Goa is a destination whose name itself has been used, misused and often abused by many. It is the so-called party capital, hippie holiday destination (Although Gokarna and Hampi are now giving it tough competition) it’s the millennial’s place to go to when you just want to chill, it’s a place to tick off your bucket list because of course, shame on you if you haven’t seen Dil Chahta Hai! That movie literally put Goa on the heart map of every young Indian.
I’d been to Goa when I was 3, so I don’t remember anything apart from making sandcastles and underground sand tunnels with my dad on the beach. 19 years later, my friend Jeanne, who lives in Panjim, called a bunch of us to visit her for her birthday. Richa, another friend of ours who is from South Goa, was already there. Tanishqa, Delice and I went to Goa from Bombay.
If you know me or have read any of my blogs, you know how much I love reading about travel, maximizing on my travel plan and exploring as much as possible when I’m travelling. I like to completely immerse myself into the culture and the vibe of the place I am in. I like balancing touristy things with lesser known hideouts and hidden spots. I love it when people have the same travel style as me but I’ve obviously had my share of holidays when my co-travellers had a completely different approach than me. Since this was more than a normal holiday, that we planned, we did have more local experiences since we stayed at Jeanne’s place, interacted with locals, we also had some restrictions in terms of time and places we could visit. Add to that the fact that not everyone had similar ideas of travelling and exploring. But the ingredients to a holiday are great experiences and important lessons that each trip teaches you!
On the first day, we landed in Goa early in the morning and had breakfast at Jeanne’s house in Panjim. After we chilled with her family and her adorable dog for some time, we decided to take the Scooty and drive around some of the popular spots in Panjim. We went to the Our Lady of Immaculate Church, which was quite pretty but extremely crowded and then went to the supremely popular Black Sheep Bistro for lunch. I would surely recommend this restaurant for a good meal with cocktails; do try their Feni cocktails if you go there!
We then went to Cafe Bodega, an artsy cafe, which is housed in the Sunaparanta Centre for Arts. The ambiance is lovely and so are the desserts! After filling our tummies with lots of good food, we went to Fontainhas, an old Latin Quarter in Panjim, where we had booked a walk with this company called Make It Happen. Our walk leader, Lata, took us on a 2 hour tour of the area, showing us the prettiest homes, quaint bakeries, beautifully maintained art galleries, charming chapels and ended it with a live music performance. She also gave us postcards that we wrote to ourselves and she posted them to us. Make It Happen also gave us fridge magnets as gifts. I would totally recommend a heritage walk of Fontainhas with them.
Tanishqa, Delice and I then chilled at Bombay Coffee Roasters in Fontainhas and enjoyed some delicious coffee, after which Jeanne came and took us first to Joseph Bar, which is essentially a tiny room filled with drinks and stools outside, on the road, where patrons drink. It was a really unique experience, one that very few people know about. We then went to one of Jeanne’s relatives’ home in Fontainhas which had been one of our favourites during the walk.
At night, Jeanne’s entire family came over to bring in her birthday. it was so much fun with them and it was a really nice experience for us, since we were not used to seeing an entire family bring in a birthday at midnight. It was a very interesting and endearing memory.
On the second day, we had our first difference of opinion. Richa and Jeanne were going to get decorations done for Jeanne’s birthday party. I wanted to go to Calangute and Baga Beach and either Aguada Fort or Chapora Fort. Tanishqa didn’t want to do sightseeing and wanted to do the decorations and Delice was interested in going to the beaches and getting lunch there but had no interest in going to either of the forts. For about an hour, none of us did anything, just subtly kept on reiterating our priorities, like little kids. I was initially annoyed because I had come to explore Goa and it was disheartening to see that nobody else had that as their priority. But then I realized that making a sour face will only spoil my time and a part of travelling is reaching a mid-way and that everyone has different ideas of a good time; and sometimes doing what everyone enjoys doing. So Delice and I took the Scooty, went to Baga Beach, had lunch at Britto’s, which was pretty good and despite my low expectations, I really liked the food and cocktails there. The beach was average, much like the beaches in Bombay, but all in all, it was a good experience. On the way back, Delice and I stopped at a random field to catch the sunset. It was so pretty and peaceful and is one of my favourite parts of the trip, because these are things you do not expect, they just jump on you and that makes it even better.
