Goa is THE beach holiday destination in South India. It’s well known as a party place but South Goa is a bit quieter, so we headed there, to a place called Palolem. It’s got long stretches of clean white sand, with gentle waves that lap against the shore. A thick band of palm trees edge the beach, with ‘shacks’ (or, as I would say, accommodation and restaurants) butted up in front of them. This area is more touristy than Gokarna, but the crowd varies- young people, families, retirees. It’s favoured by the Russians and British. I met a lovely guy called John, from the UK, and he goes to Goa every year for a month or two and sees the same people every year.
‘Shacks’, as they are known, are the buildings that are dotted along the shore. Every year before the wet season, they are all dismantled and stored away. When the rains are over and tourist season picks up again, they are all rebuilt.
There are more restaurants than Gokarna and the food is vastly better. The first meal we had was fish tikka, consumed with an ice-cold beer, and it set the scene for the remainder of our time here. The food was fabulous and I must mention the local drink, derived from cashew nuts, called fenny. It sounds like it might be yummy, but it’s not. It tastes like any local brew – a very raw, strong, unrefined alcohol.
The place we stayed was ‘rustic’ but cheap, and it had hot water (first time this holiday). You really only appreciate hot showers when you haven’t had one in a while! The first room we inspected was on stilts and I actually felt motion sickness when standing in it. Every time someone moved, it felt like an earthquake…. rather than live with the trauma, we took a hut on the ground.
There’s not much to write about Goa. The days were cycles of short bursts of activity, like walking down the beach, then a swim, then reading books. Evenings we walked along the beach and choose our restaurant. There would be a table out the front, and you could pick your seafood and order it cooked how you liked. I figured if your meal was trying to scuttle off from being picked, it was fresh enough. Then, once we ate enough (too much), we would wander slowly back along the beach to the hut, and chill on the balcony before bed. i.e., heaven.
And then, it was time to go back to Banglore. To reality.