Well, Goa is one of my favorite travel destinations. I have been to Goa 4 times already but I am still ready to pack stuff whenever the opportunity calls!
This time me and my cousin(my childhood buddy) joined together to explore Goa for the second time together! We both together had visited Goa about 15 years ago when he had just got married. Things were different then, we were young and had no strings attached. We had less money and a Maruti Omni. So it was very exciting for us to revisit the history again with more loved ones together.
We decided to drive in two cars, me on my Swift and him on his Duster.
Accommodation: We booked a service apartment at Benaulim beach apartment called ‘Florida Garden’s. This was a two bedroom apartment with amenities such as washing machine, microwave, TV and hot-water. Both the bedrooms with AC and even the living room had AC attached. Kitchen was fully furnished with almost all kinds of vessels and dedicated ‘beer glasses’ Yep, in Goa I don’t think there is any house without beer glasses! It also had a shared swimming pool.
This trip we wanted to skip the general attractions which every tourist bus would have taken us to, Goa is generally beaches, food and drink place. If you miss them then you would miss what Goa has to offer. So we mix and matched POIs as much as possible.
So keep reading…
Day 1: The Drive
The journey started at 9:30 AM from Mangalore. The never ending HW work is still in progress on NH66, there are good bad and ugly patches to take care of.
First stop was at Anegudde Temple, around 11:30AM, finished the dharshan and quickly resumed the voyage.
Note: There was a issue with toilet facilities here last year we visited, but now its taken care. If at all anyone is visiting this temple make use of the toilet break also here.
Now comes the ‘Maravanthe Beach’, you can see Arabian sea at full glory. You get coconut water to quench your thirst. Time to take pictures!
We reached ‘Murudeshwar Temple‘ around 2 PM where we decided to take lunch break. We skipped the temple as we have seen it many times.
Next stop planned was at Karwar. There is a warship museum right on the HW66. There is a charge of 15Rs and its not bad. Since that ship was used in Indo-Pak war it has a lot of historical value. Inside they have a short show about Indian Navy stuff. Can visit almost all the area of the ships living decks and engine room. It was about to sunset and lots of picture taking opportunities. I think this is a must visit place, especially if you are travelling with kids.
Now the final leg of the journey towards Goa begins.
Reached Madgaon aka Margao around 8 PM, the owner of the apartment we rented was contacted and was prompt to reach us in time. Took us to the apartment and were able to dump our stuff and got refreshed. About the apartment complex; it was mostly filled with foreigners. Has swimming pool and guarded compound. Very decent and secure. Costed us about 3500 Rs/Night including two bedrooms(AC), living(AC), kitchen and two full bath rooms. Car parking was also provided.
Now, the first night dinner at Goa, definitely most exciting part of being in Goa Headed to Benaulim beach which was less than a KM from our apartment. Couple of restaurants around and its more of a secluded place. Walk from there you would reach Colva beach which is more tourist oriented. We choose the ‘Pedro’s Restaurant’ based on our local research, the food was good, prices were not too bad, a Non-veg dish would cost about 150 Rs. And I take that as a acceptable bench mark as per my pocket depth
Prepared our breakfast in house! as all required items such as milk, bread and eggs purchased previous night. Thanks to the fully furnished kitchen.
We wanted to cover some POIs at south Goa side, but we started bit late around 10 AM, first stop was Bogmallo beach, I actually wanted to check about the scuba diving activity. But then I found that you have to book the package previous day and its almost a full day activity so dropped that idea. Beach was too hot and I could not even spend a couple of minutes on the sun. So we headed to the ‘Naval Museum’ which is about 1 Km from the beach. There is a entry fee of about 20 Rs and they have bunch of helicopters, airplanes and fighter jets on display. Since there is a renovation going on inside we could not go in. But kids enjoyed the display items outside. Took lot of pictures and there is a small canteen where you can get ice cremes or juices.
It was lunch time and we searched for the restaurants and finally found one good place called Lagosta Restaurant & Bar, the food was good, but there were not much customers for some reason. Cost-wise I think it was 150 rs a dish. I recommend this restaurant if you are in Vasco side.
Next stop was famous Colva beach, did some roadside shopping and now the beach time! Enjoyed the beach till the lifeguards came up to us and literally pushed us out of water.
Rushed back to apartment and freshened up and again back to Colva for dinner. We choose ‘Portofino Restaurant’ which is less than a KM from the Colva beach. Basically this place is filled with foreign tourists, the food was excellent and severed professionally. Service was fast too. Here my standard non-veg costed about 170Rs, but I felt its money worth spent.
Back to apt.
