Before going to sleep last night, we had decided to visit two forts, Fort Aguada and and Fort Chapora. I don’t know what’s the logic, but English spellings of these and many other places like Mapusa is nothing like how locals pronounce or write on signboards in Devnagri script. Maybe it’s the same thing which tunred Mumbai to Bombay, Dilli to Delhi.

Fort Aguada and lighthouse

Fort Aguada and lighthouse

We woke up late and decided to visit Fort Agauda in morning and Chapora in evening. Our breakfast was in Vivenda Kafe, a small food joint on the way designed with a European ambiance. We had some sandwiches, avocado milkshake, coffee (or tea) and a delicious Goan dessert.  When we were hiring the car, the owner had suggested that we go on a 4-5 hours boat trip which included dolphin sighting, fishing, visit to some Bat island and a couple for other things for just INR 1600 per person. Almost every other shop had posters like this offering almost the same service at nearly same prices.On the way, we drove through the boatyard where tourists were lining up for the trip. The boats were just a marine version of the rickety public transport buses. Under powered, uncomfortable seating, too big, exposed and full of tightly packed people. One look and we both decided to skip the boat tour. Maybe there were some better services too, but we didn’t feel like searching for them.

A rare photo of me and wifey together

A rare photo of me and wifey together

Fort Aguada was about half an hour drive away with only 2 turns. According to historical sources and signboards, there was a fresh water spring inside, water from which was used to replenish stocks of various ships which docked there.  There is also a old disused lighthouse which is closed for visitors.  The water storage tanks are also not accessible and the visitors can only climb up the walls for the view. Personally for me, it was a bit of let down as the view was nothing special. It wasn’t really bad but was nothing more than a little bit of altitude near the sea. Most places of interest , atleast to me were closed off. But the Indian tourists didn’t seem to mind it and were clicking pictures aplenty.

We had a short nap after coming back to hotel and went on to visit Fort Chapora which was made famous by some movie shoot. The place is nothing more than ruins of boundary wall which is surprisingly intact while there is no trace of any man made structure inside them. I tried searching but couldn’t find anything. It didn’t look like the place was excavated or given any attention by archaeologists. Considering the history behind the place, it was a bit of let down, but the views were fantastic. There is no path left from road to the fort which sits atop a small hill. So people just climb up which way they like to the entrance. Like many other tourist places, local Indian tourists were hell bent on making this place another dumpyard by dumping copious amounts of bottles, cans and plastic. So called Youngistan crowd which formed the bulk of visitors is as idiotic as their pot bellied parents.

View of beach from fort Chapora

View of beach from fort Chapora

I climbed up the wall and went a bit down the hill to get a better view and was rewarded by the scenery in picture. The beach was just below and was probably accessible by foot. I asked wifey to come, but she preferred to stay on the wall. A very strong breeze was blowing by this time. After taking some pictures, I walked too the adjacent ridge and stayed there for a while taking in the view.  Visibility wasn’t that great though, probably due to haze. Walking back, I heard bird calls of 2-3 birds but was unable to spot them. Only sign of any animal life were a few burrows here and there, most probably rats.

While we were driving back, we realised that our train tickets to Mumbai were not getting confirmed and we had to take a bus. I tried Redbus.in which had a number of options, but the actual timings differed from what was provided on website. So we went to a bus operator’s office to confirm bus tickets. We had a flight to catch at 9 am and only one bus had suitable timings. Even that bus had only a few seats left due to the long weekend effect. That part done, we went to Fisherman’s Cove for dinner. A live band was playing Hindi and English songs and there was only one corner table left. We managed to change that later. For dinner, we ordered pasta, some local fish curry and some other stuff which I don’t remember. The service was fast and efficient and the food was OK.

 

Fort Chapora from the end of ridge

Fort Chapora from the end of ridge

As we had still quite a bit of fuel left in the car and this being our last night in Goa, we decided to visit Baga beach. Reaching there was not an easy task with confusing roads, closed off routes and crowds. The place is just a typical party thing with a night club just behind the beach. Almost every single restaurant on the beach had a dance floor and people dancing on the same Hindi, Punjabi, English songs. Very loud, distracting and nothing like the other places we visited earlier.  To make things interesting, a large number of people were lying here and there passed out after drinking too much or snorting something potent. Probably a nice place for certain kind of party people, but not for me. We walked along the waves for a while which pushed us off our feet 4-5 times and then drove back to hotel.

Reaching back to our hotel, we packed up our stuff and went off to sleep. Next morning, we walked to Candolim beach and to have a late breakfast on the beach. Our bus left at 4 pm, so we had a lot of time. On the way, we stopped for a few minutes in a small shop run by a young girl from Karnatka and ended up buying some more clothes,  hippy jewelery kind of stuff.

