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Old 13th November 2013, 23:05   #1
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Default Wanderlust Traveler @ Goa: Beaches, Forts, Churches, Dolphins and a Taxi

Any trip is an excuse to drive, most of the times the journey itself is more exciting than the destination. So when the plan of visiting Goa came up, the obvious idea was to drive down to Goa from Bangalore.
Bangalore - Candolim is around 600 KM and as per updates from other members it is possible to cover the distance in below 10 hours.

However this time we did the unthinkable - We hire a taxi.

Wanderlust Traveler @ Goa: Beaches, Forts, Churches, Dolphins and a Taxi-suh_0937.jpg

We are a group of 6 adults and a child and that means we have an issue. Driving down means we will have to split the group in 2, since the cars owned by us are hatchbacks. Prior experience dictates travelling in multiple cars means time wasted in syncing up. Also, the fun of going for a trip together is to an extent lost. Hence plan of driving down is dropped.

Next option was to take train from Bangalore to Margao, however train tickets were not available; thanks to extended weekend on account of Nov 1. Hence we went ahead with the taxi plan.

The group
Wanderlust Traveler @ Goa: Beaches, Forts, Churches, Dolphins and a Taxi-suh_0465.jpg

As many of you would be knowing north Goa is where most of tourist activity takes place and south Goa is more of a relaxed getaway location. We (three of us guys along with another 10 friends from college) had been to Goa some 8 years back and stayed at Calangute beach then. We had found that place bit too crowded for our liking, we know very well that it would be more crowded now.
Hence we decided to stay near Candolim, we called up few hotels which had good reviews only to find them all booked out. Finally we find a hotel called PalmShade which had rooms available, we consider our self lucky and book three rooms. We were in for a shock when we reach Goa , more on that later.

Day 1 -Nov 1

As with all our trips we start off early. We take the Silk board - NICE road - NH 4- Hubli - Ramnagar - Mollem - Ponda - Panjim - Candolim route.

We reach Nelamangala toll booth at 06.00 AM. As always we get stuck in traffic there . It took some 20 mins to cross the toll booth and we were off towards Chitradurga. Once crossing toll booth traffic was sparse till Chitradurga. On the way came across many accidents involving trucks heading towards Bangalore side.

We stop at VRL campus just before Chitradurga for breakfast. Food was good for a highway hotel, has good parking space and clean restroom, it is 08.15 AM.

We start off after breakfast and take another break at BP COCO Ghar near Ranebannur for around half hour.

This is the last descent hotel we know of in KA, it takes a drive of around 1.5 hours to reach Hubli bye-pass.

Ranebannur - Hubli route -

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Hubli bye-pass is a two lane highway, with moderate traffic.

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You need to take left on this bye-pass to reach Karwar, which is on the alternate route to Goa. This turn is properly marked and is not difficult to spot. For Molem route, which we are following we need to go further ahead and take a left.
To avoid missing out this left, keep an eye for railway over-bridge. Once you cross the bridge you need to take the left, you are required to show the toll receipt taken at start of the bye-pass at toll-booth here.

Distances from Hubli- byepass turn off -

Wanderlust Traveler @ Goa: Beaches, Forts, Churches, Dolphins and a Taxi-suh_0920.jpg

Road condition alternates between superb and horrible till you reach KA - GA border.
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However great view makes up for the bad roads to an extent. The road runs along railway line for a considerable distance. Castle rock railway station, which is the nearest rail head towards Dudhsagar water fall is a small deviation from this road.

We cross railway line couple of times

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We cross over to Goa -

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It is past 03.00 PM when we reach the GA state entry toll booth. RTO check-post is also next to the same, since it is an extended weekend there is a line of KA registered cars awaiting for permits. We decide to have lunch in meantime, we had seen Dudhsagar resort few meters before check-post. We walk over to check-post in search of lunch.

The resort has a slight upmarket look, however the food is below average. Even on our way back, we were forced to have lunch from here since there were no other options available.

Lunch and permits are done by 04.30 PM, we start off towards Candolim.

