Landing at the Dabolim Airport with a precise announcement by the Indigo airline hostess…”this being a Defence airport, kindly refrain from taking photographs..” silently I wished all airports to be of the military kind, at least we would have been spared from the Instagram stories of #flying #travel (sic), am awestruck with the no rush..no push…at the baggage collection, and oh yes we were all travellers from Dilli! Already caught by the Goan bug of live and let go…don’t push others and yourself too..it’s not worth the trouble. The awestruckness continued thereafter…the white apparelled, soft spoken drivers of the prepaid taxis, the long and empty roads, the smell of the sea and a never ending horizon ahead of you….O Goa…why didn’t I come earlier? The reasons maybe blurred with the overviews and reviews of the die hard “Goa” fans of my neighbourhood whose refrain of the need of umbrella sized sun hats, two piece, itsy btsy swim wear, extra strong sun screen lotion and the works probably made me cringe each time I tried to kick the bucket on my list…this explains my 48 year old delay and the itch in one sentence…but the Goa I experienced was an inward journey to myself and I wished it never to end…probably I made Goa my “post work- retirement” plan on this maiden trip!
With Goa on my mind and soul let’s share some #GoaGreats with a difference….
Bay 15 and the rocky Oxdel Beach…
Pinewood cabanas in Goa…yes Bay 15 has several of these overlooking the rocky and beautiful Odxel beach each opening towards the swimming pool surrounded by tall coconut trees swaying in the Goan breeze. It’s not your usual hotel with the sterilised accessories but a homely affair. A wooden boat with fishing nets welcomes you at the reception along with an eclectic wall art and some photo frames…
The best part of Bay 15 is the Harbour Grill resto bar where food is sumptuous and the sounds of the waves lapping against the edges of the resto bar makes it better still…live music with the singers belting out the infamous hits like “mysterious girl” “wonderful tonite” and a very different version of the “happy birthday” song makes you want to throw your flip flops and dance bare footed in the sand…The sea food offering at Harbour Grill is to die for and they even catch fresh fish and crabs from the bay below and serve it on your table grilled, fried, steamed or the way you want it! Try the Crab, Avacado and Mango Salad, Crab Xec Xec which is crabs simmered in coconut gravy and the Chorizo Poi- the ubiquitous Goan pork sausages served caramelised with the local bread or the Goan poi…and the bar man is a friendly guy from Garo Hills in Meghalaya and his cocktails are the perfect blend of the right spirits!
Bay 15 is definitely the best choice for a stay in Goa if you are looking for a little bit of solitude along with the Goan touch of food, music and the sea…
Cheshire Cat and the village of Assagao….
When you hit Goa don’t just hit the beaches, the “gaos” or villages of Goa offers a different charm to the place. Winding roads with forests on both sides interspersed with Portuguese architecture in the form of villas and homes with interesting gates and roofs makes you want to spend the rest of your life here. Yes, it’s straight out of the movies and could be a part of “Finding Fanny” or “Dear Zindagi.” One such gate which caught my eye was the one at Cheshire Cat…flanked on two sides by a pair of golden lions, this place is the abode of designer duo Kees van Andel and Karen Peace where they have set up a studio for designing exquisite handcrafted jewelry. The designer pieces are crafted in 22 Carat gold with precious and semi precious gemstones and are a worthy catch to take back home as gifts.
The house with the lions at the gate is a refurbished 19th century Portuguese villa located in a quiet neighbourhood lined with tall trees in the beautiful village of Assagao also known as the “fulacho gao” or the village of flowers. This place is slowly growing into a cosmopolitan settlement of high end designers, DJs, artists and other creative professionals from Delhi and Mumbai. The location is central and within a few kilometres you can drop down to dip your feet into the sea and party hard with the wilder side of Goa at Anjuna, Vagator or the Morjim beaches.
Tomatos_Goa and the Pineapple Sands…
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A chance encounter upon a cafe with a difference, “it’s not a cafe or a resto bar, it’s a beachside kitchen and bar,” says the owners, Harry, Adi and Anju Tibrewala. Born and brought up in Shillong…the state capital of Meghalaya, the brothers Harry and Adi still carry the signature “hospitality charm” of the northeast. They will personalise your drinks and cuisine in tune with your taste and will personally serve you at the tables recording your feedback with each bite that you take! it feels like eating at your own kitchen table…so the “beachside kitchen” in the name is absolutely justified.
