2015 Goa

Sunday 15th November

Up at 4am & were collected by Roger to go to Gatwick. Checked in then had breakfast at Giraffe before our flight to Goa. Plane landed ½ hour early but flight still seemed endless. Queued to get visas sorted then collected cases which were waiting for us, premium certainly works from that point of view. Taxi driver sent by hotel was waiting for us, then followed 45 minutes hair raising drive to the Shanti Morada. Driver overtook everything in his way regardless of cars coming towards us,thankful to arrive still intact. We were greeted by Amar, our foreheads anointed & given a glass of cranberry juice whilst we checked in. The suite is lovely, but opens out on to the pool area which is not great as we were expecting a private balcony. Amar has promised to move us in the morning from the Lotus room. We sat outside with a Kings beer & some 9 Hills Goan red wine to recover from the drive, both pretty good. And so to bed as it’s 2am local time. Had to turn off fridge as it’s so noisy it was keeping us awake.

Monday 16th November

Up made instant coffee & out for a ciggie with it, the pool area is already busy and quite noisy with air cons buzzing & waterfall pouring, music suddenly blaring rave type stuff from the pool bar as soon as staff saw me – good grief! A bath & below average breakfast then we went to see Amar about changing the room & enquire again about the cafetière which he’d assured me we could have in the room - so we hadn’t packed one, needless to say we should have – but apparently he has ordered one for us. We’ve now moved to the Cardamom room which is on floor 2 and has a private balcony overlooking the pool & a nicer bed. Happily unpacked, grabbed the stuff we needed & Amar ordered us a taxi to Calangute the closest beach. He drove much better than last nights taxi & dropped us off at the market by the ATM. Rupees in hand we wandered through the market & bought a pretty cotton wrap around skirt for 300/- {this is how they write rupees, as the old shilling} about £3 and a fresh coconut each to drink. Wandered through rest of the market to make our way to the beach where we are sitting at Lobos Palm bar on the beach with a beer for Andrew & a lime soda for me which is really fresh and yummy. Went for a walk on the burning hot beach so had a paddle to cool down. We are now at Estrela’s beach restaurant & ordered same drinks as earlier and a prawn coconut curry for Andrew & a veggie version for me, both good we really enjoyed them. Spent more time on the beach, never seen so many Indians in the sea, apparently they are all on holiday this week for Diwali. Andrew took a photo of me walking on the beach with a cow that decided to walk with me. Another paddle then back to the shopping area where we found a taxi back to the hotel, he was a very calm driver so we asked for his card. Back at Shanti Morada we changed into our swimming gear & went to the jacuzzi to bubble with a cocktail each, but the jacuzzi was freezing so only stayed in for about 10 minutes. A hot bath in the lovely copper bath warmed us up, then it was time to go for dinner. We had a drink by the pool before going to the Lantern restaurant to share a tandoori platter which was lovely, but the sauces we got were both full of chilli, they don’t understand no chilli so mine was very dry. We sat out on our balcony listening to our music till it was time for bed. Fridge & air con need turning off at night as so noisy – this is a real nuisance.

Tuesday 17th November

Didn’t wake up till 9.20 this morning & I’m out on our balcony with instant coffee waiting for Andrew to wake up. Later Amar booked us a taxi drop & pick up and we are off to Old Goa for the afternoon to see the cathedral and have a wander. The Bom Jesus Basilica meaning the good or infant Jesus was built in 1594 and consecrated 1605. It took 9 years to build and is really beautiful. It is now a world heritage preservation building. It was full of visitors today as it’s Diwali the Festival of Light. Opposite is the lovely white church of Francis of Assisi built in 1661 it has a three tier facade and octagonal tower on each side. Inside are pictures depicting the life of Francis of Assisi. The former archbishops house next door is bigger than the church & is now the Museum of Goa. We had a wander but there really is nothing here apart from the lovely churches & the museum so a 3 hour stop is ridiculous an hour and a half would have been plenty. Eventually found the Datta Prasad cafe in which we were the only foreigners, we ordered a vegetable thali each, 2 bottles of kingfisher & 2 glasses of lime soda – the bill came to 470/- or £4.70 total – it’s so cheap eating in a cafe for the locals. Back at Shanti Morada we sat by the pool with some beer & wine & to read and relax. Later we got a taxi via Amar to Karlton’s Horizon Grill where we had calamari & prawns with garlic mayo & fillet steaks all beautifully cooked - a lovely restaurant recommended by the owner of Shanti Morada. The Sula wine here is almost as good as 9 hills, a shiraz/cab sav mix. Had a wander around the shops & bought me a mosaic elephant t shirt. Had a lavazza espresso in Sea Mist then got a taxi back to sit on our balcony & read with some wine before bed.

