It may sound strange but we finally got to enjoy Goa in the very sense of the word only this January. We had been roaming all around the country but didn’t seem to find the right time to get back to this hamlet.
This was our second rendezvous with Goa. We had visited Goa for the first time a couple of years back when we did not have a great outing (read: hot days, humid evenings, multiple minor accidents). We were badly stung on our first try and we were determined to make up for it this time around.
So, we planned the trip in January when weather would be better. And we planned a road trip.
We drove from Hyderabad to Goa in our own car. Let that sink in. It is a long drive: ~700km and ~14 hrs.
The route we took was: Hyderabad -> Mehboobnagar -> Raichur -> Bagalkot -> Belagavi -> North Goa
The road was mostly good. The state highways were 2 lanes and the remaining national highways were 4 lanes or more. On this route, many stretches only have small villages and fields. So, there are limited food options between the cities and we planned accordingly.
We didn’t want to drive in the night and ended up spending better part of the day driving. Which was fun and we had the opportunity to enjoy the landscape which escapes you in the night. We loved the sights on the way. The highlights for us were the bright yellow mustard fields, patchy green paddy fields, the high wind mills and of course the gorgeous Ghat roads.
On our return journey, we started from South Goa and hit Hubballi and Sindhanur towards Raichur. Again, apart from few bad stretches, road was good. Beware of the speed breakers near the villages.
As it was our second trip, we had selected the more secluded beaches to hit.
We enjoyed the sun and sand at Mandrem beach and Arambol in North Goa. The Mandrem beach is special as you cannot go to the beach directly, but must cross a stretch of backwaters. This makes the visit more interesting. Arambol beach is beautiful with several shacks to chill.
But the best beach for us was the Palolem beach. The sand was fine; waves were gentle and water was just the right temperature. Once we got in the water, we didn’t want to leave that beach for anything. We skipped the boat rides to just swim around and came back again early morning before breakfast for a dip.
A major drawback of the long weekend was the traffic around the more touristy areas. We were stuck twice for over an hour in a traffic jam. Once near the Chapora fort where we had to turn back mid-way. Second time going towards Baga, we were stuck again on the narrow roads of Goa. May be next time we would either skip the long weekends or these tourist hotspots.
The stay and food
The North Goa hotel booking kept us busy for several days. We had made the booking through an online travel agency much in advance given the long weekend. But to our surprise (read: horror), the hotel refused to honor that when we called a week ahead (Glad that we called beforehand). Now to our dismay, the online travel agency was less than helpful. And we were left hung high and dry by the travel agency as they couldn’t confirm our hotel booking from any similar property. At the last minute, we got this boutique hotel, at a much higher rate and a short walk from the beach. The stay itself was pleasant.
We found few awesome places for meals at all the beaches: Mandrem (Tom Yam restaurant), Arambol (Diya restaurant) and Palolem (Titanic shack). This made up for other misses.
We had carefully selected the South Goa hotel perched at a hilltop which had a party scene as well. But all the plans were spoiled due to the sticky dates.
Oh! The famed nightlife of Goa.
Well, here is where the planning went wrong. It was state election time in Goa and the modal code of conduct had been applied that very week. No parties after 10 PM.
That bummed us big time.
So, there was literally no night life. No clubs. No shacks. No parties. Nothing.
The famed Anjuna and Baga beaches were as lifeless as anything. What to do. We spent the night singing and chatting at the beach with the anger over party-less Goa being swept away by the waves.
Overall, it was 100 times better than the previous experience but still fell short of our expectations. May be somethings are left for the next time.
Do you have a story to tell about your Goa experience? Drop in a comment or send us a mail. We will definitely reply. All the interesting tales will be published in a special feature.