I have long been absent from this space, and there is no excuse. Except for the one that several things have led me to reduce my travel significantly, which is always a sad thing. I have only been doing weekend travels lately,more of a break from routine than travel.

However this trip was different, even though this too, was an extended weekend holiday. Though I went to a favorite destination (Goa), I experienced it in very different manner. For one, I went to a part I have not been before – South Goa. – to the Palolem beach, which has steadily been rising in its popularity.   Second, I went with a bigger group,  all except one  being strangers. And third, I spent a lot of time in the sea – something which I have not done in a very very long time, thanks to a bad spell of tan the last time I did.

Our plan was randomly made – a chance encounter with a friend in a coffee shop, a crib about Mumbai life and the upcoming long weekend. Soon, we were talking Goa, and a small set of people joined in. Since by the time, Flights were too expensive   – we managed some train and bus tickets by pulling strings, and reached the Margao station at 11:00 am Saturday morning.  From there, Palolem is about 40 kms or 600 bucks by pre-paid taxi. We had booked ourselves in the Palolem Beach Resort, which lies right at the entrance of the beach. At 800 a night for a room, it was a great place. Their restaurant (Druv’s Kitchen) was right on the beach, and rooms just behind it. Rooms were clean, all basic amenities taken care of.

We spent the day at sea enjoying the waves, though Palolem is a relatively quiet beach. Typical of  favorite Goa beaches, it is lined with shacks and diners and sunbeds.  A feature which a few shacks have added is a bamboo terrace, which can be climbed up to enjoy the view. We spent most of our evenings on this terrace – a nice place to sleep/read/eat in peace while still enjoying the sea.

In the night, we tried a couple of places for food – Hare Rama Hare Krishna was disappointing, and another cafe for desserts (I forget the name) was good. We tried a Swedish dessert called ‘Hello to the Queen’, which was rather interesting with its bananas, cakes, biscuits and some more stuff. If only they knew how to keep the sugar levels low!

Next morning, we hired a car to go to Colva for water sports. This beach is a stark contrast to Palolem –  a rough sea, crowds and almost no shacks.  This is the place in Goa for water sports, and we quickly got on to para-sailing and water scooter. Para-sailing was beautiful! Contrary to my expectation, it was not scary at all and the view from above was priceless. Being as scared of heights as I am, I never thought I would enjoy the experience of being air-borne so much. The ride, sadly was too short. I think I will go back to para-sailing on a less crowded beach another day and may be enjoy flying over the waters for half an hour…

Colva is also a good beach for surfing the waves – either on a board or body surfing. The waves are high, and can also get rough at times. We enjoyed riding the waves for a long time,  though the crowd was often lecherous and annoying.

We reached back Palolem almost in the night, and after a hot shower, enjoyed a sumptuous meal at Dropadi – the best food we had in Goa so far. Its not surprising then, that after discovering this place, we had all the rest of our meals there, except for the breakfasts in Dhruv’s kitchen, which was good.

Next morning, we went to a tattoo parlor to at least temporarily mark our bodies 🙂 The process was much longer than we had expected, so much so that we had to while time playing cards. 2-3 hours later, we finally left the place, adorned with a mark each.  I got a dragon on my leg, which I loved.

In the evening, we took a boat to drop us to the Butterfly island, where we enjoyed two hours of the secluded beach, -playing ball in water. At 6, it came back to pick us, and took us to a point from where we could get a nice view of the sunset.  A beautiful evening, one that made it even harder to get back to Mumbai.

The return to Mumbai – that was another story. Our tickets on the train did not get confirmed, and we spent a crazy evening trying to find a way out of Goa, almost convinced that Goa was trying to host us for another day.  And just as we were going to check into another hotel, a last minute bus cancellation by someone else saved the day. A bumpy ride later, here I am. In the terrible place called Mumbai.



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