I arrived to North Goa just a week before the ‘harvest’ season Goan businesses so much look forward to year after year. It was 18th December and tourists had already started to flock to hippie’s paradise on Earth.
Why does it matter if it’s North? This side of the state – yes, Goa is a STATE and not an island too many presume so for whatever reason – is more commercial, more crowded, more loud than the Southern part. Why did I chose to stay in the North? Well, that’s where I got an accommodation organized at a reasonable rate when prices in 99.9% of hotels were sky-rocketingly quadrupled.
So we took up an apartment with Golden Pearl Calem Grove in Candolim. If you hit this up on booking.com you’ll see state-of-the-art minimal design luxury apartments with fully equipped kitchen, comfy beds and 24/7 service. No, we didn’t take this. Rather we opted for a mid-range apartment serviced by the same guys just around the corner for the fraction of the price. Later it turned out it was really good value for money.
To go around the area the manager of the resort organized a basic scooter for a week for a bargain 250 Rs. a day (4 Usd). If you are willing to fork out a bit more you can go for a Vespa or a Royal Enfield, which is humbly called the Harley Davidson of India. Petrol is sold literally everywhere, supermarkets, convenience stores and even the corner boutiques make a good margin out of a liter, simply portioned in old plastic bottles.
Convenience store? Petrol station? Whatever.
We filled up the bike and started riding to explore the area that would be home to us in the next one week. We discovered the old Portuguese Fort Aguada and its lighthouse, a major landmark in the area that once protected against the Dutch and Marathas. Stunning view! Pity that the lighthouse was closed to the public.
Space to run around – Fort Aguada, Goa
Through silent roads we rolled down to the Central Jail, which stands where the road ends under the cooling shades of age-old trees. Then we took an off-track near the dolphin watching boat-jetty to discover some narrow roads, where we seemed to be the only non-residents.
When it comes to jail we picture something else – Central Jail Aguada, Goa
Before the sun dipped below the horizon I wanted to get my first understanding why this place is so cherished amongst hippies and hyped up by backpackers from all over the globe. I wanted to sense its vibe, see its colorful beaches and feel the soft Goan sand under my feet. We went down Sinquerim beach to see nearly no crowd, then moved on to Vaddie where the popular beach shacks Goa is famous (or infamous?) for just got denser and denser.
Locals’ breathing space – Sinquerim beach, Goa
The time the sun was replaced my the moon in the sky we found ourselves by candle-lit tables in the very guest-friendly Bobby’s shack at Candolim beach, sitting just a spit away from waving sea praising our sharp mind that encouraged us to spend pre-Christmas season in a place that certainly exceeded all the expectations we had.
Shack life – Bobby’s shack, Goa
By now it was clear that Goa is not only about crazy parties and drunken night-outs but it has a much more chilling side on offer that would have been a pure out-of-this-world mistake to skip.