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Old 13th May 2011, 19:29   #31
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Default Day 2 (April 23, 2011): A century in Goa

Day 2 (April 23, 2011): A century in Goa

I was awoken out of my wondrous slumber at around 7:15 am by a phone call from a college friend. It's a long story which is totally off-topic as far as this travelogue is concerned (except for the fact that at one time he wanted me to postpone my trip to Goa, which I couldn't), so I'll spare the details. Suffice it to say that by the time his work was done, it was almost 8:30 am. Imagine that on the morning after a 15-hour drive.

Sleep had still not slept, so I took a quick power nap. Those few minutes of sleep immediately after an alarm or after some early morning disturbance are the most blissful, by the way.

I think we were up and about at only 9:30 or so.

It turns out that my father was actually in Vasco on an official trip and would be leaving this day. He'd been there for almost a week. The work was supposed to have been over some three days earlier but due to some weather and personnel issues (work involves being out at sea on a ship) he had to stay on. I'd spoken with him the previous night to figure out his plans and he was adamant that we should just stick to our plans and not make an effort to visit him in Goa .

After some deliberation we figured that the weekend won't be the best time to enjoy the beaches because of the extreme long weekend rush. So we decided that over the weekend we'll visit some of the less-frequented bits of Goa. So we decided that we'll head out to Vasco, meet my father and drop him off at Dabolim airport, and then head out to Ponda to check out a couple of temples that had received high praise from ranjitp1.

Dad wanted to know if we could meet him for breakfast, as he was going to check out of his room by noon at the most. Well, given when we woke up and got ready, that was not going to happen. I instead told him that we'll meet at 11. We headed up to the restaurant for breakfast. Cap's has a nice roof top restaurant. It was a pleasant morning that just added to the laziness factor. I requested the owner to let one of his staff wash the car. Despite it being a busy day the owner happily obliged and the car was spick-and-span within minutes.

By the time we had a leisurely breakfast and were ready to move, it was already 11! We tried to make a dash to Vasco but despite our best efforts it took us an hour to reach the hotel where my father was put up. A few minutes late and he would have headed out to the airport - even though the flight was some 3-4 hours away.

The drive to Vasco was just amazing. In my previous visit to Goa I was with a couple of friends and we ended up renting a car (rather than bikes, because of the heavy rains at the time) and I knew my way around Calangute and Panaji. However, we didn't venture out of this stretch. So this was the first time I'd seen more of the beautiful Goan roads especially south of Panaji.

The highlight was the winding, curvy, uphill/downhill drive around the Mormugao bay starting just after Goa Velha, continuing on through Cortalim and Sancoale and finally ending up at Vasco. It was perfect weather for the drive - cloudy and comfortable (despite the humidity) - and the picturesque bay was enthralling to look at. We were so busy enjoying the drive and the views and taking in the Goan urban environs that we totally missed taking pictures and videos!

By the time we reached the hotel the sun was well and truly out, though. We met with Dad had lunch at a nice Kamat/Darshini-style place near the hotel and some ice cream at a Baskin Robbins outlet nearby. The guy had just switched off the AC to make some cones, so it was sweltering inside the shop and a miracle that the ice creams just didn't melt!

We dropped Dad off at Dabolim some 1.5 hrs after he originally planned to get there, and headed out to Ponda. More heavenly roads followed and in a little while we found ourselves in proper Goan countryside and those typical narrow roads flanked by palm trees and cultivation.

We head first to the famous Shantadurga temple and spent some time there. Here are a couple of pictures of the quaint little temple.

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-wp_000187.jpg

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-wp_000191.jpg

From here we proceeded along to the Mangeshi temple, which apparently is the temple of Lata Mangeshkar's family deity. There are no pictures from here as the temple looks pretty similar architecturally. However, the temple compound is much larger and has a math in it as well as a larger market area selling everything from trinkets to refreshments to apparel that was not necessarily "religious" .

We witnessed something interesting inside the much more crowded Mangeshi temple. One of the priests - the one handing out tirth to the devotees - was not-so-subtly trying his best to get devotees to donate money to the plate rather than in the hundi. Some did, some didn't. Then we saw a kid with a ten or twenty note in her hand. As she was about to deposit it in the hundi, he loudly clapped his hands to get her attention and with a stern look, shouted at her to put the note in the plate instead. The scared kid was confused and didn't know what to do and turned around to look for her parents who were sitting a few feet away. They were already heading towards her by now and gave the priest a nice, thick-sized piece of their minds and ensured the kid dropped the note in the hundi only. The chastised priest had nowhere to hide. We felt like congratulating the parents but held ourselves back. I just wish that there is more of this breed of devotees. I don't mind paying some dakshina to the priests, but this priest's behaviour was just disgusting, and I didn't expect something like this in a temple of this stature. It just goes to show that there are all kinds of people everywhere.