Roads are narrow, but road surfaces are good in Goa. It takes around 2 hours to cover 50 odd KM's from check-post to Candolim.

We find the place without much issue, however we are in for a shock on seeing the condition of the hotel. Though location is superb, the hotel is totally run down with dusty smelly rooms. Since it was an extended weekend and we had called up many hotels without success around a month in advance, we were not hopeful of getting any other hotels. However we decide to try our luck.

We leave our luggage at our hotel and start off for dinner. We had heard good reviews about Devas Pavilion cafe and find the place easily. Food was good and price reasonable. While having we notice Friends guest house located opposite to the road, my friend goes and confirms that they have rooms available.

Rate quoted was Rs. 1500 for double occupancy AC rooms, better still they have service apartments just walk-able distance from there for the same rate. We check the service apartments (Green Peace apartment) and decide to take that.

Apartment pics -

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The apartment has kitchen with refrigerator, gas stove and basic utensils.

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We check out from our first hotel (Palmshade) and move to the new place. Since we all had started off early, we go to bed soon.

Days route -

Wanderlust Traveler @ Goa: Beaches, Forts, Churches, Dolphins and a Taxi-untitled.jpg

Last edited by GTO : 19th November 2013 at 15:19. Reason: Typo
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Old 15th November 2013, 23:46   #2
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Cool re: Wanderlust Traveler @ Goa: Beaches, Forts, Churches, Dolphins and a Taxi

Day 2 : Nov 2 -

Most of the hotels in Candolim area starts late. So getting breakfast early is not easy. We had planned of visiting North Goa area today.

Our plan was to visit Fort Aguda first since it is near to our hotel and then head further north.

Our first stop is near Aguda jail. Aguda jail is still used, hence photography is not allowed.
View from road near jail is good -

Wanderlust Traveler @ Goa: Beaches, Forts, Churches, Dolphins and a Taxi-suh_0263.jpg

Aguda jail

It is better to visit Aguda fort early in morning or late in evening. By time we reached Aguda it was past 11 AM, meaning it was hot as oven.

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There is a lighthouse, which is open to public next to the fort complex. Since the height of lighthouse is almost as same as that of fort, we decide against visiting the same.

Baga Beach

Baga beach comes after Calangute while driving down from Candolim. We decide against stopping at Calangute since Baga is essentially the same beach further ahead. Also both these beaches tend to be bit crowded.

Since it was noon we head off straight out to Brittos's. Visiting Britto's has become a must do activity for all who are coming to north Goa. There is a paid parking lot few meters ahead of the restaurant, which can be used if you are heading for beach. Luckily we got a free parking slot next to the restaurant.

The place gets extremely crowed and getting a table during peak time for a bigger group (like ours) will be an issue. Restaurant is next to beach and is almost like an overgrown shack. Since people come over from beach directly to have food, chairs will be covered in sea water and sand. And insects have a field time over spilled over food lying on sandy floor below. Not a pleasant picture for some place recommended by everyone. However once food comes we understand the reason for recommendation.

Food is tasty and value for money. We have fish curry, beef xacuti (Goan cooking style with grated coconut) and squid.

Wanderlust Traveler @ Goa: Beaches, Forts, Churches, Dolphins and a Taxi-suh_0324.jpg

View of restaurant from beach

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View of sea from restaurant, there are options for water sports at Baga beach.

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Goan life guards roam around in red Thar

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We spend some time at beach and start off to Chapora fort.

Chapora Fort

Chapora fort is located near Vagator beach, which is further north of Baga. The fort was location for few scenes in the hit movie Dil Chahta Hai.

Fort is located on a hill top. There is a ground near foot of the hill where you can park your vehicle.

The climb to top of the hill is steep.

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View from top is beautiful

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Fort is overgrown with tall grass, which in the evening sun gives a golden shade

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You get a birds eye view of Vagator beach from fort.

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There was some film shooting going on, seemed like the scene was of a funeral.

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Arambol beach

We decide to head off to Arambol beach, which is further north for viewing the sunset. Though it is only few KM's from fort it takes a long time for us to reach there. By the time we reach sun had already set, we spend some time in twilight on the beach. From the looks of it, we felt this place was frequented only by foreigners. There were lots of shacks, which was packed by people enjoying the sunset.

