Trip-ping in Goa

Our drive to Goa was anything but NON-Entertaining, driving 14-15 hrs on a road that went on and on forever. We drove thru a windmill farm, a one lane National highway, then a six lane express way, a jungle, train crossing, a ghat with no street lights and finally we drove parallel to moon lit beaches. Good Fun!

Goa car

It was the shortest route possible, or so said the Yahoo maps! Guess Yahoo is still learning about the good & the bad roads of India. But like I said, it was exciting. We started at 5 in the morning from Bangalore & reached at about 9 in the evening at Sinquerim in North Goa.

North Goa offers glistening sands, hippie culture, ultra fresh seafood, luxury hotels & budget guesthouses and cheep chilled beer ‘n’ friendly people completes this compelling kaleidoscope.

goa Mix

We stayed at Lui Beach Resort a budget resort with all the basic amenities, a functional restaurant, a pool & a/c rooms. We’ve stayed at Taj Aguada &  Goa Beach Apartment earlier & will recommend them both. Kingfisher Villa  is also parked on the same stretch of road, only you’ll need to be Dr Mallya’s guest to stay there 😉 (http://wikimapia.org/449932/Kingfisher-Villa-Vijay-Mallya-s-mansion).

Goa is known internationally for its beaches, be it water sports ace Candolim beach, the overpopulated Baga beach, foodie Calangute beach, rocky Anjuna beach or snobbish South-Goa beach. The golden sand spreads over miles and miles and the sunsets are to die for. One finds people just lazzzing around and getting that sun tan look or enjoying the cool waters of the Arabian Sea.

Since Goa is all about food and wine, we splurged with 4-5 mini meals a day. Some of my favorite restaurants in North Goa include Bristo on Baga, Xaviers on Candolim, and Fisherman’s Cove & Tuscany Gardens on the road to Fort Aguada. In the peak months (Nov-Feb), every courtyard of the houses on this stretch becomes a restaurant; I love the whole hustle-bustle.

We also went to Tito’s which was a big letdown. There wasn’t a valet parking facility and finding a place to park was a pain. At the entrance, their waterfall was spilling water on the pathway; I thought I spotted a stray dog in the restaurant also. Restaurant decor was somewhat akin to a shack. Food n Drinks menu was very limited, and the food was not up to the mark. It looks like Tito’s is just cashing the name. The entire road has big TITO’S signs and is very confusing. Basically Avoid. The disc section opens at 10.00 pm, and the crowd was (sorry to say) ghatti & rowdy. We didn’t even enter. Fortunately there are hundreds of other amazing places to go to.

As far as the drinks are concerned, we had the port wine (I know, I know, it’s not really a wine but I like it). The Kings beer a local beer is worth a try.

Suggested itineraries for Goa generally include attractions at capital City Panaji, Old Goa churches that are a legacy of Portuguese colonization (http://www.goaholidayhomes.com/churches-in-goa.php), Fort Aguda Lighthouse, River Cruise & the beaches.

On the beaches, sit back and relax get a non-permanent tattoo or buy cool trinkets. If you are the ‘lets-do-something-can’t-sit-still’ kind then a variety of water sports options are also available, just make sure you negotiate a good deal.

Shopping in Goa is luck by chance; you may get something incredible or nothing at all. Anjuna and Mapusa markets are famous for traditional curios and handicrafts of Goa. Remember to bargain a lot.

Goa will always be one of my absolute fav places to chill out. It is easy to slip into Goa’s warm effortless existence.

Looking forward to the next year’s trip!

Just what the doctor ordered…GOA!

Picture this ….Beach-Beer-Book on a Sunny Sunday Afternoon. Isn’t that what a relaxing holiday is all about!

Our recent trip to Goa is just what we needed, not that we are over worked or exhausted, but who doesn’t love a little pampering & relaxation.

Most believe Goa to be a place for huge groups of friends, open-top Gypsies, Loud music, Water sports & late nights at Titos. They are right & we have done that a on our previous visits and sure it was fun … but there is another side to Goa, where chilling, taking things slow, (the travel-show-hosts cliché of ‘being spiritual or being one with the surroundings’) is priority.

On our most recent trip, we decided to drive down to Goa, stay in a small resort, chill on the beach & basically make no plans.