In-house breakfast was prepared and served. Saved some money for later
We wanted to cover things in old Goa and Panjim. Our first POI was ‘Mahalasa Temple‘. We reached the temple around 11 AM after the winding drive. But the road condition was good always. For some reason my GPS navigator directed me to enter from the backside of the temple. Advantage was we got nice parking area just at the temple!. Lot of history and story behind this temple. One interesting fact is…
The temple is famous in Goa for its huge brass bell. The bell does not have a ringer. The ringer was attached only when somebody wanted to testify. It was believed that the goddess will punish the person by killing the person in three days who lied while ringing the bell. The belief was so strong that during the Portuguese rule the testimony in the temple was considered acceptable in the court of law.(Copied from Wiki)
Next point was the old Goa sector, where you have couple of churches and the museum from Portuguese era. There is some kind of renovation work going on in St Xavier’s church. Been there many times so nothing new. But the architecture of the buildings and size of things are massive and very impressive. Must see place at Goa for new comers. It was almost lunch time, still we avoided any restaurants in that area as its overcrowded tourist area.
Next point was ‘Calangute beach’, we reached the beach around 2:30 and were desperate for food. For a change we decided to search for a pure veg restaurant. Found a perfect veg restaurant called ‘Hotel Plantain Leaf’ right on the main road leading to Calangute beach! Had my favorite ‘Thali’ which was about 100Rs. The food was excellent. Nice ambiance and people around us.
Walked on the streets, Calangute is one of the busiest beaches in Goa. Lots of traffic and people. People drinking beer on the main roads is very common here. Just when we reached the beach it started raining all of a sudden.
Waited for sometime but no luck. Instead of wasting time we thought we will drive towards ‘Donna Paula‘. So skipped the beach and headed towards Donna Paula another land mark in Goa.
Parking at Dona Paula is still a big issue. There is no arrangement for parking, during busy hours its better to park further away from this place and walk in rather than get stuck in a narrow road and waste your valuable travel time.
Just made a quick stopover at Miramar Beach, where children played cricket and other games, it was already sunset. Visibility was bad. Beach too did not look very clean and there was a muddy smell. So we did not dare to get in to any water activity.
Now the search for the next big item, that is restaurant began. After trying lot of options, I found there is a good restaurant called ‘Ananthashram’ at Vasco. Yes its very far, and I had read couple of good reviews on various forums. So everyone decided to have lunch there and we drove off to Vasco!
Reached ‘Ananthashram’ at 8:30 PM, it was all crowded and we had to wait in a line. Has AC and non AC sections and AC section is better if you are with the family. The food was just exceptional! Everything we ordered was emptied in no time. Anyone heading to Goa don’t miss this delight! But they close at around 11 PM, we learnt it the hard way the last day!
Headed back to apt, end of another fine day
Today everyone looked tired and lazy. So did not plan anything hectic. Headed to pool with the family. Lot of time spent in the pool. Pool is very well maintained so stayed in water for long time.
After the pool session we wanted to try out some authentic Goan food for lunch. Found that there is one famous restaurant called Longuinhos in the heart of Margao. So we went in. Some of my family members did not like the food but I liked it. Most of the dishes were with the pepper flavor and went well with me.
This restaurant was established in 1950, and the setup of the hotel is kept as old as possible. It looked more of a movie ‘God Father’ set. All furniture tables etc are old and takes you back in time. They also have pastries and various baked items. If you want to try the authentic food I think this is the place. Very economical too.
Now the ladies wanted to do roadside shopping and men wanted to take rest! So dropped one enthusiastic group at the road side shopping and we quickly headed to your apt for a quick nap. Then it started to rain heavily accompanied with the thunder! We had planned to spend the evening at beach, but it rained really heavy and opportunity was missed.
In the evening we headed towards Colva beach in search of restaurant for dinner. Based on our research we were told to go to place called ‘Kentucky’ at the beach. So we tried this place. This place has a live music which is very good. But for the food part it was total flop show. Things were very expensive and the quality of food was very poor. So advising anyone to avoid this place.
So basically not so productive day. Headed back to apt
It is the last day, so we wanted to make sure its properly utilized
First we went to ‘Science Museum’ at Panaji. This is a science museum with lot of ‘do yourself’ stuff. It was more than we expected. Different scientific concepts were explained and could be explored. At Bangalore the Vishwesharayya Science Museum is much bigger and better but this one was not bad either. We also went to see the 3D movie inside which was really good. There is also a planetarium where usual stuff in the sky is explored.(the quality of the projection was not that good) But in the end everyone liked it. There is dedicated parking space with in the campus. There is no canteen inside so take eatables if planning to stay long time here. For all the activities it costs about 45Rs/person, and I think its worth more than that.