After coming out of the temple, I tried some kokam sharbat in the nearby market. It was OK - tasted good but not something I'll go out of my way to have again.

Roaming around in the open in the precincts of these temples had completely sapped us. The burning sun and heavy humidity was quite something to bear. Our respect for the immense cooling power of BQ's AC just increased manifold over these few hours.

From here we headed to Old Goa and we spent some time at the Basilica of Bom Jesus and Se Cathedral. I'd been here before in my previous visit, including the museum at the Basilica, and had taken quite a few pictures as well. So this time I kept the visit short, covering both places in around half an hour. The heat played its part as well, despite the relative coolness of the vast church interiors. Anyway, I have a couple of pictures of the Basilica for the benefit of those who haven't been here before. The pictures of the Se Cathedral were - you guessed it right - lost courtesy of the issue with the memory card.

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-dsg_0815.jpg
Facade of Basilica of Bom Jesus with yours truly in the frame

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-dsg_0821.jpg
Inside the Basilica

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View of the Basilica from the lawns of the Se Cathedral

I have a lot more pictures from my 2005 visit, and will be happy to upload some of them if required.

One thing I didn't check out in my previous visit was the ASI museum attached to the Se Cathedral. I'd only seen the one inside the Basilica. But wife isn't particularly interested in this kind of stuff so we gave it a pass.

We did some window-shopping in the huge market near the bus stand and had some refreshing sugarcane juice.

The plan was to catch a river cruise on the Mandovi before heading back to Calangute for the evening, so we headed to Patto and booked a couple of cruise tickets. I don't remember the name of the boat we took but I liked 'Santa Monica', the one that I was on in 2005, a lot more.

The weather in that earlier visit was also a lot more conducive to some good picture-taking. One of my favourite all-time shots was from that visit, and I'll take the liberty of posting it here.

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-38a320432ad746cd8eea3a92a85bc551.jpg
Sunset on the Mandovi

This picture was one of the best sellers in a charity exhibition a group of friends and I had put together for Independence Day 2009.

This time around, however, I struggled to come up with something equally inspiring, if not better. I just focussed instead on the cultural program put up by the cruise company and taking some documentary-style shots.

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-dsg_0833.jpg
A cool-looking boat! Does it belong to the harbour/river patrol or is it a private vessel?

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-dsg_0850.jpg
View of the bridge and river

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-dsg_0866.jpg
View of the park near Miramar beach

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-dsc_0871.jpg
Cultural program organized by the cruise company was fun!

After the cruise we headed back to the hotel in Calangute and decided to call it a day. We had packed so much food for our onward journey that there was enough left for one more meal.

Route and distance information for the day: Calangute -> Vasco da Gama -> Dabolim -> Ponda (local) -> Old Goa -> Panaji -> Calangute, 125.1 kms

Some tour of Goa this was so far. Not one foot on the beach yet, not one drop of alcohol in yet.

EDIT: Just saw this from Fordmanchau -
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordmanchau View Post
Hi Prashant,
Awesome travelogue going on. Also very informative, fun and valuable discussion going on the routes, eating place, etc. Have been reading till now quietly.However, feel that more photos will do justice to the travelogue. Post more pics
Thanks a lot for your kind words, Fordmanchau! I know I've been guilty of being thin on pictures. What can I say? The bad sector in the memory card caused a loss of nearly 40 pictures over the first 3 days of the trip. It was a while before I figured that out and switched cards. Starting with this post you'll see more pictures/videos, until the very last day of the trip again (driving back). The account of that day will remain totally descriptive. I really need to get better at taking pictures when on a break from riding/driving but I usually find myself up against time. Keen to avoid driving at night, and slow as I am on the highway, I end up compromising on the picture-taking :(.

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spadix

Last edited by spadix : 13th May 2011 at 19:35.
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Old 14th May 2011, 17:15   #32
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Default Re: Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad

Now this is getting even better and interesting.
Quote:
Originally Posted by spadix View Post
Anyway, I have a couple of pictures of the Basilica for the benefit of those who haven't been here before.
Please do!! After all it's Goa and it's your photo. Please don't hesitate to put more pics even if it's from a old trip. That will also do complete justice to your travelogue. Am looking forward to them.

That yacht is a supposedly a private vessel and has been clicked quite a few time and from the angle you have taken it, looks like it's gonna crash with the bridge.
The last photo of your post on the Cruise vessel, was it not on the same boat that HMTPL movie's last song was picturised ;"sajna di vaari vari jau re"..

