They say that Goa has been explored too much. Too many people have gone there just way too many times; and it’s true too. This was the third time I was heading to Goa, but that’s just the thing about Goa – you can never explore it too much!
In dire need of a vacation, 11 holiday-hungry Bangaloreans boarded the night train to Goa. It was the beginning of the weekend and we were hoping we would have a good one. And, the train was actually on time. That almost NEVER happens, with me at least!
After a long sleepless night filled with excitement, laughter, stories of the haunted, tunnel fun and a lot of junk food, we managed to make it to Goa the next afternoon. After 14 hours of anticipation, we were finally here! And, we couldn’t wait to get started!
But it’s always easier said than done. After a while of hassling, we decided to rent one car and three bikes. You can’t depend on the public transport in Goa, so we always take our own vehicles. That said, you should know that there is always something wrong with the vehicles. Whatever it is, you’ll learn to live with it. And, that’s what we did.
First stop was made to fuel the vehicles, because the tanks were close to being empty. They never give you enough fuel in the rented vehicles. Our hotel was in North Goa, almost 50 km. away from the station (Madgaon) and we were craving for some food and some beer, obviously. We weren't planning on visiting South Goa, because well, it was pouring non-stop! So, we stopped at a deserted Quatro Restaurant in Verna, where the manager was nice enough to feed us hungry souls with whatever was available in the kitchen. Once we had some food and beer in us, we were all geared up!
GOA HAD BEGUN! :D
A few more hours of some trust building with Google Maps and a pit stop to buy the much craved for liquor, then we made it to our hotel – Casa De Royale. It was situated on the Anjuna Mapusa Road, very close to the Vagator Beach and away from Goa’s crowded life. We chose our rooms (which were spacious and came with a refrigerator and a pool-facing balcony) and then jumped into the pool with our beers close-by.
We wanted to go to the Curlies Shack for their Saturday night party, after dinner. But it started raining around 9 p.m, so we decided to stay in for the night. The rain was just an excuse. We were all just exhausted from the journey and the lack of sleep. A few Jager shots down our throat after dinner (normal hotel food) and we were good to go. We hit the bed sooner than we thought!
The next morning, or afternoon rather, after our bread with omelette (our breakfast for the entire trip), we made a move to the Aguada Fort. Made famous by Dil Chahta Hai, it is a must visit if you’re heading to Goa for the first time. This 17th century Portugese fort stands magnificiently tall on the splendid Sinquerim Beach. It was constructed all the way back in 1613 to keep guard against the Dutch and the Marathas.
It was the perfect day to stand in the fort and feel like we stepped back into a different era, and we were so close.
But fifteen minutes away from the fort, one of the other bikes crashed. The left handle of the bike hit an electric pole on the road, throwing the pillion rider and injuring the rider. After five minutes of fussing over them, we burst out laughing and began our hunt for a hospital.
This can be quite a problem in Goa. (It was a Sunday, so all the medical stores were closed!) After a bit of hunting, we found a temple look alike hospital where the boys couldn’t get enough of the very beautiful (and hot, if I may add) doctor! After a quick drool and dressing session, we headed to Aguada for the beautiful view that waited.
And, then we FINALLY headed to a beach while the sun was going down. Baga it was! Located in Bardez, this exquisite beach is named after the Baga Creek that empties into the Arabian Sea, somewhere at the north end of the beach. Unlike the last two times, we were going during the off-season, which meant lesser crowd and more peace. At least that’s what we expected. But Baga told us another story.
There were people everywhere. But that didn’t matter. The sand in my feet while the waves tickled my feet at the shore was more than enough to make up for the mass of humans. Then a beach view table at St. Anthony’s Shack and some food along with hookah made up for our lunch and dinner. The Golden Fry Prawns are a must try while the Hara Bara Kebabs weren't too bad either. The pastas here are very nice and if you like your fish and curry, then you’re in good hands.
The beach kept us for a while and for good reason. The majority of the crowd had dispersed by then, so it’s easy to be lost in the music from the shacks and the sound of the waves. That's all you could hear.
We headed back to our rooms for a ‘let’s get drunk’ session with some beer and whiskey. And, drunk many of us did get. But it’s Goa, so no one was allowed to pass out! Instead, we headed to Curlies (Anjuna Beach) hoping to make it to the last bit of their party. Nestled on the Anjuna Beach, the place is known for its good food and the weekend trance parties.