The next day was the day of Jeanne’s party. Since we would have had to start getting ready for the party early, we kept the day light. Tanishqa, Delice and I visited Miramar beach which is a 5 min walk from Jeanne’s home. It’s not a beach thronged by tourists so it was very well-maintained and clean. We really liked the beach and jumped and played to our hearts’ content because there was barely anybody there. What I love about beaches is that once you’re near a beach, you resort to your most childlike instincts and for some time, forget everything and just have fun without the fear of judgement.
We came back to Jeanne’s partially drenched and quickly changed and went to this beautiful sea-facing restaurant called Leda Seashells for lunch, accompanied by Richa and Jeanne. It has to be the most stunning restaurant I visited in Goa. The food and cocktails were really good, even by a vegetarian’s standards. After lunch, we took a million pictures by the sea, it was that pretty!
We later dressed up in our costumes and headed out for Jeanne’s birthday. Honestly, I never thought of myself as a costume party person but it was so much more fun than I imagined it to be. We played games, danced and ate so much. This made me realize that it had been ages since I’d attended a birthday party that involved something other than going to a pub or a fancy restaurant. I felt like this was one experience that I would have maybe never thought of, but one that I absolutely enjoyed.
I dressed up as the birthday girl herself!
The next morning, we all woke up late and were slightly tired because the party went on till late. I honestly had very little expectations for the last day because by then I’d told myself that everyone was on the trip for different reasons and so I was happy with whatever everyone wanted to do. But the moment I was ready with lowered expectations, I got rewarded; there’s this fort in South Goa called Cabo Da Rama which I really wanted to visit. Everyone immediately agreed to drive down to South Goa to visit it. We stopped for lunch at this place called Da Tita’s, which had delicious pizzas, I’d totally recommend it!
Cabo Da Rama has various points that one can walk to and since Richa is quite familiar with the area, she took us to the points that most tourists don’t know about. It was as mesmerizing as I’d hoped. We walked to 2 points, the first one gave us a lovely view of the fort and the sea and the second one was a walk down the fort to a point where the rocks met the sea. Richa begged me to not write about the place in my blog because for her, as someone who calls Goa home, the influx of tourists and the residue that they leave is a serious problem. This made me think about how we as tourists really need to stop treating Goa as a storage bin for our carelessness and our lack of responsibility. We need to acknowledge its beauty and do as much as we can to preserve it.
We stopped at Cavelossim Beach for a while and then drove back home. We ate a simple but yummy meal at a food truck near Jeanne’s home and headed home. At night we stayed up talking about basically everything and joking around with Jeanne’s younger brother who we basically thought was our baby brother by the end of the trip.After the successful all-nighter, we took our flight next morning to Bombay.
My trip to Goa taught me so many things. It taught me that every person sees a holiday differently. For Tanishqa, listening to music in Jeanne’s home and the costume party were the highlights of the trip. For Delice, Brittos and roaming around Panjim and the seafood were very memorable. I loved roaming around Fontainhas and Cabo Do Rama and chilling with Jeanne’s family; and for Richa and Jeanne, the fact that we went to Goa and they could take us around to their favourite spots was very important. I realized that complaining about something is NEVER going to make it better. Instead, the best thing to do in any situation is to understand what other people are saying and reaching a consensus. I also realized that for Jeanne, coordinating everyone’s to-do lists, especially mine, was a task, and she did it to the best of her ability. She was a lovely host and if I could visit her again in the future for her birthday, I’d do it, without a second thought.
The trip also taught me that Goa is what you make it to be. It has something for everyone, for each personality, for each interest. We spent 4 amazing days in a place known to be a party hub without visiting a single club because none of my friends are huge fans of drinking. We ended up eating lip-smacking food, visited beautiful churches, walked through idyllic settlements and ended up having such indelible memories. Goa is a place that makes you want to slow down, take in everything and appreciate it. It leaves you happy, relaxed and nostalgic. Goa is a state of mind that you’d want to be in now and again. Be Khanabadosh and visit Goa and tell me the million ways in which it stood out for you.