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Originally Posted by spadix View Post
The pictures of the Se Cathedral were - you guessed it right - lost courtesy of the issue with the memory card.
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Old 15th May 2011, 00:56   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gajadonga View Post
Do not forget to load pictures of Gadag-Sindanur stretch if you have some snaps.
Although I have no pictures/videos of this exact stretch as my wife was sleeping at the time, the closest approximation of it that I can showcase is between 3:55 and 4:30 in this video -


The only difference was that it was broken tarmac instead of soft earth, and loose gravel and stones/boulders/dirt instead of slush. Terrain and speeds-wise most of the 70 kms between Kushtagi and Sindhanur was like this. More exactly, 200-300m of such stretches followed by 40-50m of smooth road. Rinse and repeat over most of those 70 kms.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordmanchau View Post
Now this is getting even better and interesting..

The last photo of your post on the Cruise vessel, was it not on the same boat that HMTPL movie's last song was picturised ;"sajna di vaari vari jau re"..
Thanks, Fordmanchau! Alright, I'll put up a couple of pictures from the older visit then.

So the yacht's private after all! Wow! I wonder whose it is.

Regarding HMTPL, it's possible it's the same boat. I haven't seen that movie in full. There just around 4-5 cruise operators there and they probably have a grand total of 20 boats if at all.

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Old 16th May 2011, 20:48   #34
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Default Day 3 (April 24, 2011): Chapora Fort and a forgettable evening

One of the 'to-do's was visiting Chapora fort and like a good tourist worth his/her salt, taking in some Dil Chahta Hai-style experience.

Once again, it was a beautiful drive through the countryside to reach Anjuna/Vagator from Calangute.

It was quite a steep climb from the parking area to the outer wall of the fort. Somewhere in the middle of the climb we realized we'd forgotten our water bottles inside the car, and the lone guy selling refrigerated drinks near the ruins had anything but water in his ice-cooled basket. Tough luck.

We walked around the perimeter wall and enjoyed the scenic beauty of the Chapora, Vagator and Morjim beaches and the Chapora river mouth.

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-dsg_0921.jpg
A view of the Chapora beach

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-dsg_0922.jpg
Chapora and Vagator beaches

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-dsc_0951.jpg
The beautiful Morjim beach and Chapora river mouth area. I didn't know until this day that this was another Olive Ridley turtle nesting site!

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-dsg_0971.jpg
Gazing upstream at the Chapora river from the fort

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-dsg_0973.jpg
Looking down at the sea along the Chapora river side of the hill on which the fort is built

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-dsc_0974.jpg
There was a way of getting on to the hill face but we couldn't figure it out

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-dsg_0975.jpg
A closer look at Morjim beach - by all accounts one of the most beautiful yet least crowded of Goan beaches. I wish we could've visited it, but there's always a next time.

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-dsg_0976.jpg
Another view upstream of the Chapora river from the fort

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-dsg_0978.jpg
The trademark dark rocks and wavy golden grass atop the hill in the precincts of the fort ruins, made so famous by Dil Chahta Hai

Despite the intense heat there was a nice breeze blowing here. At some point the thirst began to hit so we had to head down. Initially we wanted to go to one of the beaches - either Chapora (or Vagator) or Morjim. The latter was my preference but we ruled it out as it was getting close to lunchtime. As we headed back towards Vagator beach mostly in the hope of first finding something to eat we were really surprised at the lack of decent-looking vegetarian options. There was one quiet little open-to-the-road restobar we found near Vagator. It looked tempting, but for a drink and not for lunch. Besides the crowd there seemed mostly like one we should probably stay away from.

We decided to head back towards Calangute and have lunch there and then decide what to do over the rest of the day. It was still a weekend, which meant vast crowds and so we didn't really want to go to Calangute beach. Aguada was an option but we weren't up to taking in two forts in a day .

Casandre in Calangute was one of my favourite restaurants from my previous visit. I remember the place being very neat, serving extremely tasty food at a reasonable price and most importantly, not extremely crowded as it served mostly continental cuisine. It also had a nice bar and snooker/pool parlour. It would be a brilliant way to spend quality time away from the sun and recharge for the evening. We headed there.

Much to my dismay, we found it closed down. There was scaffolding all over the place. I hope it's just a temporary thing (renovation or something). It would be too bad if this place had to close down. Feeling dejected I headed back towards our hotel threading my way through the huge parking lot near the GTDC hotels and, lo and behold, we see the white Endeavour that played a little game of cat-and-mouse with us near Humnabad on the way here. So our hunch was right after all!

We eventually ended up having lunch at some other place close to the hotel, did some clothes shopping in the nearby market and went back to the room to cool down for a bit. This was when I popped my first bottle of beer during the trip. So 3 days into the trip there was still no beach but there was finally some beer.

