Flanked by a group of intimate friends, dating back to college days, we planned a holiday to Goa to celebrate my friend’s bachelorette. As we booked relatively expensive tickets for our Indigo flight, our excitement was palpable. Reaching our destination that pleasant March afternoon, our hotel had been upgraded, leaving smiles on our sun-kissed faces.
We dined early at a local fine-dining restaurant, where we greatly enjoyed steaks and succulent roasted lamb and greedily dug into our flambéed brownies. We then set out enjoy the evening with a brisk walk to Bagga beach, weaving in and out of chaotic traffic. With our feet wading in cool, sparkling waters, we relaxed by the beach, spraying each other with showers of water.
After a refreshing night of rest, we set out for the well-conserved, picturesque Seventeenth-century fort called Aguada, standing tall near the Candolim beach. Interestingly, we learned from a local guide, the fort also has a secret escape passage, to be used during the time of war and emergencies. While there is a short, scenic 2-kms climb to the majestic fort; the route is quite steep and you would be better off hiring a taxi.
The rest of the day was spent shopping for oversized, colorful straw hats and picking up bright, flower-printed shirts, reminiscent of Govinda in his hey-days, for folks at home.
With Goa being famously known for its pristine, white-sand beaches, they have a lot to offer even for a picky traveler. You can comfortably relax in a lounge chair, complete with a picnic umbrella; work on your tan, indulge yourself with a soothing massage or lazily sip on nariyal pani. Ordinary mortals can splash around in shallow waters, while the more adventurous can try their hands at surfing and scuba-diving; in the sometimes tumultuous, sometimes calm waves.
The only debacle you may face if you are travelling in an all-women’s group, is the tendency of teenage boys to try and swim close to the girls. While we still needed to be on guard to fend off guys, the people of Goa were generally welcoming, often inviting us to their homes. A local restaurant even sportingly allowed us to chalk out a snappy bachelorette-themed message for our soon-to-be-married friend, right on the board where they had listed their specialties for the day.
The high point of our trip however was our journey to the Delton Jack casino, situated in the middle of Goan waters. Reached by a ferry with comfortable seating, the glittering city lights visible across the waters, added to the charm of the already magical evening. While we paid a round figure of Rs 2000 per person for the gambling chips, the price was inclusive of food and entertainment. After trying our luck at Black Jack and losing spectacularly at the slot machines, we sat down to an unremarkable dinner, offset by an engaging can-can performance. The novelty of the experience made the trip memorable, making the journey back to the hotel quite agreeable.
An excursion to a new place is never quite complete without wandering and meandering to the marketplaces. During one such sojourns in the city we came across a huge supermarket, uninspiringly titled Newton’s, stocked with an array of gourmet products and goodies. Excitingly enough, the shopping mart offered a range of exotic liquors. After liberally consuming chocolate liquor, coconut rum and coffee liquor, we felt at peace with the world. This place is highly recommended for those who enjoy their liquor and cannot do without a glass of wine at social gatherings and get-togethers.
While we were strapped for time, we could not afford to miss out on visiting one of the most popular and exquisitely designed churches—Basilica of Bom Jesus. A captivating place for spiritual contemplation, the church is well-known as a UNESCO World Heritage site. An epitome of Renaissance architecture, the opulent use of color and ornaments in the church is a treat for the eyes. The paintings and sculpture add to the magnificence of this peaceful church. The people kneeling down in the aisles and observing a few moments of silence created an atmosphere of serenity in the church. This is without a doubt one of the most imposing churches in Old Goa and is a major tourist attraction. However, the church is not for the faint-hearted because it depicts many gut-wrenching images of bloodied Christ.
On our last day at this scenic place, we headed for a hearty breakfast at what we were told was an old-style English café, serving the most delectable food. This quaint, open-air café called Café Chocolatti, is located in a lush garden complete with beach-style umbrellas. While we gorged on a sumptuous meal of French style crepes, fruit-laden waffles and French toast, we also chose from an assortment of tasty, chocolaty cakes, to enjoy later in the day. A must-visit place, its fresh at home food is to die for.
Finally, we set out for our return flight to sizzling, heated-up Delhi, rejuvenated and refreshed by the trip. However, we could not resist the alluring gift shops at the airport and ended up buying packets of Bebinca, a seven –layered local dessert, to be shared among family and friends back home.
All in all, I’d say you will have a fabulous time in Goa, if you want to enjoy a great nightlife, indulge in food, laze around on the beaches or simply marvel at the architecture of myriad churches. Happy travelling!