Published: February 2nd 2009December 31st 2008
2008 was a fantastic year, highlighted by the entry into my life of the passion of my existence: Alexia B Demetriou. We spent the last day of the year at place called Anjuna, in the northern part of Goa. On our way north we stopped for lunch at the Goan capital Panaji (Panjim). Panaji is much cleaner and has much more character than any large Indian cities we have seen so far.
We ate at a lovely little Portuguese-style restaurant called Hotel Venite.
It is notable for a few reasons. The doorway is marked by an intricate shell-work mosaic. Male and female toilets are separated by a transparent shower curtain, and must be entered through a low stone archway possibly designed for Portuguese oompa loompas. Bek and Adam ate spicy sausages; a decision which they later regretted.
Anjuna is famous amongst tourists in Goa for its markets, which come alive every Wednesday. The markets are like nothing I have ever seen before. They are a labyrinth of row after row of shops and stalls trading in every type of merchandise imaginable. I looked into the eyes of my excited fiancé and thought to myself: ‘steel yourself for a long day’.
Indeed any visitor to Anjuna must remember to bring with them a large amount of patience, determination and skill. These skills will enable one to deal with the confronting mix of aggressive hagglers, sly rip-off merchants and desperate-looking beggars.
During the course of the day I managed to pick up my clothes for the wedding. These consisted of some trendy and comfortably fitting brown shorts and a white cotton Indian style shirt. Altogether I am proud to say that my wedding outfit cost me the princely sum of 500 rupees, or about 15 Australian dollars. I challenge any prospective grooms out there to leave more beer money in their wallet after buying their wedding garments! The shopping at Anjuna markets was excellent. We bought Andy’s Outfit for a steal and also got a gorgeous little silk red dress for our beautiful flower girl. Anklets, for both Anabelle and , a pair of Ali Baba pants, a gorgeous blue skirt cum dress for Bellie, a white halter neck dress for me, all for 800 rupees! I was stocked! And no matter what Andy says above, he loved shopping at the Anjuna markets. Although a little reserved with bargaining at the start
of the day, he became quite the expert by the end of the 7 hours! (ABD)
At Hotel Venite
Andy and Belle watching the Video of Belle's life in India!
We made our way back south to Benaulim at the burning sun was setting through the coconut palms, exhausted by the sensory overdose masquerading as markets. We regained some strength back at our hotel room at the Royal Palms, and made the lovely one kilometer walk through rice paddies and jewellery shops to Benaulim beach. We settled on ‘Little Tiger’ as our venue to see in the New Year. Joining us at this little bar on the beach was a strange mixture of middle class Indians and wealthy Russian tourists. In fact we observed that the place seemed to be run by Russians, who are the dominant tourist group in Goa along with the inescapable Brits. To this day ‘Little Tiger’ holds the dubious record of being the slowest producer of Mojitos in the civilized world.
As midnight passed we were treated to an exhilarating fireworks display on the beach, executed at a dangerously close distance from our tables. Fireworks here are definitely not restricted to being used by trained professionals, and are widely bought and exploded with glee by amateur children and adult
alike. Hugs were exchanged amongst our travelling group. It was a memorable way for Alexia and I to spend our first New Years together. Unfortunately Andrew had developed an ugly cold sore on the top of his lip and with the wedding less than a fortnight away, we decided no to risk a kiss as the New Year arrived. The atmosphere was breathtaking. A bonfire was built in front of our table and we all sat around it after the fireworks that lasted over an hour and filled the entire Benaulim Beach Sky, had ended.
The tide came in and started taking the empty cartridges of the fireworks that had been left lying on the beach with it into the water. Our crew got into “operation clean up” mode and fished them out of the wet sand.
The Beach was not to overcrowded and music was played low as the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, only a couple of months before, had imposed a ban on beach parties to mark the New Year in Goa.
Nonetheless we had a great evening, one we will not forget any time soon. (ABD)
There are more photos below