The flight - I took a morning flight to Goa and happened to choose Indigo. Why Indigo? Coz beggars are not choosers! It was simply the cheapest non stop flight to Goa between 9 am to 1 pm, the convenient time for me to fly.
I had done a web check-in, and so got to choose a window seat, although quite far behind (the front seats come with an extra charge these days).
After boarding- I reached my seat and found that people (a couple) were already seated there. The man asked me if I could go even further back than the 23rd row that I had booked to row number 26 coz he wanted to sit next to his GF who was in the seat next to the one I had booked. I reluctantly obliged, and just as I was trying to adjust into seat number 26 F, next to this very hairy sardar, who was with his equally healthy but thankfully well-waxed wife (both busy showing their thighs through their very short shorts), a man who looked to be some not-so-distant, but distinctly Punjabi cousin of Bappi Lahiri, came and told me it was his seat and that the gentleman who had sent me to 26 F was actually the occupant of 27 F(yes, even further back!) While I was still fighting with my seat belt (I had buckled myself already) to get up this guy says, "it's ok, I will sit on 27 F".
Later on, right before the take off, I heard him saying to his GF on phone, "ok we are done now, I'm blocking all your contacts, you're a free bird from today".
It was a smooth take off and almost on time. First I was busy watching the rapidly getting small in size houses and roads, then Yamuna river, then the fields, and then Yamuna again, coz the flight took a U turn (they all fly in same direction whether taking off or landing ever since the Saudi airlines - Kazakh airlines mid air collision in 1996)
After a while, I started watching the stored videos on my iPad, but most turned out to be p*** so couldn't really watch with the man right next to me ( what if he got horny ????)
When I was done with the few normal ones I had, I deleted them, so as to create some space (space is always a problem in economy class and also on a 16 GB apple device).
Now, after all this, I had nothing left to do and still more than an hour for the flight, so I drank some water and then set about taking some pictures of the clouds. I was satisfied after taking some, and I think few are actually good enough to make cover pics for my facebook ID.
Soon after, the descent started, and amid scenes from the aircraft of the sea and greenery in and around Goa, we made a safe and sound landing at Goa airport.
Goa airport- It is medium sized and not fancy like Delhi airport, but further away from the main city areas of North Goa than Delhi airport is from any place in and around NCR. There are no radio cabs in Goa due to the fact that local people create a problem for them (See this link - http://www.navhindtimes.in/radio-cabs-easy-and-efficient-transport-mode-for-goa/).
The government operated prepaid service is very costly and so is the private taxi service, and thus, to go anywhere in North Goa would cost you a minimum of Rs. 1000 one way!
First destination, Anjuna beach - It is one of the calmer beaches of Goa, located not too far away, nor too close to the central part of North Goa. The beach doesn't have too many shacks to disturb the natural surroundings, nor too much crowd. It does have Chapora fort nearby and on the way to the beach you will come across a lot of small shops selling garments and accessories as well as some groceries. There is also a flea market which leads to the beach.
Our first abode, FabHotel Anjuna Beachfront- It takes a while to locate the hotel because it's situated in almost a remote location, but with the help of GPS one can find it. In case you don't have a mobile phone, try asking locals for Cafe Lilliput (the hotel is right next to it) or Curlies Beach Shack, the most famous shack on Anjuna beach, which is not very far from the hotel too.
Once you reach, you will be pleased to find that the hotel is on the beach, I mean right next to the beach! Sadly though, there are no real beach facing rooms, except some on the first floor, which come at a premium. The rooms are decent enough to sleep in but not much to write home about. The room we stayed in was in need of some maintenance. I found some leakage in the bathroom as well as from the AC. Also, no dental kit was provided in the bathroom and it was too small for two people to take a bath together. ????
Wi-fi signals are not great and they were not reaching our room. Even the mobile connection is weak inside the rooms. However, I would take it as a blessing in disguise, coz if it gets too comfortable inside the room one is often tempted not to explore what's outside.
