Yeah! Believe it or not, I’m just back from yet another trip to Goa! I hadn’t had a clue about this trip till last week but opportunity knocked in and I was asked to attend a Seminar in Goa, with another friend from office. I was not too keen because I had just got back from Goa and secondly, I am too homebound. I hate leaving my home for long period. Quite recently, we had been on a holiday in Goa. Succeeding week, my hubby went on another office incentive trip and hey, while he was still there, I got the news that I have to attend this seminar in the week after that.
Nevertheless, what you gotta do is what you gotta do! Usually, when I had been reluctant in going on such trips, it has always turned out to be fun. So, I thought, let’s not think about it much, and just do it.
The journey to Goa was painful! I would say whoever thought that overnight buses are comfortable and most logical option, don’t know what they are talking about. It absolutely did not work for me! I had the most horrible experience of my life, and I’m still so much in pain because of that one journey!
Anyways, we reached Goa at 6.30 am, and checked into Hotel Mandovi. What can I say! The story goes that once this hotel was the pride of Panjim and even Lal Bahudar Shastri has stayed there during his visit. It is well located, facing the Mandovi River and the entire stretch of road around it, is a delight for any tourist or culture enthusiast. You just need to take a walk down the lane. There is the famous Ferry boats taking off from close by, the lanes are cosy and charming, reminiscent of old times with buildings of yesteryears lined up along the roads. There is Entertainment Society, Kala Kendra and a lot of branded stores too.
The first day we took a little time to get used to the fact that the hotel was not upto our expectations. My friend was keen on even trying to change the hotel, later in the day; but I was quite OK. The hotel obviously has seen better days, but the hospitality is good, bathrooms are good and location was perfect, since our seminar was at Goa Mariott, which is quite close. We did check out ‘Fidalgo’ in the evening but I did not find it too appealing. It is a typical modern hotel, and looks just like that. There is no charm. It could be anywhere in India. It is quite good but then it is not special. And yeah, though Mandovi definitely has seen better days, it still has that charm. I had no issues about it. It was cosy and comfortable!
The seminar used to stretch from 9 am till 6.30 pm during all three days. We used to rush back to the hotel, put on our sports shoes and quickly get off to do some shopping because shops in Goa get closed very, very early by any standards.
The first day, we strolled around the hotel, bought the usual dose of Kajus. Then my friend bought some cute, little clothes for her daughter, we bought a little bit of knick-knacks and settled for dinner at ‘Rajdhani’ (which is almost next to Mandovi Hotel). Filled with excruciating pain of last night’s journey and wearing heels for the whole day at seminar, I just wanted to doze off (which I did)!
The second day got a little better of us. We slipped into our shoes and walked down the lane to check out Mandovi market. I bought some wooden coasters (which I had been looking for quite sometime now) but it was surely overpriced. Bought it anyways. We also bought the cowboy hats for our husbands (now we really don’t know where they would wear it! Well, that’s what they need to figure out!) I also bought cute Hot Wheels car for my hubby (well, yeah, I collect books…he collects toy cars…big deal! To each, his own. ) We also bought Mario Miranda Postcards about Goan life from our Hotel bookshop. It is a set of 16 Black and white post cards, and absolutely adorable! I also bought a book on Goa lifestyle and culture, and a magnet with wooden auto rickshaw that said “Goa”. So we played “tourists” to the hilt. This time we settled for an open restaurant just opposite Hotel Mandovi called “Quarterdeck”. It is facing the sea and you can just look at the water for hours!
My friend was keen on the Ferry but I did not want to go so late in the night on our own. I admire her enthusiasm to try new things, but I’m a bit cautious by nature, so we gave it a miss.
The only thing which was missing from my list was a nice Mario Miranda Poster. I had seen one in BBC Good Homes, and I really wanted to get hold of one! I must say, I have been infinitely lucky in this one. By checking a lot from our local friends, we came to know that a retail store near our Hotel stocks those. That’s the reason I have no questions that there is God! We almost ran to the place after getting back from the last day at Seminar, I did not want to miss it after getting so close. I must say, the price was exorbitant, so we just settled for color Posters, which we can get framed later. At Rs 800 each, I think it was OK. I also loved a notebook there but I put it back looking at the price of Rs 600. They had truly interesting stuff.
I also had plans to strike a good deal for some handful of Archies comics with the raddiwallah, sitting next to our Hotel. I had seen Tinkle with him while crossing, but they were closed for Mahashivratri. Imagine!
Catching the return bus was another experience in itself. When at 8.45 pm, we reached the rickshaw stand to get a ride to catch the 9 o’clock bus, guess what! We were welcomed with no rickshaws!!! From somewhere, we located a private taxi, even had the guts to negotiate rates for the drop at that hour! I must confess, I was extremely scared of getting into that taxi. I am not the one to do something like this! But he did drop us to the place, only to see the back of our bus…………….leaving! I made quite a spectacle, running after the bus and even hitting on one side of the bus, but to no avail, the bus just wheezed off. I was totally aghast at what happened! We missed the bus! When I returned, there was another bus standing there. The driver checked with me, which bus were I looking for. I said, ‘sleeper’ and simultaneously realized that the one which was standing, actually was the Sleeper bus. See I did tell you, there is God! No doubts about that!
My friend had a great laugh at my expense but I really had no energy for finding another bus for our return journey! So, I was just happy to be in that bus! When we settled in, then did we see that it was 9 pm then, so that bus could not have been our bus anyways!
Well, I would say, it was quite a trip. We did so much in such little time. Let’s see when I return to Goa again. By the way, we totally missed the Carnival, which begins today right in front of our Hotel. Such losers! And we also missed the Gala Dinner at Cita de Goa, since we had to catch the bus back.