Sea on our first day in Goa

Sea on our first day in Goa

Upon reaching the beach, we found a restaurant and grabbed a table. I got a squid dish and wifey ordered some kind of biryani. Latter was completely inedible and we returned it. Squid was only marginally better.   Walking back, we stopped a restaurant on main street, Bob’s Inn to eat something. Later on, went back to our hotel for rest and freshening up. We had checked out in the morning, but they kept the room for us . Few minutes after 3 pm, we caught the taxi to Mapusa where we were supposed to catch the bus. The bus was Mercedes but not very comfortable. There were 3 rest stops including one for dinner and we reached Mumbai at about 5:30 am. Spent a couple of hours with family there after which they dropped us at the airport. The flight back landed right on time, a few minutes in advance I think, but the drive back home took longer.

Over all a great vacation in a great place. I will definitely try to visit Goa again and explore some other places , specially southern parts which we skipped this time. Bucket list includes boat trip, para sailing and couple of other activities and places.

 

 

We had planned to stay in Armabol beach in Jamaica’s beach lodge Cabo Wabo, who I met for the first time in Spiti . As we were visiting right at the end of tourist season, he was in process of winding down his operations for the season, but still was of great help. He arranged for a driver who met us on Madgaon railway station to take us to Arambol.

On way to Arambol from Madgaon

On way to Arambol from Madgaon

Even he was there before train arrived. Everything working better than just being on time !

Distance from Madgaon to our destination Arambol is about 67 km but driving there took nearly 2 hours. The roads and even highways in Goa are narrow and we were able to touch 60 kmph speed only for a few seconds in some small stretches.  The Goan towns are just like other small towns elsewhere in India with a mix of old and new. Greenery and new constructions in competition all around. But the old houses are very beautiful, have a lot of greenery and plants and people seemingly prefer natural growth of plants instead of trimmed gardens with grass and flowers. I liked it a lot.

Arambol beach, Goa

Arambol beach, Goa

We reached Arambol in about 2 hours and were greeted by Jamaica, his wife and little daughter who had just turned 6 months old.  We sat in his shack’s restaurant and enjoyed view of the sea and nearly empty beach. It was my first time on a beach but I  waited for a while before going further. The train and road journey were a bit tiring and we wanted to wait for sun to go down and have something to eat. We had a drink of Teem, which I haven’t seen for a very long time anywhere else.  After lunch , we went to our beach shack for a change of clothes and a short nap.

Armabol is a small fishing village in north Goa and is not as commercialised as many other places are. Most residents of the village make their living by fishing and earnings from tourism. A few have opened up fairly well stocked small shops, but nothing too fancy. People who own land near beach, rent it out to people like Jamaica who operate beach shacks, restaurants etc. from October till March. Rest of year is too hot or rainy for most tourists. A larger number of tourists come from Russia, but this season was a lean one due to conditions there.

View of Jamaica's Cabo Wabo Beach lodge

View of Jamaica’s Cabo Wabo Beach lodge

After a bit of rest we changed our clothes, grabbed the camera and ran out of the cottage to the sea. There were a few people, a majority  foreigners doing their beach things like enjoying a swim, running, making sand castles etc. A few were para-sailing too. The sand was hot, water warm and the weather was beautiful with white clouds, sun on horizon and only the sound of wind and surf. I don’t know how to swim and was carrying a camera , so couldn’t go much further. When you are standing in the water, waves going back take away sand from feet and feeling it for the first time was trippy and enjoyable.

First marine life that I noticed were small white crabs trying to hide in sand. Picked up a few and had fun scaring wifey with them. Don’t worry, I just put them on my palm to take a closer look and put them back in to the sea without any harm. Later on, we took a walk along the shore towards north.  While taking pictures, I managed to get a bit of sand behind shutter button, making it stuck and the camera inoperable for a few days. Had to use the smaller point and shoot thing for most of the trip from that point onwards. After coming back from the walk, I put the camera back in shack and joined Jamaica and family on the beach. This time, we went a bit deeper and the waves were fairly strong which lifted us off our feet quite a few times.

A small white crab

A small white crab

Dinner was cooked by the skeletal staff which was there to help Jamaica with winding down operations and take care of a few guests still living there.  Me and Jamaica sat down for a while and talked about business and what could we do in Goa for rest of the days.  There was only one guest left in a beach hut and she seemed a bit reluctant to leave. Can’t say that I didn’t understand why. The place was too good. We were fairly tired and went off to sleep right after. After all is said and done, I enjoyed sea almost as much I enjoy mountains. Great day.