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Goa Off-Beach

Spending a week in Goa in a house rather than a hotel, in a village rather than the beachside, in the monsoons rather than winters has been a completely new experience for me –  I must say I loved every moment of it! I don’t think I can do Goa the old way ever again.

I’ll divide it in two parts, the first when I was with friends. We landed and went straight to beautiful Casa Ana in Moira (can never thank our hosts for extending the hospitality). Words cannot describe it, it’s a huge restored Portuguese house with all its charm retained by its various owners.

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*Casa Ana is a private property

The next three days can only be described as ‘exploring a different side of Goa’ – days discovering food in places like Gunpowder, Black Sheep Bistro and Anand Bar and Restaurant, evenings driving around the lush green Goa, partying all night in places where live music is on even in off season! These three days showed me how to have a great holiday with friends in Goa without doing the regular things at all – no shacks, no beach bumming, no scooter rides in the middle of the night or Brittos or Club Cabana!

greenery all over
Green and more green
World's best potatoes
World’s best potatoes

The second part of the trip happened because I decided to stay back alone a few more days in Goa. This is the peaceful and supremely relaxed part of the holiday. Me, my camera, my Mac, Casa Ana and Bharmu the housekeeper and Alan the house manager to give me company. Well, let me tell you the highlights

One : Walking the lanes of Moira Village, soaking in the village life with the river flowing alongside the village, a panchayat center, the local church and football fields! I attended a mass at a beautiful church in the nearby village of Aldona , it was an amazing and spiritual experience. Don’t drive, just walk around these villages to really see the nuances which will otherwise just whizz by if you are on wheels!

My local guides!
My local guides!
Village river side
Village river side
The local panchayat
The local panchayat
Old Houses
Old Houses

Two : Visiting Old Goa or Velha Goa and its churches and reliving some of Goa’s history. You could call this the ‘touristy’ part because here is the only place I found lots of people with cameras and families! The main church is called Bom Jesus or Good Jesus or infant Jesus to whom it is dedicated. But the Basilica is, perhaps, best known for holding the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier since 1613. The beautiful red structure that stands in glory reminiscing the history of Goa. My only complaint here was that the museum and art gallery is really poorly represented, the same things could be showcased much better if someone cared. Just behind the church is a location where there are ruins of an old Portuguese church. What you see is the tower of St. Augustine’s Church rising from a distance and ruins of the old church saying many stories. An interesting site that solicits a visit for sure!

Basilica Bom Jesus
Basilica Bom Jesus
View from the other side
View from the other side
Another church opposite the road
More old Goa
Old Ruins in Old Goa
Old Ruins in Old Goa

Three : A visit on the rivers and Divar island. Yes – there is an island within Goa surrounded by rivers. The only way to reach is on a ferry (you can take your car along with you in the ferry). A ferry ride and a drive across the island gives a good view of what Goa would have been in the Portuguese times when there were no bridges connecting the various parts of Goa and each village was self fulfilled. The island is a treat to see some old Portuguese villas, and beautiful churches. Do take a car or a scooter to the island because its a huge island!

Crossing the Mandovi River
Crossing the Mandovi River
View from the ferry
View from the ferry
Old Portuguese House
Old Portuguese House
One of the many churches
One of the many churches

Four : Churches and more churches! I highly recommend visiting the churches in Goa – old architecture, beautiful locations, well maintained interiors with lots of historic tidbits, you can spend days just doing church hopping here!

Beautiful setting
Beautiful setting
Someone needs to maintain this one
Someone needs to maintain this one
Attending a ceremony
Attending a ceremony
Local church at Moira
Local church at Moira

One thing I realized on this trip is that if you think about it, Goa is actually an idyllic place with beautiful beaches, massive rivers, mountains, islands and forests! No wonder the Portuguese chose Goa over many other places. And yes, monsoons are beautiful in Goa – just try going there once!

I wish I could stay a few more days, but at the same time so glad I could actually spend 8 days in Goa to soak it well rather than just see a few things and come back! I am definitely doing this more often.

Some more memories from this trip

My Workdesk! Wish I could do this everyday
My Workdesk! Wish I could do this everyday
Gunpower
Gunpowder
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Room with a view
The only beach visit
The only rather short beach visit

Here’s a quick guide :

Where to eat (from a vegetarians point of view!)

  • Gunpowder: South Indian fare, sounds weird in Goa but highly recommended! The best potato I’ve ever had – voted as the dish of the day by sea food lovers as well!
  • Anand Bar and Restaurant : Sea food galore, however, the few veg dishes like the Mushroon Xacuti are must tries!
  • Black Sheep Bistro : This is in Panjim with a nice fusion menu. I had the Malwani Mushroom Risotto! Quite interesting I must say.

Where to Party

  • Cavala on Fridays : Old favourite but still rocks with Retro nights on Fridays.
  • Cohiba on Saturdays : The live band and the DJ is one of the best , been there a couple of times and feels like the most happening party place in the world! Eclectic mix of people – both locals and travellers here!

Lastly, don’t just do a weekend trip like always– keep a few days and soak in the real Goa!

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