing and dozing later, we packed our bags, checked out of the hotel and took the cab to Panaji. We then explored the markets here, shopped at the local shops for “bibinca” and cashew nuts and then took our overnight train back to Mumbai.
My take on Goa is that its one place that you can have any kind of holiday you want. It can be a beach trip for all beach lovers, heritage or religious trip for all the church enthusiasts and the history buffs, partying place for all party lovers with numerous night clubs and casinos, Ayurvedic treatment place for medical tourism, corporate offsites with a mix of everything, camping, diving, anything. No matter what you want to do, you can do it in Goa.
So, to sum it up – Goa can be what you want it to be. 🙂
Tips for the Trip –
- Be sure on what you want to do in Goa and book your accommodations accordingly. Check this post for more details – http://wp.me/p29z7S-9q .
- Hone your negotiations / bargaining skills before you reach here, as you really need it here for everything. And on a budget trip, it’s definitely an advantage.
- When you negotiate for water sports and cabs, be sure to specify the amount payable clearly and the minutes that they will have the ride for before starting the activity.