January 19 – 21
Old Quarter by the hostelcrowd: Both nights in the annex; Thursday night in a twin (1400INR); Friday night in a double (1800INR); double a very comfy room with a/c and fan. Annex is a nicely renovated old Goan home. Wifi better downstairs than up.
Bharat Lodge: one night in a great, quiet second floor corner room. Biggest bathroom yet with Hot water! (1200INR) night (Saturday night). Family owned and operated. Spacious room and best bathroom yet. Strong wifi.
Arrived by a very slow train from Ratnagiri. Train was over an hour late to start. But we went with general seating and the cost was very low (200INR for both or us). Bonus was we got to chat with fellow passengers and Sue struck up a friendship with a young man who provided some good info for us. We disembarked at Karmali which is close to Panjim (10km). In retrospect it may have been better to have caught the earlier express and paid the few extra dollars to back track from Madgaon (43km from Panjim). We hired an auto-rickshaw to deliver us to Old Quarter (300INR).
For trip to Old Goa we went by local bus (40INR return).
Old Quarter provides nice breakfast, either Western or Goan. Excellent coffee!
George’s for lunch and first beers in over a week. Finding Kingfisher beer is giving me headaches – might be the glycerol! Good service and prices.
Route 66: stopped in for a couple of cold ones and nachos. Nachos very expensive by Western standards. Kings beer (Goa only) was tasty; bit maltier than Kingfisher. Balcony view with a cooling fan.
Viva Panjim for dinner. I had King fish curry which I quite liked. Tried feni (local cashew alcohol) which I wasn’t crazy about (even when really watered down). Price was reasonable for location, ambience, food but I found our waiter to be rather arrogant.
Didn’t see much street food around the neighbourhoods we stayed in (Fontainhas and Saó Tome).
Drinking lots of water! Missing my big pots of endless tea. Haven’t had enough lassis yet.
True to form we’re making up our itinerary as we go along…
Leaving the Konkan Coast wasn’t easy but we felt the need to reconnect with the outer world via the internet, do laundry and visit an ATM. We were delivered to the Ratnagiri train station by auto-rickshaw and decided to wait for the later train to take us closer to Panjim. Between the wait and the slow, late train we had a long day. It was fun riding in general seating but arriving so late I found exhausting. However, we arrived on the evening we planned to and in a really special little city.
We decided to visit Panjim as the descriptions we read of its Portugese Old Quarter made it sound fascinating. And it is. We’ve spent hours simply meandering around Fountainhas and Saó Tome, looking at the beautiful old homes and buildings. Sometimes it’s hard to remember we’re in India as both of us are reminded of other countries we’ve visited, both European and countries colonized by Europeans. Goa has a large Christian population, so there are many churches and cathedrals but we also saw the colourful Hindu Maruti Temple while on a morning walk.
We walked in daylight and nighttime. The temperature is not much hotter than Mumbai but it does seem more humid. We welcomed a respite sitting in the Campai Garden along the Mondovi River. One of the first things we noticed on our drive in from the train were the proliferation of large neon, and other forms of light, signs along the far shore. Then there’s the floating casinos going up and down the river at night.
We did walk through a more modern part of Panjim to check out the municipal market and the cinema complex (still itching for a Bollywood flick). The streets are not in a grid so we got slightly lost once or twice but eventually found our way using printed tourist maps and maps.google when desparate.
On our last day we caught a small local bus to Old Goa, the former Portugese capital of the province. In the 1500s its population was larger than either Lisbon’s or London’s. But the Inquisition and an epidemic ended that. Eventually the capital was moved to Panjim. Today Old Goa is a UNESCO and Indian heritage site, comprised primarily of the old churches. One, St. Augustine, is an immense ruin with a 46m, half destroyed, bell tower rearing up on the skyline.
We’re ready to move on again, to find that perfect little idyllic spot to settle for a week or two… we’ve booked a few nights at Agonda Beach, about 40km to the south of us. We’re both thinking a bit of yoga, maybe some meditation, some more swimming and floating would be just fine.