Our week in Goa, India
Trip Start Feb 01, 2007
19Trip End Aug 2007
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Saturday March 3
Up at 3AM. Joymangal (our friends' driver) picked us up and drove us to the airport to catch an early flight for Mumbai (Bombay) then Goa. Kolkata airport is efficient, polite, and quick. Plane delayed 90 minutes due to fog. Jet Airways service is spectacular. Their Economy service is as good as most Business Class. They had hot meals (great food) on both flights, even the 45 minutes short flight. We haven't seen that on USA carriers in this century.
Mumbai and Goa airports are modern in a third-world fashion, with quick baggage service. The Marriott people were there to meet us and we rode the shuttle for an hour to get to the resort one mile from Panaji, the capitol city of Goa.
Sunday March 4
Goa is on the west coast of India on the Arabian Sea and Kolkata is on the east coast on the Bay of Bengal The Marriott Resort is right smack dab on the Arabian Sea. We watch the barges of iron ore and manganese go in (empty) and out (filled) constantly (a major export of Goa is iron ore and manganese). Here in this spot, we could be in Polynesia or Thailand with the palm trees, cool sea breeze and thatched hut bar next to the pool. It is delightful.
We secured reservations to go on two day-trips. Tuesday is a Marriott sponsored trip in one of their private cars with English speaking guide and driver to Old Goa to see the magnificent old Portuguese churches and Hindu temples, plus a trip to a spice plantation and lunch. Then a stop in Panaji for some shopping. It is from 10am - 4:30pm.
On Wednesday we take a full day jeep trip to Dudhsagar Waterfalls, about 31 miles east from here. We will journey through the Bhagwan Mahaveer wildlife sanctuary, crossing streams and through the jungle and see wild monkeys. We will have a short walk to the bottom of the 2000-foot waterfalls. We can take bananas and peanuts to feed the monkeys!!! Lunch is provided (for us, not the monkeys). Elephant ride will be included.
Monday March 5
We taxied (ten minute ride) to Panaji to do a bit of shopping. Panaji (pronounced Pan-jim) is a very bustling town that was ruled by the Portuguese until 1961. There is still a lot of Portuguese influence with about 30% of the folks being Christian. (60% Hindu and 10% Muslim).
It is very warm here (90+) and the humidity is visible as haze.
It is like day and night difference between Goa and Kolkata. Whereas Kolkata is a hustling bustling business and commercial city, Goa is a laid-back resort kind of town. We are having fun but relaxing and not trying to see every sight.
Tuesday March 6
Today we visited Old Goa, the original capitol, several churches, a Hindu temple, and a spice plantation.
Although Goa has been populated for 4 millennia, the Portuguese colonized it in the 16th century. Vasco da Gama was one of the first to land here, and a statue memorializes his arrival.
Next we visited
the Cathedral of St. Catherine, which was built during the first quarter of the 17th century. It contains seven different chapels, and was built in the Tuscan style. The grounds are carefully maintained, and contain a statue of Christ.
We next drove to a Hindu Temple in a nearby village. The Temple was very impressive, and there many worshipers attending a mid-day ceremony. We were fortunate to be there as a service was being conducted. Our videos capture some of the chanting and bell ringing of the service.
In addition to the services, a Hindu wedding ceremony was commencing in the Mahalasa Hall.
We motored to the Spice Plantation. We began the organic lunch with a jigger of feni, the ancient Goan alcohol distilled from fermented coconut. The lunch was served as a buffet. In traditional fashion, the several foods were served on a banana leaf in a straw plate.
The food was very tasty, though somewhat spicy for Helen's palate.
Next our guide conducted us around the plantation, showing us how the many spices were grown. I was surprised to find that the spices were not grown in individual areas devoted to each variety. The spice plants were scattered throughout the plantation.
Wednesday March 7
We had a wonderful adventure today - a best of best. We traveled through the jungle in the state of Goa in India to:
Dudhsagar Falls : The gorgeous Dudhsagar Falls drop a sheer 600 meters (1940 feet) and are one of the highest falls in the county. Located on the border of Karnataka and Goa, it's in an area of dense tropical jungle, criss-crossed with delightful streams and dotted with shallow pools, inviting and safe enough for a leisurely swim. It was a fascinating one-day trip, first the car picked us up at our hotel. Then we caught a small bus with other tourists from other hotels (10 of us total). After a 90-minute bus ride, we stopped at a small village and transferred to jeeps.
The jeep ride (10 km - took about 45 minutes to jeep there!) was through the jungle on very rough and dusty roads, fording (or Jeeping?) several streams. We bounced and shook all the way, sweating in the 90+ degree heat of mid-day Goa. Then we had a 15-minute walk and climb, over a really rough trail to the falls.
We sat by the falls on the rocks and watched while many people jumped in the water (some topless) (even the men) and swam under the falls. We heard the water was cold but once in everyone loved it.
Sitting by the falls, we were blessed by a lovely breeze off the water making the heat more bearable.
We fed the monkeys until they had their fill and departed. Once they had enough of the bananas and peanuts the monkeys took off for their siesta. We departed the falls over the same dusty, hot, rough road, and boarded our ride to lunch.
After lunch, we got our elephant ride in the jungle of India.
Her name is Saraswati and she is 45 years old. She was named after the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music and all the creative arts. Saraswati is called the Mother of the Veda's and the repository of Brahma's creative intelligence. She was a very good-natured elephant. (This was very fortunate. She weighs more than 7000 pounds, and we would hate to meet her on a cranky day.) Our group fed her bananas and peanuts, which she loved. John gave her a tip (100 rupees), put it on the tip of her trunk and she gave John a pat on the head with her trunk - a blessing.
Great fun. It was one of the best adventures to go to the falls and ride an Indian elephant!
Thursday/Friday March 8-9
We spent these two days entirely at the resort watching dolphins in the Arabian Sea, barges, fishing and leisure boats pass by and catching up on the blog. Eating in Goa is a fish lover's delight. Fresh fish is everywhere and the Marriott has the best fish restaurant in Goa (so they say), called Simply Fish. They cooked us a variety platter including shellfish that was a feast. Wan Hao, their Chinese restaurant, also offers tantalizing fish. The steamed Pomfret was truly special.
In conclusion, if you go-a to Goa, the two-day excursions described above are must dos. Also, there are numerous beaches, which we hear are fabulous. Nightlife here is also well known with their RAVE boats and nightclubs. The party boats are all lit up and move up and down the Arabian Sea every evening until wee hours of the morning. We are not beach or night people, so we cannot describe these places and events at first hand.
Because of the variety of activities, Goa attracts people of all ages, many from Europe, Australia and other Indian states. The Goans are welcoming and hospitable and are proud of the Goan history and heritage. Building is happening all over the State and the tourism, iron ore and fish industries support a growing economy.
Saturday March 10
We leave peaceful and restful Goa for Delhi for a week.
Where I stayed