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Anita and Bernie’s Travel Diary

Friday, 30 Nov 2007

Location: Goa, India

MapHi everyone - this will be our last blog from India as we leave tomorrow!!
We have had a great, busy relaxing time in Goa. As this is a 5* luxury hotel you can guess the clientele that are staying here (us excluded). They boast that this is their 6,7,8,9,10th time of visiting. They are snobby and not too communicative. Most of them do not leave the hotel at all during their stay of two weeks saying that they have everything they need here but .... they are missing out on seeing and exploring a beautiful and exotic country.
The hotel is lovely but being 5* it is overstaffed and they hover to attend your every whim!! The beach and sea are wonderful. There is a girl who spends all her day sweeping up the leaves that fall and a group of workers who clean the beach of debris every day (unlike Southend on Sea!!). We have gone sightseeing in the morning and lounging by the sea in the afternoon. That is the time the crabs make their appearance, scuttling along the beach and diving into a hole when anyone approaches. The shells are full of hermit crabs of different sizes and , when the tide is out, there are rockpools with tiny fish in.
Food is is fantastic and, for a 5* resort, not very expensive in English prices but a lot more expesive than local restaurants. Unfortunately the hotel is off the beaten track and it is difficult to leave it in the evening without the added expense of a taxi. We have had delicious meals, however, sitting outside overlooking and hearing the sound of the sea. Goa is well known for its fish. We went to a restaurant called 'Mum's Kitchen' which is well known for its Perch fish curry (a Goan speciality).It was delicious. We also had grilled kingfish which was equally delicious!! Other fish we have tried have been Mahi Mahi and Pomfret. Tonight we are going to a barbeque on the beach for our final meal to have barbequed fresh, local fish.
Over the last three days we have been exploring Goa and hired a 'chauffeur' taxi to take us around.All in all it cost us about 60 pounds for three days hire.Not bad. We went to Fort Aguarda, a Portuguese defence with a lighthouse stationed on top (not in use now). It also has a capacity for storing 2 and half million gallons of water and below has a high security prison for lifers. As this overlooks the sea, at least they have wonderful views to look out onto!! The car had to swerve to avoid a snake!! Bernie saw it slithering into the undergrowth and reckons it was at least 5ft long!!
We also met up with friends John and Janet from the previous tour at the flea market in Anjuna!! The flea market was another new experience for Bernie and he tried very hard with the art of haggling!! It was a fantastic retail experience but a very hot day. We were accosted by the stall holders to look at their stall with comments like 'cheaper than chips' and 'cheaper than Primark'!!! Lunch was had in a cafe on stilts overlooking the Arabian Sea. If that retail therapy was not enough, Janet and John took us to a shop in Calangute to look at genuine fake Radley bags. Needless to say I bought one for 12 pounds!!!
Yesterday we went to Old Goa (used to be the capital of Goa in Portuguese times) to see the magnificent churches that exist there. The most memorable one being 'Bom Jesus Basilica' which has the body of ST Francis Xavier on show in a glass fronted silver casket. This casket has 3 locks. As his feast day is on Monday there have been Novena masses said each day. These are outside with 5000 people attending each day. While we were there a mass was being said. There was a lovely atmosphere with beautiful singing. Our driver then took us for a complimentary drive to a tropical spice plantation up in the mountains. It was a spectacular drive and a fascinating visit. It was great to see how the spices are grown and harvested. The tour was 300 rupees (4 pounds) and included lunch of local vegetarian dishes and their local brew of cashew fenni which blows your head off at 50% alcohol!! This is the land of the cashew nuts which grow here in abundance. In Panaji there are lots of shops selling just cashew nuts in various flavours!
Well off to the beach to top up our suntan (Bernie has not got one yet!!) for the rest of the day before we have to pack. We are looking forward to coming home
a) to cool off
b) to use a washing machine
c) to put away our suitcase
d) to see our family and friends!!
Our flight details are: JetAir 9W 118 Mumbai to Heathrow arriving 17.55 at Terminal 3
all our love A&B