b) Other places:
One day was dedicated for Old Goa (an hour + journey from Cavelossim) and its historical places. We started after our breakfast to Old Goa and our first stop was to Basilica of Bom Jesus, which was undergoing some renovations. There is a parking lot near to it. We can cover the ‘Basilica of Bom Jesus’, ‘The Church of St Francis of Assisi‘ and the ‘The Ruins of St. Augustine‘ along with some museums in the same building of the Assisi Church. These places along with the museums gives you a background of the history of Goa under the rule of Portuguese and how Christianity flourished in the region. The Basilica of Bom Jesus has the relics of St Francis. We visited all these three along with the museum. These three are in the walking distance so you can just park the car and then continue on your way. The Assisi Church + museums and the Bom Jesus Basilica are opposite to each other in huge complexes and you have to cross the road to reach the other. The Ruins of St Augustine is near the parking lot in a little uphill tread. I don’t know why not many people who visited the other two did not come to the ruins. I loved it. These ruins have their own story to tell. But there are no proper restaurants available near by. There is only one and that is also very average. So either go prepared for it or go early to complete the tour and go into town for lunch. We managed in that average restaurant.
Not many visit such plantations when in Goa, even though it is listed in the to-be-visited list of places. But it is definitely a place worth a visit. At least the the one we visited, Savoi Plantation, was. This was the fateful day when I slipped and fell there and broke my ankle, but inspite of it, I really enjoyed the trip. We saw various plants which I had only heard the name of. He (the owner of course) also explained how they maintain them organically and what season which plants they grow and tips on gardening (very useful for K, he even managed to grab some samples from them). There is also a Cashew factory near by if in case you want to buy some wholesale. We got them for 600 Rs per kg. Fee per person is Rs 500 and that includes the tour along with a buffet lunch, which was so so so awesome, that any other plan got dumped for the rest of the day because we were so stuffed. And add my fracture to the equation. it is definitely a place to visit if you are interested in organic farming and gardening. As for myself, there was a doctor nearby who had his day that day (story on that here) and confirmed that it definitely an ankle fracture (we thought it was a bad sprain) and then the rest of the day went in travelling to the doctor in Panjim for a x-ray and a orthopedic doctor to get the final confirmation and a holder for my leg. It did end with me in pain, but I was grateful to have a great set of friends who helped me through out (not only that day but the rest of the tour too) and that in turn kept me from falling apart. It sucks to fall sick like this in the middle of the tour.
The places I missed:
Because of my fracture, I had to miss two days of the tour (I was actually forced to, I could have managed the beach at least). My friends went to Anjuna Beach (seems like a very nice and popular beach) + Fort Aguada (closes by 5.30 pm, if you want to plan) and ended their day with a dinner in a Cruise for the first day and then Dudhsagar falls for the other (via Castle rock), but they said that it was boring because they had to trek along the railway track which wasn’t a great thing to do. And they were pretty tired after that trek. There weren’t much there to have lunch, so if you are planning then better to get some items for lunch.
It was a week long vacation for us, from Saturday to Sunday night when we landed back in Bangalore. We took the Hubli route both to and from Goa. The entry to Goa through Karwar (where we have the bridge leading us to the road where we see the path paved between the two hills) is the first landmark. You have to pay 250 Rs as entry fee and while coming back, they stop at both the Goa and Karnataka checkpoints and do a thorough check for any hot drinks that they can seize in the car.
The roads in Goa are something to be written about. They were so good. We did not encounter much pot holes while driving there and we did drive quite a lot within Goa for almost 9 days. This time we went from 28th Sept to 6th Oct is still a monsoon season, even though it wasn’t raining daily, it did rain heavily when it did. And most restaurants weren’t open as I had said earlier. And literally no water sports to enjoy (if it was there, I would have felt very bad for missing them what with the trouble of my fracture). So in case you wanna plan and you want to enjoy the water sports, then it should be after mid of Oct. But again this year the monsoon was above the normal.
The people in Goa are very friendly and we did not see at least one incident where we had bad feeling about the traffic or the driving attitude. In fact they let you go first, which is a big deal for people driving in Bangalore. All of us know that drinks are cheaper here, but petrol is also so cheap that there was a difference of almost 20 Rs between Goa and Karnataka. God!!!
As much as Goa is popular for beaches, we saw beautiful farm lands through out our trip. Its history also makes it a popular destination and well the amount of movies that have been shot there enhances the popularity of this place. But they live upto their expectations so well. Since the inflow of tourists from inland and foreign is heavy in this place, everyone is able to talk in English (even with accents) and all the places (beaches, monuments) are maintained clean and well looked after. But one thing I was surprised was the way Russian language was used in the sign boards in almost all the shops.
I love hills and beaches in equal measure and this place has both. What is not there to like in Goa. Now I know why people love this place. Wish I could have a house by the beach front and get to see the beautiful sunrise and gorgeous sunsets. We can dream all we want :), can’t we ? And I had a blast relaxing myself there.
And as usual I have to thank my friends, but I wish I could show them my gratitude. When things fell apart and I had my fracture, they were the biggest support and they didn’t stop me from coming to the other places even if that slowed them. They were very thoughtful and even though I was stubborn (which I am quite a lot of times), they did put up with me, and were strict when it mattered (especially during the day of the trek when I wanted to come and sit in Castle Rock, they put their foot down and rejected my proposal). And Goa wouldn’t have been fun, if I had to do it alone. Its a place where you should enjoy with friends. And I tried a lot of drinks (Cranberry Martini – Shaken not Stirred 😉 for example). I sure did have fun. As usual C did most of the driving and ‘A’ did all the planning (I suggested that he should start his own holiday planner startup because he is very good at it) . We had so much fun and myself and ‘A’ did gain enough weight (not that I had a chance to check, but got to see that for myself in the photographs 😦 I look huge). Now since I am relaxing in my home town nursing my fracture, there definitely would be a break for me for any trips for at least another 3-4 months minimum. But Goa was definitely worth the visit. I am glad I did not miss it. If you get a chance and if you like hills and beaches, just visit Goa once and see what the fuss is all about. You will definitely love the place 🙂