Cafe Travelogue - GOA

June 07, 2015

When the whole maddening crowd heads to the hills and cooler climes, the few sane ones, like us, hit the sunny beaches. Orrr..... that is atleast what you do when your work-obsessed husband (who thinks his company would shut down or go bankrupt without him) forgets to plan a holiday trip in advance.
Mr. B decided looong back that he would keep all holiday destinations, travel-related details and discussions far, far away from me. Reason being, I plan way too much and shop likewise too, before each trip.
According to him, I have a 'What-If' bag 'hidden' somewhere along with my regular baggage, that contains things I would need in case there is an earthquake, volcanic eruption, tsunami, flood, or when a prehistoric dinosaur chases us to a treetop. For all these reasons, he keeps a watchful eye on my packing and planning!!!
Let us start with the trip now......

The day before - Nobody slept properly the whole night, including Junior. I guess he thought we might just forget to take him or something.... Anyway, early morning we all got up, got ready and reached the Bangalore airport uneventfully and well in advance to get Junior thoroughly bored.
It takes 1 hour 15 minutes to fly from Bangalore to Goa. We landed at the Dabolim airport, Goa. Our pumpkin-coloured suitcase was so eye-blinding that even the other co-passengers could locate it for us at the baggage claims.
Anyway, we got ourselves a cab and reached our hotel in an hour, checked in, had lunch and explored the resort.
We stayed at the Marquis Beach Resort, located on the Candolim beach, North Goa. It is a well-maintained, beautiful property with direct and private access to the beach. Our room had both a pool and sea view. Every morning during our stay, I would get up to see the sea in all its calmness and beauty.
Later, in the evening, we headed to 'our' resort beach and had a fun time with Junior going crazy with his sand construction, watched the sun set under the cover of clouds. Since we had not planned much, we decided to go for the resort-organized 1-day sightseeing of South Goa by bus the next day.
Got up early, had breakfast at the resort and walked to the main road nearby where the bus would pick us up. After picking up everybody, the bus headed to North Goa.
The first point was Miramar Beach, a local beach conducting dolphin boat cruise. By the time we reached there, Junior had lost all patience and interest as we were nowhere near a water body to see a seashell, let alone a dolphin! Finally Miramar beach - a somewhat plain and unattractive beach with a cruise boat waiting to take and show us the 'natural' dolphins. (Our tour guide emphasized seeing 'natural' dolphins time and again).
During the cruise, we got to see the beautiful Palacio Aguada (Jimmy Gazdar's palatial bungalow), albeit from a distance. Jimmy Gazdar is an influential diamond merchant with the bungalow sprawling over acres of lush greenery. Apparently, Hindi film 'Haseena Maan Jaayegi' was also shot here.
Palacio Aguada (Diamond Merchant Jimmy Gazdar's bungalow)

Next up during the cruise was the Aguada Central Jail. Our tour operator remarked that more than a jail, it was a like a 5-star resort for prisoners as it was beautifully located facing the sea plus free food and accommodation for a lifetime. That you need to do some really big crime to get in there. Those were his words. Made it sound like an admission to some posh Swiss boarding school. But it was a beautiful location indeed!
Aguada Central Jail

After some time being in the sea, we noticed all the boats coming near, circling and generally crowding up in the same place. It was for the dolphin sighting, the main aim of the cruise which we had completely forgotten by that time.
Meanwhile utterly-bored Junior diverted everyone's attention to a jet-black crow flying over the sea and later to a dark rock which he claimed was the dolphin. After spending a good amount of time circling in the sea amidst the cacophony of loud music, finally we got to see the dolphin - not one, but many. Of course, I saw the tail of one, the tummy of another and face of another, but still... atleast I got to see something. Junior and Mr. B managed to get a proper view while I was still deciding the camera setting.
The moment someone would see a dolphin, all the boats would draw nearer to that spot. And it was really sad because even if a dolphin decides to show up, it had no space and option other than hitting the boats. So, go for the dolphin ride only when there are minimal tourists and boats in the sea. We were also informed that the dolphin rides would soon be closed with the arrival of monsoon.
The mad circling of boats during the Dolphin Cruise
 Next stop was at the very beautiful Basilica of Bom Jesus or the St. Francis Xavier's Church. This church is located in Old Goa and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This church houses the sacred, embalmed body of the miraculous St. Francis Xavier. I recommend you to visit the church at a time when there is minimum tourist crowd to soak in the serenity and peaceful atmosphere.
Basilica of Bom Jesus / St. Francis Xavier Church
The rich and elaborate gilded altar, another stunning element inside the church, is a stark contrast to its outside red-brick and un-plastered façade. But, both equally beautiful in its own way!
The beautiful gilded altar of the Basilica of Bom Jesus
Basilica of Bom Jesus Gilded Altar