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Our kitchen is overflowing with tomatoes, a ‘problem’ we truly love. This tomato consommé is beyond the shadow of a doubt the nectar of the soup Gods! #tomatos #tomatosgoa #tomatoconsommé #foodphotography #foodstagram #foodlover #foodaholic #foodaddict #foodilysm #foodnetwork #foodlovers #foodtrip #thaifood #europeancuisine #italiancuisine #indiancuisine #goanrestaurant #goa
Tomato’s – a beachside kitchen and bar is located at the Morjim Beach near Bora Bora and has a vibe of a Greek eatery with its ambience soaked in various shades of white. You can walk into the sandy beach from your table, laze around and relax on the swings hanging along the pathway leading outside or listen to some amazing playlist while drowning into your sun downer…you must try the “Pineapple Sands” one of their signature drinks served with a ring of sliced pineapple and a tinge of coconut flavour.
The food of course is authentic…the plain creamy pasta with or without salmon, a seafood salad with watercress served on a bed of mango pulp and even the lamb biryani and butter chicken is the purest form of the Italian. Mediterranean or Desi Indian cuisine.The “must trys” – the tomato consommé and the juicy salmon steak drizzled with sriracha cream and red Thai curry!
Cashewnut and Cashewnuts….
Cashewnuts with skin..without skin…with salt…without salt..whole grained..halves..bits…spicy.
There are huge cashewnut farms and they even have annual cashewnut festivals to celebrate this nut with the highest utility option in Goa. Besides the cashew feni which I surely don’t have to explain, you will probably find cashew in your rice, dal and chicken curry! I even went searching for a cashew flavoured soap and body lotion….
Mario Miranda’s Gallery, House of Goa and Porvorim….
Besides being the legislative capital of Goa, Porvorim is known for two famous Goans…the artist and cartoonist Mario De Miranda and the artist and architect Gerard De Cunha.
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Mario’s Gallery is housed in an old Portuguese cottage along a forested hillside neighbourhood in Porvorim. The small wicker gate leading you to a grassy sidewalk with quintessential park benches and two life size statues of Mario’s infamous cartoon characters builds the ambience of this art gallery which also doubles as a shop selling Mario’s art. Posters, tee shirts, mugs, shot glasses, bags, scarfs, key chains, beer openers, books and even wall tiles are sold in this gallery and everything has Mario’s signature caricatures printed on them. You can pick your gifts in this one stop shop and each item will have a Goan origin to it.
Just around the bend is the Houses of Goa, a museum set up by the charismatic Goan architect Gerard De Cunha. The place is designed and built like a ship and has the eclectic essence of De Cunha’s style.
With walls covered with thick ivy and quaint steel balconies opening into the branches of the tall flowering trees, the Houses of Goa museum is an eye catcher. Once you enter the museum you time travel through the ages and the architecture associated with each era. From maps to tiles, balconies, windows, flooring, panels, sitting areas, just sketches, posters and everything related to architecture is displayed in the three floors, the top most level serves as an auditorium and has a feel of an open air auditorium.
You have to actually visit and experience this place to understand its structure. An architectural marvel and a must do especially for students of architecture. This was one museum where I have seen the visitors more interested in the external structure than the exhibits!
After eight and Seafood…..
A scotch based cocktail with the bitters and an array of seafood…that’s how evenings in Goa sounds like and it really doesn’t matter if the chair next to you is empty. The cocktail is aptly named“After Eight” cause the evenings never ends thereafter!
the Prawn Curry Rice, Sorpotel and the Kingfish Balchao at “Martin’s Corner”
the Pomfret in butter garlic sauce at the “Fisherman’s Wharf”
and the Goan speciality of grilled kingfish and pomfret recheiado at the “Ritz’s Classic”
While in Goa besides the Pork Vindaloo and the Chorizo with poi, you should stick to the seafood cause it’s fresh, affordable and lip smacking delicious!
Sunsets, Susegad and life in Slo- mo……
Do we need any words for this?????