Traveling to Goa
One of the most favorite destinations to visit in India….yes, it’s a trip to Goa….the place with clean blue seas and pristine white sand beaches calling out to you. Normally there is an annual vacation taken every year in October where we try to visit a different destination every time. However in 2009 we decided to postpone it and the vacation was slated towards end December with the New Years Eve to be spent in Goa. It turned out to be a good decision but then a very expensive one.
Typically the hotel industry categorizes their tariffs on a seasonal basis with the period from 1st Oct to 24th Dec being high season and from 25th Dec till 10th Jan is peak season where all prices skyrocket….a decent 4 star hotel which would normally cost me about Rs 4k was now being quoted at Rs 20K ……and what surprised me more than the increase of the prices was the absolute non availability of rooms. Normally, I plan my holidays 2-3 months in advance such that I get to do some research and this kind of time period allows me for some bargain hunting. But then, surprise surprise….due to the peak season there were no rooms available in any of the hotels located on the beaches of Goa…now, I wouldn’t want to have a room located 5 kms away from my favorite beach. Finally I got a breakthrough in one of the smaller hotels located on Calangute beach where there was a last minute cancellation and with the beach a mere 300 mtrs I couldn’t have asked for more and closed the deal at Rs 5k per night. This was expensive….it wasn’t a star hotel and no b/f was included….I guess the same room would probably deserve nothing more than Rs 1k per night in the normal season. But then there was no point in cribbing.
The distance from Bangalore to Goa s about 590 kms and this was a bit too much for me to cover in a single stretch….probably some ten years back it wouldn’t have mattered but with the family I wouldn’t want to rush. So, we took a detour and drove from Bangalore to Mangalore (about 350 kms) and then from Mangalore to Goa (again about 350 kms) the next day. The drive on the 1st leg is peaceful and enjoyable till you reach the ghat section and then the nightmare begins….whatever mileage has been clocked is down the drain as the average speed on the ghats gets reduced to between 10-20 kmph…..the roads are in a terrible condition (most of the year, I am later informed) and the driving becomes a pain. The journey from Mangalore to Goa is much more enjoyable and the drive along the sea coast really compensates for the extra miles covered on this route.
We reached Goa and what’s the best thing to do…..well, just dump your bags in the room and head out for the beach…..and what lovely weather, feet digging deep into the sand and the sound of waves crashing onto the shore. There are a lot of shacks on the beaches which with their attentive staff ensure that you are never short for the glass of chilled beer or butter fried prawns. They are not too expensive and what better place than the shacks which offer you reclining chairs, letting you dig your feet into the sand and just relax.
There are a number of good beaches in Goa and I strongly feel that before you decide on the accommodation it is vital that you select the beach that suits you and what kind of activity are you really looking at….I mean what sense would it make to keep commuting from your hotel to the beach that you would like to idle your day at. There are some good sites that give a comparison of the beaches in Goa and what to expect in these places. In my research I narrowed down to Calangute as this happens to be one of the beaches where there is quite a bit of activity but again not overdone….with the family out to enjoy, sticking to a exclusive or a lonely beach was not my idea of fun. In this beach the coastal shelf is quite gradual which makes it attractive for families with small children. Check out this link for some guidance on the beaches in Goa http://www.tripcrafters.com/travel/top-5-beaches-of-goa-india
What better way to spend the day than to engage in some great water sports and we had a great time doing the rounds of water scooters, para sailing, banana boat rides and dolphin watching trips. It was fun….no; it was great fun to be in Goa. The New Years Eve had a fantastic display of fireworks and the entire coast line seemed to light up and every now and then it would draw oohs and aahs from the crowd. It was one of the most interesting new years eve……the sky was filled with fireworks and not even a black spot in the sky.
On the return journey we decided not to take the route via Mangalore but then travel direct from Goa to Bangalore and here again the drive is quite enjoyable till the time you hit the ghat section…..I mean the roads are in such a terrible state that at times it was better to drive off the road rather than on it. Having covered about 315 kms in about 8 hours I desperately needed rest and we took a night halt at Davanagere and took the first half of the next day to cover the balance distance of about 270 kms to Bangalore.
Driving to Goa was a good experience and it’s always nice to have a transport at hand at the destination. Though I’ve been to Goa some 6-7 times now it’s a place you can never get bored of….the beaches, the sand, the shacks, the beer and of course, the golden butter fried prawns 🙂