Background: Since early 2020, International travel has been in limbo due to the !@#! COVID-19. With each country reacting differently to COVID-19, it has been difficult to do International trips. While waiting out COVID-19, I thought why not explore the regions of India I have not been to 🙂 As of August 2021, when this series of India trips started, I had already been to 19 major towns/cities (as an adult), which is nothing considering the size and diversity of the country.
Introduction to Goa
Goa was a Portuguese colony till 1961. Portuguese had ruled the region for over 450 years.
Official language is Konkani.
Goa is most famous for its beaches and several of those beaches are considered among the best in Asia.
Major cities are Panaji/Panjim (the Capital), Vasco da Gama (largest city), Margao Etc.
Over a million foreign tourists visit Goa every year.
Goa is considered one of the World’s foremost nightlife destinations.
Goa is extremely popular with Russian tourists, mainly during November-January months, to escape the harsh Russian winters. Many stores have signs in Russian! Many Russians have settled down in Goa.
I flew to Bangalore/Bengaluru the day before our Goa road trip and stayed overnight. We met at the hugely popular microbrewery Ironhill at Marathahalli. Even on a weekday it was quite crowded.
They claim to be India’ largest Microbrewery. Sinnerman Stout was awesome.
Marathahalli junction at around 3AM IST. Deserted. You should see the traffic in this area during peak hours. As you can see, Metro work is going on. If ever a locality needed Metro coverage, this is it!
Off we go! By road from Bengaluru to Goa.
We went past the Hebbal, Yeshwantpur, IKEA Bengaluru (Nagasandra), Tumakuru (Tumkur), Davanagere, Hubballi (Hubli), Dharwad, Ramnagar and finally entered Goa. We started at 04:00 IST and reached Panaji around 12:30 IST.
Most of the Northern Karnataka (at least around the highway) was quite plain.
Getting closer 🙂
We went past some nice fields …
There were a couple of railway crossings on the way. At this particular stop, we had crunchy Guava with a sprinkling of salt and chilli powder and it was awesome.
We then go through some ghat area and through Mollem … There was not much traffic, considering that this was peak season.
The road becomes single lane, as you can see …
For a stretch there was concrete road …
Dudhsagar Falls is not very far from here.
Getting close to Panaji/Panjim. As you can note by the distances, Goa is not a large state 🙂
Homestays galore …
Residential areas of Panaji/Panjim.
An apartment complex, on the way to lunch.
Started with “Peoples” lager. As a matter of fact, I had this several times while in Goa.
Started off with Clams. Batter-fried.
Fish (Forget the type of fish). Batter-fried.
Seafood meals, with Fish (Yup! Batter-fried!).
There was also a Clams side dish. The Clams had their shells as well. Overall, I really enjoyed this meal, as you can see with my plate the meal 🙂 It was a combination of the relaxed ambience of the place along with the food and beer.
The eatery where we had lunch. As you can see, very “local” and nothing fancy. After a few more times of this “batter-fried” seafood, I must say I got tired of it. First couple of times it was a novelty, but over and over and over … I got tired of it and towards the end, I stopped with ordering seafood altogether.
We then went to Delfino’s (a local supermarket chain) and stocked up on liquor.
Along the “Avenida Dom Joao de Castro” road … That is a mouthful, isn’t it 😉 There were so many floating Casinos around.
Entrance to Floating Casino #1
Entrance to Floating Casino #2. Obviously, action only picks up in the nights.
New Mandovi Bridge. From “Avenida Dom Joao de Castro” road.
While crossing Mandovi river, using the “1st Mandovi Bridge”. You can see the “New Mandovi Bridge” on the left.
On the way to Mandrem. We stayed very close to the Maharashtra border.
In the evening, we went to the Ashwem beach area. Saw this small church right next to the beach.
There were some dudes playing Beach Volleyball.
The Bar & Restaurant where we spent the evening. “Koleso 24 x7” it was called. The food was quite Bleh …. We used a seating area arranged on the beach itself.
One of the dishes we ordered … What do you see? Yup, BATTER-FRIED, for the zillionth time!
St. Michael’s Church @Panjim/Panaji.
Walking to Chapora Fort. There were quite a few streetside vendors. Since it was quite sunny and hot, the lemonade vendors were making a killing. We also had lemonade (Actually, Lime Soda (Sparkling Water) with salt) on the way back.
