I Goa to Goa

11 Mar

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Arriving in Panji, Goa via Mysore is a total change in landscape and vibe. Immediately you feel that you are on vacation. The heat sticks, the air is salty and the palm trees all around are sure signs that the beach is awaiting.

Panji is a beautiful Portuguese influenced city. This once powerful epicentre is now a quietly decaying historic centre that is worth a short stay.

The accommodation varies from inexpensive and dingy to super modern and lush. On the lower end, it is easy to find a guesthouse that is under 1000RS per night. You will get a room with character that is clean and livable for a night or two.

There is not much to do in this city, but it is fun to check out the MG Road area (which is where I found a little guesthouse). This area is full of old and decaying Portuguese buildings, cute shops and some good eateries.

A walk along the waterfront is a nice way to see the sun setting and look out at the floating casino boats in the bay. Old Goa is supposed to be a good day trip, I didn’t go but heard it is good to look at if you are interested in that time period.

From Panji I continued to Vagator which is an easy 30 minute taxi ride. I liked the energy in this community and found a clean and quiet place to stay for 800RS per night. I got a bout of stomach sickness, so I didn’t explore too much. I would go back and see a bit more in the future.

After two nights in Vagator, I proceeded to Arambol which is in the north of Goa. I was going there for two reasons, one was to take a yoga course and the second is because it was recommended to me by quite a few people.

As soon as I reached Arambol, I felt I had made a mistake. According to the guide books, there are hundreds of beach huts to stay in. As of about two weeks ago, there was. Now however, the local government has sold the land to a private company and taken down all of the beach huts and restaurants that were previously illegally on the waters edge. As it turns out, this was a blessing because there were all night parties blasting trance music that penetrated the beach and surrounding communities.

There is still not a lack of extremely cheap and extremely bad accommodation. If your only concern is budget, you will have no problem finding something. If you are looking for something of quality, it is a tough task to find a place.

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After much hunting, I found a fantastic lake front hut. The owners turned their prawn harvesting lake into a majestic ashram style abode. They run regular yoga retreats and have a beautiful studio on the waters edge. The huts are beautiful and affordable. They are very specific about who they allow to stay here, if you are the partying type, this is not the place for you. Unfortunately they do not have a website, but the business name is Whispering Lakes Yoga Retreat Arambol. I originally was going to stay at Ashiyana, which has excellent reviews, but after touring the property I changed my mind. They are charging 200 times the price (literally) of any other yoga place and the rooms are just okay.

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The food is another challenge. If you don’t want to get sick, be careful where you eat here. I ended up eating almost all my meals at Atman Beach Resort where they have a simple and fresh menu. The place is funky, filled with the owners original artwork and the huts look quite nice too.

The best part of my trip was my five day Iyengar Yoga course. The teacher is a longtime student of BKS Iyengar and developed his own offshute, The Himalayan Iyengar Institute. They have two branches, one here in Goa and one in Dharamsala. The five day introduction course is a three hour per day intensive introduction to this style of yoga. I truly enjoyed my experience and would highly recommend it. Image

The best way to get around this area is by rental scooter. Of course in India, I would never recommend driving, but Arambol is the one exception. You can easily get around and it is relatively safe to drive here. You won’t go anywhere without seeing a foreigner on a scooter – whizzing through the Goan hills is a experience you won’t want to miss.

The beaches are absolutely beautiful in this part of Goa. I found a more secluded beach called Ashvem Beach that is more Euroupean in feeling and cleanliness.

Overall Goa is beautifully tropical and full of surprises. I like to call it “India Light”.

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One Response to “I Goa to Goa”

  1. Lakshmi Loves To Shop March 12, 2013 at 2:15 am #

    Love the life-guard 🙂

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