Wednesday 18th November

Taxi to the flea market this morning by Anjuna beach for a wander, the marketeers are full on here, I stopped to light a cigarette & was suddenly wearing an ankle bracelet which I couldn’t remove. Bought some coconut masala & cardamom spices, an elephant fridge magnet, a Desegal t shirt, wooden ganesha, 2 kaftans and a pashmina – wow! Now sitting in Dylan Declan’s for lime soda & espresso and a rest from the hubbub. There is an old man wandering around blowing a horn & leading a dressed up bull, poor thing looks really hot and dejected. Wandered a bit more & bought a funny little elephant, 2 lovely t shirts for Andrew & a pair of embroidered sandals for me. We are now sitting on the deck of Curlie’s by the sea with a lime & soda each. Chicken dim sum, and fab avocado, coriander & lemon salad & dal fry for late lunch. Back at the hotel we relaxed & read for a while then got ready to go out for dinner at Horizon again. The red snapper’s delicious, as was Andrews biryani. We walked for a while looking for a quiet place for coffee, gave up as everywhere was playing really loud music {not at all our thing} & found a tuktuk back to the hotel. Sat on our balcony reading & listening to our much quieter music before bed.

Thursday 19th November

A quiet start to the day, porridge & banana for breakfast & had to laugh when we were asked if we wanted brown or white toast we requested brown & none appeared. We asked about the toast after a while and were told - no brown bread today. 😄 This obviously meant we were to have none! Andrew finally persuaded Amar to give us a teapot & strainer so that we can have our own coffee. A man came to repair the balcony door and we are relaxing with great coffee & reading on the balcony. Later on we went down for a dip in the pool, then sunbathed on the recliners for a while. An hours great massage each followed relaxing us even more. In the evening we went down to Calangute beach arriving in time to see the last of the sunset, must leave earlier next time. Went to Destination 1 for a drink by the sea but music is too loud to stay for dinner. Found a taxi to Foxes Fiesta where the lovely friendly Bimal served us calamari, steak with amazing mushroom sauce & banoffee pie washed down with Sula wine & beer for Andrew. Back at Shanti we relaxed by the pool before bed, we both seem to have succumbed to the dreaded Delhi belly, so a quiet evening near the loos…

Friday 20th November

A slow start today as both still suffering, though Andrew is worse. At 12.45pm we decided to risk going out to the Candolim for a wander & find a quiet bar on the beach as we’ve only been there at night to Horizon. Stopped at Inferno for lavazza, lime soda & a Hawaiian salad & avocado prawn both lovely. Spent a while just walking along the beach, then stopped at Stringfellos beach shack for a drink & spent a few hours lying on the loungers there & paddling in the sea. Saw a cow with 3 calves on the beach, she was trying to steal some mans drink, he seemed quite scared of her – hilarious to watch. Had a foot massage each while we relaxed on the loungers, the only problem here is the amount of people trying to sell you stuff while you’re trying to relax. At one point I had bracelets from my ankle up to my thigh as the woman was so determined that I’d buy some. Really difficult to say no politely at times. Watched the sun set there then walked back into town & found Titus Roma Italian where we had bolognaise pizza for dinner. Found a chemist next as I’ve been bitten to bits & got some cream which really worked. We are now on the balcony with wine & reading till it’s time for bed. Really humid tonight, almost unbearably so and the balcony door is buggered again as I found to my cost when it only opened part way, retired to bed with a second bruise from the blasted door….

Saturday 21st November

Happy birthday to my darling hunka 💖🎈🎈🎈💜💕💞😈 all my love always xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx A quiet morning though as Andrew is still not well, time for this Delhi belly to bugger off! Phoned Mikey the taxi driver as arranged a last night, and we went to a new beach between Morjim & Aura which was very quiet. We spent a few hours in the sea & reading on loungers after a salad each at the Golden Eye beach shack which was ok but not as nice as Stringfellos. Came back to the hotel to freshen up whilst Mikey waited, before going to the Saturday night market which we’d been told was more laid back & you didn’t get so hassled, this was rubbish they were even more full on, even grabbing me to try to drag me in to look at their stuff. Definitely preferred the Wednesday market. Went to Candolim next for a meal at Horizon for Andrews birthday which was excellent as usual. Back at hotel we had a drink on the balcony before bed.

