Thursday, February 22, 2007

Wanderlust: Palolem, Benaulim - Goa!

Meera and me needed a break and our close friends Harish and Payal joined us to head to the sun soaked beaches of Goa in December 2006.

We drove from Bangalore to Goa, a good 12 hour drive.

We reached Palolem (South Goa) at 5PM in the evening and Palolem was simply breathtaking in the evening. It is an idyllic, crescent shaped beach of white sand (surprisingly!) where the waves are just as lazy as the people who were on the beach and you would inevitable become after just a night! The startling thing about the beach is that it has very few Indians staying at the beach (Goa has more popular beach for the masses – Baga, Calangut, Anjuna et al!). This beach is mostly frequented by Europeans, Americans and Israelis some staying over for as long as 3 months!

We did not have a place to shack up at and so the boys went to look for a joint where we could stay and the women decided to do – well what else – but window shop!

We finally found a place called Fernandes where we got beach shacks for Rs.1500 per night per couple after haggling (and you need to). The entrance to the shack was a restaurant, walk through the restaurant and there were 9 shacks all with attached bathrooms. Each shack had a bed with a mosquito net, a fan, a closet. Very basic but clean. The most amazing thing about the shacks and is the same for any one of them – is that the sea is actually not more than 20 steps away from the restaurant!

The place was run by Sanjay – who was so helpful with all of our needs and
we had a few! Sanjay was simply amazing – he would get up at 8 AM everyday, get himself his morning cuppa and begin to work on his Sudoku skills. He had a whole book of Sudoku puzzles!

So we would get up everyday at around 8AM, have a very leisurely breakfast and head straight to the sea! Came back for lunch and well, what can I say – a place like Palolem deserves a siesta! Wake up in the evening and get a beer/cuppa depending on whichever way our throats wandered!
We did this (which was NOTHING!) for 2 days and then decided to go to Butterfly beach, look for a few dolphins (is an amazing sight!) on day 3 and on day 4 did nothing again!

We then moved to the Royal Goan Beach Club at Benaulim, which is about 35 KM from Palolem. This was a typical 3 star resort with some fantastic facilities, but is mostly for folks who cannot rough it!

We then decided to see a few places around Benaulim so went to see an old heritage mansion, built in the nineteenth century. It is one of the magnificent legacies of Portugese architecture. It had Italian patterned tiles, china wares and vases, very intricately painted, stained glass windows made of mother of pearl shells! It still has some of the old furniture, prominent among these is a lovely Lovers seat, where the women could not resist but take a snap! It houses Goa’s first private library and the sheer number of books boggles the mind!

The next day we drove to the Basilica of Bom Jesus and what a cathedral it was! It holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. The casket housing the body of St. Francis is made of silver. It is considered as one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in India. The Basilica was built in the 17th century.

The next day, we decided to indulge in some water sport and we headed to the beach. We were excited to do para sailing – unfortunately the wind was not blowing in the right direction, but we did jet ski and it was exhilarating!
The time came for us to say goodbye with heavy hearts and return to the usual grind! Needless to say, the trip was dedicated to Bacchus!

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