There is something in the air of Goa, apart from the fact that there is lot of water vapour in it considering the beach is rather close, the apparent chill climes are what attract people in droves. In the peak season, Goa is unbelievable, the crowds are massive and unless one is staying in W, one would have to ensure massive reservations, dodge Russian travellers on the beach for the best shack views and of course be ready to be swamped in street markets! While eat, sleep, repeat could be the mantra of the day, swim, shop, surf make up for all the time in the day. With a beach or so walkable, Goa becomes more applauseable, with a ton of so of beaches there are some that are to be keenly avoided while others can be finished starting from the north.
Right at the northern most part is Arambol following which are Mandrem, Ashvem, Morjim and then come Anjuna, Calangute, Candolim before heading to Dona Paula and Bambolim. Of these Ashvem is highly popular with stunning views and places for chilling by the dozen, though the beach is much cleaner and more beautiful than the precincts of Calangute which is best avoided. Candolim on the other hand is wonderful offering up views of the fort Aguada. The southern beaches of Colva, Varca, Mobor and Canacona are much calmer and away from the party places of the state but are good enough to enjoy nature at its best. For food Susegado brings out the best of Goan cuisine, Thalassa serves up a Greek storm, Antares gives Greece a sigh and EDM a roll, Yazu the best of experience and cuisine without overdoing the Greek whites that are a given in the state of Goa. Gunpowder is rated super high but the South Indian fare there is not fun to say the least. Jamun in Goa sticks to Indian and the Burger factory pays ode to Burgers than are milled from a factory of sorts. All in all there is so much to eat in Goa, literally the cuisines of the world in one platter and the themes and mixes are just amazing. We stayed at the Hard Rock hotel and while the brand works I’d highly recommend Marquis beach resort, due to its proximity to the beach and it’s new rooms for sure. Located in Candolim it is very close to happy places and stores that imbibe the vibe of Goa.
But the star of this round of Goa was definitely Assagao, a quiet inland village known for leafy streets and lined with elegant colonial villas and Portuguese era churches. It is today a hub for creative businesses, home to design stores, upscale resorts, restaurants and yoga studios. The vibe of Assagao was simply amazing. My favourite haunts in Assagao were Rangeela and No nasties (I have long been their planet positive clothing consumer, right when they started in 2015) but Rangeela was surely a find. They stock most of their merchandise from Cochin Blue, a South Indian company that sells really pretty house and clothes wear. All available online ofcourse but one can’t exactly feel the vibe online!! The boutique hotels in Assagao feel highly Portuguese and while staying there one my indulge in laisse faire Portuguese neighbors sitting around in verandahs and literally swatting flies! The houses that have been converted to restaurants are so super snazzy that one would never want to leave. Jamun is one such restaurant where the attention to detail and the personal touch is absolutely touching. The restaurant that sits in an old Portuguese house, still holds the old well and all its rooms intact. The name and theme is inspired by all things Indian, specifically Goan, with a special mention made to the tropical fruit that is super indigenous called the jamun. The food by itself is delightful ofcourse.
Goa is fast commercialising, franchising and changing at the speed of light. Not too different from the world we live it. However it would have been nice if Goa balanced all that new with the old a bit better. That’s exactly what I felt being in the state of wonder.