Goa, Western India
*This post on Goa was first published in March 2013 but has been updated.
When my then Fiancé, now husband, and I took career breaks and cashed in our savings to take the trip of a life time, the feedback on our plans were really quite mixed. Some thought we were crazy and that we should progress in our careers, settle down and buy a house. Other’s who agreed with us were happy for us, wished us the best and envied what we were about to do. To this day we both agree it was the best life decision we could have made at the time.
The first stop of our trip was India and the first place we fell in love with was Goa.
Goa is in the west of India and was once a Portuguese colony. It has some wonderful history. It was loved by the hippies of the 60’s and 70’s and is still loved by backpackers and globetrotters of nowadays. It is India’s smallest state but also one of the richest. Goa has some of the best beaches, it’s people are easy going, their food delicious, and it is one place that I look forward to returning to someday.
So without further ado, and in no particular order, these are my Five Fabulous Reasons to visit Goa …
Food & Drink
The tastiest fish I’ve ever eaten and the biggest prawns I’ve ever seen. In the picture below you can see a sample of these. Yes that’s a prawn! In this particular restaurant we got to choose what fish we wanted and not just from the menu but from the plate. It was cooked to perfection with a mixture of spices that only Indian cooks can achieve.
Other foods that we enjoyed apart from fish and shellfish were the Goan curries, and chicken and sausage dishes. In the picture below you can see a Goan man working a juicing machine and not just any kind of juice but sugar cane! Personally I preferred the Indian drink known as Lassi, which is made from yogurt and whatever fruit you prefer or whatever is available, great for sipping on in the shade. Other than that it was a cocktail by the pool … sweet!
Shopping in Goa was quite easy going compared to some places I’ve been. Goods were always bright and colourful. I bought some really beautiful pashmina’s, scarves and lots of great silver jewellery. We met some tourists who visit Goa each year and they told us they get beautifully designed gold and jewelled pieces made there for a fraction of what it would cost at home, they were from the UK. I didn’t try this out as I was happy with my silver and turquoise stoned chains, rings and ankle chains.
For gifts and souveniers you can buy traditionally styled stone or wood carved elephants, scarves, lanterns, cushion covers, throws, mobiles, trinket boxes … all brightly coloured, some made of silk, some embroidered and most are handcrafted. We visited the famous Anjuna (Flea) Market when we were there, it was a hive of activity and an experience in itself, a definite must if you’re in the area. For regular supplies there was always a local store, roadside shop or beach hut.
From Elephants on the road to cows on the beach, there was always an opportunity to spot something you’ve never seen before and most likely will not witness in the same way again. We noticed that lots of Goan people had dogs as pets and they were friendly little mutts who loved going to the beach at dusk for a play.
Another thing about Goa that was really great … was that we didn’t suffer from mosquito bites as the sea air seemed to keep them at bay. We didn’t witness any animal cruelty thankfully, but I do understand that many would feel the way of life depicted in my photo below makes my statement hypocritical. I will admit that it was hard on the heart to see some cows looking malnourished, but in this area these harmless animals were in much better condition than those we witnessed in the big cities (rooting through rubbish bins for food – it made you wonder what the benefits of being considered holy was).
Staying in Goa, we had a choice of beaches to visit. We stayed by the beach in Goa but also rented a scooter from the local grocery and bike rental store and set off on adventures most days to explore what Goa had to offer.
The main beaches we explored were Calangute (where we stayed), Baga, Anjuna, Candolim, Agonda (we also stayed here) and Palolem. There are about 27 beaches on the Goan coastline to choose from, ranging in price and atmosphere. From party beaches to chilled out beaches so every taste is catered for.
We get some pretty amazing ones here in Ireland so when I do go away and don’t see a good sunset I almost feel cheated. Well it wasn’t the case in Goa as the sunsets there were beautiful.
Most evenings a larger than life sun fulled the orange and red skies creating fabulous shadows cast by boats on the beach and trees on the street. And believe me there was nothing nicer than taking it all in from the comfort of a big couch in a beach bar.