As I noted in one of my earlier posts, I don't know if it was just the hotel or the combination of the weather and relative lack of sleep leading up to this trip, but every time we hit the sack during our trip we slept like logs. That's exactly what happened this day too.

Before we knew it, it was almost evening. I was getting restless, giving my wife some discourse about how we were wasting our time. She was genuinely fried/tired because of spending nearly half a day in the sun. After a couple of hours of heavy-headed irksomeness I put my foot down and said we'll go to Mambo.

It was not even 8:30 pm. We decided to walk instead of taking the car. It was good call too. The road to Mambo was closed for cars and the parking there was already full. If my facts are right (they could be wrong), Mambo opened in 2005 and my friends and I were one of its earliest customers. We liked it so much that we went there for dinner every day of our trip. We had a setting with one of the waiters who we tipped generously the first day, so that he would allow us to come in early and stag and without necessarily being dressed in shoes etc. It worked very well for us then. I had no illusions of being similarly lucky this day, especially with it being Sunday. Couple entry? Check. Entry time post-10:30 pm. Unfortunately not. There was nearly an hour and a half to kill, and we were a little hungry. We headed to Tito's.

Let's just say that while the ambience was good, the experience wasn't. There's no point even complaining about F&B prices in Goa so I won't go there. We ordered some veg. corn soup but are very sure what we were served was chicken instead. The main course was nice, thankfully. A stray cat running around the restaurant, stopping at all tables and meowing at the diners with its tail pointed up all the time kept us entertained throughout the dinner.

At the end of it I was just too uninterested (and poorer) by half to even think of heading back to Mambo. What I really wanted to have at Mambo was some Greek souvlaki (vegetarian) in pita bread, but I couldn't see their Greek fast food counter, and of course we were already full. So we headed back, checking out a tattoo parlour on our way back (and not liking what we saw) and retired for the day.

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Old 17th May 2011, 22:02   #35
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Default Blast from the past - More pictures from Calangute and Old Goa

Blast from the past - More pictures from Calangute and Old Goa
Here are some photos from my previous trip, to make up for the lost pictures from this one.

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-2005101312431990_1580.jpg
Morning at Calangute beach. Notice the marked "step" in the sand (absent now) and the almost intact River Princess at Candolim/Sinquerim in the distance. As of today nearly half of the River Princess has been dismantled.

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-2005101315423290_1592.jpg
Visiting Goa in October means witnessing some pretty heavy rain. What do you do when you're caught in the rain and are without a car (and can't afford a taxi)? You just wait the rain out in an empty restaurant that has still not opened for business for the day. That's all!

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-2005101414064180_1615.jpg
Drive out from Calangute to either Panaji or Anjuna and serene scenes like this greet you. A drive from Panaji to Ponda also throws up similar-looking vistas.

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-2005101512521110_1757.jpg
Basilica of Bom Jesus. I remember there being quite a few people there but compared to what we saw in our recent visit, it was nothing.

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-2005101512523210_1758.jpg
The huge lawns around the Basilica

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-2005101512550600_1759.jpg
Heading towards the Se Cathedral, which is on the other side of the main road

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-2005101513021910_1761.jpg
This is what you see when you look out of the entrance to the Se Cathedral

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-2005101513033100_1762.jpg
The Cathedral's façade

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-2005101513042070_1765.jpg

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-2005101615282590_1840.jpg
This is the restaurant I was referring to in an earlier post - Casandre. Lovely little place that's unfortunately closed down now. The two guys in the foreground are my friends/colleagues. The street on the left of the picture is the main road from Calangute bus stand and circle to the beach. I was hard-pressed to find it this empty at this time of the day during my recent visit.

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Old 17th May 2011, 22:13   #36
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Default Blast from the past - Cruise on the Mandovi

Blast from the past - Cruise on the Mandovi
Just look at the difference weather can make. Then, it was the sky at its vivid best, unlike the bland, cloud-less, over-bright patch of blue that it was now.

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-2005101417510410_1671.jpg
U-turn!

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-2005101418105690_1693.jpg
It is now, only as I looked back at this older bunch of photos, that I realized that cool-looking boat was around in 2005 too!

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-2005101418132500_1695.jpg
The twin hulls of the Santa Monica, our ride for the evening

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-2005101418135880_1696.jpg
Would that qualify as a "corner" for a huge race-class boat (no, the Santa Monica isn't one by any stretch of the imagination)?

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-2005101418144190_1697.jpg
Old wine in new bottle.

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-2005101418165570_1703.jpg
Bliss. A variant of the sunset-themed picture I'd posted earlier.

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-2005101418204110_1709.jpg
Is that really a light-house? Who does it help now?

