My Li'l Travel Book | Goa. Part 1. › Sushmita Malakar

My Li’l Travel Book | Goa. Part 1.

All right, so just to make it clear, Part 2 of this series will be about the Goa which is beyond the beaches, which I am yet to do. This time around it is just about the waters. The beyond beaches part must happen eventually – in the years to come.

2016 has been the year of travel for me. As mentioned sometime, somewhere in this blog, I have never really travelled much in my entire life. So yes, the li’l bit of travelling that I have done is apparently way too much for me!

Anyhow, I might have been a lazy blob of flesh in the past and did not write much about travelling but I made a pretty li’l promise to myself – I will at least document the travels I have done in 2016 in 2016 only!

I have been to Goa a couple of times now. This trip, like all other trips to Goa in the past, was an impromptu one. Tickets were booked one night and then there I was, breathing the air of Goa.

Before I move on and talk about this amazing trip, some travel tips for this place:

  • Though there are the peak seasons in Goa but if you really plan to enjoy the beaches, plan a trip during the offseason. It’s worth!
  • Plan your trip well in advance – decide what all you have to do and where all you have to visit and then book your hotels (yes, well in advance!)
  • There is so much water and sun there, please carry your swim-suit and sunscreen! 
  • If planning to travel on your own in Goa, rely on Google maps and carry extra power back-up for phones. 
My trip was outlined in a manner that I did not miss the customary South Goa calmness and chill. So, after I landed in Goa, I took a cab to Vasco and from there rented a car. No matter how much I wanted to rent a Thar, I knew it was not possible to find one in Vasco. Anyhow, the Wagon R served more or less the same purpose. The reason to rent a car from Vasco was simple – the convenience of travelling to and fro the airport.
One heads up, it is not really legal to rent out cars and bikes like the way it is being rented out in Goa. So, be safe and follow all the traffic rules and make sure that all the papers of the vehicle are in place.
Let the most relaxing trip so far begin! How much I love the roads of Goa! 

The first day, I decided to chill in South Goa in a resort only. No driving around, no beaches – just relaxing in the resort. The Ramada Caravela Beach Resort (Varca) was perfect for this. A pretty room with constant oceanic noise – couldn’t have asked for more.

Not exactly an ocean – view room, but too much peace!

My first day in Goa was spent relaxing and watching the sunset by the beach.

The property looked just magical by the evening.
I know it makes li’l sense to chill in a resort even in Goa, but somehow I had to prepare for the next four days of awesomeness. So, yes this was needed.
The pool side bar swag taken to the next level!
The day ended with a good meal from the hotel’s restaurant – I decided to have their authentic dish (Chicken prepared in Goan style) – and a good night’s sleep.
The second day started with a beautiful early morning beach sidewalk and chilling by the poolside.
I got up at 5 in the morning to watch the sunrise. However, it rained that morning and the scenario was completely different – for good!
The vibrant colour!
Chilling by the poolside!
After checking out, the next destination was Palolem Beach(Canacona in South Goa). I didn’t want to do any crowded beach. Thank God for the offseason, this beach was not really crowded.
The drive to the beach was completely amazing. I have this thing for the roads which are made by cutting the hills and mountains. I could just stay there for a good amount of time. (I didn’t say forever because I was too excited to go to the beach!)
Oh, this beauty of the road!
After the wonderful drive, I arrived at Palolem Beach. It was not just less crowded but very clean as well. This is what I love about South Goa beaches – clean and calm.
This is the other side of the beach – the backwater lake.
By the time I was done walking around this beach, clicking some pictures and getting clicked, it was already afternoon. I decided to have lunch at one of the shacks only. Yes, the beaches have been commercialized. But for some good reasons, the shacks on this beach were clean and hygienic.
After a good meal of seafood – calamari fritters- I proceeded towards the next hotel (Country Inn by Carlson) which was in Panjim. So, I have always stayed in South Goa. This time was the first time that I was going to explore North Goa. And yes, the nightlife was already there in my mind.
The drive in Goa has not disappointed me ever.  I mean it has got the hilly terrains, which are just too beautiful. Then there are too many water bodies around the roads. It’s such a pleasant experience to drive alongside the still waters which never seem to end! 
This is somewhere while crossing Betul while driving from Palolem towards Panjim.
This river ran alongside the roads that lead to Panjim.

I spent the rest of my day in the hotel relaxing. Though I planned to visit one of the casinos that night but then somehow I preferred to sleep! Also, I was excited for the next morning. Finally, I was going to this famous fort of Goa. I have this natural love for forts which is just not explainable.

The third morning started with Aguada Fort visit. We north Indians, after being exposed to the magnificent Mughal architecture, in general, expect a lot out of forts. So, yes, this Fort might just be a disappointment but it has its own beauty. It’s huge, yes! And the chills of watching the infinite sea fight the walls of the fort is next level!

