My Goa Diaries

Sun, Sea And SandIn my 40th year, I had almost given up on this dream of mine until this plan manifested. Yes, I feel somewhere, the Universe finally conspired to send me to Goa. It was my best gift to myself before 2022 concluded. Yay! I screamed and fisted my hand high in the air. It was super thrilling and surreal. 

My college buddies and I had carefully crafted a Goa plan! In our final year, we made a pact to reunite in Goa yearly (our own Dil Chahta Hai goal), drive around on bikes, etc. Unfortunately, neither the reunion nor the Goa trip happened. The plan sank amidst all our life plans. I moved out of Mumbai and went south for my education. My crew also scattered, each dragging into their life and career goals. Goa ended up being a part of my endless bucket lists of “places to go, and I wish to go.” 

So, when this plan emerged, I did hesitate a bit, but in the end, I just gave into the squad spirit and got in headlong! The best part about this trip was that it was not only a maiden trip for me but the same for most of our gang. I have to mention that our bunch is an exceptional community for me or, rather, a like-minded tribe that connected and bonded like fire with a matchstick. Most of us were meeting each other for the first time after a long gap, making it positively memorable. 

For those who have been to Goa endless times and those who haven’t stepped on Goan soil (like me), it gave me a different perspective of Goa from what I had heard from friends. It exceeded my expectations about this tiny state ruled by the Portuguese centuries ago. The beauty of this state will leave you mesmerized – waves, sand, greenery, and extreme calm, even amidst the loud party music! It took me 24 hours to thoroughly soak in the atmosphere and be myself. 

So, after we landed in Goa at midnight at the Dabolim airport (most of the band reached late at night and others in the wee hours of dawn), we were busy catching up with our sleep. Once refreshed, we started exploring our nearest surroundings. Some of us took a walk around. We were put up in a place called Verla, Parra. It’s located in the quaint Bardez taluk, a scenic countryside where you can take endless long walks in its winding lanes that eventually join the principal roadway.  

Once all of us got ready, we all got set out for a late lunch. En route, we also caught a glimpse of the famous Biker Mania event, where dozens of bikers were seen racing in the dirt tracks. 

Our lunch was at a Mediterranean-style hotel on the Ozran beach road, nearly seven kilometers from our place of stay. The peppy music added to the beautiful ambiance and made us sway to the beats and be lost in a trance. But since Dil maange more (heart demands more), we quickly finished our food and made our way to the sea – our much-awaited part of the trip…. the beach. 

So, for all new to Goa, Ozran is also referred to as Chota Vagator or a small Vagator beach. It is an extension of the famous Vagator beach. In north Goa, it is one of the most captivating and panoramic beaches. When we finally descended to the beach, we were welcomed by a gorgeous sunset and skyline, where we melted with the waves and the crowd. A quiet beach compared to the others in the same stretch, Ozran is a relatively rocky beach with some unique carvings done possibly years ago (do watch out for those). We relished our dinner there with blissful music from the shacks and returned only after midnight. 

On our second day, we had planned a morning walk in the old areas of Goa, beginning with Panjim. Any Goa trip is incomplete without a walk in the legendary Latin Quarter or the Fontainhas. We got an excellent travel host who helped us explore these old lanes and see old houses. The three-hour walk soaked us into the centuries-old history of the state that was once ruled by various Indian empires, including the Kadamba Kingdom, Vijayanagara Empire, Bahmani Sultanate, and Bijapur Sultanate. During the Bijapur era, the Portuguese invaded Goa and ruled for over 450 years. It heavily influenced today’s Goan culture, cookery, and structures. India had to annex Goa in 1961 to make her part of this great nation. The colonial influences and multi-cultural creative influences are vibrant and stunning. 

The three-hour walk started at the Panjim Post Office (one of the oldest landmarks of Goa) and culminated at one of the oldest Goan-Portuguese bakeries and cafes called “Confeitaria 31 De Janeiro”. The area also houses old cafes, taverns, and colourful houses. The Confeitaria’s name has a fascinating history. The Portuguese meaning for Confeitaria means confectionary, and the second part of the name was kept after the date it was established: January 31, 1930. This cafe still has one of the oldest wood-fired ovens where they prepare all the baked delicacies. We gobbled and enjoyed all the traditional Goan delicacies and desserts like Bebinca (all-purpose flour, coconut milk, and egg yolk/white), Perad (guava and cheese), dates-walnut cake, and also their mouth-watering puffs and mushroom quiches while enjoying some melodic music played by our travel host on his guitar. 

We returned to our rooms, refreshed ourselves, and prepared for another evening on the beach. This time, we chose to explore Mandrem beach, a relatively quiet beach compared to its popular party hangout, Arambol beach. The best highlight of the beach is the drum circle, which happens there daily. It is a unique circle of drummers who play drums and customized instruments. Anyone can join the process and play away! A mesmerizing one-hour experience. Playing the drums for me turned out to be highly meditative and surprisingly calming for my mind (towards the end of the circle). Some of our crew leisurely did beach shopping; some got their hair braided, while others went for a comforting massage. Some masseurs offer their services at negotiable prices, and you can comfortably lie down and doze off. Make sure you take advantage of this experience as well. 

We enjoyed the sea, had our dinner at the shacks there, and lazed around with music till late at night, staying on till the early hours of dawn. Then, finally, we managed to catch up on a few hours of sleep and be refreshed for another day. 

Goa possesses an energy and vibe that makes people stay energetic despite not getting enough shuteye. The sea air does some magic to the soul. We survived most of the days with little or no sleep! 

One of the must-dos (apart from partying) is a trip to Chorao island, one of the biggest islands in Goa. The island is a natural biodiversity of birds and mangroves. So, on our third day, we had a beautiful ferry ride to the island and a memorable clay bath in a freshwater lake on the island, arranged by our travel host again. A three-hour experience there made us want to be there longer. We returned by evening back on the same ferry to the mainland. A small tip here for travelers: for any visit to the island, make sure you book a vehicle/cab, which can be perched atop the ferry boat to the island.

Since it was our second last day in Goa, we wanted to make it memorable. So, we finally hit the most happening beach in the area – Anjuna beach. The market starts right at the opening of the beach. You can get apparel, trinkets, and all sorts of memorabilia here. So, make sure you haggle well! After our satisfying retail therapy, it was time for sea and food therapy again. We spent the last few hours bathing in the sea, dancing to the tunes of our playlist (on loop) with drinks and a sumptuous dinner at a shack. Then, we played Secret Santa, exchanging gifts with our friends.

As a squad, we bonded so much. By the end of the trip, we wanted to sidestep parting ways so soon. So the last day was a potpourri of tearful hugs, goodbyes, promises of yet another Goa trip, and loads of selfies (apart from the million pics we had already taken during the trip!).

So, ticking off my bucket list, I sign off with a traditional Goan greeting in Konkani (language)while parting ways with ever-loved friends. “Mog Assuni” (Keep the love)

Follow Priya Rajendran

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s