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-2005101418252290_1718.jpg
Boat race under an ominous sky

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Old 18th May 2011, 00:55   #37
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Default Re: Blast from the past - Cruise on the Mandovi

Pascal, that cool looking boat that you were referring to belongs to Panduranga Timblo's second son. he is one of the mining barons of Goa and that yatch came to Goa just about an year back. The boat that you are seeing in this picture belongs to one Mr. Gupta, who owns a spectacle glass manufacturing unit in Delhi some where, I have inspected these Yachts and issued reports
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Old 18th May 2011, 11:22   #38
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Default Day 4 (April 25, 2011): An eventful day - Water sports!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ashkamath View Post
Pascal, that cool looking boat that you were referring to belongs to Panduranga Timblo's second son. he is one of the mining barons of Goa and that yatch came to Goa just about an year back. The boat that you are seeing in this picture belongs to one Mr. Gupta, who owns a spectacle glass manufacturing unit in Delhi some where, I have inspected these Yachts and issued reports
Ah, thanks for the info Ashok! Looks like you're really enjoying your stint out in Goa, getting to inspect some modern and cool-looking vessels in addition to the hum-drum cargo types. So the boat in the 2005 picture is not the same as the one in the 2011 picture then. Any idea how much such a boat costs?

Day 4 (April 25, 2011): An eventful day - Water sports!

It was Monday and most of the rush had predictably died down. So, time to hit the beach finally and satisfy our para-sailing requirement. We headed out to Calangute beach. We were greeted by an employee of one of the beach shacks as soon as we parked near GTDC. After negotiating a deal for a "package" of water sports we were on our way.

I had forgotten how it is like to walk on deep, fine sand! It was just so difficult to walk with the slippers on, and so very hot to walk without them.

Here are the pictures from the morning.

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-p1060148.jpg
Setting off to Baga on the water scooter. The normal water scooter ride here is just a small round out into the sea in front of Calangute beach. We asked for a longer ride to Baga beach and back for each of us. In the midst of the ride, the "pilot" even let us ride the bikes! We aren't trained to ride these, so he gave us control when we were a little away from the shoreline (waves aren't too high a couple of hundred feet out into the sea).

The water scooter ride is *huge* fun. It's scary when the vehicle keeps bouncing over the waves, and also when taking sharp turns. It was a challenge to keep the thing going straight. And these guys do it while standing! I don't know if standing helps. Maybe the knees act as shock-absorbers and keep your head, shoulders and arms stable when the scooter bounces over the water. For me though, sitting on the seat, it was difficult to keep the handlebars straight on particularly bouncy patches.

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-p1060155.jpg
Incoming

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-p1060161.jpg
A look at the crowded Calangute beach. Weekends are much busier, obviously.

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-p1060168.jpg
I asked my wife to hold on for a moment so that I could get this shot. She didn't notice the incoming wave .

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-p1060172.jpg
It's my turn to pose now

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-p1060176.jpg
Getting on to the banana boat. This is another helluva ride. We took it easy as this was the first time and asked to be thrown off where the water was not too deep. Even then, it was a little spooky!

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-p1060184.jpg
Another ride called the jaski or bumping ride or something similar. I didn't find this too exciting.

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-p1060197.jpg
And finally, what we came to Goa for. Para-sailing. We were very apprehensive about this but when we saw the others on the boat in their rides it didn't feel too bad. And when we finally set off on our ride it felt fairly anti-climatic. I mean, after all the apprehension what do you experience? A smooth take-off in clear skies, no buffeting due to the wind and a smooth landing despite the boat taking turns (mainly courtesy of the smooth winch). The ride was pretty short for my taste, and I had it mind to tip the boat crew for a longer ride. My wife wouldn't hear of it, though, considering the costs involved. The 8 of us on the boat tried negotiating a group tip deal but it didn't work out.

Anyway, I decided I'll come back another day, and I thought I'll take the camera with me the next time. The hands are free so it would make for a good set of pictures or a video.

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-p1060234.jpg
Done and dusted with water sports. Next is what?

Frolickin' on the beach is what, of course!

Calangute - the Queen of North Goan beaches - is so popular and crowded for a reason. The beach is wide and shallow, making it very easy even for beginners and novice swimmers to venture out fairly deep (around 40 feet or so) into the sea and not really put themselves at risk.

There are four flags put up on the beach - a pair of red ones (outer flags) and a pair of multi-coloured ones (inner flags). You're expected to stay within the confines of the inner flags. You could venture out into the areas between the inner and outer posts but outside of the outer posts is clear danger because the boats and water scooters are parked there and a strong wave could see some machinery crashing into you and knocking you out.

