Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Goa

 


Our second stop. Definitely the most laid back place we’ve been in India.

It's hard to tell if it was a miscalculation or a fatality, but if we could turn back in time, we would most definitely finish our trip here, and not vice versa. Anyway, Goa was a breath of fresh air, especially after Mumbai. And if you're thinking that we are overreacting, take a look on the video below:


Goa is just fantastic. Many people say that Goa is not India, and indeed it is not. It is the smallest state by land mass and the richest in GDP per capita. Maybe because it was a Portuguese colony for over 400 years and home to many "civilizing" actions both in the educational as in religious fields.

The state is divided in two districts: North Goa and South Goa. The northern district is more touristy, perhaps because of its proximity to the airport, the luxurious "Beach Resorts" and the historical monuments classified as world heritage by UNESCO. The first time we visited Goa was in 2013, and at that time, we stayed at Candolim beach in North Goa.



This time we decided to go straight to the south, more specifically to a beach called Patnem. Arriving by bus was really hard (an advice for anyone going from Mumbai is to tell the driver to drop you at Margao, the last stop in Goa). When you get there you have two options: the easiest is to take a tuk-tuk or a taxi, which is much faster and more comfortable (value between 1000-1500 INR /15-23 USD). The cheapest is to go by public transport, which costs only a fraction of the trip by taxi, but takes up to 4 times more time. Besides the bus only reaches up to Palolem, so to get to Patnem we ended up taking a taxi for 80 INR /1.20USD.


South Goa is very different from the north, especially where we were. Patnem is a community of artists, hippies, yogis vegetarians and all kinds of spiritual beings. The beach is quiet and every other 50 yard or so, there is a yoga studio, a Bollywood dance class, a vegan restaurant or a little bar playing live music. We don´t recommend to book hotel with advance, since there is plenty of availability and much room for negotiation. To give you an idea, we booked a bungalow at the beach for 2000 INR (approx.30 USD) a night, and by the second day we moved to a much better place for 800 INR (12 USD) only! I would say that if you have good negotiation skills, you can get a deeper discount.



Palolem is slightly busier, with more hotels, restaurants, money exchange houses, etc. In my opinion, the beach is even more beautiful than Patnem. And the advantage is that you can actually walk from one beach to the other, and save on the taxi ride.


But please, do not fall for the Dolphins boat tour! They sell to you that if don´t see any dolphins you don´t have to pay, so we were there for 40 minutes waiting and waiting, until finally "ONE" dolphin decided to emerge. Of course, dolphins are mammals, eventually someone will have to breathe, and this is it, once you took the picture automatically the ride ends.


The best experience for us was renting a scooter (which was super easy to drive even for someone like me who never drove a motorbike before!) and exploring the coast. Undoubtedly my favorite beach was Talpona, a semi deserted paradise, with just a few bungalows. If one day I decide to write a book that's the place I will go, more precisely in "Ordo Sounar", the most charming restaurant/ guesthouse in South Goa. 


But Goa’s beaches cater to all tastes. At Cola beach, we found a freshwater lake divided from the sea only by a strip of sand, with a curiosity, the lake is hot at the bottom and cold at the surface!



Want to see more of Goa? Check out the videos below.


 

No doubts we will return to South Goa, but to stay one full month and not just 5 days!


Goa



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