Goa, India: Time travel this holiday season!
“In Goa they speak only one language,
the language of leisure.”
What do you do when in Goa? Do as the Goans. Wake up to the call of breakfast, laze on a beach with a book or a beer, or maybe both, enjoy your siesta, step out to party at one of the countless haunts in town, and stumble into bed. But if you have done this one too many times, and are running out of excuses to crawl back to Goa for some more of its sweet peace, there’s no reason to worry, for there is enough to justify that familiar Go-Goa urge.
1) Sail in style
Picture this. Your favourite playlist playing in the background, a tall glass of champagne or a salt-rimmed cocktail glass on the side, you unwinding on a pool chair where the pool is the wide blue ocean itself, and a personal butler at your beck and call to refill your glass, or get you some more appetizers, or pull your yacht over to that secret island you just spotted. Wait, did I say yacht? Yes, your own private yacht, for an hour, an afternoon or a night, as long as you would like it to be. A yacht could come with a personal DJ, Masseuse, great food, drinks. Organize the next reunion with your friends from college years, or with your entire family on a yacht in Goa. Pinch! You are not in a dream!
2) A journey back in time
What would a Portuguese Count have done in the 17th or 18th century, a thousand miles way from their country, here in Goa? Quite naturally, build a home away from home. Some of these mansions that once housed the elite of the Portuguese empire in Goa, are till date conserved and cared for, by their descendants or professional conservators so that you can fix a date with Portuguese culture in their majestic porches, or enjoy an authentic mediterranean lunch in the Belvedere. Call on one of the several Portuguese mansions in Goa, and book yourself a lunch combined with a tour of these antiquated homes. The hosts are like any Goan host, affable and generous. Perfect place to go if you have young children or want to share your passion for heritage with friends and family.
3) Gluttonous in Goa
If there is one thing that Goans are envied for apart from their ferociously defended ‘Sushegaad’, the native term for a siesta, then it is their skills in the kitchen. An endless number of restaurants line the streets, beaches, alleys of Goa. But for the gourmet in you, there is Mum’s Kitchen with its authentic Portuguese fare or the mediterranean magic at Go With The Flow, and of course, there is Goa’s most loved fine dining restaurant, Martin’s Corner. It most certainly is a meat lover’s paradise, with the Pork Sorpotel, Chicken Xacuti and Prawn Vindaloo. But much unlike the common notion of “A veggie would starve in Goa…” there is enough on the Goan counter for the strict vegetarian in you. Various kinds of local Usals or pulses, mediterranean salads, soups, Konkani Bhajis, and of course amazing North Indian delicacies at the Earthen Oven. I bet you could never say you have had enough of food in Goa.
4) A bit of Goa on your walls
Ever thought where those beautiful tiles came from in your friends’ homes or the one fitted so artistically in the top of their dinner table? Most likely the answer is Goa. Goa is known for its ceramic skills ever since man discovered this gorgeous corner of the world. From the most well-known art of Mario Miranda to vistas of beaches, sunsets and Portuguese mansions, there is a range of art work on tiles available in Goa. Known as Azulejos, this art has thrived and flourished in Goa over centuries.Visit one of the many stores in Latin Quarters, or if you want something more exquisite then a trip to the Azulejos de Goa store would be just the thing to do.
5) Mi casa es su casa/my home is your home
While you are doing all these fantastic things in Goa, you need a home to come back to end of the day, and what could be better than a vacation home where eager hosts await you? For the discerning traveller who has more in mind than being confined to a hotel room, there is a range of tastefully designed home-stays. Home-stays offer you privacy but at the same time more than enough room to move about, whether its the private pool or a quiet corner neatly stacked with books that have always been on your reading list, or a dining area where you can plan a candle-lit dinner with your loved ones on days when you are don’t feel like leaving your pad. Add to it, the sense of owning a home in Goa that you have always dreamt of, but which may be still a little away from becoming your own. A conversation with your hosts can open up a treasure trove of knowledge about the town, its history, its peculiarities and secrets that could sometimes take you years to know, or perhaps never be known to you. But for those who would love a hotel stay, Goa again has the best names in the country to offer. There is no reason to feel left out either way.
When you have someone like Back Swan to plan your next trip to Goa, you don’t have to worry about doing too little or too much in this picturesque town which has been and continues to be the choice of travellers from all across the globe. Let your heart soak in the relaxing treats that await you here from the moment you step off the flight, and at the least what you would take back home, along with your memories is a de-stressed you.
Best times to visit Goa: Anytime of the year, but quite surely between November and February, or in the Monsoons if you don’t mind watching nature come alive under god’s own sprinkler.
Things to do in those rare moments when you are on your feet in Goa:
- Book a ride to explore lesser known beaches, spot dolphins or to just take a plunge in the sea.
- Savour the flavours of Goan cuisine at the Bhatti Village or Mum’s Kitchen.
- Shop at the many shops in the Latin Quarters neighbourhood.
- Hire a cycle or a scooter and ride to the peaceful beaches in South Goa, away from the crowd.
- Visit the Palacio de Deao in Quepem for a lunch-and-tour of the 18th century Mansion.
- Make an appointment for a Deep Tissue massage at the Snip Salon and Spa in Calangute.