26 Dec 2019  |   04:03am IST

Dear Tourists, Enjoy Goa, imbibe Goa, respect Goa

A note of affection and a three day itinerary for all the tourists who are here for the Christmas and New year
Dear Tourists, Enjoy Goa, imbibe Goa, respect Goa

Team Café

The season of Xmas and the new year is upon us. A

season of peace, love and forgiveness. As tourists you have for long had a special bind with the land and the people of Goa. Many of you have been coming here for years, had close relationships with Goans and t many or most, you are family. Your love for Goa and Goa’s reciprocity has made this relationship unique. Just like the air we breathe and the water we drink, a relationship which is timelessness, so is the bond between Goa and tourists.

Yet, sadly, there are some taints on this clean sheet. IN the last couple of years conflicts between tourists and locals is rising. Locals feel that the land and its people have not been respected, degraded, defaced and usurped. Locals have rightly taken umbrage to tourists cooking on the streets and dirtying our beaches. Images of liquor bottles on the beach and broken glasses has defaced the picture of languid, peaceful Goa. This land has been tourists friendly and still will be. But it needs a bit of give back.

Before we proceed further, let us admit, there are some rotten apples in our basket too. Sensitive Goans have hung their heads in shame when an innocent tourist is abused, slapped and roughed up, only because he wants to hire or move around in a vehicle of his choice and not dictated by local taxi drivers, or unlike the rest of the world, he cannot pay for his taxi ride according to a meter or hail a radio cab

  on his app, without , a) Realising that none of the main app base services aren’t there b) hiring the Goan service is fraught with either non availability or the prospect of

  being admonished or blocked by the local taxi operators.

During this season of love and forgiveness, let us pledge to tide over shortcomings and bring back the harmony and affection to bring a long relationship back to health. Tourists need to work a little harder. Our message is simple, Enjoy, Goa, Imbibe Goa but also respect Goa, its traditions, customs, way of life and identity.

We once again welcome all tourists but especially first timers or relatively new tourists. We have put together a three day tour itinerary for your Goa first visit. This is no way a comprehensive guide. And there will be lots more to see and experience in this and subsequent visits. Treat this as a beginner’s road map, in a land you will truly enjoy, if you nurse it with affection and respect


Day 1: Panjim, oh Panjim

 The capital of Goa is as vibrant and colourful, if not more, than the rest of the state. Conscientiously hidden from the bustle of the rest of this little town, is the quaint and exquisite Latin Quarter named Fontainhas,

An architectural living reminiscence of the Portuguese era in Goa,

  walk through the archaic Fontainhas is equivalent to taking a walk-through history. Each building has some historical significance and every house has a story. While you walk here and marvel at the immaculate beauty of the quarter, you can enjoy

A scrumptious breakfast at any of the cafes

  in the beautiful by-lanes should set you up for the day

From the Goan breakfast of poi, bhajis and sweet tea to flavourful English breakfasts, consisting of eggs, toast, coffee, hash browns, ham and baked beans, you have it all in Fontainhas .

After you have had your fill, quite literally, of the captivating Fontainhas, head to the alluring Bascilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa, which is around fifteen kilometres from there. One of the oldest churches in India, built in the 1600s, the Basilica is a perfect example of the dazzling Baroque architecture in India. The stunning church is also renowned for housing the relics of the great saint, St. Francis Xavier. When in Goa, you cannot miss marveling at the gorgeous churches, which dot the countryside like pearls in the ocean.

After you have feasted your eyes on the exceptional architectural wonder of the Basilica of Bom Jesus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is time for a feast for the tastebuds too. Head back to Panjim, and enjoy a Goan fish thali. Not having a fish thali in Goa in like going to Italy and not having a pizza

 Seafood thalis, fried fish and savoury Portuguese desserts should surely be on your menu. Forget your nans and butter-chickens for now, though Panjim offers a great choice for those too

After you have satiated your taste buds with an unsurpassable lunch, some exciting shopping is an obvious choice. Panaji boasts of some boho chic boutiques and tastefully done artefacts and

handicrafts stores, which are

truly worth a visit. paintings.

