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  • Sujay Jamkhandi

A second successive birthday in Goa

Following my solo trip to Goa in 2013, I was eager to celebrate my birthday again in Goa. The beauty of this beach state just captivates me every-time I visit it and leaves me yearning to visit again and again.

This time though, the trip was not a solo trip as I was accompanied by one of my best friend who had mandated that I should not be enjoying the beauty of Goa alone 😛

The trip was as I always prefer, a completely unplanned trip for we had booked only the onward and return journey tickets. There were absolutely no other plans made including for the places to visit, where to stay etc. So as the journey began, we had booked train tickets only up to Londa from Bangalore. We planned to either catch a passing train or board a local bus to travel from there to Madgaon. Fortunately though, we were able to get on to a passing train, fortunate I say as we wanted to catch a glimpse of the famous Dudhsagar falls which would have been possible only through a train journey. The journey that began from Bangalore at 20:15 in the night ended at Madgaon by around 12:00 the following day. It was only after reaching Madgaon Railway station and hiring couple of bikes that we left to deciding which way to head to. As we both prefer calm and less crowded places, we decided to remain in South Goa itself and we made a deal that we shall visit only those beaches which we had not visited earlier with Palolem beach as the exception. Every since my last year’s visit to Palolem and being enthralled by the beautiful beach, there was no way I was gonna miss visiting it again 🙂

From Madgaon, we decided to visit Benaulim beach. I had a flying visit the last time and had no real stop over at this beach, so this time around had to make sure to spend time at this beach. After a look through at the various shacks around the beach, we decided to stop over at the Johncy bar and restaurant. The lunch and the cocktail served to us quite fantastic and had us enjoying it to the last bite and the last sip. Following the lunch, after relaxing for some time, we headed into the waters. The beach waters to our surprise was completely tranquil with no real splashing of waves and instead had a calm, serene and peaceful waves splashing at us. After spending close to couple of hours in the waters, which helped us to completely unwind from all the professional and personal life back at home, we headed out to explore the next location. Our next stop was at the Vaddie beach. However, this was a very short stop as we didn’t find anything interesting here apart from few fishing boats and few foreigners here and there.

The stopover at the night was decided to be at Varca beach. We had to search quite a bit for the accommodation here as they were not many options near by and certainly not the ones which fit into our budget. After lot of scouting around, we managed to get a rented apartment which to our surprise was actually quite big for the rent charged. Our dinner for the night had a Chinese menu with the famous Goa Cashew Feni to accompany. Getting up early the next morning, we spent almost the entire morning up to lunch time in the beach waters. The beach waters here were slightly different to the one in Benaulim. Though the waters were quite peaceful there were occasional strong waves coming in to surprise us. We had a good swimming experience here and my friend who didn’t know swimming earlier was able to enjoy it the most, thanks to the peaceful waters. The sea bed being quite flat, there was not danger of stepping into any uneven depths which made it even more safe to swim around. There were quite a decent crowd at the beach with majority of the people being foreigners. A brunch was soon followed up with relaxation at the rented apartment.

Early in the evening, our drive began towards the more southern parts of the state. We reached Cavelossim quite later in the evening with several pit stops in between. Cavelossim is a bigger commercial center with several large beach resorts present here including Radisson, Dona Sylvia, Haathi Mahal and many others. This quite evidently meant that it would be difficult to find a budget accommodation place in the location. With close to an hour spent in searching for accommodation, we finally decided staying over at the Cardozo Inn which seemed to be best option available for decent budget. Having finalized the stay, we strode out to the beach for an evening walk and also to capture some snaps. We had a light snack at the Dom’s Beach Shack. There wasn’t much variety of delicacies to offer at this place. We later had dinner at an Italian Cuisine and our menu included delicious pasta and mocktails before retiring for the night.

The next morning the beach was again spent lazying around on the beach till noon. Of all the beaches we visited, this was probably the more crowded one as expected due to the posh resorts and commercial centers. A brunch soon followed with some Pizzas and Hot cup of tea at the Jazz’s Inn. I recommend anyone who visits Cavelossim to try this place. The food and rock music played blends well with the crowd and the atmosphere around. As it was quite hot weather in the afternoon, we had to relax at the Inn before moving on to the next stop at Agonda. The bike ride to Agonda was quite enthralling with the beautiful winding lonely roads adding a bit to the adventure. However, en-route through some uphill sections of the road, my bike refused to make the climb easily and literally had to push it while driving to reach the top. Probably the vehicle was need of some refreshment as well 😛

We reached Agonda late in the evening and found an accommodation close to the beach quite easily at the Cuba Agonda Beach Huts. We had some salads for dinner by the beach. The dinner experience was quite fantastic as the beach was completely deserted with probably just another 2-3 couples visible. The only noise heard during the dinner time was of the sea waves splashing on the rocks along the sea shore. The night being a new moon and a clear sky, added to the beauty of the atmosphere. We retired to our rooms to watch movie. As the clock struck 12, the birthday celebrations began. It was only after looking at the mobile for any wishes that I realized that we had been out of network coverage for quite a long time and there was no way that I would be receiving the expected messages and calls at that time.

