Setting foot for the first time, in a city, that prides itself as the nations’ party capital, I must admit, was somewhat of an overwhelming experience. No, I don’t have travel anxiety. If anything, I only possess the exact opposite of it – the fervor of a nomad. Hell, if I were a brand to be endorsed, its tagline would be, ‘because..life’s not meant to be lived in one place.’ But my trip to Goa rather came with expectations –expectations from a group of friends traveling with me and constantly complaining that being Indian, I had explored more foreign countries than the wondrous dwellings of my own country. That too Goa, of all the places – I hadn’t been to GOA! I mean, what kind of an Indian possessing the necessary resources and in the right mental frame would not have visited Goa?! Of course, I understand where they’re coming from. I’ve heard myriad escapades of the Goan excursions – the adventurous kind, the wild kind, the tranquil kind – you name it. But what would my experience be like in a city known for its beachy beauty and reckless parties, considering that I wasn’t visiting during the peak holiday season and that I had already seen the ‘best’ of the beaches and the ‘craziest’ of the parties during my overseas visits to cities like Barcelona and California that are known to offer ‘higher degrees’ of allure? A true vagrant at heart however, the surge of enthusiasm of being in an unknown, new territory quickly overpowered the edgy sensation, and by the time I set my other foot down as an announcement of my arrival in the city, wanderlust had already taken over my being.
As I witnessed the breathtaking, picturesque view of the city on my ride from the airport to the resort, I knew that Goa would bring out the happy kid in me. There’s something about nature that just makes me come alive. The city’s clear blue waters and lush greens come together in a symphony of joyous opulence. The resort I stayed at is a reasonably priced accommodation located right on the magnificent Ashvem Beach in North Goa (Rococco Resort, Ashvem). An hour long drive away from the hustle-bustle of the popular Baga–Anjuna province, it forms the perfect synthesis of the serene calmness of Southern Goa and the boisterous, youthful vigor of the North. Sitting on its clean white sand, by the sparkling sea water, under the moon-lit sky, in the quiet of the night is nothing short of an out-of-body experience. Every day for a while, I’d sink deep into this la-la land; and once I was ready to snap out of it, I’d join my friends to some good music, hearty laughter and futile chitter-chatter. The numerous shacks by the beach offer good food and drinks at reasonable prices and if you’re looking out for some nice international meals with good music and a terrific ambience, the place offers options of great upmarket restaurants like La Plage and Marbela (just a few minutes drive away from the resort). Positioned on the sand, with a very bohemian décor and yummylicious food, La Plage was my personal favorite!
Of course a trip to Goa, and the first ever so to speak, is incomplete without a visit to the Calangute-Anjuna stretch and biking it up is the only way to have a true goan experience! Goa was the first time ever I experienced an official, long bike ride. My first night in Goa and we were all planning to go chill some place in Anjuna. My friends decided to rent bikes. My instant reaction – “oh no please, talk to the hand. I like having a roof over my head even in a state of motion.” And boy, did I get the looks? So, minutes later, I was sitting behind a friend riding the bike and must I tell you what a liberating experience it was?! Swerving through the streets with the coastline in sight – the sound of the waves hitting the shore murmuring in my ears and the air constantly blowing kisses to me – whacked my uptight self out the ‘window’. If there were to be an experience in my ‘Goa Diaries’ that was to be allotted a gold medal, this would for sure be it.
Anjuna has innumerable chill go-to places and with the suggestion of my friends who’d been to the city before, we settled on Curlies. A beach shack with a splendid ambience, great food, a fantastic bar and live music, many describe it as the Bora Bora of Goa. Another one is Brittos by Baga beach. It’s a huge shack with again, a superb ambience, good music and fabulous food. My favorite seating is the area inside with the view of the beach – the moonlight peeking in and the candle lights flickering in the dim of the night – a place highly recommended for the first timers to Goa. To the party animals, Goa is your paradise on earth. There are more clubs in Goa than you’ll find in all of the Indian metros combined. Or so it felt at least. You can’t miss Club Cubana, especially as a first timer in the city. Set on a hill top, the club is super up market. It has a pool side, attractive lighting, a huge bar and 2 dance floors situated at different levels. However, it feels more like a club in Vegas City than a club in Goa, so not a place for those looking for a more local experience. But if it’s only party you got on your mind, Club Nyex is another great option of an up market club. With 3-4 levels all facing the sea, an open air dance floor, an indoor dance floor, a huge bar and some terrific electronic dance music; it was my funnest party night in Goa!
So ladies and fellas, the city will bring to you an all-encompassing experience – from the wild parties to the tranquil sundowns; from the roughness of chugging LIT’s for a night meant to get you wasted to the classiness of sipping on piña coladas as you bask in the sun. The city can be full of several pleasant surprises if you just open your arms out wide and ask for it to be the gift that it is!