And after you shop till you drop, head to yet another old time Goan restaurant which serves Goan and Portuguese food. We encourage you to discover one, perhaps in a colonial home. This is where rich traditional flavours meets classic colonial charm for an undeniably Goan experience. Ask for Cafreal, Steaks, Crab Xec Xec, Pork Vindaloo, Prawn Balchao and some desserts like Caramel Custard, Bebinca and Puddings. What a perfect way to end an eventful day!

Day 2: Vagator Vibes and Friday fever

You have not done Goa, if you haven’t been to Anjuna, they say. When the hippies arrived in Goa in the 70s, it was the vibe at Anjuna that captivated them to stay there. Start your day with a hearty breakfast at Artjuna or German Bakery. The cafes are renowned for great breakfasts, and you will be set up for a good three to four hours.

After a ambrosial morning meal, hop on to see the majestic Chapora Fort. The magnificent fort ruins offer a spectacular view of the Chapora River emptying itself into the vast Arabian sea. The striking view from the Chapora fort will be etched in your memory for a real long time! You can also trek downhill and walk right upto the Vagator Beach.

The pristine Vagator Beach is a long stretch of soft brown sand and a great place to catch an alluring sunset with your friends or your special someone. Indulge in some thrilling water sports like jet ski, parasailing, banana boat rides, motor boat rides and many more. With exceptional beaches and warm waters, water sports in Goa is truly delightful.

Just off Vagator is the Little Vagator or Ozran Beach, which is considered to be one of the best places to catch a sunset in Goa. Head to any of the fanciful European

  Mediterranean restaurants, in the area known for its delectable food and splendid sunset views. Delicious Pastas, Desserts, Paellas, Tapas, Pizzas and fresh seafood and grills in many of these places, will leave you wanting for more!

If your day 2 is Friday, you are in luck or just make your Friday one of your days in this part of Goa, there is a new cool destination in town and locals and tourists

  are blocking their Friday calendars to get to the The Goa Collective Bazaar inside Hilltop, the popular party venue at Vagator. With curated products and limited space, it is ideal for a day or evening of catching up with friends, gorging on some delectable grub from across the world. There’s great representation such as Thai, Burmese, Turkish, Korean, Italian and Greek fare alongside great desserts, innovative drinks such as flavoured water and Kombucha and a couple of bars stirring the nicest cocktails and the usual beverages. Not to forget the North Indian snacks and the Maggi stalls that are often the most crowded.

This market is designed keeping ‘good vibes’ in mind. All ethnicities are on colourful display with kids and pets roaming hassle-free. Conversations, laughter and general merriment add to the live music on the main stage or the DJ spinning some chilled out tracks create the right ambience for a nice Friday evening.

Day 3: Simply South

Today is a day to head south, literally! The relatively untouched South Goa is like a clandestine affair between the buzzing party hub of North Goa and the unscathed beauty of the Goan villages. South Goa is a delicate blend of the two, with its idyllic rural atmosphere and with an eclectic party mood in certain pockets. South Goa offers two divergent experiences and a promise of a sublime, idyllic time.

The southern beaches are relatively less crowded with miles and miles of flowing brown sand and waves lapping gently at your feet, a perfect setup for an exhilarating bout of water sports. When in Goa, enjoying water sports and beach swimming is un-missable. Swim in warm waters of these secluded beaches with no one to disturb you for hours together.

Lunch can be in any of the popular shacks or restaurants from Utorda to Varca. Feast on the freshest seafood, innovative cocktails and traditional Goan fare like Sorpatel, Pork Vindalho, Chicken Xacuti, Pomfret Caldin and Chicken Cafreal, and leave with your taste buds thoroughly satiated.

Spend the evening at the Majorda beach, catching an astounding sunset and watch as the night walks in with a cloak of glistening stars and beaming moon. Enjoy the dreamy setting with a candlelit dinner at one of the shacks on the beach, to make it an experience of a lifetime. And before you realize your intriguing holiday comes to a fabulous closure.

Head back to your homes with incredible experiences and enchanting memories of a great long weekend in the sunny state of Goa.

Enjoy, imbibe, respect Goa, and come back for more.


Idhar Udhar