It was about 4PM by the time we came out. We navigated to the nearest KFC(thanks to GPS navigation). Next we wanted to visit the lake called ‘Mayem Lake’ at Bicholim. It was about 40 Km from Panjim, since we had visited this place about 15 years ago, we wanted to see it again. So the long journey began. There are lots of winding roads to cover and no proper road signs. So basically if you don’t have GPS assistance, please don’t drive. Its confusing. So keep plenty of driving time in spare while visiting Mayem Lake.
By the time we reached the spot it was already 6 PM. Children wanted to do Kayaking. It costs about 200Rs/ person. The printed information said 300Rs/boat(a boat takes 2 people) But the people incharge there, said was 200 Rs/Person but anyway after driving so long we did not want to disappoint the kids. So four of our kids went Kayaking for about 45 minutes. While we enjoyed the view. It is still a very nice place to spend time but the driving time is too much IMO.
On the way back, someone wanted to visit Mapusa. About 15 years ago when we visited Mapusa there was a shopping area so we wanted to see if it still existed. Also it was almost in the direction of our travel. So headed to Mapusa. But by the time we reached there all the shops were closing and there was nothing special to shop for. Finally we ended up buying the fruits there.
As a last dinner at Goa all our family members wanted to visit ‘Ananthashram’ at Vasco again. Unanimously we agreed and headed towards Vasco.
Now here is the interesting part…
As I was crossing the Zuari bridge, I suddenly felt a vibration in the engine compartment of my Swift. I did not know what to do. Its a busy street with lots of traffic still I tried to drive, but I felt like I was loosing power! Got down to 2nd gear and cleared the bridge. Switched on my hazard light. My cousin in the Duster who was following me knew that something was wrong but hesitantly just followed me. I pulled over at a safe place on NH17.
This was my first experience of car trouble in India. It had happened once in the US, but there it’s a different story-one call takes care of everything. But now this is India, and I am in a different state and with kids and family in this very lonely place and I knew no one here in Goa. Any way I called ‘Mandovi Motors Mangalore’ but no response as it was about 9:30 PM. I then placed a call to one of the service adviser’s mobile, he advises me to call the 18004200, still was skeptical but called the number. I was attended promptly. They took my contact and approximate location and they said someone will call back with in an hour!. Since they said an hour I expected to say there now more than couple of hours, its India right? With in 20 minutes I get call from Maruti Goa, they took the exact position of my vehicle and the symptoms. And they said that its going to be 350Rs for attending and if the car has to be towed its going to be 60Rs/KM. And they are going to tow it to Margao, which I gladly agreed. Within 30 minutes the help arrived. And they checked the vehicle, within minutes they noted that the engine mounting bolt had come out!. I didn’t know how or what, but the whole bolt was out, hanging and this resulted in engine vibration. They tightened it. Test drove and it was perfect! Paid some appreciation to the techies who helped me(even though they refused)
So story ends here..I am extremely happy with the service Maruti offered when needed. I don’t know how that would have worked in another car company. But that’s the strength of Maruti. Since I am waiting for my next car purchase, now I am more pulled towards the Maruti again. My wife almost made up her mind about the Maruti as the next car!
Ok back to our trip, still our people wanted the ‘Ananthashram’ so headed to Vasco. Reached the place around 11:10 PM but disappointment was waiting for us. The place was closing. They were not allowing any new customers and finishing off with the customers. . Anyway can’t blame them, decided to find the next alternative and luckily found Cafe Karma very close to where we were. This place is fast food kind of joint, but very nicely decorated and looked very nicely designed. Food supplied also tasted very good and very quality oriented. They had milk shakes and bread products, cakes and what not. The pricing was also very good. So we finally had our last meal for this trip taken care of. This place is open 24X7 which is a very good thing. In case anyone looking for late night food just head over here.
Now we got back to our apartment, it was very hectic but productive day for us. Lot of action and kids enjoyed.
Day 6: Going back home.
Finally the day had come to return home, did all the packing room cleaning etc and handed over the keys to the owner. Paid final adios to “Florida Gardens”. Did last minute shopping (You know what that could be) Hint: Goa Stuff
Some of the pictures on the way back.
Speed breakers on the road!
Our war-ship stood where we left it waiting for more people to come, see and enjoy her glory, but we just move on to another place ….
Scenic view of Karwar is no less than Goa but philosophy of the people and governments are different.
We stopped over at a vegetarian restaurant called Hotel Panduranga on NH66 at Kumta. Again ‘Thali’ for me and it was fantastic. They also have boarding facilities. Looked very clean and nice.
Finally good bye shot, just to mark the good ending, taken at Maravante Beach.
Total distance covered : 1150 Kms.
Till next time, ‘Drive Safe”, Hope you enjoyed reading our Goa trip.