Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Goa - surprisingly cool in December

Friday, Dec 16 to Tuesday, Dec 20, 2011.

The Kadamba bus from Bangalore reached Chaudi (Canacona) before the expected time of arrival. We were in Jardin a Mar in Agonda by day break. The fishermen were leaving for their catching trips. 

The waves, in their state of constant motion, were trying to catch the rays of the rising sun.

This trip was a 'boys day out' trip. The group consisted of my two nephews, 13 y/o son and myself. We were arriving in three batches, my son would be the last to join us after a day, after his Science Exhibition in School concluded. 

The South Goa Menu and Food story is here (from a trip in October 2011): 

So, three-quarters of the group left for Varca around mid-day. We were to stay the first two nights at the Club Mahindra Resort. The Mahindra Resort was all dressed up for Christmas. 

After check-in we headed straight for a walk around the beach and the shacks. Four shacks have been permitted this year. We settled in at Misha's for lunch.

Our leisurely lunch consisted of a variety of Goan chicken and fish curries and rice.

Is this child abuse or child exploitation or entertainment or earning a living? The 'family' puts up the poles and rope in 10 to 15 minutes, the 'show' goes on for 15 to 20 minutes, accompanied by drum beats. Tourists click photographs and offer tips. The group removes the equipment vanishes down to the next beach.

Sunset and swim in the pool was followed by snacks at Peter's Corner restaurant on the street outside Club Mahindra. 

Dinner at a beach shack seemed an attractive option. It was surprisingly chill, we needed light jackets, quite uncommon in Goa.

Dec 17: 
The next morning was sunny, and not too warm. Breakfast (toast, cheese-omelettes, coffee) was at Cosmos Shack, another of the four shacks around Club Mahindra. This is what the sign said.

A 45-minute walk south from Varca lies the Ramada area. 

I wandered into Sea Pearls, one of my favourite shacks, located just north of the Ramada this year. It had been over a year since my last visit. Sea Pearls is a very simple shack, but the food is excellent. The owners are a very hospitable family. 

Wonderful place to relax with drink and food, and quietly admiring the view of the beach and sea, as well as the architecture of the roof of the shack. Attempts to decipher the Russian boards in the neighbourhood proved futile.

We had to go to the airport that evening since Junior would be arriving by the 7PM flight. 

That was when we realized the might of the Taxi mafia at the Mahindra resort. A taxi driver friend refused to come and pick us up because he was worried about the 'consequences'. The staff at the resort confided that 'they have connections'.

Well then, not much of a choice, since public transport is almost non existent in that area. One of the members of the Mafioso drove us to the airport. The flight was on time, we had only a few minutes to wait at the arrival area. Here is a picture of the pre-paid taxi fare and distance chart at the arrival area, presented in another post labelled 'Taxi-Goa'.  

The Mafioso attempted to extort a Rs 100 night charge at 8PM. I ignored him and he quietly drove away.

Dinner was once again at the beach shack. The sea appeared pitch dark. The ships at the harbour are not visible from the Varca area. A long exposure of about 15 to 20 seconds catches the sand reflecting weak ambient light. The sand appears like waves. Many stars also show up. 

Turning the camera upwards, and increasing the exposure to 30 seconds, catches hundreds of stars overhead. It is truly a magical feeling, the darkness, the stars and the sound of the waves breaking in the distance. 

Dec 18:
Sunrise was at around 7AM. 

South Goa beaches are exceedingly pretty and peaceful early in the morning. And almost equally nice the rest of the day.

We caught some Vitamin-D, just what the doctor ordered. 

Some folks are off for the Jet Ski ride. Safe riding.

The jet ski pusher's little son. The 'pusher' sometimes doubles up as a 'rider'. The family has come over from one of the eastern states for a few months to earn a living. An inexperienced rider ran into a group of people standing around and knocked down a few of them. The reason offered was that 'the brakes failed'. 

We though we would try the buffet breakfast at Club Mahindra. The menu was rather disappointing, compared to the spread at the 4-star or 5-star resorts in the neighbourhood. Moreover, the staff hid the goodies like sausages and ham, and brought it out only when we asked! The ambience was nice in the garden, though a shack is always better..!! 

Club Mahindra has two pools, one was operational, the one nearer the sea. An hour of games and we were all set to leave for North Goa.

