Flew from Manchester with First Choice at 3pm 12th December. First Long haul flight and have to say it was excellent.
Arrived at Dabolim and it lived up to its reputation, had the obligatory tussle with the porters. - got on the bus and the journey began. It was approx 8 in the morning and Goa was just waking up. Driving along the roads for the first time the smells of burning fires, spices, the river, the houses with the washing hanging up and the scooters skimming the side of the bus; some with mum dad and 2 kids on board. . It was amazing and I knew right then I was going to love it. OH loves bird watching and he had already spotted Egrets, white throated kingfishers, sea eagles and Brahminey kites, and this was only on the bus journey.
As we turned into Calangute for the first drop off, I could see what all the reports /descriptions meant. Nothing was open yet and children were going to school. On into Candolim and we arrived at top of Highland Beach lane and the hand went out for our first request for a tip from the lad who got the cases off, followed by 2 more for the bell boys.
Was happy with the room and found hotel to be fine (see my review for more info )
Got a brief couple of hours sleep, but was too eager to see the place, so went down and caught the last bits of the breakfast, and then headed off to cash some money and look around., Needless to say we were hounded by each stall holder on HB lane to come and look at their stuff/ what’s your name, - remembered and harassed by them for the next week until they got sick of it. (Although I did browse and buy a couple of things.)
82 rupees to the pound changed at the elephant shop , then we walked as far as the Whispering Palms and entered the beach from that end turning to the right , we walked for a while and got the hassle straight away from each shack along the way asking us into their shacks, as we only wanted to walk, we fended them off, but the heat got too much and we had to stop at Francisco’s shack, where we had our first taste of Goan food, large prawn curry and rice between us 2 KF , 2 sprite, 2 butter Nan all for the princely sum of 475 rps, and we thought – yes this will do us !
Our first meal that night was tandoori chicken at the Mango Grove, which was excellent and a couple of planters punches and shandies for OH we retired for our first night.
The next morning we woke up to view amazing birds out of the back balcony. And the beautiful sunrise over the pool. We knew we were going to fall in love with Goa.
That morning we did our first walk from Candolim to Calangute and witnessed the mayhem that is the roads/traffic situation. We just breathed it all in, ignoring the rubbish and the constant beeps and shouts of taxi, and come and look at my shop. We stopped at St Anthony’s tea rooms and had a snack for around a £1 !!!
OH had a shave at barbers on Calangute corner for 50rps. And I bought some sandals, baseball caps, sun hats along that road for next to nothing. Then a walk through Calangute fish market, where I turned to witness a chicken’s neck being cut right in front of me, and then thrown into a machine that mechanically plucked it, then simply weighed for the buyer, I realised what a different place this was to anywhere I had ever been.
Over our next few weeks we tried many restaurants in candolim. Visited night markets, did crocodile trip., went on the bus to Mapusa market. OH went on 2 bird watching trips with taxi driver and a couple we had met. We walked on various days to Baga also to Fort Aguada. (Long story – took wrong turn off and ended up walking right up to the Jail, which was a dead end)
There is just so much to do that 2 weeks was just not enough.
We hired a scooter for 5 days, (250 rps a day) but this was over Xmas and the driving just got too chaotic for me to spend any more time on the back . We rode off to Anjuna market on Wed 23rd December on the return we found they had decided to tarmac the main Candolim- Calangute rd, (just before Xmas) which led to us being stuck in a traffic jam in the dark. I have never seen anything like it in my life. There was a crash and someone came off a scooter into the back of a wagon, the traffic just continued on around it ! I got off the bike and walked, it was so scary. You should have seen the colour of the 2 of us when we got back; we were covered in red dust from head to toe. God did we laugh at ourselves.
OH had a great experience when he went off at dusk to Neril Bridge to try some Owl spotting, when a family approached the riverside dressed in what appeared to be some kind of ceremonial dress, and apparently were praying and sending out a loved ones ashes into the river.
We had fabulous weather, and suffered no illness, just a bit of queasiness. about 2 days in, this was just acclimatizing to the different food/curries. We visited the Carvery quiz on the Friday (16th December) and had a nice chat with the Dragon (Cliff) and his son. We went to Jambalaya on the Sunday and saw Blues and I think I spotted Badger and Meerkat, cuddling up on the dance floor? (Congratulations) Also I think Thornhill Lass was there? We didn’t have time to go over and introduce ourselves as we had to dash off to meet up with some friends we had met the day before. When we returned to catch Blues again on his regular night he had gone somewhere for Xmas and no other TA members where there.
We bought a diamond solitaire from Pop in Jewellers and I am very happy with the quality and the price we paid for it.
As an idea of spending money for anyone - Besides the ring, we spent £550.00 in the 2 weeks. This was eating/drinking/taxis/tuk tuks, a couple of trips, scooter hire, 2 bird watching trips with a taxi driver, leather mulberry bag, vodka, , usual tourist tat bits, couple of pairs of shorts and beach dress, flip flops, a few Garnier bits and pieces and also my new complex lens glasses at Dangui in Mapusa. I was delighted at this amount as we took twice this much. – so yes it is still cheap. But I do appreciate that regulars say things such as taxis have increased over the years.
But as a first time visitor used to paying so much more in European resorts, it still represents wonderful value for money.
I found the Goan people we met to be lovely and friendly. Goan women and children pointing out empty seats on the bus. - Locals working in shops chatting to you. - Especially when there was no tip involved. – As for tipping we found it pretty easy and just tipped as we would at home -10 per cent. Last day at Francisco’s shack, we gave a bit more, to thank them for the good service and the way they kept the beach sellers away and didn’t charge for sun beds, (Bobby’s shack had charged us, even though we ate and drank there all day.)
The beach sellers are a real hassle at first, but after a few days, you just get used to it, and ignore them if you don’t want to deal with them. They soon get fed up.
We still have loads to look forward to for our next visit. We didn’t really go out of Candolim at night time, so next time we want to venture into Calangute and Baga of a night.
Don’t know if Gary and Marion , (met you on the crocodile trip and later at the Spice Garden restaurant) are on TA , but if so we enjoyed your company and couldn’t make it out on our last night as we had to get away early.
Also Cindy and Mick, thanks for going on the BW trip.
Dabolim airport on the way back was a bit of a nightmare, with the porters pestering the life out of a bloke behind us, even though they had only wheeled his case for about 20 feet. They were trying to get a £5 note out of him , cos he had no change to give him a £1, and the toilet attendant wanting a £1 coin for handing you a piece of toilet roll! My God why encourage your daughters to be anything else when they could earn that much an hour!
Yes we have got the bug and I’m already searching for 3 weeks over next Xmas. Although I have to say it got hectic just as we were leaving. So I think we’ll look for a hotel with some in house entertainment and stay there over those couple of nights.
I haven’t listed individual item prices etc, but anyone wanting any recent info that I can give – please post or PM me. I’ve got a pic of an average menu from Fisherman’s cove that I’ll post.
Thanks for all the wonderful help and advice by all on here, which made the holiday so much better for us.