As the day dawned, we headed to the sea waters. The sea here was drastically different to the other beaches we had visited earlier in the trip. The waves here were quite huge, violent, unrelenting and slightly dangerous too. The magnitude of these waves forced us to not venture out too deep and we stayed just few 15-20 feet away from the sea shore. As the waves splashed and threw us all around for over two hours, we realized how different the nature of the sea is just a few km apart and also a broad shuddering image of how devastating the 2004 tsunami could have been for those who unfortunately suffered from it. We enjoyed a long game of pool at a nearby shack before heading to Palolem where I wanted to spend my birthday.

There is something about the beauty of the Palolem beach which makes me eager to visit it again and again. Be it the beautiful and safe waters, cleanliness on the beach, the serenity of the beach, the beautiful sunset view, the wonderful nightlife at the various shacks dotting the shore or the variety of cuisines available at the place, the reasons are many. The beach is about one mile long and is perfectly crescent-shaped. One can view the entire beach from either end. Both ends of the beach consist of rocks jutting out into the sea. The depth of the sea increases very gradually and the sea bed is as flat as a national highway. Even non swimmers can venture over 300 ft – 350 ft into the sea with the water levels reaching only up to the shoulder levels. The currents are never too rapid, there is no inward pull on the currents. Being less polluted one can even see fishes swimming by few feet away from you. I am quite sure that many would agree with my personal opinion that Palolem is probably one of the safest and cleanest beach in the whole state of Goa. With the large number of beach side huts available, finding cheap and comfortable accommodation is not much of a challenge here as well and one can quite easily just walk-in and find a place to stay. During off-season, the rates for staying at these huts can drop to as low as INR 400 – INR 500.

We settled at the Cleron Huts On The Beach, located almost at the center of the beach. Our lunch was at the famous Cafe Del Mar restaurant. The cocktail we had – Bloody Mary was awesome and tasted quite different to the ones had at other places previously. The food was quite delicious as well and made for a perfect lunch with a perfect beach setting. As expected, we had a photo shoot at this beach literally speaking capturing hundreds of snaps trying to test out each other’s photography skills. The evening waters of the sea were quite pristine and makes one feel to stay out in them for as long as possible. We headed quite deep but safely into the sea to the point where I was eager to count the number of steps from the shore. Though the number is not accurate, we were close to 600 steps in-to the waters from the shore edge and yet we were hardly covered up to the shoulders. With night setting in, the lifeguards had a tough time as well asking everyone to wind up for the day and settle along the shacks dotting the coast. Involuntarily getting out of the waters, we had a walk through the market, window shopping through several wonderful items put together on display by the various shops. Dinner was taken care with some yummy thin crust Pizza at the Cocktails & Dreams restaurant. The birthday was thus winded up at Palolem before retiring to the beds.

On the final day of our stay, an English breakfast was followed up more photo-shoots and memories getting captured in our minds along with the camera. We set out for our return at about 11.30 in the morning and visited couple of churches en route our way back to Madgaon.

The fascinating trip was not short of drama though as we were soon gonna experience! As we reached the dealer (Shree Damodar rent-a-bike) near Madgaon Railway station, to return our rented bikes, to our dismay, the shop was closed and close to 20 calls went unanswered by the dealer. We had to wait for over 30 mins for the dealer to finally pick our phone and reach the shop. We ended up having quite a heated argument with the guy as he was being quite rude at him being disturbed during afternoon time. In the melee, we released that our train was to depart in another 5-10 mins and we would have to run close to 1.5 km to reach the station. Fortunately for us, a passing army vehicle saw us running with all the luggage and offered to drop us to the station just in the nick of time. As we reached the station, more confusion was to await us. We were to board a direct train to Bangalore and the train stationed at the platform had the same train number but the destination as Nizammuddin instead of Bangalore!! We ended running up and down the entire length of the train only to realize that just the last couple of bogies were meant for passengers travelling to Bangalore!! These couple of bogies were to be detached and added to another passing train from Londa Junction. We were able to board the train finally just the signal turned green and the train started to move.

On our way back, we met a couple in our compartment who were travelling to Bangalore as well and we all together ended up playing UNO cards till late in the night and till the point of time where we had to doze off. The journey soon ended next day morning at Bangalore and before we parted to our home, we had a quick flashback at the awesome time spent in Goa and hoped to visit a new unknown destination, with no plans made again in the near future 🙂

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