Panjim: Slaying it Solo

30th Mar 2019
Photo of Panjim: Slaying it Solo by Moulika Danak

Sometimes, 'Yes'- when said without a second thought - proves to be a very beautiful and courageous word. Like the time it slipped out of my mouth when a colleague offered me to join her on a 2-day trip to Goa. The hours between accepting the offer and hitting the road emerged with questions and apprehensions since it was a matter of travelling with someone I had only known through cordial emails between office hours. But I had to answer when the adventure beckoned; so here's a panoramic account of solo-ing a day in Panjim.

I started off with renting a blue Fascino for 300 bucks, backed it up with a petrol worth 200 bucks and was sorted to wander along the 'Pearl of the Orient'.

Day 2

My first stop was Fontainhas or the 'Fountains of Phoenix', as they call it. Its tiny ageless streets still has in it the power to transport you to a Portugal epoch while keeping your eyes busy in awe of vibrant architecture filled with bountiful vintage charm.

Park your bike at a corner of a peculiar block (so that you remember where to come back), gear up with GPS and camera (if at all) and head on. Start from Sebastian Chapel and allow your eyes to collect souvenirs in terms of memories of these marvellous lanes spilling life as you walk through the sunny yellows, bright blues and many more blooming hues through architecture of Latin Quarters. Take that narrow lane behind the bush, climb uphill, get downstairs, smell the Bougainvillea as they form the crown in the air between two abodes and finally when you have soaked in a great lot of this vivid vicinity, there's a good chance you'll end up at this beautifully painted wall which stands out from afar.

The cosy shade through the luring wooden widows will play peek-a-book with you through this wall painted like the mock Portugal tiles . And boy, you have all the reasons to step inside this urban setting of utmost comfort, all the more if you are seeking rest.

Upon entering Bombay Coffee Roasters, the smell of a refreshing cuppa sent a wave of leisure even before I found comfort in its cosy couch. As I found my snuggly side by the window side, I threw a glance around to find a few visitors hanging out in solitude with their laptops and Ipads, blending well with the tranquillity of the place.

While the number of items on the menu couldn't spoil me for choice, the homemade feel of delicious yummies sure left me asking for more. Without even a hint of realisation, I spent three to four hours engrossed in a Nick Hornby-world sipping Mulberry tea (which, btw, goes really well with their lemon-blueberry tart). The place acted as a refreshing halt for the latter half of the day.

My next destination was the colonial Portuguese Baroque style Immaculate Church, in the heart of the city. The climb to the topmost floor serves with a breath-taking view of the city. So, there I stood watching worldly affairs in miniature under a blue sky with the hazy breeze keeping me company and I tell you that it does feel a bit heavenly from up there!

Now with a content heart, I drove to the nearest beach - Miramar. The clean wide roads with scanty riders reminded me why I loved riding bikes. The beach- to my surprise- is sans shacks and relatively crowded, open-for-all kinds. At the entrance, there are bunch of hawkers selling fruits and candies. Walking through the lines between sea and sand, I found a relatively secluded place to settle and soak in the dusk with a sunset.

If people-watching interests you, Miramar beach is a spot to observe the frenzy of tourists -running in the sea, splashing water, clicking a zillion pictures- which pops out through the calm regime of locals walking their dogs, performing summersaults or training by the beach.

To mark a celebratory end to this eventful day, I chose Cremeux Cafe & Bistro which allured my attention as its red and white verandah glowed with warm tones of lighting. I settled in the cosy couch around the quaint table on the first floor savouring the filling meal with tropical Goan liquor 'Coconut Feni' as I looked upon the old Panjim market while summer breeze did what it does the best.

Chief Seattle once said “Take only memories, leave only footprints.” And so, I have come back with a potpourri of anecdotes and smiles which I am still unpacking with each passing day. Impromptu trips and solo affairs with unknown cities, can be the sanest form of 'young, wild & free' you can feel!