After the fun and games of Bhopal, we made a quick pitstop in Bombay for a night before moving onwards to Goa the next morning. On arrival, we were greeted by ominous grey clouds which didn’t look too promising for our next 5 days. However, Goa turned out to be the most incredible experience and is probably on par with Berlin as the favourite place I’ve travelled to. The weather there wasn’t great, we’d had visions of the 5 of us racing on jet skis across the ocean but we quickly found out that all watersporting activities were closed for the monsoon season. Naively, we had associated India with constant heat and somehow missed the crucial element of the monsoons. All in all though, the weather didn’t dampen our spirits (pun intented?) and it wasn’t even that difficult to deal with, most of the time it’d rain really heavily for about half an hour and then the sunny skies would return again.
On our first night, Uday (the hostel owner) told us that he’d be heading over to see his friend, ‘the last hippy of Goa’, and we were welcome to join if we wanted to. Luckily Ping Pong (yes that’s his name, no it’s not his real name) lived up to his title when we walked into his house to see about 5 people and 1 toddler sat cross legged on the floor playing bongos whilst Ping Pong himself was dancing around the living room.
As a history student, I found Goa fascinating. Ruled by the Portuguese from 1510 until 1961, Goa was isolated for over 450 years and therefore, has a very different atmosphere to the other places we visited in India . The influence of their rule is reflected in the culture and architecture of the surroundings; unlike the rest of the country, Goa has a substantial Christian population and most of the buildings we saw looked like they were taken straight from the Mediterranean. Interestingly once the Portuguese had left, hippies began to emigrate to the region from the mid 60s and the area became associated with the newcomers. Now however, Goa is very touristy and most of the original hippies have left which is why it was so great to have been able to meet Ping Pong.
The easiest way to get around Goa is on scooters so for £3 a day, we rented a few and started to explore our surroundings. Of course we had to see the infamous Baga beach but as it is the most well known, it was still quite busy despite the weather. Personally, my favourite was Vagator beach, we went just as the sun was setting and although it was quite cloudy and dark, it had a wonderful atmosphere and I bet that it is beautiful during the on-season.
The next day I decided to join some others from the hostel to see Old Goa whilst my friends went to another beach to catch some sun. The weather that day was beautiful which was lucky as it took about 50 minutes to get from Anjuna to Old Goa on our scooters. Whilst there we saw the Sé Catedral de Santa Catarina, the Basilica of Bom Jesus and finally the ruins of the Church of St Augustine before heading to Ponda to visit the Shri Mahalasa Temple. Most Temples have a small restaurant/cafe where you can get food and for 200 rupees (£2) we bought enough food for the 5 of us including mains, a cup of chai each and desserts to share.
I feel like I haven’t written much about Goa but to be honest, there isn’t too much to say. The region has an incredibly relaxed and chilled out atmosphere so most of the time we would just go somewhere and have a few beers, or stay at the hostel with the other travellers and have a few beers! Our time at Goa was wonderful and I already know that I’ll be back many times. It was my favourite destination in India and part of the reason was because of the people we met during our stay at Roadhouse Hostels in Anjuna. Uday, the owner, was so welcoming and chilled out, taking us out and showing us amazing places to visit and eat at. The hostel itself was homely, well decorated and to top it off, it was only about £3 a night! I’ll definitely be back and if you’re ever in Goa, make sure you stay at Roadhouse and tell Uday I sent you.
My long rambling blogposts about India are nearly over but we still have a couple of places left: Jaipur and then Delhi where I spent my last couple of days. I’m actually just about to leave for a short trip to Amsterdam though so it might be a little while until you see a new post from me.