I confess, I am a planner, although I’d love to be the impulsive type I’ve never been able to NOT Plan. Surprisingly I got used to an unplanned day very quickly. I guess its easy when all one has to do is lie in the sun & look at the surf, read ‘Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – a trilogy in four parts’ (that’s always makes me smile).

After this trip, I have decided to leave all the planning to hubby dear, I’ll be there to enjoy the moment. WHAT FUN!!

So what were the unplanned things we did? We hit the restaurants, beaches at odd hours of the day. The great thing about Goa is that food & drink is available all the time. The same is true for the crowds at Baga, Anjuna & the others.

Read on about Goa in the travel & review section.

George Restaurant and Bar – Panaji, North Goa

George specializes in Goan cuisine and sea food … how do I know ? Well …

a) It says so on the banner

b) I’ve had the food and IT IS awesome

c) All the locals eat there. One can always be sure that the food is good if the restaurant is always packed and 75% of the people eating  are locals.

In the capital Panjim, you’ll find George Bar and Restaurant, right around the corner – going towards Panjim Church. On the first look, It’s an old and rickety looking joint, but they do have an a/c enclosure on the first floor – Called the family room 🙂

Like all the other times we have visited Goa, this time also we had-to-have one meal at George. So a long 3 course  lunch it was and very economical too  – in Rs. 650 we were full to the brim.

Beer like the rest of Goa is at a reasonable 70-80 bucks for 650ml, for starters we had Prawn Masala (Rs 95). The prawns were coated in an amazingly spicy onion-tomato-chilli-garlic-bellpepper’ish-masala. For main-course we ordered Squid xacuti (Rs110), Pork Vindaloo (Rs80) and Fish-curry-rice (Rs100) … Ya ! I know its sounds like a lot and it was but we wanted to get a taste of everything – And we managed to finish everything 🙂 We ended our meal with a bowl of Caramel Custard (Rs40).

Goan cuisine is an interesting mix of varied influences, apart from the seafood – chicken, beef and pork are part of the goan food tradition. Some dishes that will be on all menus in a Goa restaurant are – xacuti, sopotel, vindaloo and cafreal.

Vinhalhos / Vindaloo – is ‘vinho’ for wine, ‘alhos’ for garlic (Portuguese), ‘viande’ – ‘aloo’ for meat (French) – potato  (Indian). A very spicy blend of tones of red chilies, garlic, vinegar, some fenni and palm jaggery. (Did you know that one of the ingredients of Pork Vindaloo is coconut fenni ? )

Cafreal is a goan dish of tribal origin. It was supposedly named after the African soldiers or Kaffirs who brought it to Goa centuries ago. In this dish the meat is marinated and deep-fried. The result is rather dry, but spicy dish. This is the equivalent of Portuguese-style grilled chicken and the sauce is made from the left over marinate.

Sorpotel is prepared from meat diced and cooked in a thick and very spicy sauce favored with red chilies, cinnamon, cloves bathed in tangy toddy vinegar. Sorpotel keeps for several days, and is actually considered to taste better the day after (something like our ma-ki-dal).

Xacuti (pronounced as sha-coo-ti), has its origins in Portuguese cooking. It has lots of earthy spices like nutmeg, coriander, turmeric, chilies, ginger and cloves. Additionally tamarind and lemon juice make for a pungent curry.

I also picked up some ready-to-cook-curry-packets in Goa. Crossing-my-fingers they turn out well !

Back From Vacation

This is a quick note to let all visitors know that I’m back from my vacation in Goa and just haven’t been able to update this blog since then. Work as usual has been taking most of my time but I intend to get back to updating this blog regularly as soon as I can find the time.

I’ve got loads of stuff to write about from the trip, the beaches I visited, the pubs I went to and the food I ate. Keep reading.

Off to Goa for the weekend

The long weekend that is. Tomorrow and Friday is a holiday in most places in India on account of the Festival of Dasara. Am off to the coastal state of Goa. Yummy seafood and cold beer is what awaits me.

I will not be posting at all while I’m gone. Expect an update with lots of pics from nice, sunny Goa when I’m back 🙂

Gotta rush now … the beach is calling me.