But disappointment struck! They have their raves only on Saturday nights because it was off-season. So, we decided to order some beer and food and chill at the beach. But mind you, those stairs that lead to it are deadly at night. While I darted down the stairs towards the beach, I fell on the last step and cut my knee on a rock (in my defense, it was really dark and also that step was huge for a small person like me). But it was funny and awfully painful, nevertheless!
It wasn’t the night we had planned for but those waves crashing against the rocks while Hotel California played on an infinite loop was a different kind of high, altogether.
After a good night’s rest, we headed to explore the northernmost beach in Bardez, the beautiful Vagator beach. There wasn’t much we could do really, so we just stood there while the photographers indulged their cameras to the divine view. We then made our way to Anjuna, where we stopped at a local shack that had a beautiful view of the beach. The vegetarian food was surprisingly better with our beer!
Then the sunset at Chapora Fort awaited us! The location of the fort will you a wonderful view of all the directions. There was once a church within the fort, dedicated to St. Anthony. But that was gone, now.
But we took our time to reach the fort, because another bike managed to skid just two minutes away from there. Oh, the fun (and we weren't even high)! While the pillion rider turned out be well-versed in ninja tactics, the rider had a few injuries that we managed to cover up with cloth and leaves.
But we did make it to Chapora and realised that we had a one hour trek ahead of us with five injured people. But we made it there with a little bit of hard work and boy oh boy, it was worth it! The golden and orange hue of the sky while the sun descended in the horizon and the sound of the waves washing the shore - it was absolutely breathtaking! Trekking down in the dark wouldn’t be much fun, so we headed down while the sky still had a bit of blue left - half-falling and half-scaring each other about a ghost around the corner.
If that wasn’t adventure enough, we injured folks ended up at a spooky straight-out-of-the-horror-movie hospital, where we got our dressings done.
We then headed to Baga again (it was turning out be our happy place) for some dinner and a surprise birthday for one of the boys. We had a late dinner at the lively Brittos. The ambience is beautiful and the food even better. We celebrated the birthday with some cake and music and headed to the beach.
It was even more beautiful with the moon up overhead. The quiet, the serenity, the shimmering waters that kept coming at us so gracefully – just what we needed. Add to that a little bit of champagne and hashish and I can easily call it one of our best nights in Goa. We sat there for a long time, tripping on vastness of the sea, till we decided to head back.
Most of them crashed immediately while the rest of us stayed up, relaxing in the pool till sunrise. We decided to head to St. Anthony’s again but on the way, our car was caught by cops on grounds of negligence because there were six people in the car.
We were tourists. It was obviously their best shot at getting some money out of us. They first asked us to pay up 5000 INR. but we got away with paying one grand after a bit of pleading and apologising.
That was quite a mood dampener, as you can imagine. So, we didn’t stick around for long at Baga. The tides were quite high today, and we were just hoping it doesn’t rain. We went around looking for an ATM (there isn’t one around till almost 2km. away) and shopped a little at the stores close by.
There wasn’t much we could get, so we decided to make a trip to Calangute the next morning before we left for the station. But even before a plan was made, the clouds opened up and Goa was snatched away by the rain.
We made it to the hotel but the kitchen had closed. So, a few of us went out again to hunt for food. They managed to find a restaurant in Vagator, where the stoned owner was generous enough to put our demands into boxes for the eagerly waiting gang. We gobbled up the food and the drinks alike, and partied like there was no tomorrow - just like you should on the last day of Goa.
Which is sad because tomorrow came sooner than we thought, and the rains still hadn’t stopped. Shopping was obviously not happening, so we just made our way back to the station after our last breakfast at the hotel. The two of us on the bike were drenched by the time we reached Madgaon. After paying off for the bike damages (we got looted!), we had to wait only for a minute before our train.
There was a huge confusion because it wasn't the same train that was printed on our tickets. Our coach wasn’t even visible! It was at the end somewhere where we found out that we’ll be attached to a different train that was headed to Bangalore. We were too exhausted and hungry to even care. All we spoke about was Goa and how we’ll miss it.
But for that night, we just slept in the train till the next morning, when the cold Bangalore breeze greeted us back home.