Sunday 22nd November

Coffee on the balcony was very noisy this morning as a childs tantrum whilst parents are screaming at it are added to the usual cacophony. Bathed & ready we are off to Candolim for a wander and hopefully some quiet. Bought 2 pretty woollen cushion covers & a pair of lovely sunburst earrings en route to Inferno for a scrummy prawn & avocado salad each with a fish & a chicken kebab in spinach & mint to share. Wandered along the beach then to Stringfellos where we spent the afternoon relaxing with lime sodas. Bought a blue Ganesha painting to join our paintings by locals collection on the wall at home. Walked down to the Elle spa & salon to have my hair done after a soda & beer at a little bar. Hair looks good again so went next to the Old Mango Tree for dinner, fish kebabs & Goan prawn curry, both good, it’s a pretty little restaurant all lit up with fairy lights. Walked for a while then bought some lovely fresh barfi. Went to the Jazz Cafe for a couple of drinks & listened to the music till it changed to heavy stuff then got a tuktuk back as it’s time for a hose down & bed.

Monday 23rd November

Another slow start to the day as I joined Andrew with the Delhi belly! Woken up early though by laundry return, unhappy as my dress is either bleached or boil washed! Amar insisted on sending my dress back to the laundry to ask them what they have done to it. Immodium swallowed we are heading for Panjim or Panaji Goa’s capital city for a 3 hour drop & pick up as it’s a new place to explore. Found a gorgeous parasol which I’d have loved to buy. Eventually found Aunty Maria’s coffee shop - no coffee available so ordered orange juice & a sandwich each. Crap place to eat as spent 45 minutes waiting for a sandwich in a coffee bar with no coffee. Panjim is a really awful run down place, nothing to do so will not be returning. Back at Candolim we bought a blue dress & an elephant wrap around skirt, then round the corner from Horizon found a Bob Marley coloured cotton dress too. Stopped next at Sunset Beach bar where we sat out in the rain for lime soda & beer, the rain was almost as refreshing as the drinks. Afterwards we found a lovely russet cotton skirt, clothes spending complete me thinks…. Wandered down the road to Republic of Noodles – a brilliant place, fab cocktails, beer, wine & dinner - crispy lamb & rendang beef curry for Andrew & ribs & pad Thai for me, all excellent & waiter was fab too. Great sense of humour & excellent cocktails. Mad tuktuk drive back, full speed all the way including the speed ramps not bad for a vehicle with a lawn mower type engine! Back at hotel we had talk about ruined dress, asked hotel to book a boat trip Andrew had found & requested balcony door be sorted again. So time for a quiet relax with some wine & a book on the balcony before bed.

Tuesday 24th November

Both having tummy trouble so in room for the morning, though Andrew is still much worse than me. It’s raining & there are power cuts so it’s quiet here today – bonus! Andrew has phoned the Monkey Sanctuary and arranged a visit for 2.30pm tomorrow, so excited, can’t wait to get there. Later I had an hours facial which was wonderful & so relaxing at place where I’d had my hair done in the Nov hotel. Went to Cactus a tiny restaurant next for a lime soda each then tried 6 ATMs without success -it’s hard work trying to get cash out here. Wandered a bit more & found the Mermaid restaurant & had a good meal there though not up to Horizon standard. Got a tuktuk back trying ATM en route & 2nd one worked so we have cash again – hurrah.

