South / South West: Go, Goa, Gone!
We only had one full day in Goa. And since it mid-May, Goa was on the verge of batting down the hatches for the rainy season. A lot of the establishments in Palolem shut by the end of may and reopen after September when the worst of the Indian Monsoons are over. Still, our day in Goa was pretty good. We did the usual Goa essential activities - beach, swimming, seafood, Kings beer, sunset and photo ops. Don't forget the photo ops!!
Here's my round up of my Top 5 takeaways from my 24 hours in South Goa:
1. Food snobs beware, Goa in May is just Meh!
I literally did not have a single standout meal in Goa this time. Possibly because a lot of places had already shut shop for the season. And the shacks on the beach in South Goa are anyway not something I have ever found to have fantastic food. The location, the view and the ambiance honestly are what draw the crowds in.
I did enjoy Cafe Del Mar's Chorizo Pav and Pepper garlic prawns. But for the rest of our time, we ate because we were hungry. Not because the food drew us in.
2. The heat is unbelievable! But it makes the beer taste even better!
It was hot! Stifling, crazy hot! I sweat buckets and we would literally take air conditioning breaks and sit in the car with the air blasting at the lowest possible setting just to recover. We also spent a lot of the time driving around searching for places we had been recommended but were shut. But we did discover a cool rickety bridge near a construction site at one of the abandoned beach shacks we went looking for. PHOTO OP!!
3. Local stories are Awesome! Local alcohol is AMAZING!
I was waiting in line at a wine shop to pick up one of the best gifts Goa has given the world, San Andre Port Wine! (Effusive recommendation later, story now)
The owner of the wine shop was chatting with the customers before me. Turns out, he not only runs the wine shop, he is the local corporator. They had a conversation about politics, corruption and how he cant afford to pay off the required amount to run for the election and become the MLA in the area. All this while offering the customers recommendations on tequila!
Back to the alcohol. Kings beer is Goa's beer! You barely ever get it outside Goa so it is a staple when we visit the state. But the port wine in Goa is honestly my favorite beverage there. Particularly, San Andre. I think a lot of that has to do with the many, many San Andre fuelled nights that ended with the best memories and hangovers that almost seemed worth it.
4. South Goa Beaches don't feel like traveling by a local train!
If you have ever been swimming at Baga or Calangute, you know that it's more like standing in the ocean. It's crowded, dirty, loud and not particularly the experience you were looking for.
If you want white sand beaches that you can spread out on without being arm to arm with other people or garbage lying around, south goa is for you. If you love wave jumping and swimming in water without needing to excuse yourself every 30 seconds, south goa is for you. And if you like impromptu football matches at sunset with strangers, south goa is for you!
The people, both fellow vacationers, and locals are friendly and outgoing. Almost everyone feels the need to preserve the ambiance and the cleanliness of the area. So it makes for a semi-hippie, relaxed atmosphere.
It may not have hopping bars and clubs every 20 feet but the shacks blast good music that you can hear while lazing in the water, the beach dogs are super happy to get a belly rub and the beach is clean.
5. Doing nothing sometimes is everything!
We did nothing spectacular that day. Nothing that stood out. No memories were made that we could eat out on. But it was a Good Good Day! We lazed, we swam, we drank, we laughed. We played Monopoly deal (I lost, I am competitive, it was ROUGH!)
It set the tone for the next few days. We would be on the road a lot, in close quarters almost all day every day. And the 24 hours in Goa was a good transition between the frenzied pace of being city rats and being in vacation mode.
As always, Goa, you were awesome! See you soon and keep that beer chilled and the San Andre ready!
To go read about the previous leg of the S/SW trip, click here.