July 28, 2013

Goa Goa Gone

Lovely to go to Goa anytime of the year, i say. Ok , not so if its the summer. However the Monsoon period can be as inviting as the Winter. In fact, most people worry that incessant rains and strong currents are a big put off. True, but there is a charm and tranquility attached to this period that is mostly compromised during peak periods and tourist friendly zones. Given that swimming is restricted to certain days and the seas are not open to public for use but there are things to discover in Goa during the monsoon that demand that you look away from the usual and experiment with the unknown.

The backwaters of Goa, the beach cottages and the local eateries that serve you during the off season are the small treasures in goa that are hard to find during the Peak season. We didn't plan Goa but Goa planned itself for us. We were invited for a wedding spread over 3 days and Goa was going to play host for a week post that.Goa Weddings are becoming commonplace. The scenic backgrounds, the fantastic hotel service, the exclusivity, the great food and weather all complement the Goa wedding experience. These destination weddings really bring families together from all over the world leaving their worries and city stressors behind.

Wedding functions during the monsoon are mostly and preferably had indoors. The options,invariably increase during non monsoon periods. Beaches and Open air Garden venues are the pick of the lot allowing set designers to play around with more space, scenic backdrops and natural lighting!

Once the ceremonies are over, many people prefer extending their stay at the venue hotel or relocating to nearby resorts whilst turning towards special family bonding sessions. Its usually a great time for kids to indulge themselves during the extended stay allowing the parents some me time. My usual and the safest advice would be to stay put at the hotel swimming pool, opt for the kids play area and take advantage of the monsoon packages at the Spa and Ayurvedic Massage centres. The Monsoon packages are not only limited to the Spa but for various other hotel facilities, including Happy Hours at the Pool side, discounted beverages, special rates on buffet meals, day sight seeing included and taxi fares.

Goa taxi fares are usually fixed for the journey say from Mapusa to Panjim or to the Airport. The taxi drivers usually employed and run by the RTO or Local politican are pretty rough to deal with. They dont allow taxis from one particular area to ply within another area and they have varying rates for different sized vehicles. They don't indulge in negotiations and they don't care much for many pit stops. However, on the plus side, they do have very well maintained cabs and they limit their engagement in conversations. Plus, the roads in Goa are such a pleasure to drive on that long journeys seem bearable even with large families.

If the Hotel that you are residing at is facing the beach, one must venture out to the opposite side of the road and try to reach the river facing restaurants. One such lovely restaurant was Hungry Shark restaurant adjacent to the Haathi Mahal Resort at Cavelossim. Truly beautiful views, open spaces and delicious goan cuisine. They also provided accommodation to the simple, non fussy travellers! Pretty irresistible considering the river view, adventure water sports and restaurant all within a few metres of the rooms.

Haathi mahal South Goa Resort

If one is looking for a good family dinner /breakfast/ lunch , i have included all three meals in hindsight because their food was outstanding ! Then, one must visit Haathi Mahal, goa to delight those tastebuds.

Martins Corner at Betalbatim goa was the usual affair. Great crabs (sachins favourite) and delicious local goan sausage. However, their overall menu does seem slightly pale now either due to the frequent visits or the standards that goa has raised itself to. Im beginning to believe its the latter. But like Brittos in the North which is nothing less than WOW, we will continue to frequent this place to stay connected and add to the true goan experience.

The trip to Old Goa which was once the capital of Goa in the Portuguese days, was a wonderful drive. We arrived at Basilica of Bom Jesus Church to view the mortal remains of St Francis Xavier and to view the stunning architectural pieces that it houses. I am safely presuming this is the most famous of all churches in Old Goa and both the interiors and the exteriors are remarkable for its pillars and carvings. I picked up pretty stoned earrings from outside the Church grounds as souvenirs at a great deal!

My next post will be the discovery of the Music scene in Goa ! So keep watching this space:)

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