The South Goa Menu and Food story is here:  

The taxi mafia demanded Rs 2500 for a drop to Anjuna. So we got dropped to Madgaon bus stop (Rs 600 for 12 km). The other alternative would have been to trudge 1.5 km to the road and wait for infrequent buses or call a taxi friend. 

The taxi cartels seem to be well entrenched along the Cansaulim to Mobor stretch. The north seems to be relatively free of the gangs.

We decided to travel the fun way after reaching Madgaon bus stop. 
Madgaon to Panjim non-stop: Rs 32 per person.
Panjim to Mapusa: Rs 10 per person.
Mapusa to Anjuna: Rs 10 per person.

The wait at the three bus stops was about 10 to 15 minutes each. We got off at the 'Starco' junction in Anjuna since the bus was going right to Vagator, and not towards the beach. 

Villa Anjuna is a 5-minute walk from Starco. A quick check-in, and we were off on the lane by the cliff, to Anjuna beach.  Oops, what do we have here? Is this Anjuna?

Sunset Guest House has been our favourite for years. The sea damaged the beach a few weeks ago, the owners said. Must have been a really furious sea. Rocks lie exposed. I guess the sand will get washed up again soon enough.

Another view of Russia, from Sunset Guest House.  

For a contrasting picture, here is a look at Sunset Guest House last August.

Our lunch was a mega grilled Pomphret and salad (with Racheido masala).

It look us a while to recover from lunch. Evening coffee was at Guru Bar and Restaurant on the North Anjuna cliff.

View of fishing during Sunset.

How long will the 'red ball' last?

The ledge is a perfect spot for placing the camera. 

Researching the menu is a favourite occupation, preparing for dinner in a couple of hours.  Ah, that's the fun part about Goa. Where do we eat next? What do we eat? And, can we slip in something in between, maybe?

Sea Rock Cafe at the top of the North Anjuna cliff is a busy place in the evenings. They are open during the monsoons, too, as I had discovered last August. Great music. 

Dinner was at Guru, once again. The lanterns looked pretty. The view over the cliff was that of a pitch dark sea. Waves crashed far below. You wish you could just sit there, and need not have to go back to the hotel to sleep.

Dec 19:
Any trip to North Goa has traditionally been incomplete without a meal or two at Souza Lobo near the Calangute steps. 

The Souza Lobo Menu and Food story is here:

You can look, but at the same time stay at a safe distance away from the mayhem and garbage outside.

The Calangute to Baga walk is a short one, once you negotiate the crowds, 'tiffin carriers', empty bottles and crowds. Would anyone like to flee? 

View of Baga, looking north. Brochures and web sites still refer to the 'sleepy fishing village of Baga'. 

Meanwhile, behind the Iron Curtain.

We decided to settle down at Emmanuel's Shack, south of the Britto's area, run by my good friend Robert. 

Time for some swimming. The sea was not too rough.

As the light grew dim, a long exposure revealed creatures from the twilight zone.

Tables and chairs replace the sun beds at twilight, while the jet ski and para sailing folks continue to ply their trade. The para sailing crew do it a little differently here. They ship the customers out to sea on a large boat and manage the take off and landing at sea. Interesting. No risk for people on the beach. High risk for para sailing customers.

Fishermen land next door with a huge catch of Cuttle Fish.

A view of Baga looking south, as the night progresses. It would soon be time to head back to our hotel in Anjuna. 

The 'horn man' makes a sudden appearance. 

Dec 20:
Breakfast at Cafe Pluto, Villa Anjuna. 

Pancakes and omelettes are always a highlight.

The pool is inviting, though the winter water is slightly cool.

Back to Anjuna Beach for the morning.

What could the ladies be carrying in the boxes?

Down to Curlies at the far southern end of Anjuna beach. 

Curly gazes out over the sea.  

Frisbee on the beach to build up the appetite. 

Some folks get off their sun beds and join the frisbee game. 

Curly-1 and Curly-2, deep in thought.

Tucking into fish Xacuti curry rice.

The Anjuna Menu and Food story is here:

Well, time to go back to Villa Anjuna, check out and head to Dabolim Airport. 

Another Goan holiday draws to a close. A good time was had by all..!! 

Which area is it going to be the next time? Far south? Far north? Wildlife and bird watching, maybe? Hard decisions. However, the hardest of them all perhaps is to decide where to eat next, and what to eat.