As usual, many people don't follow these guidelines and cop a fair bit of stick from the lifeguards on duty.

In one instance we were between the inner and outer flags and an incoming water scooter's pilot, followed by a really strong wave, was hollering out to us to get out of the way and literally slapping his forehead in frustration (like , only it was his palm instead of a brick wall)! We were a fair bit away and in no danger, but his intentions were honest. In the end, his mannerisms were funny enough to be recalled for a good laugh every once in a while.

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-p1060269.jpg
This was the shot of the trip for us. We handed the camera over to a lady standing just at the edge of the water and just asked her to take a few pictures of us. She figured out on her own that we were really looking to get this kind of a picture. After a few snaps she got familiar with the shutter lag and bingo! We thanked her profusely and continued playing.

I was a little worried that the salty water would do something to the circuitry inside the car's key fob. The keys were in my pocket all the time and there was no plastic cover to protect them. Luckily the remote worked just fine.

After a fine few hours, we left a little after noon as the Sun started beating down really hard. We went back to the room, freshened up and changed and headed out to Aguada after a late lunch and some ice cream.

Pictures from Aguada and Candolim beach will be in the next post.

Regards,
spadix

Last edited by spadix : 18th May 2011 at 11:27. Reason: Photos from the first upload attempt went missing!
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Old 18th May 2011, 11:35   #39
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Default Re: Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad

Lovely pictures.how expensive/cheap was the water sports deal if I may ask?
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Old 18th May 2011, 11:54   #40
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Lovely pictures.how expensive/cheap was the water sports deal if I may ask?
Thanks, ranjitp1!

It came to 2150 including tips (50 to the water scooter pilot for letting us ride and 100 to the para-sailing boat crew mostly for taking a lot of pictures of ours during the ride and also on the boat) for the package. The package (for 2 pax) included water scooter ride to Baga and back, banana boat ride, jaski ride and para-sailing (less than 2 minutes in the air :(). The shacks will count the boat ride out from the beach to the para-sailing boat also as a ride and will tell you that the package includes 5 things.

If you pay around 200 per head more to the para-sailing boat crew they'll give you another (slightly longer) ride including a dip in the water.

We could've negotiated it down to 1500 for the package instead of 2000 and that would've given us the normal half minute water scooter ride just out of the beach and back.

I've read in an in-flight magazine that water sports on the MH beaches (Malvan, Tarkarli etc.) are much more VFM - so you get 10+ minutes in the air for only 500 bucks etc. But I've heard from a colleague that safety standards are a little lower. Apparently the boats and ropes and jackets they use are older and worn out. This is only hearsay though and I've not experienced it myself.

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spadix
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Old 18th May 2011, 12:18   #41
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Default Re: Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad

Nice pics Prashant, getting better.
The pics in post 36, of the skies above the sea are wonderful to say the least.
Yes, do answer the query ranjit has asked. I had been to Goa just once on a official trip way back in 2007 :(. It was a very short trip. Need to plan for one soon enough.
And look at you in the pics, camera shy, aint't you ? hehe.!!!

EDIT: Just saw your post with all the required details.
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Old 18th May 2011, 15:14   #42
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Default Re: Day 2 (April 23, 2011): A century in Goa

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Cultural program organized by the cruise company was fun!
We had a band and we used to play on the Santa Monica, many many years back.

All that now seems like a dream..
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Old 18th May 2011, 15:46   #43
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Default Day 4 (April 25, 2011): An eventful day - Aguada and Candolim

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Nice pics Prashant, getting better.
The pics in post 36, of the skies above the sea are wonderful to say the least.
And look at you in the pics, camera shy, aint't you ? hehe.!!!
Thanks for your kind compliments, Fordmanchau!

Actually I'm quite camera shy and generally don't like getting my pictures taken a lot. But Goa and the beaches can change you in an instant, momentarily at least .

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Yes, do answer the query ranjit has asked. I had been to Goa just once on a official trip way back in 2007 :(. It was a very short trip. Need to plan for one soon enough.
I was in the same boat as you are this time last month. Only one short visit to Goa on holiday although it was with a couple of colleagues. I think water sports will be close to shutting down now as the seas get rougher (monsoon onset). So I would advise visiting around October/November. It'll be rainy still but the weather would be excellent otherwise, and it won't be as crowded as in the summer or during XMas/New Year.

Day 4 (April 25, 2011): An eventful day - Aguada and Candolim

After lunch and ice cream we set out to Aguada. It was only around 4 pm and it was still pretty hot/sunny, so we were in no hurry. No one fancies walking around in the sun. On the other hand, Aguada fort would not be open for too long in the evening, and we always wanted to catch a glimpse of the setting sun over the sea.