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We relax for sometime at a shack and head back to our hotel in Candolim.

Days route.

Wanderlust Traveler @ Goa: Beaches, Forts, Churches, Dolphins and a Taxi-untitled.png

Last edited by mpksuhas : 17th November 2013 at 01:01.
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Old 16th November 2013, 18:14   #3
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Default re: Wanderlust Traveler @ Goa: Beaches, Forts, Churches, Dolphins and a Taxi

Day 3 - Nov 3 - Diwali day

Today was planned as a relatively free day.

We start off early to the beach near Aguda fort, this beach is known as Sinquerim beach. It is not possible to get to beach near Aguda fort where we went the previous day. For getting to beach you need to come towards northern side of the fort near to Taj properties.

There is a watch tower here (do check the 'earth' view, not the satellite view). A Russian ship which ran aground in 2000 was visible from the beach here till it was salvaged couple of years back. We walk around the fort and then proceed towards the beach.

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Beach is almost empty since it is just nearing 08.30 AM.

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There is a water sports hub next to the fort here. They approach us asking if we were interested in any activity.

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We decide to go for dolphin ride, we had read reviews before travelling to Goa saying it is a scam. We were warned that sighting dolphins may not happen and will be a waste of time. However decided to go ahead to get a view of Goa from the sea.

There is a price chart mentioning different rates and they don't come down even on bargaining. Dolphin ride was quoted at Rs. 1500 for all six of us in a covered boat. The rate is slightly lesser if you opt for a speed boat (I guess it was Rs. 1200). Speed boats are fun to travel, but do note that it becomes extremely bouncy over waves and people with motion sickness will be in trouble.

Dolphin ride takes around 45 Mins -

We start off, this boat was anchored away from shore. Would be fun to travel in this at max speed -

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Speed boats going for dolphin sighting

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View of Aguda fort from boat

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Aguda jail seen from sea

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Goa Raj Bhavan, I guess the governor has the room with the best view in whole of Goa.

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We have reached the area where Mandovi river joins the sea, suddenly boat guy points to one direction and shouts 'Dolphin, Dolphin!!!' , we all look in that direction and do not see a thing. We thought he may be trying to fool us, but then suddenly he shouts again.

We see this -

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Then there were more dolphins

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They disappear as soon as they came. Boat turns back and heads to the shore.

It is past 11.30 PM and we all are hungry since we had skipped breakfast. We decide to hit some shack in search of food. TripAdvisor had mentioned about a shack called Victors, which was supposed to be the best. However on checking we find that Victors and few other shacks are yet to open for this season.
In Goa tourist season starts from Oct mid and goes on till start of rain around June mid. All shacks will be closed during rainy season and they are just renovating and opening up.
On searching we found that another shack Calamari is open, so we head over there.

Calamari is located here next to Santana beach resort. People come here, book a table and then go enjoy the beach. They return in afternoon to their booked tables and order food till late afternoon. Lunch done, again head over to beach in evening and return to the same table for dinner. Due to which, getting a table can be a difficult thing, luckily for us we were bit early for lunch and got table easily. There is sufficient parking space in front of entry gate.

In case any one needs to check regarding table availability

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There was fireworks planned in the night on account of Diwali. However we had other plans for the evening, hence could not watch it.

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View of sea from the shack was beautiful.

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They have live band during lunch and dinner time.

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Food was delicious and we had a heavy brunch before heading off to hotel. Since it is noon we take rest for a while and decide to head to beach in time to catch sunset.

Candolim beach

Around 5 PM we head off to Candolim beach, we park the car somewhere around here and walk to the beach.

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Sunset in different intervals

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The beach was fairly crowed

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Last edited by mpksuhas : 17th November 2013 at 01:09.
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Old 16th November 2013, 18:33   #4
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Default re: Wanderlust Traveler @ Goa: Beaches, Forts, Churches, Dolphins and a Taxi

Day 3 - Nov 3 - Diwali day - Ctd ..

