Goa, India

Now that my OCI (overseas citizenship of India) card has come in, I plan to make many more trips to India. This trip was for a friend’s wedding so while Goa was never really on the cards for me, it seemed like the perfect excuse to visit.

Destination weddings are lots of fun because the weather is (usually) guaranteed, you’re in good company, and your itinerary consists of pool time, beach time and party time in the evenings. The wedding was only three days of our trip, and after that we headed up to North Goa – well known for Baga and Anjuna beach.

Despite having a series of cancelled flights by Jet Airways it was still a wonderful holiday. We even managed to make an impromptu visit to the UAE to see family which was an added bonus.

If you’re interested or curious about Goa, I’ve rounded up a few key points and recommendations:

Behind the scenes:

  • Baga Beach is quite famous for tourists but it is not the place to be if you want to hang by the beach all day in your swimsuit. Too many people and lots of gawking men – no thank you. We stayed along Ozran Beach (lower Vagator) and it was the perfect spot to tan and laze about with drink in hand.
  • Baga beach is however, a good spot for evening drinks, a walk along the beach and watching sunset.
  • There are some really nice beaches even further north (Morjim beach/Ashwem beach) but quite far from Baga and Anjuna. I would only recommend staying there if you’re happy to stay put in that area and enjoy what your hotel and neighbouring ones have to offer.
  • If there are a few of you, I would recommend ordering the chocolate thali at La Plage. This is located along Morjim beach and has a delicious selection of chocolate treats. But you have to share as it’s an entire thali of rich desserts. You only want a taster.
  • Thalassa was also a nice Greek restaurant overlooking the water. Because we enjoyed the food and ambiance (it was quiet during the day) we decided to go back another evening for dinner. What an awful experience that was. It seemed like the place to be with a DJ, bar, dining, shisha – but the people – entitled, pretentious and rude. I wouldn’t go back in the evening solely because people visiting had no manners. Prime example: you can’t make a 6.30pm reservation and show up at 8pm genuinely expecting your table of 15 to still be available. And then make a fuss when it isn’t…
  • On a more positive note, Artjuna cafe was delicious. A hippy-esque cafe located near Anjuna beach with a good selection of vegetarian food too. We went there a few times as we enjoyed the atmosphere and food so much. There were lots of solo travelers at the cafe so a good place to meet people and have a chat.
  • Every Saturday is the Arpora night market that goes on until early hours of the morning. There are so many souvenirs, spices, hand crafted gifts etc. A lot of the same stuff but definitely worth looking around for souvenir ideas.
  • There’s also the Anjuna Flea Market during the day on Wednesdays which is also worth visiting.
  • Sunsets are beautiful no matter how many times you watch one. Chapora Fort has a nice view and people gather there every evening. If you want a bit of a vibe, have a drink at the W Hotel’s Rock Bar. It’s right next to the fort but with a better atmosphere.
  • There’s a small restaurant in Vagator called Sri and it had a nice selection of both Indian and western food, and vegetarian too. The owner was very friendly and liked a good chat. I tried my very first Urrak (made from distilled and fermented extracts of cashew fruit) and Limca (India’s lemonade) here and it was wild. They say urrak gives you vivid dreams (a few drinks in I assumed). Well, one drink gave me the longest and most vivid dream. It was such an experience I wanted to drink twice as much the next evening to guarantee another crazy dream. Yup, don’t do that. Totally backfired and I had no interest in having it again.

Final thoughts:

  • Goa was a really nice trip. As with the rest of India, it’s quite affordable once you’re there which is always ideal.
  • I would definitely recommend hiring a scooter to get around. As long as one person is comfortable to drive, upto two people can ride on one.

PS – Xaviers Beach Cafe along Baga Beach was the only shack we came across with a happy hour. Perfect for sunset!

Baga Beach

Anjuna Flea Market (Wednesday)

Anjuna Flea Market (Wednesday)

Chocolate thali, La Plage

Zuri White Sands, Goa (wedding venue)

 

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