Wednesday 25th November

Taking it easy today till it’s time to go to the Tree House Monkey Sanctuary, a hotel driver is taking us there & waiting. We were all shown around the various cages of all the rescued monkey’s who’s mothers had been killed so have been rescued & hand reared at the Tree House by Jo & John Hicks - John died of cancer 5 months ago, but Jo is still continuing their’ work at the sanctuary. Nora one of the monkeys was admiring herself in a mirror, Andrew took a photo of her & showed it to her - her eyes widened immediately, you could see that she realised it was herself, or at least that he was showing her a monkey - so intelligent! After visiting all the monkeys we were taken to the house where Jo showed us around the beautiful house that John who was an architect designed & had built for them. We then watched 2 babies Dennis & Dixie swimming in the adults pool. We went down to meet them & spent a fantastic time with them. Dixie is very friendly & bounced all over us, we fed her nuts & raisins and she tried to eat my hair combs which look a bit like nuts, then pulled some of my hair loose to groom it. Meanwhile Dennis who dislikes females & wasn’t allowed near me was making friends with Andrew, he sat on Andrew & ate the nuts Andrew was feeding him. He then noticed Andrews sandals & spent some time undoing them & checking Andrew’s feet. He then got up on Andrew’s lap & groomed his hair, eyebrows & ears - so cute! Having checked that there were no fleas in Andrew’s pocket or wallet he settled for more nuts. Later on we went back upstairs to meet Ella a really friendly langur, spent quite a bit of time with her too. We were brought coffee & biscuits & when I took a bite from one Ella very gently took the rest of it from me and nibbled it. Back at the hotel we relaxed for a while, still no sign of my dress, then got ready to go to Candolim for dinner. Our driver was the one who took us to Tree House earlier & we got him to drop us at the top end as we haven’t explored there at all. Ate at Le Jardin a very pretty outdoor restaurant. My starter of fillet steak with mustard ice cream was fantastic, lemon & rosemary chicken was good too. Andrew’s mutton curry starter & burger were OK. Their lemongrass & ginger mojito was lovely. After a little wander we came back in a tuktuk to relax on the balcony before bed, a thoroughly yummy evening.

Thursday 26th November

Andrew seems much better today, it’s my turn for the immodium. At lunchtime we walked down to Foxes Fiesta for brunch, Andrew had a proper breakfast & I chose a vegetarian pie - spinach, baby sweetcorn & mushrooms in a hollandaise type sauce topped with mashed potatoes grilled till browned on top. It was absolutely lovely. Lime sodas each as well x2 to stop dehydration. Dilip came to collect us so we have booked him to take us to Morjim for our boat trip & wait for us & drop us back at Candolim after. We watched tiny one clawed crabs & a gorgeous kingfisher as we arrived a bit early & were waiting for the Koncan Explorers. The boat trip was amazing, Poonam & Pascal are lovely & we saw an island that is normally underwater but as the tide was only at 20cms the locals were all out there collecting crabs. By the morning it won’t be visible at all. Saw kites, seagulls & other small birds, and a fish leapt out of the water into the boat. We went upriver & watched the sun setting into the sea. Poonam gave us beer, crisps & chicken lollipops with chilli sauce. They played Elvis & blues music softly - an idyllic hour & a half on the River Chapura. Dilip dropped us off near Candolim but still in Calangute & we walked all the way down to Horizon where we had another good steak each, wine, beer, apple & coconut crumble & a brownie. Taxi back to hotel later where staff announced they’d send my dress up shortly. Balcony door still has not been fixed, fridge is still so noisy we switch it off at night to try & sleep but still have air con to contend with. Off to balcony to read for a while before bed….

Friday 27th November

Prem collected us as we arranged about 12pm to take us to Arambol the hippie beach. Halfway there just passed the dock where we met Konkan yesterday we stopped to try the sugar cane drink. The cane is squashed over & over though an old pulping machine, when it’s par squashed the man adds fresh ginger & lemon and we ended up with a fantastic cold drink, it’s really yummy wish we’d tried it earlier. Went for a wander on the beach & I went in to the sea to cool down. Lounged at Meston’s for a while & had lunch prawn sag for Andrew and chicken salad for me, banana & rum & sugar pancakes & 2 lemon sodas. Went for a splash around in the sea together, then a walk around the brilliant shopping area & bought a cloth water carrier. Went into the World Peace German Bakery for ginger lemon juice & espresso each & ordered a cake each as they looked so good. I had a lemon cinnamon roll - good, Andrew had Honey Mango pie & ice cream - absolutely fabulous! Bought a lovely black & purple pashmina, a lovely multi coloured hessian hat, a blue Ganesha t shirt for me & had one made in black with red & yellow Ganesha for Andrew. In Curves I tried on fab pink trousers then tried on the red ones too - they are both gorgeous & I couldn’t decide which to have so we bought both! 😍 Also bought a lovely wood & mother of pearl hair peg in there. We found such a cute little brass Ganesha that I’d seen earlier so bought him too, this is the best shopping area we have found. Wandered back to the beach then & had a drink in a different Horizon beach shack, very pretty place, the whole beach is candlelit for the evening & looks so lovely & romantic. Decided we’d better head back as it’s an hours drive & we have an early start tomorrow. Taxi driver brought us back for 800/- Prem had charged us 1500/- to go so almost double - won’t use him again! Back at hotel a quick bath, last ciggie & drink on the balcony & to bed about 10.30pm.