Around 06.30 PM we head off to Panjim for Mandovi river cruise in evening. The cruise is a complete waste of time, a one hour circus which will put most of the reality shows on TV to shame. We three guys had been on cruise during our last visit to Goa, however the ladies in the group have not been cruise and for the sake of novelty, we decide to go for cruise.

Cruises start at 3 intervals from Santa Monica boat jetty. The start timings are 06.15 PM, 07.15 PM and 08.15 PM, duration is for one hour and ticket is Rs 200 per head.

There are couple of Goan dances performed on stage during cruise, apart from that other performances are forgettable.

Wanderlust Traveler @ Goa: Beaches, Forts, Churches, Dolphins and a Taxi-suh_0806.jpg

During cruise we get a view of floating casinos of Goa

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Cruise gets over by 09.30 PM and we start back to hotel. One advantage about being in Goa is you don't have to worry about restaurants getting closed or you getting chased out of hotels by 11 PM like in Bangalore.

Dinner done we hit the bed early since we have to start back next day.

Last edited by mpksuhas : 17th November 2013 at 01:11.
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Default re: Wanderlust Traveler @ Goa: Beaches, Forts, Churches, Dolphins and a Taxi

Day 4 - Nov 4 - Old Goa & drive back to Bangalore

We had not visited any places in old Goa since most of the locations come on our way back to Bangalore. We check out by 08.30 AM and start to Old Goa via Panajim.

Our first destination was Archaeological museum.

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Photography is not allowed inside museum. Museum houses portraits and artifacts from time of Portuguese rule of Goa.

Next to museum is church of St Francis of Assisi.

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Basilica of Bom Jesus

Exactly opposite to the museum complex on other side of road is Basilica of Bom Jesus. The church is around 400 years old and a UNESCO heritage site.

Pope Francis is supposed to visit the church next year as per locals. There was some renovation going in front of the Church, not sure if this was related to Pope's visit.

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Church houses remains of St Francis Xavier. Remains are kept on a high stage towards right of altar.

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Church of St Cajetan

Located around one kilometer from museum is church of St Cajetan, this place is bit off the radar of regular tourists and there were only couple of other tourists along with us.
The church is modeled based on St. Peters Basilica in Vatican.

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Though we did not stop to visit, just outside the gate of the church is a small arch called as Viceroy's arch. Further ahead is a good view of Mandovi river.

Church of our Lady of the Mount

Near to Cajetan church is the church of Lady of the Mount. The church is on top of a hill, we find our-self alone over there.

Both other churches are visible from top of the hills

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Also, on other side Konkan railway bridge is seen. Just before the bridge, rail passes through a tunnel. Guess it would make a good short scenic walk.

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The church is closed and by the look of it, seems to be that way since a long time
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Route details

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Route from hotel

It is around 12.00 PM and we start back to Bangalore. On the way, we stop at Dudhsagar resort for lunch. We had stopped here during our onward journey and found food not that great. However since there is no other food option till Hubli we decided to stop at this place.

On the way back before Chitradurga we get stuck in a traffic, thanks to an accident involving two cars and two buffalo's.

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Apart from the block, roads were comparatively empty.
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We reach Bangalore by 11.30 PM after three breaks totaling around 2 hours.

Total KM's covered - 1450
Toll paid (both sides) - Rs 1386
Taxi + Permits - 21000

Last edited by mpksuhas : 18th November 2013 at 12:50.
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Old 17th November 2013, 00:36   #6
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Default re: Wanderlust Traveler @ Goa: Beaches, Forts, Churches, Dolphins and a Taxi

