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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Goa

After an extenuating trip that took us from Aurangabad to Panjim in Goa with a one day stop in Pune, it was with joy that we walked away from the bus and adventured in the familiar streets of Panjim. Panjim is the capital of the former Portuguese colony, Goa. The streets are quite similar to the ones found in the city center of most Portuguese cities. The houses, the names of the shops and of course, the square in the center with a church overlooking it. The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is an impressive building where, once upon a time, the Portuguese sailors used to come and thank the virgin for a safe journey, before proceeding to the old capital - Old Goa.

We stayed three days in Panjim. We planned on using it as a starting point to explore the south of Goa and visit some spice farms and other old cities, but for different reasons we couldn't hit the south. Goa was crowded with tourists the weekend we arrived - 26th of January is a national holiday in India and being a Monday, many Indians took some vacation. We stayed right in the city center in a hotel that a Goese, friend of a friend, fixed for us - Hotel Arcadia. The first thing we did when we arrived was... taking a shower and washing some clothes. We were covered in dust and sweat from the "nice" streets of Aurangabad and Pune. And then sleep.

After waking up, we decided it was time to go to the beach. We decided to take a local bus (in fact two, one to Mapusa and from there, another one to Anjuna) to Anjuna, which is quite famous among the hippie movement. Many hippies went there in the 60s and due to the beauty of the place decided to stay. It's in fact a beautiful beach, although not the perfect place to swim - there's a lot of rocks. But the water is amazing. If it hadn't been for the girls permanently trying to sell us something it would have been a perfect afternoon. The bars/shacks around the beach all offer amazing views and most have a great atmosphere. The sea food is fantastic, and for between 100-150 Rs one can enjoy great dishes of all kinds of sea food. Alcohol is also easily accessible and it is extremely cheap. It felt great relaxing in a terrace in front of the Arabic sea drinking a beer and eating some local snacks.

Old Goa
The day after we took a bus to Old Goa, the old capital of the Portuguese Indian territories, which was abandoned in the mid 19th century due to permanent cholera epidemics. Today not much is left from what was once a bigger city than Lisbon or London. But the churches and cathedrals, that make this place a UNESCO world heritage site, show how opponent, big and rich this city once was. We spend the whole morning wandering around the churches imagining how they once were. There have been some conservation efforts, but many show evident signs of degradation.

Candolim
In the afternoon we went to one of those beaches that have been invaded by the western tourism. Despite being surrounded by people with lobster-like skin and ugly wreck of an old boat right in the beach, Candolim is a really nice place. The beach is big and here there are no rocks so it's perfect to swim. Another relaxing afternoon, just like we had planned, before moving on to northern India.

Panjim
I spent the next day exploring Panjim. It's a small, but cosy city. Here it is possible to see the mixture between the Portuguese and Indian cultures. I walked around Fontainhas, along the marginal by the river. Lunch in the restaurant "Viva Panjim" was sublime, as well spending a few hours reading and writing at "Ernestos" in "Clube Vasco da Gama", a place where the Goese Portuguese community gathers, but I was unlucky in the times I chose to get there, since it was always almost empty.

Anjuna and trouble with the police
We decided to rent scooters for the last two days in Goa (it's probably the only place in India where people drive in a almost normal way!). Well apparently the rules change depending on whom we rent the scooters from. After 10min riding them, and when we had finally found a place to fill up the tank, we were stoped by the police. Apparently our driving licence didn't allow us to drive those scooters. But if we had shown them the receipt from the rental agency instead of our driving licence, everything would have been alright. Well after an whole morning of discussion, we finally paid 450 Rs (at first they asked for 950) each, returned the scooters and moved on to Anjuna by bus, which scared us a little because we were carrying the backpacks, but since it was not rush hour, it went quite smooth.

In Anjuna we got (by chance) a room in the Sunshine resort by 750 Rs per day. This was 15m away from the beach, which means that, more relaxing was impossible :)

At night we tried the famous Goa Trance beach parties, which attract people from all over the world. It's an amazing, contagious atmosphere. Quite impressing and fun.

And after another sunny day spent at the beach or in a beach shack having a nice fruit juice it was time to hit the road and move North.

Next stop, Udaipur in Rajasthan.

2 comments:

CHV said...

Keep it up!
We want more news!

Filha do Vento said...

lendários esses encontros com a polícia na estrada para Anjuna... mas é sempre bom saber que está tudo na mesma :-)

estou ansiosa pelas tuas impressões sobre o Rajastão. Terra das mil cores.

Boa viagem