Saturday, February 06, 2010

Greatest Of All - GOA

It may appear like I am no more blogging here, but I’m very much ‘active’. I sew million of thoughts together hundreds of times, but they never got expressed into words. I have had a very hectic 3 months – work, travel, books, movies….I did it all…and ironically, what I did not do, is what I love the most…write!

Last couple of months have been good. First there was a quick vacation to the romantic city, Udaipur and last week, we went to Goa (finally!).

Goa is just 12 hours journey from Pune but it took us ages to plan one. I’m not a sea person, I love the hills. I hate frolicking in water. I would much rather, sit back and marvel at the expanse of green hills or beautiful, faraway mountains. But this trip was fun.

It was a family visit – cum – pleasure trip. One day was entirely dedicated to spending time with family there. On day 2, when finally we picked up our bags and left for our resort, we decided on taking Non-Stop local buses, rather than a taxi. Buses take longer routes and take you around the place, while taxi would drop you to the resort without bothering much about so-called sight-seeing.

It was fun to catch a bus after so long, and it did not really matter because the bus had only one final stop. I was enamoured by the brightly colored houses, along the way. From dark purple to deep pink, from bright yellow to bottle green, there were brightest of hues. There were quite a few quaint churches, as well. Unfortunately, I did not get opportunity to visit any church this time, but next time I would surely keep more time on hand.

The bus journey till Madgaon, and then yet another bus to Panjim were one of the most cherishable memories of Goa! Our place of stay ‘Colonia Santa Maria’ was yet another beautiful colonial style resort. It was just 2 minutes away from the Baga beach. The rooms were cozy and comfortable. I was amazed to see that 80% of the crowd was of foreign tourists.

We hired an Activa and rode to Calangute beach. We, atleast I, had not planned on any water sport. But just as we entered the beach, we were continuously hounded by those people. So, we finally decided to go for Parasailing. We were taken on a boat towards a Motor boat, which was already inside. We had to shift into the bigger motor boat. There we took turns to go up and fly. That is what Parasailing is all about!

Soaked in salty water, we decided to make way for our resort. In the evening, we took a stroll on the Baga beach and it was one of the most picture-perfect, romantic moments of life. You look at the sea and even at night the ambience is breath-taking with chairs and tables lined up along the sea with cute candle-lights! I always pictured Goa as a noisy, crowded place but all such moments made this trip worthwhile.

We went back to our room quite late. Not really wanting to go to the restaurant, we ordered Sandwiches and Tea for dinner at our room! Our room balcony overlooked the pavement and you could listen to the live music playing at the restaurant, so there was really no need to go there.

Next morning, we returned to enjoy the sun and to look at the mesmerizing beauty that is the Sea. So far, I had always associated beaches with noisy, cramming people, a lot of garbage and humidity. Goa was absolutely the opposite. Looking at the blue-green color of the sea, the short and high waves, everything was breath-taking and beautiful!

Our return trip was quite an adventure too. When we sat for dinner at 1.15 pm, our return tickets in Train were not confirmed. So, we were looking for bus tickets. The Sleeper, Semi-Sleepers were not available. The basic AC Volvos were charging 1400 bucks for a single ticket. We thought why don’t we hire a car, if it anyways will go upto Rs 3000. We got the shock of our lives when neither of the cabbies was ready to go below Rs 9000 for the trip. I even told them “we are from India only”. And suddenly, at about 1.40 pm, we came to know that our Train tickets were confirmed. We got our ordered food packed, called a cab and checked out from our room - all in a frenzy. The station at Vasco was about 1 hour away. Since we booked on sleeper, so that atleast we can get some confirmed tickets, so we had to bother about blankets as well. Finally, we reached station at 3 pm for the 3.10 pm train!

We had some interesting co-passengers. Since, those were foreign tourists’ quota seats, we had only foreigners as co-passengers. The one guy, who started with us from Vasco, was from Chili and has been traveling since last 1.5 years! From Greece to South America to entire Europe to India and then plan was to go to Nepal and few more countries. We asked the obvious question – “don’t you work?” He said, “I worked for 4 years, saved some money and started traveling.” Then we said, “so you must have saved a lot of money!”. He said, “the idea is to travel cheap. If you are careful in what you eat, where you stay and how you travel, then you can save a lot of money!” Great wisdom indeed, and I have seen this in a lot of foreign tourists who come to India.

As a culture, we don’t encourage traveling without proper plan, while these foreign travelers, just go on their own (many times alone) to explore unknown countries and unknown culture. Really inspiring indeed! I would not go on unknown excursions but I surely understood the advantage of traveling cheaper.

If I look at this Goa trip; since we booked tickets etc at the last moment, we spent 40% of all expenses only in traveling, another 30% in hotel room and rest all miscellaneous. Just 2 day trip! In fact, we stayed 1 day at home and only 1 day at the resort and ended up spending almost 14-15K!

Well, this is just our 5th trip in 2 years, and we are still learning. I want to travel across India and then, Europe ;-)

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