Trip Report Feb 4th - Feb 24th
First of all I'll fill in the background. This was the first time in 16 years I have been to Goa on my own (altogether now aaaaaahhhhh) My OH's father was diagnosed with lung cancer in June and with him living in Ireland and ourselves living in Blackpool a lot of travelling has taken place. It ended up that Jennifer wanted to spend what was left of her holidays with her dad. She was however generous enough not to subject me to three weeks in Derry in February and gave her blessing to my visiting Goa. (Her father is doing well, he's had his chemo and radiology and his white blood count is the highest it has been since diagnosis, so touch wood)
This is the reason I decided to write the blog that I posted on TA as I knew I would have more time on my hands than usual. For those who didn't read it. it was written part factually, part tongue in cheek and has been described as either quirky or certifiable. I enjoyed doing it, although the broadband speed in Goa meant it took a lot longer to up and download photos than I would have liked. I hope that anyone who read it, enjoyed it.
I flew with Qatar Airlines from Manchester via Doha paying £620 return. Flying on a Friday this is one of the days that means you only have a two and a half hour wait in Doha.They start loading for the second leg an hour before take off so by the time you've powdered your nose and had a wander round duty free (cigarettes £10 for 200) you don't have too long to wait. The first leg had a old plane where the remote handset was fixed in your seat and you needed the dexterity of a chimpanzee to operate it but the second leg was touch screen. In fact I think this plane had just come out of it's wrapper. Both flights were early and uneventful though I have to wonder some times as to why, on a flight where drinks are free, some people have to get tanked up before the flight (09.30) , and then carry on as if they are the only people on the flight. One guy stood up virtually all the way and every time a member of staff or fellow passenger had to push past him, he gave them a look to kill, at one stage even mimicking a slap on the back of the head when a child went past him. His wife did provide some amusement though. She had remained seated through half a dozen bottles of wine and a couple of large whisky's before she decided she had to use the toilet....only to find she no longer had the use of her legs.I'm sure she got the stains out of her top!!!
I normally stay in a private house, but being on my own I declined the offer and just stayed in a room at the hotel my friend owns on CSM Lane. When on the beach I use Xavier's shack which is more down to a member of staff called Demesh who used to work at Good Luck shack and we moved when he did. The food is OK but nothing exceptional and the prices are average but I don't eat much on the beach and as friends use it, it's fine by me. When eating out I do tend to use the same restaurants so plenty of time was spent at Kim Faa on Baga Road, Great Chinese food, good staff and a very friendly owner. The only thing that lets it down, and I hadn't used them before, is the toilets, they could do with an upgrade.
Jamies in Baga, just after the turn off for the creek road. This is what I think people call a fusion restaurant. It serves traditional Indian food but also continental food with a modern/indian slant. The layout is fantastic, you will not be rubbing elbows with any other diners, each table is in it's own little area and you get a nice view of and a lovely breeze from the river. Some examples from the continental menu are Deep Dish Burgundy Beef, Crushed Rosemary, Wild Garlic and Lemon Marinated Leg of Lamb, Jamies Beef Pot Roast and Chicken Schnitzel. You get a free cheese nan appetiser and a nice touch....a bottle of mossie spray on each table !!
The Kind Man on Baga Road opposite the road that has Mr Toff Toff's pub on it. This place does not look much but the Steaks and Sunday Dinners are both delicious and huge.
Nick's Place in Arpora. We went there because they do a quiz on a Friday night but the food turned out to be really good. English run it has a mixed menu and the best onion bhaji I've ever had and a dessert.... Rum and Raisin Chocolate Fudge Brownie Sizzler, to die for.
Honourable mentions must also go to Lazydays on CSM Lane, Bardays near the church in the road Calangute, Jambalaya in Candolim. Inferno in Candolim and the huge choice you get at Saturday Night Market (old ingoes).
A dishonourable mention must go to The Oriental at The Mira Hotel. I can't tell you what the food is like because myself and two friends, both in their late 60's were asked to leave because we had not ordered enough/spent enough. We were on 1500rps and counting, but no that was not enough. The german owner pointed out to us that, and I quote "Russians come in here and order a bowl of soup". I said that we were not Russian and we had not ordered soup, but that argument was lost on him.
I spent three enjoyable Sunday nights at Jambalaya along with Bluesmania, Julie his OH and numerous other TA members, especially on the 13th February, a night that will live long in the memory (especially that of the poor staff). If anybody reading this is going to Goa on their own and wants to meet people or if you are a couple who like to meet other like minded people rather than spend all your holiday in your own company then get our backsides down there on a Sunday. People like Blues, Julie, The welloutofits, Grandmachilly and the dragons are such warm hearted friendly people, as well as being knowledgeable, and they will make you feel welcome.
I also spent (thanks to Mr Wolf) three very enjoyable Tuesday nights at Bardays where a band called Grafitti plays a mixture of soft rock, country and folk (and they play it very well I might add) with a drum solo not to be missed. If you go there you may even bump into Mr Wolf, although he stays that far under the radar he should change his name to Mr Stealth Fighter.
A very enjoyable, if slightly different, three weeks flew by, capped off by being able to watch my beloved BFC in the Premier League not only play but beat Spurs live on a giant screen in the middle of the night with a cold beer in my hand whilst in Goa. Apologies to anyone staying within 1000 yards of CSM Lane that night, yes it was me.
Was the sea clearer this year? I'm conviced that the sea, at least at Baga and Calangute was clearer than in previous years.
There also seemed to be less fruit sellers than normal.
The Russian Orthodox Church has a little known 11th Commandment. It loses something in translation but goes something along the lines of..........
If thou art male and aged between 20 and 35, when thou shalt gather together in groups of more than two at least one of thee shalt wear a pork pie hat.
On the subject of our eastern European cousins......how quiet (tourist wise) would it be without them?
How unseasonal is the weather. That was the coolest February I have ever seen in Goa. For most days there was a strong breeze, on the other days it was a wind!!
Add to that the fact that after 8pm there was virtually no humidity at night. Some people who have come to Goa for the first time this year may be in for a helluva shock if they come back next February.
Taxi Fares....I know the price of fuel has gone up but a 50rps journey turning into 100rps is pushing it a bit....and they were not for budging.
Hairdressers....Is this the new career of choice to follow taxi driving, they are popping up every 300 yards on Baga Road. In fact you pass three walking from CSM lane to Kim Faa which takes two minutes!!
The Manchester United Bar on Baga Road.......now I'm a football fan but this is going too far.
ATM Machines.....be careful and grab your money quickly before it takes it back (seconds) and debits your account.
The number of roadside dogs seems to have dropped.
How did we cope before digital cameras. Downloading to websites to share with TA the same day !! I've got over 600 photos to go through and keep or discard, it would cost a fortune to have them all developed
Despite the mild weather, or maybe because of it, it seemed very dusty this year. A lot of people were commenting on this.
Along those lines.....if you want to preserve your tan a little longer try to avoid bathing or showering for a fortnight when you come home then you won't lose half your colour.