Epilogue
  • It is possible to get descent AC rooms for below 1K if booked for weekdays.
  • Anjuna flea market can also be added in your itenary if your travel is on a Wednesday
  • Another famous restaurant in North Goa is German bakery, it was not open for current season when we visited. Located near to Anjuna flea market
  • 3 days excluding travel days is required to see Goa in a relaxed manner
  • Once you get on to Hubli - Dharwad byepass there are no food options until you reach Goa
  • Another reason why you should not take taxi - Getting RTO permits is time consuming. It took us around 1.5 hours to get permit
  • Trip to Goa is incomplete without a meal from a shack
  • Petrol bunks are non existent in north Goa, better to fill up from Panajim
  • Unlike other museums Old Goa ASI museum is closed on Fridays
  • Mandovi river cruise is a waste of time
  • Do visit Fontainhas in Panjim for viewing old Portuguese architecture, one place we skipped due to lack of time
  • Church of Saint Augustine ruins near ASI museum can also be considered. Again we had to skip the same due to time constraints.
  • For those staying in Candolim area, there are two supermarkets (both located next to each other) from where you can get 5, 10 or 25 litre water cans. Bisleri branded cans we got from other smaller shops tasted funny and we doubt it was since they were fakes. Supermarkets are named Newtons and Delfinos.

Helpful threads on TBHP

There are many threads on TBHP with detail on Goa, few of the threads which were helpful when planning trip -
Bangalore- Goa route information
Goa Where to stay (Planning for GOA, where to stay??)
Goa vacation for first timers

Last edited by mpksuhas : 18th November 2013 at 14:19.
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Old 18th November 2013, 14:55   #7
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Default re: Wanderlust Traveler @ Goa: Beaches, Forts, Churches, Dolphins and a Taxi

Note from Mod : Thread moved from Assembly Line to Travelogues section. Thanks for sharing
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Old 18th November 2013, 16:23   #8
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Default re: Wanderlust Traveler @ Goa: Beaches, Forts, Churches, Dolphins and a Taxi

Beautiful. Seems you have fixed your under-exposure issue

A Goa travelogue having no food pics is a crime. I think the Xacuti needs to be prepared one day and eaten the next day for the best taste!!

You've had quite a variety of trips in the last few months - hill stations, beaches, archaeological sites, islands...what's next?
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Old 19th November 2013, 18:31   #9
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Default Re: Wanderlust Traveler @ Goa: Beaches, Forts, Churches, Dolphins and a Taxi

Quote:
Originally Posted by mallumowgli View Post
Seems you have fixed your under-exposure issue
Yes, to an extent. However I guess should brighten it up one step more.

Quote:
A Goa travelogue having no food pics is a crime. I think the Xacuti needs to be prepared one day and eaten the next day for the best taste!!
Yes, agree. However we were concentrating bit too much on food that we forgot to get any pics.
Xacuti, yes may be so. The preparation style was similar to Kerala non-veg dishes to an extent. As you would agree Meen Curry tastes best the next day.
Quote:
You've had quite a variety of trips in the last few months - hill stations, beaches, archaeological sites, islands...what's next?
Yes, clearing up backlog . All these trips were pending since couple of years. No more long trips planned till next year at least. Though have few one day trips planned in coming months (Belur, Ranganathittu, BR Hills).
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Old 20th November 2013, 01:10   #10
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Default Re: Wanderlust Traveler @ Goa: Beaches, Forts, Churches, Dolphins and a Taxi

Wow, that was a wonderful trip down to Goa.
I suggest next time you should visit the fort -Reis Magos Fort very close to Panjim and between panjim and Candolim. It is definitely worth a visit.
Then if you are a group of more than 6-8 people and if you are adventurous then definitely the river cruise is not meant for you. You get wonderful Yachts / speed boats with 400 HP engine, with A/c cabin like this for about 10K per hour where in the owner may throw in beers and snacks and fishing / angling rods too. 10K divided by say 10 guys will be about 1K per hour and I guarantee it is worth every paisa

Then you have white water rafting (Upto Oct 15th), gokarting, wild life sanctuaries, water falls, trekking, kerala style House boats for over night cruises, Scuba diving, Kayaking and a host of adventure filled thrills. Goa is much more than what meets the eye But glad that you guys had ton of fun
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Last edited by mobike008 : 19th December 2013 at 12:05. Reason: 2 smileys per post pls. Next time infraction...
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Old 20th November 2013, 12:56   #11
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Default Re: Wanderlust Traveler @ Goa: Beaches, Forts, Churches, Dolphins and a Taxi

A nice and eloborate log. Sure you are in a travelling spree, i think.
Lovely photos too, I liked the sunset pic 734.jpg
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Old 20th November 2013, 16:09   #12
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Default Re: Wanderlust Traveler @ Goa: Beaches, Forts, Churches, Dolphins and a Taxi

Hi

I liked the pictures of the sunset. Good colors. Goa never disappoints. The route too is very good. Particularly from Hubli to Karwar to Colva.

