Hey guys, Happy new month!!. Yes its already the second month of the year, I could swear January just flew right past!. Mmmh where are you at with your resolutions? I hope that everything is coming along just fine. In this post I will be writing about my stay at Dona Paula and Panjim in the western state of Goa, India.
Goa is the smallest state in India and is famously known for its long beaches, the crazy party scene, the hippie crowd etc. Goa also happens to be the only state in India that serves Beef!. This can be explained by the fact that Goa was a Portuguese colony prior to the early 60`s which is very evident in terms of the Architecture,the food, the many catholic churches found all over the state and the spice Plantations. Goan`s as the people of Goa are fondly referred to, use the Marathi and Konkani Languages and the latter is the official language of the state.
This two Languages belong to the Indo-Aryan group which is part of the Indo-European family of languages that have numerous dialects of common origin and Sanskrit has been cited to be one. However the older Generation in Goa still speak in Portuguese. This Multilingual state has been brought about by the thousand of years of various ethnic races, cultures and religions all settling in Goa.
Panjim or Panaji is the capital city of Goa and it lies on the Banks of the Mandovi River. When you get to Panjim the colorful villas, the cobbled streets and interesting streets will make you think you are in Portugal. It feels like you stepped into a time travel machine and you could wake up from it anytime.
Overlooking the main square is the Baroque Style church Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church which was built in 1541 to serve the religious needs of Portuguese sailors. Its current location was once a colonial landing port where all the sailors first made a stop before going on to the inland Old Goa. The church is very beautiful and its exterior is a very bright white, stop in for Mass which is conducted everyday and finish your day with a night visit. At night you can go up all the steps and sit as you observe the whole town. It will be worth your time.
While you are in Panjim a Sunset `cruise`trip is a must. We had read about having a fun disco cruise on the Mandovi river and could barely wait for it!. Tickets cost around 300 Rupees and can be bought near the Mandovi bridge and the ferry leaves at around 7:30. I wouldn`t really call it a `cruise` ha ha, to be sincere I was confused for like a good 20 minutes!, they promised a traditional Goa dancing troupe would entertain us but well an Emcee guy dressed up as a Mascot was all we got.
Oh travel gods!! the guy then proceeded to talk and well we had no clue what he was talking about, but a couple of kids moved to the front and started dancing. It was quite adorable but I was done and at this point I went to the top of the ferry which had a Bar. Sitting at the top looking at Panjim from the ferry with my beer was just PERFECT fist-bumps travel gods. However I found out later there was like Proper cruise ships with Casinos and all. So if that is your scene make sure to check out Delta Casino as they have a dope ass casino cruise ship.
While you are at Panjim. Rent a bike for 300 Rupees a day and drive off exploring to Old Goa which is just 15 kms away. You will feel like you have been transported back in time!its awesome. I did a post on 10 awesome pics of Old Goa, check it out to get a feel of what to expect.
The best hidden secret of Panjim is Viva Panjim restaurant,they serve the best Goan cuisine in town!. I kid you not, the food was so good albeit a little bit too spicy. The servings in this restaurant are quite generous in amount and do not be surprised if you cannot finish . One thing you should be aware of is that Goans take the issue of siesta very seriously and most restaurants are closed in the afternoons and tend to open at 7:30 pm. Its a good thing we found a Subway one afternoon :-).
In terms of accommodation, Panjim was slightly pricey which can be explained by the fact that its the capital city shrug. The first day we stayed with the hostel crowd which was quite good, Hostels are always a good way to meet other travelers and share experiences and it was not any different.
However after being on the road for long and well the dirty laundry LOL, we needed a little pampering and moved to Welcome Heritage Panjim inn on fontainhas street. The hotel is one of the very first colonial mansions to be built in Goa and has Antique four poster beds, Carved Rosewood furniture, beautiful paintings which creates nostalgia for an era of noblesse oblige and grandeur. An even interesting thing is that there is a Gallery Gitanjali on the ground floor that features contemporary paintings by well known local and international artists. Once again thanks to makemytrip.com we were able to get a bargain and stayed at this awesome hotel.
Dona Paula is a tourist attraction area found along the suburbs of Panjim. I was very curious about the name Dona Paula and asked a rickshaw driver how it came about. Well apparently Dona Paula was the daughter of a powerful Portuguese viceroy and they were an extremely rich family. However Dona Paula fell in love with a poor local man whom her father disapproved and did not want his daughter to marry. In a sort of Romeo and Juliet fashion, Dona Paula went to a cliff and threw herself off as she would rather die than not be with her loved one! Poor girl! A statue was then elected in her memory.
I felt so sad about this young woman that died tragically for love, so imagine my surprise when I googled and that was not the story on Wikipedia!!Damn you rickshaw driver LOL. Anyway go visit the Statue at Dona Paula and spend your afternoon by the waterfront walking or sit by the many bars close by for a sun downer and some delicious Goan Fish Curry.
Dona Paula is home to many hotels and compared to Panjim you can get affordable nice hotels. Its only 5.7 km to Panjim and therefore very accessible. While you are here make sure you visit Miramar beach which is located between Panjim and Dona Paula and has been used in very many Bollywood movies. Also nearby is Kala Academy that shows English movies and plays, contemporary dancing etc. Spend your evening there and meet very creative artistic young individuals, Visit Edu`s restaurant for some western food :).
Panjim and Dona Paula are really nice places and there is so much more for you to see and experience. I met two nice old men that were stamp collectors and asked me to send them Kenyan stamps. Better late than never yes? Well i will be heading to the post office now ;-).
yogie on the move.