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Goa – Beaches, Churches and House Parties (Off-season)

Goa has always been the preferred holiday destination and the centre of the party scene for Indians and foreigners. It’s the one place that you talk about visiting growing up as a teenager. I never thought I’d be going to Goa this late in my life, but it finally happened with the best bunch of people I can think of. Going to Goa in June/July is something many people would advice against, but given our schedules this was the only period of time that all of us would be getting together and we wanted to make the best of it. Hence, Goa was chosen. Plans began more than a month before we were to leave. Tickets were booked 30 days in advance (that’s the earliest one can book bus tickets), and the place that was going to be our home for three days – a duplex house with a swimming pool in Saligao, was booked amidst much enthusiasm. Day Onebroken down bus, surprise birthday party, Aguada fort, Candolim beach, nightmare at Curlie’s, and a night that cannot be mentioned. We left Bangalore at around 8.30 in the evening and after a night’s worth of talking and catching up, we were in the state of Goa. For the next few hours, almost nothing went in our way. Having barely passed Panjim, our bus broke down. The weather had turned into a nightmare with heavy storms lashing the whole state. Reaching Saligao from the bus stand in itself was a headache with every cab and autorickshaw there trying to fleece us. We knew immediately that we had to get our own transport arranged soon or we would end up spending a fortune on travel alone. It was then decided to head out and rent a Toyota Innova. We could have as well gone for a Honda CR-V given that it was just a few hundred extra but the CR-V was a petrol variant with a fuel efficiency of 4 kmpl. surprise partyWe stayed at Blue Waters House in Saligao. Arriving there, I had no idea what was planned. As I went upstairs, the whole place was decorated and there hung a “Happy Birthday” sign in the middle. This was a surprise birthday party for me by Chhavi and Prashanth! Wow! An hour later, the car was rented. We were all unpacked and settled in at home and eager to head over to the beach. Except that it was pouring cats and dogs. Cursing each second that passed by, we decided that it would be best to eat something while we waited for the rains to subdue. At 3 in the afternoon, we had a guy come down to our house in the heavy rains and deliver us our food. A couple of hours later the rain finally stopped and we didn’t waste any further time heading out to Aguada Fort around 15kms from Saligao. To our luck it didn’t rain the entire time we were there. We then headed to Candolim Beach which is on the way back. Next we wanted to check out the nightlife of Goa. For a Bangalorean, nightlife is almost NON FSCKIN EXiSTENT! So you’d understand our desperation to go out past 10 in the night. Relying on Google Maps, we headed out to Curlie’s Restaurant in Anjuna Beach. little did we know what we were getting ourselves into. I had heavily relied on Trip Advisor and Foursquare to plan this entire trip and not one person there had mentioned about the route to Anjuna Beach or that Curlies was deeply hidden away from the public. After an hour’s worth of following Google Maps through roads that almost looked like they weren’t going to lead anywhere, we reached Anjuna Beach. The sound of the waves against the rocks pumped up our spirits as we made our way from the parking lot to Curlie’s. It was more like a trek. Using our mobile phone LEDs as flashlights, we made our way through streams of water all the while sticking close to each other because there wasn’t a single soul in sight and of course, everybody has heard horror stories of women being molested and raped in Goa. Curlie’s – we had finally reached our taste of “nightlife” – a dingy tent that had a couple of guys playing pool to a music system that was blaring out the sound of crowds. That’s right, the sound of a huge crowd cheering and partying was what was being played. All this and we were at a place that was trying to be something it wasn’t. Imagine the horror on our faces. Thankfully a little further down and we came across a bigger place that was actually teaming with party goers. This was Curlie’s – a hyped up restaurant that served booze and hookah while the rain poured in through the holes in the roof. After a disastrous night at Curlie’s, we decided we had to make up for it. What followed was a night I cannot remember. *wink* Day Two – Old Goa, churches, desperate search for food, and a night to remember. Day two began with two more entries to our little group – Vikas and Vinayak, two people who would be instrumental in documenting our trip with some beautiful photos. After a round of breakfast brunch that consisted of noodles and bread, we headed out to Old Goa. The rain gods were kind to us and it didn’t rain the whole time we were on foot. Driving through Goa, in the rains, in a car as big as the Innova and main roads as small as driveways was a nice challenge that was a thoroughly great experience to me. The churches were magnificent. The Portuguese art, sculptures and culture were all a stark reminder of the times before Independence, something that you don’t see everyday in Bangalore or elsewhere in India. goaaa3 What was surprising though about Goa was that none of the restaurants are open past 4pm. We had such a hard time finding a good place to eat that we had to actually fathom the possibility of going to Domino’s… in Goa! Thankfully we came across Sher-e-Punjab, a nice restaurant that was just about to close. The food was fantastic. Would recommend it to everyone. On our way back, we stopped to go on a cruise on the Mandovi River. There are lots to choose from. There are cruises with dinner that cost about 300 per person and they’re really a very calm and pleasant experience. I would suggest staying away from the “parties” that happen on board these cruises since most of them are filled with either drunk locals or the elderly. goaaa2 We headed back home late night, with the news of the VTU results in our minds and good scores to make some of us happy. The night called for a party. And a party it (apparently) was. (I say apparently because I was knocked out cold early after a tiring day at the wheel of the Innova. For this one reason, you could consider hiring a driver. I wouldn’t, of course.) Day Three – Calangute Beach, lots of sea food, and heavy rains. seafoodDay three began early. All of us wanted to head out to one more beach before our scheduled 5.30pm departure. So we decided to head to Calangute, a very talked about beach in Goa. The road to Calangute Beach is a nice place to shop for clothes. It also happens to have a couple of nice sea food restaurants, one of which Chhavi, Vinayak and me decided to check out. I can’t seem to remember the name, but it’s the building just before the beach and on the first floor. A must if you love sea food. The majority being vegans, headed out to a place called Shanthi Sagar (yeah, it’s EVERYWHERE!). goaaa4 As I mentioned earlier, the bus was at 5.30pm and we were still at Calangute at 4pm. We headed back to Saligao while it poured rain heavily, got ready, headed over to Calangute to drop the car off and by the time we reached the bus stand, we had missed the bus! Apparently 5.30pm meant FIVE FRIKKIN THIRTY, and not a minute late. DAMN! Thankfully for us, Chetan -the guy who helped us out with the car – decided to drop us off at Panjim where we could hopefully catch the same bus. Fifteen minutes and an insane Jason Statham inspired drive later, we were in Panjim. And guess what, the bus was scheduled to come an HOUR later. Hah! So that was Goa. Also, I’m sure a lot of you would ask about the check post on the way back to Karnataka – don’t worry. We didn’t have a problem at all and all of our “luggage” arrived safely with us. ;-) List of must-visit places in Goa A special mention should go to Colin, the person who made our three days in Goa such a memorable experience, for decorating the house for a surprise party complete with a cake and drinks. If you plan to go to Goa, do not hesitate to book Bluewaters House Guesthouse Saligao. It’s worth paying for the hospitality and to get a whole duplex house to yourself. So much better than staying in a hotel or resort. Trust me.

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Santosh

Gamer, Audiophile, Avid Blogger and yes, a Student too. Pakka Bangalorean!

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