The Beautifully preserved piece of Portuguese architecture.
Because I had to get clicked here!
The few to the other side from the Fort.
I don’t know but there was certain peace in this commotion and chaos as well.
After spending a good amount of time enjoying the beauty and calmness of this place and introspecting much about life, I decided to have lunch in one of the many li’l restaurants that were around. I went to this very amazing hidden gem called The Eden. The served some very authentic German and Portuguese Cuisine.
I had the classic vindaloo. However, I have always detested experimenting with Goan desserts. My experiments have always failed and I ended up having one more dessert in my “not-to-have-ever” list.
However, I tried this thing called Serradura – a simple combination of milk, butter and biscuit crumbs. This one turned out to be pretty good for my taste buds!
One thing I would like to mention here is that I am not a traveller. I book my hotels in advance and that too some good chain of hotel. I make sure that I am just comfortable while travelling. I don’t really believe in unplanned stays. For me, my “unplanning” is just a subset of the planning.
So with that, I proceeded towards the next hotel(Golden Tulip), again in Candolim only. As planned, the third evening was to be dedicated to clubbing. However, I have always wanted to go to the casinos, so I decided to go there for some time as well – just to check this place on my checklist.
So these casinos have this swag of being in the water. So, as I reached Panaji, I could see this huge yacht on the river Mandovi – anchored and well lit – looking royal in the evening. However, due to way too much rush, I did not go to their ultra famous Deltin Royale but to this li’l yacht called Deltin JAQK.
These casinos have this fundamental of charging some entry fee and giving you one-time playing chips, which you can’t en-cash unless you play and win something. The fee also includes the dinner buffet and drinks. Being just an over-enthusiastic kid, I just wanted to see what it looks like.
Photography is prohibited inside, so there are no pictures, but it looked like those shady gambling places with even shadier looking people. At first, it also resembled those dance bars which are shown in the Bollywood cinemas. And the overcrowded tables! People were gambling like crazy in there.
I decided to come back after having some food and bringing back the playing chips as souvenirs(yes, the place looked that intimidating). But then, the over-enthusiastic kid inside me had to play one of those casino games. I have grown up watching a lot of movies and the only casino game I could recall was the Roulette.
After a lot of reading on Wikipedia and understanding the rules on some other websites, I decided to play this one. My first bet lost me my chips. The subsequent bets made me recover half of the entry fee. I realized that I enjoyed gambling and that was the exact moment I realized how it becomes addictive – I wanted to come there again before I flew back to Delhi. And yes, I did.
My next stop was this night club called LPK Waterfront. Though the name made li’l sense to me, the place is beautiful – lake facing and weird decors at the entrance.
So, you need to go to this place only if you like clubbing and you like loud music. The crowd here was good and yes, the DJ was too good.
I retired to my hotel at around 4 in the morning and damn, Goa seemed too safe! I can not do that in Delhi. No.
The fourth morning was a lazy one. I first checked out of the hotel and went to the next one (Lazy Lagoon, Sarovar Portico) in Baga. This was in the interiors of Baga and reaching there was a task. However, it faces this lagoon and thus the name is justified.
The view from the room.
After resting well and gathering back my energy, I got ready for Anjuna beach. I did not like that beach. And there was this over-rated shack called Curlies which was not very clean and way too crowded.
After an average lunch of hummus and pita bread at the Curlies, I started off for my next stop – Ashwem beach. I had heard that this place is less crowded and was one of the better beaches in North Goa.
As I mentioned, the drive in Goa is pretty delightful.
I trusted Google maps and drove towards Ashwem. However, Google maps took me to this beach of some private resort. This was Marbella Beach and the discovery was pleasant.
So this place had these elegant white tents where you can enjoy the beauty of the sea. This is Marbella Beach Resort.
This beach was clean and the sea was calm here. Reminded me of Pondicherry. I absolutely fell in love with this beach. Instantly.
Yes, I am kind of obsessed with back shots!
The shack served some good food. From here I came back to my hotel. I wanted to go to club Cabana(Arpora) this night. However, after reaching there, I discovered that it has closed. A li’l dejected, I went back to Candolim to another night club called the SinQ.
Though this place looked good but the crowd was not that good. So I retired back to my hotel room quiet early this night.
The fifth and final morning in Goa was exciting for me because I was finally visiting that “Dil Chahta Hai” Fort. The Chapora Fort is located some 5-km from the place where I was staying. After a late morning, I checked out of the hotel room.
My next stop was this pretty li’l cafe called Swept Away for a brunch. This was a cute place, probably started by people from Israel. The food was far better than the over-hyped places in Goa.
The Chapora Fort is again at an altitude and at first looks a li’l difficult to climb. But once you are up there, the view from all directions is just serene and scenic.
The picture probably couldn’t capture the height which I wanted to highlight. But still!
From one side it gives a clear view of the Arabian Sea.

The other side gives a view of the River Chapora.
The filmy background.

As you walk further up, you can see a pretty but difficult walk towards the Vagator Beach.
I so wanted to go there but then it would have been tiring and yes, I had planned to visit the casino one last time. But before coming back from this beautiful fort, another of the back shots!

Goa definitely has a lot of surprises to offer. For example, this old vintage pink ambassador! Goa drives – always a pleasure.

And my final destination was Casino Royale. I just wanted to go there and win. That was one challenge that I took. Moreover, I had to do away with this for once and for all.

This yacht was more into the river, so the boat ride was long. I was nervous because I just did not want to lose.

This casino had a massive yacht and the place was better. Or maybe my time of visit was such that the professionals had still not come.

The last day in Goa was totally filmy for me. First the Chapora Fort and then this Royale thing. I placed all my money on the Roulette table again – and trust me, you will always get a feeling right out from a Bond movie while you are placing your bet, trying to understand other people and their bets!

After I recovered around 60 per cent of the money invested, I came back with a happy face. I drove back to Vasco, gave back the car and left for the airport. This trip was certainly the one to remember!

Author’s Note
This was the Goa with the beaches. I will go to Goa once again to visit the Dudhsagar falls and the Ramakrishna Ashram there. Goa is a beautiful state. I fall in love with it with me each visit!

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