Becky from The Goa Experience recalls her trip to Goa which saw her encounter the state's stunning beaches, tasty food and beautiful natural landscapes.
I’ve heard countless stories about India, a place where my dad worked when I was a toddler. From listening to stories growing up, as well as watching films similar to Slumdog Millionaire, this helped me to create an image of the country. When I was presented with the opportunity to visit, I was thrilled and excited to gain a first-hand experience of this fascinating country.
Goa is the smallest and richest state of India, and with its abundance of coconut palms and long white beaches, it’s been labelled the holiday state of India. Not a bad place to start my adventures in the country then! Landing after a nine-hour flight, the first thing I noticed was the smell. Oh the gorgeous, fragrant smell of Goa. It’s hard to explain, but it’s like walking into your favourite restaurant with an empty stomach.
Our trip began in South Goa, Colva, where the sandy beaches merge and stretch for more than 25 kilometres. En route we were treated to lunch at the popular Zeebop restaurant on Utorda Beach, and damn it was good. The freshest catch (stuffed crab, king prawns, calamari – you name it!) and the spices and flavours of freshly prepared Indian Cuisine made for a fine feast. I was beginning to realise the diet I had planned back in the UK was about to be thrown out of the window over the next week!
There was ample amount to see in Colva; the bright coloured colonial Portuguese houses, local market stands and never ending white sand beaches. The windy roads were lined with sky-high palm trees backing onto rice fields and lavish forests. We were amazed that we were casually passed by women in their beautiful saris and even families and small children on mopeds heading to complete their daily chores. The local community felt vibrant and full of atmosphere.
While in the South, we spent a day exploring and absorbing what the area had to offer. Our day started with an early morning jeep safari and a walk up to the famous Dudhsagar Waterfalls. We were lucky enough to spot a train passing over the waterfalls, a special place to take a dip and relax for a few hours. In the afternoon our tour guide took us to a local spice farm and for a tour around the Kingfisher Beer Factory. It was extraordinary to learn where the spices are grown and what they are used for. In true Goan style our day was topped with a refreshing Kingfisher at the factory. On our way back to the hotel we had the pleasure to visit the Temple of Peace – a tough aspect to grasp in our hectic Western way of life. My favourite part of Colva was the beach; especially one evening spent sat on a candlelit table provided by one of the beach shacks. An arm’s length away from the ocean, we spent a few hours with our feet in the sand relaxing, watching the locals play in the water and sipping an aperitif after a ‘hard’ day’s work (It would be rude not to!)
Our journey to North Goa presented us with the ‘livelier’ part of the state. Calungute and Baga are notorious for their party atmosphere and I was dubious to visit after spending a lovely few days in the South. However the North has much more to offer than just a party atmosphere. As well as being shown a diverse selection of hotels, the local tour guides spoilt us with knowledge and things to do. They took us to the colourful Panjim Market where locals barter for their weekly groceries; we were also taken to the Saturday Night Market in Arpora which was as incredible experience! I have never experienced anything like it; there was so much to see and buy, not to mention the flame throwers and local entertainment. I can’t put into words the atmosphere and excitement of walking in between the hustle and bustle of it all. A must do if you are in the area.
One of our last nights was spent on the ‘Laid Back Waters’ house boat. We cruised down Baga River in our own private traditional Goan house boat. We witnessed a spectacular sunset; passing fisherman inspecting their catch of the day and local children sitting on the sand banks waving energetically at us to try and catch our eyes. We were treated to a banquet of Indian food and after stargazing we headed to our bedrooms and fell asleep to the sound of the water delicately slapping the side of the boat. Morning was just as good as we awoke early to catch sight of the sunrise while our breakfast was freshly prepared. What a perfect way to end the week.
Reflecting on the trip, I have realised just how much I had fallen in love with Goa. We had all been given the finest introduction to India; bright coloured buildings, heavenly food, friendly locals and never ending beaches. I will definitely be back.
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