Today we were headed off to Goa, this entailed taking advantage of the lovely breakfast at our hotel (Trident Nariman), checking out and grabbing a cab to Terminal 1 at Mumbai airport, as mentioned in a previous post T1 was originally the only airport but with the opening of the much newer, fancier and larger T2 is now relegated to purely domestic flights.
We were flying with SpiceJet which appears to be the Indian equivalent of Ryan Air, namely cheap and basic – but will happily charge you 5 quid for a twix once you are actually on the plane. To be fair they were perfectly good, nice online booking systems, clear documentation and good staff. Our only worry was the baggage allowance.
Our international flights allowed us 23kg each for checked items but SpiceJet only allowed 15 – this wasn’t a problem for me as my bag came to 13kg but Katys was 18kg (pretty damned good though, considering it was a big bag..) but as it turned out, they aren’t generally too twitchy about being 1 or 2kg over the limit – just be nice to the person on the check in 😉
At this point I will mention something about the way in which airports in India (and India in general in some ways) work with regards to checks and staff. There’s a lot. For example to get into our seat on our little flight from Mumbai to Goa these are the steps:
- Walk into airport, have your e-ticket/boarding pass or booking confirmation checked by a man
- Have your luggage to be checked in scanned in an x-ray machine, it will have a little tag attached to it saying this has been done
- Have another man after the check take another look at your documents, check your luggage has a tag
- Go to the check in desk, check in, dump your bags, get boarding passes
- Go through security where you join one queue to drop your items and hand luggage to go through an x-ray
- Join another queue (separate ones for ladies, they get special ones and little cubicles to get frisked in) to go through a metal detector, get frisked, get your boarding card stamped
- Pick up your hand luggage, now with a tag and a stamp on it matching your boarding card
- Head to the gate, get boarding pass checked there
- Head to the plane, man at the bottom of the stairs checks your boarding pass, then another one at the top
- Sit down and wonder about how you could skew the unemployment stats if you simply gave everyone one task to do and a uniform
Anyway, I digress.
Our flight south towards Dabolim airport was pretty straightforward, the airport itself seems relatively new and tidy as I guess it has to be to cope with all the tourists that fly into Goa – we met the guy who was taking us to our hotel and Katy promptly fell asleep – she always does this in a car..
We were staying for 6 nights in Goa to try and relax and chill out a bit, as such we’d chosen one of the more quiet areas to the north in a place called Morjim. This is about an hour (by inexpertly ridden scooter) north of the main chavvy tourist areas of Candolim, Calangute and Baga.
We stayed in a place called Eco Woods Village, a place tucked away and consisting of a series of nice self contained huts along a central path, all leading up to a big restaurant/bar place right on the beach – we found it through TripAdvisor and it was actually really nice, here’s a shot looking back from the steps up to the main cafe bit.
We dropped our bags off and wandered up and over to have a look at the beach, and I can say that the beaches in Goa are pretty nice. Thankfully as well where we were staying they were pretty quiet – you still get occasionally asked about a shawl or a massage here and there but nothing outrageous, we just chilled out and inquired about scooter hire for the following day, had a wander up and down the beach and had dinner at the hotel itself. I asked for beef from the menu, but was told I was having Lemon Chicken – there seemed to be not much leeway though I think I put it down to a communication problem!
Also, lovely sunsets!
So, on our first full day on Goa we got up relatively early (we never have lie ins on holiday..) went and got breakfast which was included and pretty nice, omelette/porridge, various teas/coffee options and fruit coming out of our ears all nice and fresh. We asked for the helpful guys there to sort us out a scooter so we could go exploring and this turned up at about midday, at which point we headed off south towards Vagator beach, but got slightly lost and ended up on Ozran beach, which was still very nice. We had some food, had a coconut each and then Katy got harassed into buying some jewellery, at which point we hopped back on the bike and headed back south, stopping at Anjuna beach and strolling through the extensive markets.
That night we had dinner in a place called Jardin D’Ulysse down in Morjim, quite near the most southern point of Morjim itself – Katy had the largest lobster she’s ever seen and was pretty happy..
The following day we didn’t really do much and took it pretty easy chilling on the beach – we did take a trip up to Arambol beach was quite pretty…
That night we ended up in a restaurant called Cafe Nu in Arambol which was pretty hard to find with it being tucked away down a side road, but it was lovely food once again.
Our penultimate full day in Goa was going to involve a lot of time on the scooter, perhaps a little too much as we found out, as we tried to knock off the main bits in northern Goa.
First on the list was Mapusa (pronounced Mapsa apparently) which as a big market on certain days – this was about an hours ride south and not too terrible, though as per usual with India wherever there are more than 100 people there is crazy traffic – we had a nice wander around the markets, Katy got told she has skin ‘white like chicken’ and she bought some bags. Normal.
From there, we realised that maybe we should have taken a car as we went down essentially a dual carriageway, on a scooter, without helmets. There was a ton of traffic as things queued up to get over the one bridge in the area. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it was a bit smokey.
Eventually we made it to our second goal of the day, Old Goa. This was the old Portuguese capital of the area way back hundreds of years ago (before some disease outbreak forced it to be abandoned) and has some massive old churches and the like – kinda cool and a bit weird as apart from the heat you wouldn’t think you were in India but rather somewhere in Spain or Portugal.
From here, and having hidden in some shade to try and dodge the 32 degree heat, we then headed to Panaji (or Panjim, never really figured out which was correct…) which is the capital of the area and a large town. It’s also very very portugese with some proper old colonial buildings still hanging around, we had a nice lunch in the Panjim Inn.
Having had a bit of a day, we decided to head home but via the coastal road of Calangute and Baga. I think we were happy with our decision to stay in a quieter area of Goa to be honest, but if you like massive traffic, tattooed tourists in vests, Pizza Huts, KFC’s and lots of cheesy bars, maybe that area would be for you.. 😉 That night we went to a place called L’Atelier where the food was awesome but the owner was a little overly friendly.
For our last day we had heard that the Dudh Sagar waterfalls a couple of hours inland were worth a look, so we booked a driver to take us there (I was ok riding around locally on a scooter but this was a bit too much of a main road for my liking) which picked us up early the next day.
After some interesting roads we arrived and, in the way that is India, started queuing! It took about an hour and a half to get a ticket for a jeep to take us up to the falls with the standard ‘nut to butt’ approach from the locals.
The waterfalls themselves were pretty cool though a little crowded. It also lead to an interesting observation that a lot of the locals liked the water, but actually couldn’t swim well, if at all – Katy made friends for life with a lady because we were both straight in and splashing around.
The short walk from where the jeeps dropped you off was also quite pretty. It’s worth a look, but don’t do it in peak season.
We were starting to feel like we’d ‘done’ Goa, or at least as much as we could in that time and felt like it was time to head off to our next stop, Munnar!
Thanks for a lovely time Goa!