Sunday, November 13, 2016

Trip Report - 5 nights in Goa

Some destinations present themselves in a new way even when you visit them multiple times. Goa is one such place. This was our third visit; familiarity blended perfectly well with newness and made our trip wonderful. 

This time we decided to stay in the North for 3 nights and make our first trip to the South for 2. Being a little richer than last time helped 'cause hotels in the South are both tempting and expensive! Plus the taxi fares, oh the taxi fares... more on that later.

We landed here on 7th evening from Chandigarh and headed straight to Souzo Lobo in Calungute for dinner. After a disappointing meal, we had our favorite Naturals ice-cream and took a taxi to Club Cubana. It was a Monday night, yet the club had its amazing vibe that we absolutely love. After chilling out on the beds, dancing to funky beats in the club section and having a few drinks at the bar, we retired for the day. By the way, never ever go to Calungute beach. And always, always have Natural's ice cream and definitely go to Cubana!

Love the sound of waves at Souza Lobo, not the food and the strays though.

The bar at Club Cubana - always buzzing with good crowd and superb music.

If you can have only one ice-cream in your lifetime, this is the one!!!

We had been to Baga, Calungute and Morjim in the North but never seen Candolim beach. Much against the wishes of the taxi drivers outside our hotel, we thought of checking out the scene there. The shacks were still not open due to some stupid government approvals, but we could still get drinks and sunbeds on the beach. We stayed there for a while, but returned back disappointed. Again.

For the evening, we had a booking at Thalassa, the much celebrated Greek Taverna in Vagator. I had called a few days back and booked a table with a sea view at 5 p.m. Absolutely loved the beautiful sunset and the buzz in the restaurant. Built in Santorini/Mykonos style, the place was quite entertaining. I guess we missed out on the live shows because it was a Tuesday, next time, maybe!

The view from our table

The creme de la creme of Goa tourists!!!

At night, we went to the casino. The atmosphere was becoming grim.. Modi had just given the news of banning Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes. Frankly, I thought it was a joke when I read it on whatsapp! The Boy confirmed it soon and we were worried for a lot of people we know! We had a lot of cash with us as well and we were heading straight to Bahrain in 3 days. We didn't have any intention of waiting in the queues when the banks opened. It didn't matter if we lost in the casino; they were going to give us our money in denominations of 500 and 1000 only!!

Well, I am seasoned player. We played for a couple of hours and didn't lose a single penny. That's how I like it - entertainment for free. Without being greedy, we left early. 

The taxi wallahs were accepting the cash. Some restaurants followed suit. Most were confused and held on to their 10's,20's, 50's and 100's dearly. ATMs were all filled with people at night and there was panic all around. Thankfully, we had a trustworthy friend in Goa who took our cash from us the next day and deposited the same a couple of days later. What a relief! 

On Day 3, we went to the Portuguese Quarter in Panaji. Goa is much more than its beaches, and I really wanted to see that. It was a quiet neighbourhood with a clear influence from its Portuguese rulers. We walked around and had lunch at the most famous restaurant there - Viva Panjim. The food was ok, the owner was very sweet and friendly, the decor was rustic.. only cards accepted during this particular panic situation!

The houses in Fountainhas - the Portuguese Quarter in Panaji. Google did this editing for me!

The Restaurant - Viva Panjim 

We headed to our favorite Morjim beach after this. Finally we were happy to be where we were comfortable. New things are fun, but old and pre-loved are better. Our dinner at Britto's was the same - delicious even on our third visit. Do try Prawns Balchao (dry as starter not the gravy ones because then it has a very weird smell) to love more of the Goan cuisine.

The night at LPK - Love, Passion, Karma - was disappointing again. Lousy crowd, Pathetic music and no ambience whatsoever. I don't know if it was Wednesday night lull or what - we left in 30 minutes flat!

Me - the poser - at Morjim!

LPK - the 'artwork' impressed us. Nothing else.

Now came the day we were most excited about - our trip to South Goa. We took a big step and booked ourselves into The Leela Hotel in Cavelossim. Aah, what can I say about this magical property. Frankly, I wanted to be up and about all the time so that I don't waste a single moment from our precious time here! 

The room had lagoon views, the Golf course was perfectly trimmed, the nursery was beautiful, the walk into the beach was perfect, the food was delicious... we even spotted Sonia Gandhi on our walk around the hotel!! 

The sunsets at Mobor beach - always wonderful!

Hammock on a clean beach - God has been kind!!!

I love those trees and I love those shoes even though they make me look like a school girl!!
This was all inside the hotel, btw!

One of the many Lagoon views at The Leela

Our balcony - can someone make a neighbourhood like this and buy me a villa in it?

Early morning walk around the Golf course on the way to the beach

My favorite drink in the whole wide world!!
And if someone can bring it to your beach bed - ah, pure bliss!

8 a.m. at Leela, Mobor beach
The two days were about early morning walks around the hotel, listening to the waves, getting lost in wilderness, sleeping on the beach beds, drinking Margharitas and eating Prawns masala and Chicken Xacuti at a nearby restaurant - The Fisherman's Wharf. I can't fault anything in those two days - this part of South Goa wowed us. 

Will we return? - definitely! Will we just go to the South? - no way! The real Goa is in the North. We will visit both. Maybe I can call Goa our Leap Year tradition (2008, 2012 and 2016 so far!). Until next time, keep being yourself Goa. And don't let nasty Taxi drivers, who quote exorbitant prices in the beginning and then come down to above normal prices, stop you from visiting this gorgeous place on earth. Goa can be a cheap holiday or a very luxurious one, it all depends on you. Ours was somewhere in between. Whatever you decide to do, you will always yearn to return.