Saturday 28th November

Andrew & I just had the most fantastic morning with Konkan Explorers, they collected us from jetty outside Chopdem about an hours drive from the hotel at 9am. We transferred on to their boat on the River Chapora via dinghy & went off downriver to the Mangrove Swamps through lovely scenery. Sunbathed on the top deck for a while on the way there. At the swamps we transferred into kayaks and spent a magical 1½ hours in the mangroves where we saw black tree crabs, a huge bee nest & loads of birds including red kites & a kingfisher. The island we saw people collecting crabs etc on is totally underwater again as Pascal said it would be, only a few trees have their top branches to be seen. Went in the river after the kayak trip and floated in life belts for a while, lovely & cooling after the heat in the mangroves. Back on board we had a shower each & changed. Poonam then gave us a cold beer & fresh watermelon & crisps as we gently cruised back upriver to take a closer look at where the island had been, recorded lots of birds flying out of the trees as we approached. Further towards the sea was a large colony of seagulls on a sandy outcrop.Sandwiches were then provided as we cruised back to the jetty, a fantastic few hours. We stopped en route to hotel for another delicious sugar cane drink. Back at the hotel we relaxed with another pot of coffee & sorted out our stuff ready to go out later - we’re going to Baga to see if we like it enough to spend our last day on the beach there tomorrow. Baga beach is pretty & completely crowded, was fine for an hour or so to watch the sunset. After that every beach shack, bar & restaurant & even some shops turn up techno music to full blast & the noise was deafening. Walked up the main street & found a taxi as we couldn’t wait to leave. Off back to Candolim & relative quiet for another meal at Horizon which plays music at a volume that allows you to still have a conversation, consistently good food & drink and good service too. Back to hotel & bed as both knackered after our long day.

Sunday 29th November

Up early as staff at furniture moving again! Coffee on the balcony & diary catch up. Went down to Candolim in taxi ordered by hotel & had breakfast at Inferno before going to mess about in the sea & generally laze around at Stringfellos. We were having great fun bouncing in the sea till got caught by a huge wave coming in that I could see towering above us & knew it was going to throw us about as if we were rag dolls - but couldn’t move fast enough to avoid it. It seemed to take forever before I could regain my balance & stand up. Andrew was still beside me but I’d lost my specs of course. Andrew searched for a while as I smoked a ciggie & fumed at how stupid I’d been to go in with them on, didn’t even think about it as I can’t see much without them & we were less than waist height just messing around. Finished our lime sodas & we’re off to find an optician. The second place we went to said she could sort some specs out for me by 7pm in the evening! We wandered back to Inferno for a late lunch then to the local hairdresser to have my hair washed & blow-dried as there is half a tonne of sand in it. Back to hotel afterwards to shower & change. Later on we went to collect my new specs - they are a pretty green metal with little stars on the arms, she has managed to sort out varifocals too in about 6 hours- can’t get that service in England!! Fantastic to be able to see again, a few hours without specs has been awful, heaven knows what I’d have done on a 10½ hours flight! We went for a walk on the beach now the tide is out without much hope of finding specs, the staff at Stringfellos had had a look for me too bless them. Bought some cashews & barfi then went to Horizon for our last meal before heading back to the hotel to pack. Andrew went to reception to sort out the bill & didn’t arrive back till after I’d packed everything, then getting worried about the taxi being overdue struggled to close both cases! Andrew checked the room & we went down to reception it was now 11.25pm & we’d ordered the taxi for 11pm last night. Amar said another 5 minutes & eventually at 11.55 said they would send us in one of the hotel cars instead. Eventually got to the airport & through endless security & on to plane. Captain told us 10½ hour flight due to strong head winds. Been a fair bit of turbulence but we are approaching Gatwick at last.