Sunday, April 30, 2017

Summer evenings in South Goa - 2017

The Arossim area of North Goa has been our favoured place to stay over the past several years. The rather peaceful beach stretches coupled with resort, restaurants and shacks so well known to us are a powerful combination. As you step on Arossim Beach via the lane that runs by the Park Hyatt Hotel, the sight of the waves that the wind has carved on the sand is remarkable, indeed. Worth pausing for a minute to admire.

Typical summer late afternoons, with the sun still a few hours from setting, offers a good opportunity to explore the area for a few kilometres further south. 

Balton's Shack, one of our favourites, is located about half a kilometer south of the Park Hyatt on Uttorda Beach. 

A warm welcome from Bala and staff, and it's time to settle down with a cold drink of the all-natural Urak. It is, after all, Urak season from April to early June.  

Tables are laid out nearer the water a little before Sunset. This is one of the loveliest hours of the day that can be experienced in Goa. The last of the walkers make their way back home. And the last of the soccer players kick the ball around. 

Due to lack of clouds, the sun can be tracked down to the point that it appears to disappear into the sea. 

The toes dug deep in the sand is an indication of the level of comfort, as the beach empties out. 

After several more minutes of admiring the sunset views when time seems to freeze, it's time to head to the restaurant by the street. 

Here's a little video of the period when the sun is just about to set. 

The waves seem to resign themselves to the fact that the day has come to an end. 

It gets increasingly peaceful all around.

Th sun is a little red ball, this is imdeed a summer special.

The walk along the beach while the after glow lights the sky is quiet and pleasant. There appears to be enough light to keep the suspicious beach dogs away.  

On one of the days, the moon had risen just while the sun had set. Quite a pretty sight, though the photo taken with the mobile phone does not do justice.

Balton's Restaurant run by Tony has been my haunt for the past 8 years or so. Incredibly well maintained, the decor is striking, and includes two motorcycles from the late 1970s, a Rajdoot Yamaha and a Bullet.

Dinner to be sampled spans Goan Cafreal, Xacuti and Vindaloo over several days.

Pristine Resort is a terrific dinner venue, as well, both in the restaurant overlooking the pool as well as poolside. 

Summer evenings are pleasant by the pool, good to wind down after long days out by the sea. 

Breakfast every morning by the pool is an extremely pleasant way to start the day. 

Rooms in Pristine are maintained very well. There is a range of rooms, ranging from single bedrooms to large apartments with kitchens. All the apartments overlook the pool.  

It's time to pack and head out to the airport. Another summer trip has come to an end. 

Related post: Summer days in South Goa - 2017

Until next time, then! 

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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Summer days in South Goa - 2017

The Summer season can be a fairly attractive time to be in Goa because the crowds start to thin. Temperatures start to rise in March. The other downside is that restaurants and shacks start to wind down in April. South Goa also gets a bit quieter (not that it is ever too noisy), and the beaches seem to be all yours to explore. 

Staying at Pristine Resort in Arossim, one of our favourite shacks is Magzika Beach Shack in Betalbatim, an easy 5 km stroll away. 10 AM is a very pleasant hour on the beach towards the end of April, not too warm, and people just beginning to show up. 

After a few rounds of coffee and soft drinks, and conversation with Prajoy and his staff, it's time to start the afternoon with Urak, the local brew. This is Urak season - April and May - when the drink processed from the early extract from the Cashew fruit is available. Urak is the precursor to Cashew Feni. Light and all natural, a perfect alternative to the artificial IMFL found all over India. Indian Made Foreign Liquour (IMFL - such as Brandy, Gin, Rum, Vodka, Whisky) are all based on sugarcane, with added flavours and colours to provide the illusion of the drinks listed above. Therefore, Urak, with a few slices of lime and an added green chilly is perfect for the warm Goan Summer afternoon, without artificial additives, either.  

Some people are good at selfies, some are not. I fall into the latter category. I give up soon after a few attempts and turn my attention towards the food that had arrived by then, deliciously flavoured Fish Curry Rice, the masala being the coconut and kokum fruit based relatively light Goan masala. 

The typical South Goa beach scene does not vary a great deal over the day. Perfect for solo, long strolls. Sometimes thoughts dare to float in, but they quickly dart away. It's no time for thoughts, and absolutely no time for worries.

I own this beach for the next five minutes. What, me worry?

Fishermen do go out to sea, because it is still permitted. Some fisher folk have left their baskets out on the beach to dry. They leave at dusk and return at sunrise. It is indeed a hard life. 

More of empty beaches and empty thoughts as I head back north towards Arossim from Betalbatim. 

Occasional pause to admire the restless sea that never gives up. Several countries in Europe are doing a fantastic job of harnessing sea and wind power to generate energy. While India has done well with solar, we probably need to strengthen our sea and wind power initiatives. 

So the days go by, days merge into the night, and the next day turns out bright and happy once again. 9 AM is a superb time on the beach, witessing the shacks being cleaned up and the early visitors showing up.

While some walk, some jog, for the sun isn't too high and warm yet. 

A word of appreciation for the beach cleaning crew, all wrapped up in scarves and full sleeve clothes to protect them from the harsh environment. Their work is hard as they toil for several hours cleaning the debris that insensitive visitors leave behind. If only each visitor would dump their trash in the bin...

Some fishing boats are ready for their next voyage out to sea. Ropes, nets and baskets repaired and neatly stacked. 

Some other boats are getting dressed up, their hard working crew toils away after the nets have been repaired and the baskets have dried up. 

The life guards more or less stay relaxed most day, because the crowds in South Goa tend to be well behaved, unlike our often-out-of-control North Goa visitor friends.

Some appear to be well equipped to keep the harsh rays of the sun away. However, I don't think the umbrella keeps the UV rays away, do they? 

Some spots like Sunset Beach and Betalbatim are popular with the locals on weekends and holidays, for relaxed games of soccer and cricket. 

Meanwhile, the life guard seems to be going through long periods of nothing thoughts. 

Magzika Beach Shack is the place to be, between about 11 AM and 4 PM. A great time to catch up on making notes for the workplace.

There are a few terms that are understood all over India. One of those is 'anda burji' or 'egg burji' or 'scrambled eggs with Indian masala and green chillies thrown in', a respectable accompaniment to the Urak drink. 

Ah, here are a bunch of cricketers braving the sun, and getting cooled off by the strong breeze! 

Magzika is the place to try several types of fish and prawn, cooked in different Goan masalas. 

The setting sun sometimes offers interesting photo opportunities as the sunlight, waves, sand and shadows play a never ending game. 

It's time to head to Balton's Shack in Uttorda, which is my hideout for sunset and the hours after. 

Looking back, Betalbatim is a few kilometres south of Uttorda. It will soon get a little bit crowded as the evening visitors show up and the last of the beach stragglers quickly find their way home before the after glow of the sun disappears. 

Don't go away, there's a little more coming up.   

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