There were a few tourist buses now on the Calangute - Candolim - Aguada road, and a lot of those white/cream-coloured rented cars. We were stuck behind one extremely cautious WagonR in front of us and a restless tailgating tourist bus behind us. I maintained a very safe distance from the WagonR so that I could brake gradually without risking a hit from the bus behind us.

Still, my worst fear came true just a furlong or so away from the ascent to Aguada hill. The WagonR in front braked suddenly. There was a car parked on the road in the opposite lane and another oncoming car was overtaking that one. There was enough space, yet the WagonR braked hard. I braked gradually and came to a stop a safe distance behind the WagonR. I'm watching my ORVMs, and to my horror, the bus which had actually fallen behind by a fair distance over the last couple of minutes is now heading towards us with no sign of shedding speed. Obviously the idiot of a driver wasn't looking at the road. He noticed suddenly and braked, but it didn't prevent him from hitting our car.

I was fuming. I got out of the car and inspected it for damage. Luckily there were a few very minor scuffs on the lip of the rear bumper. In fact, it was nothing more than what might have happened if someone had handled luggage shoddily while getting it into/out of the boot, for instance. The level of scratches/scuffs was no more than that. That helped me cool down a little bit, but not much.

I walked over to the bus driver's door. He was sitting with his head in his hand, with an expression that very clearly said he couldn't care less. It was if he was almost doing me a favour by just sitting there and not running away or something. I asked him just what the hell he was up to. He replied in a condescending manner, looking back and waving his arm behind as if to point out to an ignorant kid, that it was a bus and it takes time and space to stop. He said I should be thankful to him that he at least noticed when he did, for the consequences could've been much worse otherwise.

I totally lost it at this point. I shouted at him that he'd been tailgating us all through Candolim. He had no answer to that one. I also mentioned that there was enough gap and he didn't slow down for quite some time -- an obvious pointer to the fact that he was simply sleeping at the wheel. Again, no response. I noted down his number but that didn't elicit any response from him. Obviously nothing was going to happen to him even if I reported, and the fact of the matter was that there was minimal, almost hardly any, damage to the car. That would just weaken my case. Anyway, after a few more rounds of one-sided shouting, throughout which he just kept saying that it's a bus and won't stop as quickly as my car, we went on our way. A little traffic had also piled up behind the bus and was getting impatient.

The stupidity of it all is that the guy who's caused the damage has only one thing to say all the time: "So what can I do now?". If there's no damage, the argument goes, "Hey, there's no damage. So why all the fuss?". If there's a lot of damage (to non-living things only, of course), the argument goes, "Well, what's happened has happened. So what can I do?". In the end, the guy who's suffered is the idiot. This is typically what happens in accidents involving those Godforsaken, reckless 7-seater autos in Hyderabad, for instance.

I was in a sullen mood for a while, and it caused me to miss the hairpin towards the fort and we drove on to find ourselves on the path to Aguada jail instead. It would've been interesting, but we headed back to the fort without looking at the jail.

Some pictures from the fort area.

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-dsc_1018.jpg
A helicopter takes off from the Aguada helipad, leaving behind a cloud of dust. I wonder if tourists can take a helicopter ride.

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-dsc_1026.jpg
The old lighthouse in the fort. The modern lighthouse is a few yards away.

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-dsc_1027.jpg
The fort's ramparts.

We took a lot of other pictures here but I guess I won't bore you all further with more mugshots .

Afterwards we headed to the lighthouse. The light starts at 6:15 pm so we couldn't see it in action. However we could go up the tower. The compound which houses the offices of the resident officer and perhaps a guest house as well, has a quaint little well-maintained lawn and parking area for a few cars. Perchance we found a friendly, smiling Telugu-speaking official there when we were looking around to ask someone if/how we could go up the tower. He saw the 70-300 mm lens in my hand and asked me if it was a pair of binoculars. I don't know if it was a cursory security check or just curiosity.

Now, some photos from the windy balcony atop the lighthouse.

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-dsc_1046.jpg
A view of the beautiful long stretch of beaches from Aguada all the way up to Baga

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-dsc_1050.jpg
The fort precincts from atop the lighthouse

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-dsc_1054.jpg
Boats under crimson skies? Not exactly. The sky was still clear, although the late afternoon sun had cast a touch of warmth across the sky and water. This is how cameras can play tricks on you.

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-dsc_1055.jpg
Para-sailing off Aguada beach

Once again we shot many more pictures, but there's no need for more mugshots here. Also, some of the pictures are just views of Panaji and Mandovi from the lighthouse - nothing supremely interesting.

We asked the official sitting on the balcony for the River Princess story and its impact on the shoreline. Simultaneously funny and sad stuff, but in the end, it's just sad how our inept bureaucracy has resulted in some pretty severe ecosystem damage in the area.