Keep it coming. Good TL

Cheers
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Old 20th November 2013, 17:19   #13
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Default Re: Wanderlust Traveler @ Goa: Beaches, Forts, Churches, Dolphins and a Taxi

Very nice TL. Good pics as well. Glad you had a good time in Goa. The next time you should plan a visit to South Goa if going with family. I had recently been to Palolem beach which is right near the KA-GA border and the waves are so gentle and the sea so warm and inviting that kids will surely enjoy it

Also, if you are in Panjim you can visit Dona Paula just for the novelty and Miramar beach as well which is a very family-friendly beach

I have never been to the forts because I felt the climbs would be arduous especially with 2 kids but maybe next time I will give it a try
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Old 21st November 2013, 10:14   #14
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Default Re: Wanderlust Traveler @ Goa: Beaches, Forts, Churches, Dolphins and a Taxi

Wonderful detailing, and nice pics. Enjoyed every bit. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 21st November 2013, 15:27   #15
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Default Re: Wanderlust Traveler @ Goa: Beaches, Forts, Churches, Dolphins and a Taxi

Quote:
Originally Posted by ashkamath View Post
Wow, that was a wonderful trip down to Goa.
I suggest next time you should visit the fort -Reis Magos
I was not even aware of that fort. Infact we have taken that road couple of times while travelling to Candolim and back. May be next time. Thanks for sharing the details.

Quote:
You get wonderful Yachts / speed boats with 400 HP engine, with A/c cabin like this for about 10K per hour where in the owner may throw in beers and snacks and fishing / angling rods too. 10K divided by say 10 guys will be about 1K per hour and I guarantee it is worth every paisa
Wow! Again new information for me. Well, have to get few more friends (to share the expense) for next trip

Quote:
Then you have white water rafting (Upto Oct 15th), gokarting, wild life sanctuaries, water falls, trekking, kerala style House boats for over night cruises, Scuba diving, Kayaking and a host of adventure filled thrills. Goa is much more than what meets the eye But glad that you guys had ton of fun
Completely agree with that. Goa has lot more than beach. Though on KA side of the border we wanted to visit Dudhsagar falls also, however dropped it since we would need one full day for the same.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ddrive View Post
A nice and eloborate log. Sure you are in a travelling spree, i think.
Lovely photos too, I liked the sunset pic 734.jpg
Thanks. Infact that is my favorite pic of the lot too. Yes, few trips in quick succession. However only one day trips for next few months.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajain View Post
Hi
I liked the pictures of the sunset. Good colors. Goa never disappoints. The route too is very good. Particularly from Hubli to Karwar to Colva.
Keep it coming. Good TL
Thanks. This time we took the Ponda route. May be next time should try the Karwar route. Have seen pics of the route in some other travelogues, looks great. And road condition is also supposedly better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by anand.shankar82 View Post
The next time you should plan a visit to South Goa if going with family.
Also, if you are in Panjim you can visit Dona Paula just for the novelty and Miramar beach as well which is a very family-friendly beach
I have never been to the forts because I felt the climbs would be arduous especially with 2 kids but maybe next time I will give it a try
Thanks. Yes, I too liked Miramar beach when I visited there last time. Aguda fort does not involve any climb so can be easily done. Chapora fort has an average climb, but more than climb the surface is of loose soil. Hence for adults also there is a chance of slipping and falling, nothing dangerous as such. However with kids I guess only that has to be kept in mind. Also, as in previous post ashkamat mentioned Reis Magos fort also can be added.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe M View Post
Wonderful detailing, and nice pics. Enjoyed every bit. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks Joe M.

Last edited by mpksuhas : 21st November 2013 at 15:30.
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