I’ll get straight to the point. After spending the Best part of a month travelling the North of India with a dabble of the South, our primary aim for Goa was to achieve as little as possible. For those of you that know me well though, I’m not very good at doing nothing…
Goa is a funny place, where you can literally go from a beach paradise to a psy trance and neon fuelled rave within about a 10minute walk down the beach. Dependent on what part of Goa you stay in though, you can also have either/or if you read up on what’s going on. Either way, it’s the smallest state by a Country mile, the wealthiest, and the most relaxed on alcohol taxation, horray! After a bit of research (and somewhat governed by pre booked train tickets to Goa) we decided to rent an apartment in North Goa in an area called Vagator.
From what we read up about Goa, the North has a little bit more life to it, and the South is pure chill. Because we were hitting Goa in the shoulder season (so half the bars and restaurants aren’t open or even built), we thought we should probably explore the north where there’s likely to be a little more going on. This was probably a very sensible recommendation from Kelly as I probably would have lost my shit in the south doing absolutely nothing for a week… Vagator is a short drive down the coast from Anjuna, a popular stop for party goers and is synonymous for its beautiful coastline. We ended up hiring an Airbnb as we’d managed to save a bit of our budget in Kerala not getting a massive houseboat. It was so nice to have our own place for the best part of a week!
So, before we could achieve nothing, we needed to scope out the surrounding area. We ended up hiring a scooter for 3 days which was AWESOME! The public transport in Goa isn’t as good as other areas we’ve been, and to be honest having the freedom to just go for a ride was rather refreshing. DON’T WORRY PARENTS, WE BOTH WORE HELMETS!
We spent day 1 driving around Vagator, Anjuna, and Chapora, checking out the sights, beaches, bars, and hopefully party venues. We kinda lucked out to be honest, our local beach (a very casual ten minute stroll from our apartment) was beautiful, and at low tide opened up to uncover some really secluded areas of coastline that made you think you had the whole place to yourself!
Alongside this, we discovered a quality venue called Curlies on a private beach between at the end of Anjuna. We ended up falling in love with this place a little as it literally offered everything we wanted, so went back probably 4 times over the week!
We again lucked out; a five minute stroll in the same direction to the local beach was a bar called mango tree, that sold a decent array of cocktails and large kingfisher for 120INR (so all of a quid, dependent on how the Brexit barometer is swinging).
All in all, a good find. As you can see, day one consisted of a distinct lack of doing nothing..
Day 2 of doing nothing consisted of riding to the local city called Panjim. This was kinda my fault as I got a little excited when filling up the bike and ended up filling it completely! Our first day of driving around used a grand total of about £1 of fuel so we still had a full tank left which I was reluctant to just donate to someone else.
What I quickly realised is when people said Goa moves slow, they meant in every way! Yes, the whole attitude is very chilled, but it took us an hour to drive 20km; when you’re riding on roads they are riddled without holes, there are large chunks of dirt tracks, and obviously, the roads are very busy Around the city. I must say, riding into a city in India on a moped is an experience Kelly and I won’t forget anytime soon.
We spent the day exploring the old quarter of Panjim; renowned for its Portuguese architecture and traditional vibes, alongside it’s strongly Christian heritage. I must say, it didn’t disappoint. This part of Goa really stood out as feeling different to everywhere else we’d seen. The whole area could have been in Portugal to be honest: the architecture really did make it stand out. I was determined to find the perfect vindaloo (I’ll write a separate blog about this), and the quest started at a wonderful hotel in the old quarter called Hotel Venite. I was somewhat apprehensive as this was highly recommend by lonely planet which sadly has let me down on other occasions, but this place absolutely delivered! If you’re in Panjim, just find it and go, you won’t be disappointed. Kelly and I both had traditional Goan meals and didn’t leave a drop on our plates.
The rest of the day was spent driving along the coastline to Aguada, another coastal area with a coastal fort. To be honest, I would have been happy riding along the coastal roads all day; the sights were truly stunning.
Again, another failure at doing nothing.
Day 3 we decided to actually do nothing, including spending money! We went to the local beach and just read, all day, achieving nothing apart from reducing the impact of my terrible tank top tan lines. Work in progress…
We went out for lunch and dinner again furthering our quest to find the perfect vindaloo. Unfortunately my attempt this day resulted in a perfect example of how NOT to make one. Can’t win them all I guess…
Day 4 We really achieved nothing. Sadly Kelly and I got ill again, and spent the day in bed trying to not feel sorry for ourselves. I blame the vindaloo from the day before 😭
Fortunately on day 5 we were feeling human again!
We decided to hire a bike again, and went to Curlies early. By about 11 we were both on the beach, Kindles in hand, listening to the sea. Bliss! The reason we loved this place so much is it offered everything. All day long they played chilled Hed Kandi style chillout tunes, with awesome and friendly staff, great food, a great array of drinks, and all enclosed in a very cool venue with stuff to keep everyone happy: add a private beach to that and we were laughing!
We ended up staying there till about 930pm as we thought there was a Psy Trance night on (plus I’ve wanted to see the sunset over the ocean this whole trip). Apparently we were wrong sadly; as everyone lines up for Diwali the party for the week was shifted to the following night when we’d be on a sleeper train to Bombay. Neither of us were amused, but as we still didn’t feel 100% we got over this quickly.
To finish off our Goan experience we spent the last day at our local beach just taking in the sights before heading off on our sleeper to Bombay. It was such a lovely beach it felt like a great way to end our beach bum life for a bit…
I really wish we had booked two weeks in Goa to be honest. The beauty of the beaches was astounding, and the relaxed atmosphere was a breath of fresh air for us both, but we just want a little bit more. Even though we failed at achieving nothing the whole time, we got the level about right to manage my sanity levels. Obviously being sick in the middle didn’t help, but you can’t win them all….
I’m almost certain India is out to break us!
Now, our final stop in India is in Bombay (Mumbai). We’ve booked to stay with a family in Versova beach to get a proper experience of Diwali, which starts tomorrow. If we make it out of here alive, we leave India on the 2nd and head to Vietnam. I’ll be writing about Diwali on the plane I’m sure, but also a separate blog about India overall. It’s such a magical place I kinda want to reflect on it in its entirety.