After a long time, I decided to blog about a trip (almost) immediately after its done. Not without a lot of prompting from hubby though ;).
The build-up for this trip was rather more extended than any other trip. It was also the first holiday that we’d taken for ourselves in a very long time. So we wanted to make the most of it.
Firstly we wanted a hotel that wasn’t too expensive, close to a beach, and easily accessible by public transport. We went through quite a few options. We also checked on the reviews for each place online. We were able to finalize on Kismat Mahal Hotel at Calangute. The rates were a reasonable Rs 700/- for a non-A/C room, and the beach was a mere 5 min walk away. Also when we call Mr. Noronha at the hotel, he was quite helpful with his suggestions.
In the initial mail, he had mention day tours for North Goa and South Goa. When we called him, he suggested that we take the tour for South Goa on Saturday, and spend the time we had on Friday and Sunday to go around North Goa by bike. Also we though of checking out on Sunday morning, and keeping the luggage in the reception (check-out time: 9am). Instead Mr. Noronha suggested we take the room for half-day and pay accordingly. That way we would have a place to freshen up before travelling back to Bangalore. Great suggestions, in all.
Secondly, we didn’t want to spend too much time on travelling. The best option in this case was Seabird Travels. They had a bus that went from Marathahalli at around 7pm, making it the most convenient bus option.The reviews for the bus weren’t very great, but we decided to take the risk.
So on the 24th of Nov, we reach the bus stop mentioned at the designated time. However, the bus was an hour late. By the time it moved out from the last stop and proceeded out of Bangalore, it was past 10pm.
We reached Panjim, Goa at 9am. The place where the bus stopped was right opposite the main bus stand at Panjim. So we simply walked across and caught a bus to Calangute. Mr. Frazer had earlier sent us an sms with the directions to reach the hotel, and the name of the bus stop at Calangute. It took us a little over half-an-hour to get there, and another 10 minutes to reach the hotel.
The hotel is located at the back of the house where the owners live. The entrance is a bit secluded, but has a very peaceful feeling about. There is a small gate located at the back through which you can walk across to the beach.
We were given a room on the 2nd floor a.k.a. the top floor. There are only 2 rooms on this floor. The rest is a covered terrace that is currently being used to store junk furniture, lines to dry clothes etc. The room was big though. There is a small room in front, more like a mini living room, and the bathroom is off this room. When you walk further, you enter a large bedroom, with a small area partitioned off as the kitchenette. The tv and chairs are in this room. It was spacious and clean.
One can order tea/coffee to be delivered to the room, but for all meals including breakfast, one needs to go to the dining room. Our orders we taken by a guy name Innocent (honest!), and he really was very helpful! After breakfast, he arranged for us to get a Honda Activa for the day.
There are no petrol bunks in North Goa. For petrol, you need to go all the way to Panjim, or buy at any nearby shop that sells it by the litre bottle and charges an exorbitant price of Rs. 80 per bottle.
We first went across to Anjuna Beach, as I had heard a lot about it from friends. Apparently it was a very ‘cool’ place to be. Further on was Mapusa, famous for its friday markets. But we weren’t very keen on riding very far out in a place we weren’t too familiar with. So Anjuna was the first halt.
It was possibly also the most disappointing stop of the entire trip as well. The beach is rocky, not sandy. All you can do is climb out onto a few rocks and pose for some photos with the cliffs and sea in the background. You cannot have fun in the water, mainly because of the number of crabs sunning themselves around. The weather was blazing hot, so there wasn’t much of a chance I would sit down on a hot rock! The only thing nice about it are the shops around. They certainly sell some nice trinkets and clothes there…
Stop no.2 was Baga Beach. This was a pleasant trip from the time we turned off towards Baga Bridge. The roads were nicely shaded, and there certainly wasnt much traffic. Sign-boards at important points made sure that we didn’t lose our way :). And this was where we actually started having some fun. The beach was full of shacks selling food. Lots of beach lounges dotted the landscape, which hawkers offering trinkets, head massages, foot massages and temporary tattoos. We didn’t opt for the lounges. Instead we just parked our bags and shoes and had some fun in the cool sea water.
There were a lot of water sports on offer: jet skiing, para-sailing, bumper rides, boat trips to see dolphins. We decided to go in for some sports on Sunday. We were more focussed on seeing everything Goa had to offer first!
We had lunch at one of the shacks. The food wasnt very great, but then again the focus of all the cooking in Goa is non-veg and seafood, while we are vegetarians. So our choices were quite limited.
We left Baga Beach around 2.30. We stopped at Baskin Robbins for some ice-cream, and finally made our way to the next stop at around 3pm.
Stop 3 was Fort Aguada. It was a long ride till the fort. We passed through Calangute and Candolim to finally reach Aguada. The place definitely was a pleasant view. Along the way, there were 2 other turn-offs: Aguada Prison and a helipad. We weren’t keen on either option and stuck to the fort and lighthouse. We spent some time here gazing out on the sea.
We finally got back to the room at about 4.30.
We again got out at about 5.30pm to see the beach nearby. After a short walk, we found we had reach just in time to enjoy the sunset. After a fun-filled half-house, where I sat on a parked jet-ski and posed as though I was riding it ;), we made our way back to the hotel.
We initially thought of going out for dinner, but I was just too tired, and we had dinner at the hotel itself.
We ended day 1 on a tired but happy note! 🙂