It will be hard for me not to break into poetry as I write this post. Goa does this to you. A little state on the western coast of India with the Arabian Sea running all along the coast, blue skies, coconut palms and a landscape covered with greens of all hues, it’s impossible not to be mesmerised. Goa’s terrain maybe similar in some respects to it’s cousins, Kerala and Karnataka; but the Portuguese architecture that has it’s influence on the Churches, Public buildings and even people’s homes, adds a certain aura to the place.
26.6.17 18:30 p.m.
Landed in Goa at Madgaon station after a 12 hour journey by train from Kerala traversing streams, rivers, mountain springs, tunnels and paddy fields. One does not have to check out the stations on the way to know one has crossed over from one state to another. As the colour of the soil changes from black to red and the vegetation from a dark green to a lighter green, one knows that the borders of Kerala have been crossed and the borders of Karnataka have been entered.
Getting out of the station, the words from Madonna’s 1987 song, La Isla Bonita, came back ringing in my ears, as though it was written only for Goa.
Tropical the island breeze,
All of Nature wild and free,
This is where I long to be,
La Isla Bonita,
And when the samba played,
The sun would set so high
Ring through my ears and sting my eyes,
Your Spanish lullaby
Our 9-seater van was waiting for us. There was a slight drizzle. Happy to have finally reached, bags loaded into the van, we were all set for our Goan escapade. On the way, we stopped at a vegetarian restaurant, “Krishna” to freshen up and to grab a bite before taking the 2 hour long journey to our resort. The station was in South Goa and the resort in the North. Surprisingly, the restaurant was filled. Considering that almost all Goans are non-vegetarians, it was rather unexpected, to see a vegetarian joint filled. The ambience is good and so are the snacks.
The journey to the resort, though long, was a perfect first peek of what Goa had in store for us. Long, winding roads, trees of all sizes growing wild, quaint shops selling knick-knacks, restaurants lit up in fairy lights at night and the constant hum of the sea in the background and the city shouts out “FUN”.
The hotel that we stayed in- Estrella Do Mar, is the kind of hotel that grows onto you. Located in Calangute, it has private access to the beach which is something you will be grateful for, once you visit the beaches in Goa. Despite it being the off-peak season in July, the beaches were crowded and if one wishes to enjoy the waters and feel a sense of peace and calm, then taking a hotel with a private beach is advisable. The rooms at Estrella are spartan though comfortable and staying here definitely makes sense when you’re going in a group. The food at the hotel has a home-made touch to it and is perfect if you are travelling with hungry children who are too tired to venture out for food after a day at the beach. Also, the only place in the hotel where food is served, both buffet and a la carte, is an open place with a roof and live music. It’s certainly a good place to stay if you’re with family and if you want to enjoy the outdoors and are not looking for anything luxurious.
Day 1: 10:00:00
We decided to explore the surrounding areas by foot which was a good idea because Goa is all about exploring. You can explore the place by foot or by bike and find hidden treasures in terms of less travelled roads, forts, head into the churches that aren’t ear-marked by tour operators and try out the food at any one of the local joints.
Note: Keep your watch, mobile phone and any other gadget away from you while in Goa. It’s the perfect place to let your hair down and close your eyes -bask in the sun, enjoy the rain, watch the waves, walk the lanes and admire the yellow houses with wrought iron windows along the road-side, sneak into one of the many cafes or tiny shops selling touristy things. You can bargain a little but the prices are reasonable so don’t feel bad if the shopkeeper does not reduce the price.
Feel the wind in my hair,
Taste the salt on my lips,
The surf leaves my face damp,
I shut my eyes…
The sand in my feet,
The smell of the sea tingles my nose,
The sound of the waves follow the rhythm of my heart,
I take a deep breath…
The sun, sky and the sea,
Are all talking to me,
The trees and the birds are telling me to see,
That it’s all so free and there’s enough for you and for me…
It rained on and off but this only added to the monsoon holiday experience and certainly wasn’t a spoiler. In fact soon we were experts at predicting the weather. It would rain heavily for a few minutes and then the sun would come up for 20 minutes allowing us to take pictures and walk around without making a fuss.
Tip :Having a rain-coat is better than an umbrella as the strong monsoon winds tend to blow the umbrella or turn it upside down.
After lunch at a local beach-side eatery which had music blasting, we took a walk back to the hotel, halting now and then at the shops as the girls picked up magnets, key-chains and beaded bracelets for their friends. The rest of the day was spent, relaxing on the beach.
White sandy beaches,
Clean, clean, sand.
High, frothy waves,
Grey, grey skies.
White, round ball,
Is it the sun or the moon that hides behind the clouds?
Big, Big, raindrops,
Now we’re cleansed (body and soul)!
On Day 2 and 3 we took a trip to North and South Goa. Stay with us to read the rest of the trip and I am sure you’ll plan your next holiday to Goa. Who says all good things come with a price? It’s free in Goa!
P.S. Photo Credits : Sanjay Nair & Keraleeyan Nair
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