This bell tower at the Basilica caught my eye and I had to take a picture.
Bell Tower, Basilica of Bom Jesus
Right opposite to the Basilica is the vast SE Cathedral in all its white glory. You can just walk and hop from one gate to another; it is that simple.
SE Cathedral, view 1
The SE Cathedral is dedicated to St. Catherine. Every 10 years, the case and body of St. Francis Xavier is brought down from the Basilica to the SE Cathedral in a ceremonial procession and displayed for public veneration. Millions of pilgrims of varied religions come from all over the world to attend this exposition. Unfortunately, we spent a lot of time in the Basilica plus due to Junior's boredom, we could neither enter nor experience the church.


The view 2 of the Cathedral (as seen in the below picture) was worth admiring for some more time. Unfortunately, we had to get back to our bus as it was time to leave.

SE Cathedral, view 2

Next, the bus stopped at 2 different temples. Since the weather was getting more and more hot and the temples required us to take a long walk, many of us stayed back in the air-conditioned bus. There were some stalls for tourists to buy Goan stuff in case you were interested.
We also went to a wax museum and scary house. At first, we thought it belonged to the Goa Government but later realised that it was a private venture of 2 houses. The only commendable thing was the powerful AC inside the wax museum!! Not recommended at all.
The last stop for this 1-day bus tour was the river cruise. We had recently done a beautiful and scenic river cruise on Kerala's backwaters, so skipped this one after seeing the terrible crowd there. We returned to our resort on our own and spent the evening on 'our' beach and hotel premises.
Since we were staying at North Goa, we decided to rent a bike on our third day and explore this part of Goa at our leisure. Junior was most excited seeing the Honda Activa as we do not have a 2-wheeler back home and he has hardly sat a few times on others' bikes. We basically roamed around with the wind in our hair and the sun on our faces.
Saw the Aguada Fort, which can also be viewed from our resort at a distance. It is situated alongside the Taj Vivanta property on the Sinquerim beach. This fort extends into the Arabian Sea and provides a beautiful scenic viewpoint for tourists.
Fort Aguada, Sinquerim Beach
We took it easy and rode along. Some time later, we reached the Calangute Beach where a lot of water sport activities like parasailing, boat rides etc were happening. The sand there was literally burning, obviously since it was noon. However, it looked like the crowd there did not feel the same. You got to be either drunk or drugged to be there at that time, enjoying!!
There were a lot of tiny shops ouside on the way to the Calangute Beach. So we decided to return in the evening when it was cooler, to check out the place. I mean, I wanted to come back later, not the other two anti-shopping Satans in my family.

Calangute Beach
This was also the day (the bike day) we all ended up badly tanned after having almost successfully escaped the sun at other times.
Headed back to the resort as 3 burnt, black crows and enjoyed the pool and 'our' beach as usual.
Below are some resort pictures. It was  a very clean and nice place. However, food options were limited and expensive for what they had to offer. The best-est part had to be the private beach area. We spent a large amount of our time every day, in the early mornings and late evenings, just chilling out, watching the beautiful sunset, and endlessly playing in the clean sand and water. Far from the madding crowd. Peaceful. Quiet. Clean. Beautiful.
Marquis Beach Resort, Candolim

Candolim Beach private area

The clean, white sun beds at the resort overlooking the serene Candolim Beach. 

Junior and Mr. B's cute little sand turtle that refused to get washed away!!!
Junior & Mr. B's Sand Turtle
Junior and my footprints - A walk to remember - simply because Junior wanted to run, I wanted to walk, and Mr. B decided to drown (I think), and me keeping the balance between the two. Pheww!!
Junior & Me

The perpetually-bored Junior after an orange candy

Fort Aguada, as seen at a distance, from our resort

Beautiful Sunsets, one day after another
And finally, me during the dolphin boat cruise, wondering if the dolphins are going to pop through the bottom of the boat!!!

That is the whole story (well, almost). Next morning, we reached the Dabolim airport, boarded our flight and reached home, safe and happy.
Before leaving for Goa, Mr. B had planned (whatever little we could) 2 things:
One, to go for the one-day snorkelling trip which we cancelled after reading some not-so-good reviews.
Two, to go the Floating Casino. Mr. B has already been to some casinos in the US and he wanted to see and show me one too. This plan also got cancelled as kids below 18 were not allowed. If only someone could adopt Junior for the day, we could have gone. But then, considering how grumpy and cranky he was, I doubt if anyone would. The only things Junior thoroughly enjoyed was seeing the dolphins,'our-beach' time and the bike ride.
We still enjoyed our trip. Hope you enjoyed reading it too :)

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