At around 6 pm we made our way down. We thought of staying back and seeing how the light is operated, but that would've meant missing the "watching sunset on a beach" thing. We headed to the Taj Aguada but the way down to the beaches from there is available only to Taj residents I think. We drove back out and headed to Candolim. After some searching and asking for directions, we came to a very narrow lane towards the beach. At the end of the lane there was a decent-sized parking lot that could hold some 7-8 cars (a far cry from crowded Calangute) and so our fears of heading into a dead-end with no way of making a U-turn were unfounded .

Candolim beach was empty but somehow wasn't as enticing as Calangute. I don't know if it was because of the deposits of oil we could make out on the sand - likely from the River Princess wreck, or because of the vast numbers of hungry, barking stray dogs running up and down the beach behind the walkers, or just the steep slope of the beach or something else that we couldn't quite put our fingers on.

Anyway, we watched the sunset, lingered on a few more minutes and then headed back to Calangute.

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-p1060285.jpg
Viewing the sunset from Candolim

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-p1060297.jpg
The sight of crashing waves causes a flutter but somehow the elation didn't persist for too long

Getting out of the comfort zone: Hyderabad - Goa - Hyderabad-p1060298.jpg
A closer look at the River Princess wreck and the salvage vessels around it

We headed back to the hotel. It was still early so we went upstairs to the terrace/rooftop restaurant for a drink or two and to chat with the owners. When I told them I'd never had feni they promptly rustled up a peg of cashew feni, neat (my preference) - on the house, as I later learnt!

I'd heard many horror stories of feni, so it was pretty anti-climactic again when I took the first sip. Yes, it was strong/pungent and the smell wasn't exactly the most pleasant, but it wasn't bad at all. I quite enjoyed it. We spent some time talking about Goan culture and history and their expansion plans and then headed down to dinner.

We tried a nearby place called 'Indian Spice'. The land on which this restaurant operates belongs to the hotel owners and they'd leased it out to 'Indian Spice'. The quality of the food was surprisingly good. So good in fact that I asked the manager why we were the only people in the restaurant! It seems weekdays are always like that even in busy tourism seasons and weekends see them do brisk business.

All in all, an eventful day that included a blast of a morning, the incident with the bus, some serene moments at Aguada, mixed emotions at Candolim and my first taste of the famous Goan feni.

Regards,
spadix
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Old 18th May 2011, 16:06   #44
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Default Re: Day 4 (April 25, 2011): An eventful day - Aguada and Candolim

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We headed to the Taj Aguada but the way down to the beaches from there is available only to Taj residents I think.
No Beach in Goa can be private.

You are free to walk down on that beach. Just dont bother if someone asks you not to go.

But yeah being a local helps. A tourist might be hesitant.
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Old 18th May 2011, 16:09   #45
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Default Re: Day 4 (April 25, 2011): An eventful day - Aguada and Candolim

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It would've been interesting, but we headed back to the fort without looking at the jail.
Even though, no one is allowed into the Jail. The sight from the Jail Entrance is worth watching. Especially the waves hitting the rocks on the shore and the small history about the jail is worth the read there.
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I wonder if tourists can take a helicopter ride.
I doubt if tourists are allowed to take a Helicopter ride there. It is mostly used by VIP's & etc, dropping down in Goa, especially the one's staying at Taj Agauda.
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We headed to the Taj Aguada but the way down to the beaches from there is available only to Taj residents I think.
If you are speaking about Sinquerim Beach, which is beside Taj Aguada, then its a public beach and accessible to everyone. There's a very beautiful watch tower sort of structure which gives a clear view of the horizon. We did take a walk around the structure (the brown road, you see in the attached picture)
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Candolim beach was empty but somehow wasn't as enticing as Calangute.
Candolim Beach does not get a constant flow of people due to the wreckage of River Princess, which has spoiled the view of the beach. It is off the radar of being a commercial/developed beach. Moreover, I believe Kingfisher Villa opens on the Candolim Beach at the rear.
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A closer look at the River Princess wreck and the salvage vessels around it.
Good to see River Princess being dismanteld and cleared from Candolim Beach. It has already changed the ecosystem of Sinquerim Beach & Candolim Beach strech.
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But yeah being a local helps. A tourist might be hesitant.
SpitFire, good to know that the removal of River Princess has been initiated. Any more updates about the same and the affect of its removal on ecosystem. I do remember we discussing the same thing in late 2009 & now back to the same topic. Who better to ask than you, who is a Goan himself and is always accessible to anyone planning for a trip to goa with suggestions and tips.

Last edited by traveloholic : 18th May 2011 at 16:12.
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