Here’s a quick travel diary of our recent Goa trip. More detailed descriptions as and when (and if) I feel up to writing them!
18 March 2005
Caught the Bangalore Mail from Chennai Central.
19 March 2005
Reached Bangalore Cantonment at the absurdly early hour of 0515 hrs and spent an hour waiting for Rajesh to come and pick us up. Having partied hard the previous night, he missed not one but three alarms and woke up late. AirTel, being the one of the most customer unfriendly service providers ever, had not activated my roaming, although it was supposed to go with my plan. This meant that I could not call up Rajesh and see what was happening. Finally, when a bleary-eyed bloke in sweater, muffler and monkey-cap opened one of the public phone booths, I called Rajesh, catching him just as he was getting out.
We went to his and Priya’s place, and Rajesh had to go in to work for a couple of hours. By the time he was done, we had called Air Deccan and found that our 1510 flight had been rescheduled to 1755 hrs. So off we all went to Forum, where we had food and generally window-shopped until it was time to go. Rajesh and Priya then dropped us off at the airport, where thankful there were no further rescheduling. The flight itself was about 90 minutes, and the plane, though small was not uncomfortable. For the kind of low fares we were getting, it was more than good enough.
From Dabolim airport we took a prepaid taxi to the Club Mahindra resort at Varca, a good hour’s drive away. As it was almost eight when we left the airport, our first few hours in Goa were not very illuminating about what kind of landscape or the countryside we were in. The resort itself was large and luxurious, and our studio apartment turned out to be spacious, comfortable and well-furnished. After dinner at one of the restaurants, we hit the sack so that we could make an early start on Sunday.
20 March 2005
Sunday’s early start turned out to be a very late start. It was almost 1100 hrs by the time we left the resort. We had an excellent driver and car in Avelinho and his Esteem. We went on what is called the South Goa tour, which would show us the temples, churches and a bit of beach.
First, we went Big Foot, a very touristy but interesting recreation of life in colonial Goa. This was preceded by a guided tour of an old Portuguese homestead.
After that, we saw the temples – the Shantadurga Temple at Kavlem, followed by the Manguesh Temple at Ponda. Then it was on to Old Goa, where we saw the Bom Jesus Cathedral with its grisly exhibit, the Se Cathedral and the museum.
In the evening, Avelinho took us to Dona Paula, where Vidya went on a water scooter ride, after which we watched the sunset from a viewpoint on top of a big rock.
21 March 2005
Vidya’s birthday. Woke up early and went to the beach near the resort. Walked along the water till the sun came up. Then, Avelinho dropped us at the Government Museum in Panjim. The museum was quite an interesting experience, and we got a glimpse of life in Potuguese Goa. There was also a detailed account of the Indian aggression and occupation of Goa. The highlight of the exhibits was a table used in the Goan Inquisition – unfortunately some kind of renovation work was happening in the furniture gallery and the top of the table was covered with sheets of newspaper. Nevertheless, we managed to get a good look at the table.
From the museum, we took an auto-rickshaw to Fontainhas, where we wanted to see the crucifix in St. Sebastians Chapel. The chapel was closed, and we walked around Fontainhas. The houses were built close to each other and painted in bright colours – it was perhaps the most colourful part of Goa we saw.
We walked to the town square, near which we had lunch in Kamat. After that, we went walking down Mahatma Gandhi Road, looking for a music shop where we could buy some Goan music. We were guided to Sinari’s, where we got a couple of cassettes, after which we went to Broadway, supposedly Goa’s biggest bookstore. It had more bags than books, and Vidya picked up a couple of them.
From Broadway, we made our way to the picturesque seaside state secretariat, near which was a weird statue of Abbé Faria hypnotising a woman. We then dropped in to a government handicraft shop, where we got a few “Goa” things for our curio. Finally, we caught a taxi back to Varca.
22 March 2005
We checked out of the resort at 11:30 a.m. but found that our flight had been delayed by a couple of hours. So we got a cab to take us to Margao, where we had lunch at Café Tato and went on a long walk looking for the Church of the Holy Spirit and the House of the Seven Gables. We finally found the former, but failed to find the latter, and made our way back to the taxi and left for Dabolim. Finally, after a long delay, our flight took off at 7 p.m. We reached Bangalore at 8:40, and just had time to get a taxi and go to City Railway Station and grab a bite of food before catching the Chennai Mail.