The receptionist and other staff are reasonably courteous, even if not very cordial and warm. Ritesh, however, is an exception. I don't know what is his duty at this hotel, but he goes out of his way to add a smile or two to your stay (if you know what I mean).
Now to the better part. The view from the restaurant area of the hotel (Janet and Jones restaurant), which is situated on the beach, is very refreshing, and so is the complimentary breakfast, whether it is the Aloo Paranthas or the Omlette. These are two things (the view and the breakfast) which are not to be missed when staying at FabHotel Anjuna Beachfront.
I would suggest this hotel only if you can't find a better one on Anjuna beach, and if you need to stay far from people, internet, mobiles and a proper marketplace, coz the nearest market is at Mapusa which is almost 10 km from the hotel.
I paid Rs. 1200 for our couple stay inclusive of the delicious breakfast and the non working wi-fi, but this was during off season. During season (Nov- Feb) I've heard the prices are simply double or even triple. All said and done, season or no season, I wouldn't recommend this hotel for more than Rs. 2000
The rent-a-bike service - As described earlier, this hotel is far from a lot of markets and places from where one could buy stuff, so when we wanted to rent a bike we had to choose between two shops only, and out of those two too, only one had a motorbike. It is more prevalent to use scooters in Goa, probably coz it's easier to ride with no gears to change manually and coz the fuel economy is better than most bikes available on rent. Nevertheless, I find bikes safer and more comfortable coz of their bigger wheels. But then it's a personal choice.
The bike, however, didn't come with any choice, as there was only one, a blue Avenger, which Tilo (the owner) was not ready to give for less than Rs. 500 per day at any cost. Later on we found that it wasn't really a bad deal coz bikes are not available any which way for less than Rs. 400 per day. I say, not a bad deal coz if we had not taken it from him then we would have probably spent another 500 rupees trying to find a shop which would give us a bike on lesser rent.
Cafe Lilliput - It's right on Anjuna beach and most proximate cafe (less than 50 meters away) to FabHotel Beachfront. There is not much to write about this shack though, except for the view of the beach and sea, which, sadly, is visible to and enjoyed by only the ones occupying the few front row seats (about 15).
Apart from that the seating arrangement is not very good, at most average, and the staff isn't really friendly unless you take the initiative to talk to them, quite contrary to what one expects as a guest at a restaurant. This is a problem which one should be ready to face being an Indian more or less all over Goa. They don't really seem to relish having guests who don't tip in Dollars, Pounds or Roubles it seems!
The food is ok and the beer is not really cheap except for Draught beer, which they serve in small mugs and is really not worth it even at as less as Rs. 100 per mug.
Overall, not a memorable experience and I wouldn't recommend visiting this shack/cafe.
Curlies Beach Shack - A MUST VISIT shack when on Anjuna beach. The setting, the seating, the ambience, the music, all are good. However, one has to wait for the best seats, the ones on the first floor balcony overlooking the sand and the sea. The good thing is that even while waiting you can relax inside on the floor sitting arrangement, where one has the liberty to spread and (might be) even fall asleep! Who knows you might get so comfortable and cozy inside that you might not even go out on the balcony. Haha!
All said and done, I would highly recommend the beach facing balcony seats, except when it's raining, coz they don't really put umbrellas.
Now for the bad part. Well, there isn't any thankfully. Food, though, is average. Hukka is good and fairly priced. The staff was busy coz of the weekend rush when we visited, still friendly enough for Indians (as much as we can expect in Goa). The head of the waiters, Raman, was a great help and served us with a smile all the way.
Overall, a pleasant experience. I would recommend drink and be merry at Curlies and eat on the stalls selling snacks right in front (they sell Maggi as well as eggs made to order).
Chapora fort - why would one want to climb so high when there is nothing much to see from up there. Sheer waste of time and energy as far as I'm concerned. In case you must go then make sure you're wearing comfortable and strong shoes with a good gripping sole, as the climb to and way back from the fort is quite steep and tricky. It looks easy but as they say looks are deceptive. Specially dangerous for those who are not into much physical activity.