Saturday, 21 September 2013

The Feel of Goa in Monsoon - Part 2

***** Day 2 *****

When we came to Goa we had the Dudhsagar Waterfalls was definitely on our agenda.The way to the Gigantic beauty is through a forest trail which is not too easy to traverse, only Jeeps can take you to the waterfalls. There are some brave hearts who dare to take their bike all the way but its not an easy terrain to navigate on a bike.

While reading reviews on the Tripadvisor and other traveler blogs we also got to know that if the rains are strong there are chances that the forest trail to the waterfalls will be closed for visitors. Fingers crossed we hoped that since it was just mid-June rains should not play a spoilsport. An hour away from the resort there were two options : to take a local train to the nearest station to the waterfall or to hire a cab all the way till the motorable road was present. While the first would give a better chance to observe the locales the latter would ensure a comfortable travel. When we inquired in the resort about car availability, we got the bad news, the way to the falls was closed due to rivers overflowing along the forest trail.

Disappointed as we were we decided to make use of the day biking to North Goa.We retained the bike for the next day as well (Rs.250/per day).

It had rained all night and when I woke up the sky was pretty overcast. Hubby was not yet ready to leave the comforts of the quilt so I decided to take a short walk nearby.There was a walkway along the edge of the property very near to our cottage. It was very silent and serene all around. One could get a clear view of the sea from there. The sea was silent with occasional waves crashing on the rocks.I had taken my camera along... morning time is usually the best time to capture nature when there are hardly any humans around.I spotted a number of pretty insects, sad I didn't have my macro lens with me. I saw a group of fisherman pushing their boat into the water. Its very interesting to watch these fisherman readying themselves to go out for the early morning catch. It was a beautiful morning giving positive vibes for the rest of the day.
Around the resort

We got ready by 8.30AM and went for breakfast. The same fare was served. We gave some of our bread to the dogs roaming around. The resort people didn't object feeding the strays, which I liked. Human and animals should co-exist for maintaining a balance in the nature but sadly not everyone is sensitive to this.

We had decided to follow the NH 17B, touch Panjim and then move northwards. We had planned to visit one of the most famous beach the Calangute and then see what else we can cover. We did plan to have lunch at the very famous Brittos if possible.With that we started our journey. Thankfully for us, the rain clouds gave a break and the sun was up bright and clear.We drove till Cortalim Junction and took left to merge into the NH17. While driving through NH17B I was a bit confused, I remembered quite clearly that the Google maps had shown the Highway running parallel to the Arabian sea, but here till the time we were on 17B there was no sea on any side. The mystery was solved while coming back.

The roads were seamless, no traffic, balmy breeze, sweet sunshine made the journey very pleasurable even on such an ancient bike. We saw many bikers on way going in the same direction as us. We crossed a couple of bridges. We saw big ships, mostly goods carrying ones anchored at the docks. The landscape looked like a freshly painted canvas...greenery all around.

While driving towards Panjim we came across a very beautiful cathedral Mae de deus (mother of god) church was built in 1873 in Gothic architectural style at Saligao (10kms from Panjim). The pure white against a carpet of emerald green is very soothing. We decided to stop while coming back.

Soon we reached Panjim. It had the usual character of a busy city, the only difference lot of tourists on bikes roaming around. We planned to skip exploring Panjim and keep moving towards Calangute.On way we crossed river Mandovi. Within half an hour we reached Calangute which is like 15 KM from Panjim. The directions are there everywhere so one wouldn't have much difficulty finding any place even being a tourist. As we approached Calangute the character of the surrounding was transforming into one fun fair. Music, Foreigners, teenage lovers, colourful attires, food shops, small roadside shacks selling mementos etc. No wonder in peak season this place transforms itself completely.It reminded me of Florida, the party mood is similar at all famous beaches I think.

We parked the bike in the bike stand (Rs. 20for 4 hours). Almost 99.9% of bikes parked were rented ones.The day was gradually becoming hot and terribly humid. Especially as we neared the beach we were sweating pretty much. The salty sea air made it more uncomfortable. We passed the innumerable memento shops and walked down to the sea which was fairly crowded even in so called "off season".

The beach was a sight to behold. If we were awed by the waves in Bogmalo,then we were mesmerized by the vast sea and its huge crashing waves in Calangute. No wonder its considered one of the finest beach in North Goa. I would have preferred it minus all the crowds though. We stood there getting our feet drenched in the waves. We didn't have a change of clothes so there was no question of bathing in the water. But the waves looked so delectable that it was pretty hard to resist. I totally envied the ones going all the way into the water. We became a bit bold and went some steps further. The waves came and drenched us till knees. It felt very nice especially in the terrible heat.A lifeguard volunteered to take some snaps of us and we happily obliged. We stood there for like an hour enjoying the waves and getting tanned. At about 1 Pm we decided to move.

While walking back we stopped at a few shops.It was a treasure trove of goan handicrafts, fridge magnets and wall hangings with Goan motifs, shell jeweleries, sunglasses, colourful swimsuits, hats, floaters and everything you can imagine.I have a fetish for collecting fridge magnets from wherever I visit and decided to buy them from elsewhere as the shops here were quoting exorbitant prices.

Now we decided to visit Fort Aguada. The road to Fort Aguada seemed full of curves and bends; roads forking quite frequently. I loved the drive to Fort Aguada though as it was a very secluded kind of drive with us hardly spotting any tourist vehicles and also the pathway had dense foliage on either side. The air was crisp and soothing - a sharp contrast to what we experienced in Calangute.