Have to climb a few stairs. Wish there were more boards with details about the Chapora fort. There was just one barely-legible board that I could see.
The views from Chapora Fort were very nice.
The views from Chapora Fort were very nice. View of the Vagator Beach through the ruins.
The views from Chapora Fort were very nice.
Vagator Beach … From Chapora Fort.
Morgim Beach … From Chapora Fort. We visited this beach later in the day.
Morgim Beach. I found this beach very nice for the following reasons: (1) Clear water (2) Relatively well-maintained and clean (Tourists, please do maintain the cleanliness of the beaches) (3) Very less crowds. Actually, among the people there, over 50% were foreigners.
The water was quite clear … We took a brief dip in the afternoon. The water was lukewarm, but when we come out, there was a slight wind-chill.
The beach umbrella/seating rental business was doing well …
Several vendors pestered us to check if we were interested in renting the beach umbrellas and seating.
We did a pit-stop at this Bar & Restaurant. Man, was it a rip-off. A 100 Rs beer for 350+ Rs. And that too, pre-noon (I.e. Not peak hours).
I had this 330ml Hoegaarden Beer … It helped wash away my sorrows (to an extent) of getting ripped off.
Many stores in this area had boards with Russian …
Another sign … Goa is very popular with Russian tourists.
This trip was done while the 2022 FIFA World Cup (at Qatar) was entering the final stages. The Brazil-Croatia QF, Argentina-Netherlands QF, Portugal-Morocco QF and England-France QF happened while we were in Goa. We had a great time watching Brazil-Croatia QF and Portugal-Morocco QF at a Bar & Restaurant called “Hive by the Sea” (Near Ashwem Beach). Very comfortable seating, nice beer and decent food! We were all shocked by the Brazil loss, as we were mostly supporting Brazil. I personally enjoyed the Morocco win the next day as I was supporting that team (They were considered an underdog by experts).
During lunch … At Satpurush restaurant, in Morjim. What do you see? YUP! Batter-fried, again.
I ordered this Prawns Meals. No reward for guessing how the Prawns were prepared 🙂 The fish curry gravy was nice.
Feni (OR) Feny (OR) Fenny? Not sure … There were several brands available. By the by, the checking for liquor when you exit Goa is very stringent. Be careful if you are trying to take liquor out of Goa, into Karnataka (Not sure how Maharashtra reacts).
“Hive by the Sea” … Look at the Russian translations 🙂
On the way to Arambol Beach. The streets were quite narrow and my friend had difficulty in navigating his bug SUV.
This beach was more crowded than the other beaches we saw in North Goa. We had a fun time playing frisbee in the water … Due to erosion (around the feet) when a person stands still in the water, there were quite a few dips in the sand, it was not easy to chase the frisbee, as one could lose his/her step without warning.
There were so many small rooms for rent … For hardcore backpackers, I guess.
Lunch at Tata’s Bar & Restaurant, Mandrem. The food, in my opinion, was quite mediocre.
Chicken Vindaloo … Nothing to write home about. Actually, the chicken was quite undercooked.
I hate batter!!! 🙂
Our Lady of Good Health Chapel … It was right next to Cream Choc gelato place.
Cream Choc Gelato place. It was just awesome! I had 3 scoops in one sitting. The Pista, especially, was YUM!
Cream Choc. Gelato ice cream. Run by an actual Italian guy, I am told.
I bought this Port Wine for 200Rs, to drink on the last day … Could not finish it all, but managed to finish 1/2 the bottle.
Near to our Bed & Breakfast (which was quite basic), we found this local tea shop. We were regulars there for morning coffee/tea, snacks Etc. Mirchi (Chilly) Bhaji, Vada Pav, Omelets, Tea/Coffee, Samosa Etc. Our group alone must have given the vendor some good business, over the few days 🙂 We could see that the locals who came to the place on a daily basis were surprised to see all regular seats taken and their morning routines disturbed.
On the way back to Bengaluru/Bangalore … North-West Karnataka Road Transport Corporation. I was not aware that a single state can have multiple RTCs.
We lost around 2.5-3hr due to a farmers’ stir, where they blocked the highway. We had to take some internal roads. At some points, there was water logging.
The primary goal of this trip, for me, was not sightseeing (I will definitely visit Goa again, in future). It was mainly a trip to spend fun time with friends 🙂