This post is the second installment of my happy vacation in Goa. The first part of this post is here.
We probably (and purely by chance) picked quite the best time to go to Goa. December is a great time to visit; the weather is absolutely splendid. However, we timed our trip to end by Dec 20th (the pre-Christmas weekend) when prices shoot up to really stratospheric heights.
We were also able to take advantage of a good package offered by Hotel Goan Heritage. They offered a 3 night package inclusive of airport transfers, breakfast, lunch, dinner, 2 tours, and tickets to the Mandovi River Cruise all for Rs.20,000/-. I still balked initially at the price, but a quick check revealed that this was one of the better deals floating around at the time.
The reason I balked is because just last year we went to Sri Lanka. Stayed in really the swankiest places I”ve ever seen, and really lived it up, and all for just (yup! you probably guessed it) Rs. 20,000/-. So, if anyone does want to take a beach holiday, I would recommend trying out Sri Lanka where you get much more bang for your buck!
Hotel Goan Heritage is located bang on Calangute Beach in north Goa. Although we heard from everyone that south Goa is the place to be, we still decided to opt for Goan Heritage because it was supposedly close to the airport. And knowing our track record for catching flights and trains, it really seemed to be much safer to be at a place close to the airport ;).
It’s another story though that the hotel is almost a 1.5 hours drive from the airport in actuality. I shudder to think of the drive had we decided to move further down the coast.
Anyway, let’s get down to brass tacks – what we saw, what we ate, and what we did:
Day One in Goa
We took the tour arranged by the hotel and visited some really scenic spots. Our first halt was at some unnamed stop near Aguada Beach, where our driver claimed we could go in a boat and do some dolphin spotting. Yeah, right! was my first cynical response. What odds that we would ever find anything. This is just some ploy cooked up by the guide and the boat owners. But, it was vacation, and it was cheap, and so we decided to go for it.
It was such a wonderfully relaxing experience. The bright sun, the breeze, the wonderful scenery, I forgot all about the dolphins and was just beginning to snooze…when suddenly I heard lots of excited shouts, and yep, there were dolphins, and plenty of them too. Huge guys, close to 6 feet in length. Unfortunately, they moved way too quickly for any of us to get a decent shot :(.
After the boating, we moved on to Fort Aguada, which is an old fort built by the Portuguese in 1612. This is a really scenic spot where we stood around taking a lot of photographs.
Fort Aguada was baking hot and so it made plenty of sense to go and chill out in the nearby Vagator Beach. I had read online that Vagator Beach is really scenic and beautiful, and it was pretty. Just not as great as the reviews seemed to say. But then, I am rather picky when it comes to beaches. We simply fooled around in the water, taking a lot of pictures, and enjoying watching the snubnose run loose.
After the beach, we were simply too pooped to go any further. We returned back to the hotel, ate well, and slept. In the evening, we took a long walk around Calangute town window-shopping (the stuff was too expensive to do anything but) at the markets, and simply hanging out.
In the morning, we decided to explore our backyard beach (Calangute). I liked this one much better than Vagator, and could easily have spent the entire day chilling out on the sunbed, getting massages provided by the women on the beach. Those massages were good; both me and the snubnose enjoyed our head massages thoroughly. Be warned though: the snubnose did get infected with head lice after our Goa trip, and it could have been because of the massage. It was definitely fun at the time, and something we will do again for sure – head lice or no head lice :).
There were also plenty of options for para-sailing, jet-skiing, and banana boating. This was the first time I saw a banana boat and I was totally enthralled.
A banana boat looks something like this (image taken from here)
During the ride, the driver of the powered boat attempts to flip the banana boat upside-down by doing sharp turns. Listening to all the squeals, I was kinda burning with envy. I love such stuff. However, the snubnose would have felt very left out and upset if I had gone on without her, so I decided to leave it for another time and place. Hopefully, we will all be able to do these things together when she is a little older.
Post lunch, we headed out sight-seeing again. This time, we went to the Shri Mangesh temple located in Mangeshi, a little village along Goa’s Panaji-Ponda road. By the time we reached there, the snubnose had fallen asleep (effects of all the head massage and head bath). I opted to stay in the car with her, while Mr. K went and investigated the temple. Temples are really not our thing, so I was not surprisd when he came back to say that I didn’t miss anything at all.
The next stop was Old Goa. This was “the big city” when the Portuguese were here and Old Goa is known for its churches, cathedrals, convents, etc. The must-visit place here is The Church of St. Francis Xavier. This church is very famous because of the beautfiul architecture, and also because the body of St. Francis is on display there. We enjoyed strolling through the church and the attached museum. Old Goa in itself is a very calm, and peaceful place, and we really enjoyed ourselves there.
Next, we went on the boat cruise on the Mandovi river. This is a fun, touristy (only Indians though, did not see any foreigners on this boat) thing to do. It is a short one-hour cruise on the Mandovi river filled with lots of fun, dancing, and general bonhomie. Needless to say, the snubnose threw herself completely into all the dancing, just not getting intimidated being surrounded by adults at all.
All smiles at the end of the day.
Next day was spent lazing around in the swimming pool until it was time to check out and head back home.
Sigh! such a short but still event-packed trip it was 🙂