The clouds were closing in as we entered the fort premises. A good thing is they have a nice washroom facility in the premises which is specially helpful for people visiting from long distance. By the time we climbed up the stairs it had started to rain.

The fort, situated at the mouth of the Mandovi River was built by the Portuguese in 1612 to protect old Goa against the Dutch and Marathas and check access of enemies into the River Mandovi. It is now maintained by the Archaeological Society of India.The fort now houses the central jail and has one of Asia’s oldest lighthouses, a four-storied structure looking over a vast expanse of sea, sand and palm trees.It makes for a pretty backdrop for a photo. we walked around the boundary of the fort. People thronged the "Dil Chahta hai Point". The lighhouse looked majestic from every angle.

As we left For Aguada, it seemed like we were leaving behind a slice of Portuguese history wrapped in the folds of time. we drove back and while coming back we took a wrong turn which led us to the other end of Aguada, now a property of Taj.On one side is the Taj Resort and there is an extension of the fort which meets the sea. At the tip of this extended part you stand a chance to get drenched by the huge crashing waves on the wall of the fort if you are not careful.We saw a few snobbish looking families fresh out of the spa with their Prada glares and Louis Vuitton handbags sashaying down the fort. They had come to visit the fort which is at a stone throw distance from the resort all decked up. I didn't have any particular animosity against these decked up dolls but the way they began to wail the moment the sea water touched their delicate skin was a matter of pure fun for us.

Leaving the elite behind we started walking towards the other leg of the fort remains. This part was a bit secluded and this is where I saw the biggest waves of my life. They were like these giants coming to swallow anything in front of them. The sound of the crashing waves was so high that everything else became inaudible. The froth left behind by the receding waves were thick and milky. It was difficult to stand there as the wind was terribly strong. We stood there in a trance. We captured the video but it couldn't do any justice to what the eyes had seen in actuality.

After what seemed like an eternity, we started back. Next destination was Baga Beach. The Calangute-Baga road is more like a one lane road, lined with restaurants and packed with cars and tourists. It was already 3 Pm when we finally reached Baga. This is a very small subset of Calangute to tell the truth. Nothing impressive maybe at night it looks different. The only prominent thing at Baga beach is the innumerable food shacks and most of them pretty famous. We had planned a lunch at Brittos. It is one of the oldest standing shacks and known for its seafood. When we peeked inside the shack, it was all  chaotic, bustling with revellers.We stood there for a few minutes before we realised that no waiter will come to escort us to any empty table, we were on our own! So amidst the chaos we managed to get a table finally.  It was hot and sweaty and were were terribly hungry to wait for anything which will take lot of cooking time. The fans were blowing air heavenwards and the flies were attacking us in hordes. This fly thing I feel is a common problem in Goa. Even back in our resort where everything is so spic and span every morning during breakfast we had to fight the innumerable number of flies trying to get a bite of our food.

We kept looking for a server who was interested enough to serve us! After quite a few futile attempts to draw the attention of the disinterested servers we managed to get hold of one. He handed us the menu and vanished. Menu was detailed with continental, north indian, chinese and goan cuisine but prices were all pretty much steep compared to what we got at Bogmalo.We were also not sure of the portions we would get at such a high price so we decided to play safe and choose the conventional- a simple fish curry rice and sweet lime soda. It again took eons before someone came and took our orders. However once you place the order the food & drinks were served relatively quick. They also served us a complimentary fish roll which melted in the mouth. The fish was fresh and portion was good enough. Taste wise we were satisfied. We again faced the same disinterested servers while trying to make the payment. I even jokingly proposed to my husband that since no one seems interested in taking the charge lets simply walk out maybe then they will notice. This was followed by another hell of a time waiting to get back the change. Oh yes did I mention they only accepted cash?

After the ok-ok experience at Brittos we were drained out of energy and decided to head back home. It was easy to navigate our way back as by now we were a bit familiar with the roads. As decided on way back we stopped at cathedral Mae de deus. We didnt go inside just admired the beauty from the outside and took snaps.
Mae de deus

While coming back we took a wrong turn from Cortalim junction and ended up on 17A. We never realized that but felt we were on a different road which was far more beautiful than 17B. The sea ran parallel to us throughout. We stopped at one beautiful bridge joining the mainland to an island. It started raining heavily and we took shade in a bus stop. Rain is pretty unpredictable in Goa and when it pours it simply rains cats and dogs and also it doesn't start with a drizzle but straightaway downpour. The 17A was very very beautiful and rejuvenated us from all the tiredness.

We were back in the resort by 5:30 PM. When we looked at ourselves in the mirror in the room we got the shock of our lives. Two black ghosts stared back from the mirror...we had got sunburnt beyond recognisation. It took us sometime to soak in the fact. When finally we came to terms we decided not to lament about it and spend the rest of the day light roaming around the rocky beach. Today we walked to the farthest end of the rocky stretch and enjoyed the evening waves. There was a chill in the air which was very soothing.We walked on the beach till the moon was out.

We decided to have an early dinner as we were totally drained from the day's excursion. We ordered the Red Snapper Steak with butter garlic sauce,Prawn curry,  Golden prawn fry, Mughlai murg and serra dura.The reason for ordering so much food is that last day itself we came to know the portions were very miniscule they said they had only one portion of fish left in their kitchen so had to order chicken as well.Red snapper tasted really awesome and serra dura was as usual good.

It had started to rain once again. We went to sleep hearing the rains hitting the roofs and trees. Day 3 was going to be spend in the resort and was supposed to be less eventful than today.

To be continued...

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