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Published: March 14th 2015
We now have only a few days left of our adventure. The trip has been wonderful,we have seen so many fantastic and varied places, and met so many many nice people (and only a small handful of not so nice!)......but we are looking forward to getting home to see friends and family again.
This last stop in Goa is really a holiday to recover from our holiday. We have almost 2 weeks to play about in the sea, lounge about in the shade, have massages and generally have a relaxing time in one place. Goa is quite unlike other places we have visited in India so far. This is hardly surprising because the country is so big (over 30 hours train ride here from Delhi), and because Goa is distinct in having been occupied by the Portuguese for about a 400 year stretch. The place has a more westernised feel, and there are very few cows wandering about (although there is one constantly on the beach). There are a lot of western hippies here as well as Indians, and lots of Russian holiday makers. Our 30 hour train ride (similar in length to the one Chicago to Flagstaff we made
in US) was not a problem, since we were pretty exhausted and glad of the chance to lie down and rest. This time we shared a cabin with an Indian teacher for part of the way, and a young Slovenian guy, en route to do a yoga teacher's course in Goa, for the rest of the journey. As we got further south the scenery became more tropical with palm trees. The final part of the journey, from Mumbai to Goa, crossed forested hillsides with deep river valleys and few people. We arrived in Goa in a thunderstorm, but since then it has been consistently hot and sunny with a welcome breeze off the sea.
Readers may be surprised to learn that we have been getting up early and going to the beach before breakfast for yoga and a swim. We had intended to join one of the many yoga classes advertised, but none seem actually to happen as advertised; so we are doing some stretches vaguely remembered from a yoga book at home, and copying those around us instead. (As you may imagine, there are some very expert trim young yogis on this beach, who put us to shame,
so we spread our towels out in a discreet spot hidden between 2 boats!). On two occasions Fred has been roped in to help the fisherman push boats up the beach from the water on some wooden roller things. After a leisurely breakfast......yes....our room has its own kettle and fridge so we can make english style tea! and buy cereal.....we lounge on one of the sunbeds, or more likely one of the beach beds under the shade, as it gets very hot, until shortly before sunset when it is nice to have another stroll and a swim. The wide sandy beach stretches miles to the south, and to a cliff to the north. If you walk around the cliff you get to a quiet beach backed by a freshwater lake. There is always a nice breeze coming off the sea, which is a releif. The sea is nice and warm, not too deep, with good sized waves. Being sandy,it is not clear at all, so we haven't done any more snorkelling. We have now accepted that we are not cut out to be real surfers, so content ourselves with body/boogie boarding and playing in the waves. The beach faces west,
so every evening there is a beautiful sunset here. It gets busy at night and all the beach cafes put tables with lights out and get lit up with coloured lights. Mostly the food is good and very cheap too, but I had an unfortunate experience of the squits again after having a mango juice in a cafe which we have since avoided. Weekend is particularly busy with a hippy market selling stuff from towels spread out on the beach. Some cafes have loud music, so we are glad this hotel is set slightly back off the actual beach front. First Full Moon in March coincided with our stay. This makes the white breakers on the beach look especially beautiful at night; and is also the time for the Holi Festival. Holi is a time when Indians play loud music, throw coloured paint around and party. Being kill joys, and having recently bought nice new clothes, we were anxious to avoid taking part in this paint throwing fest as much as possible. We put our old clothes on to go and buy the milk, and couldn't avoid getting splatted with a cry of 'Happy Holi Grandad!' (fortunately the paint washed
off quite easily).
Cricket is big here, especially as the World Cup is on TV. Early morning and evening guys are out playing cricket on the beach. Fred went to watch the Eire/India game in a cafe. Eire did not win....but it is rather unfair for half a small island to be playing a match against a subcontinent with 1.323 billion people, and of course it is the taking part that counts!
I am finishing this blog from Mumbai, where we will catch the plane home in a few hours time. We took a taxi from our hotel in Goa to Sawantwadi road station to catch the overnight train to Mumbai. (Taxi driver brought his wife and young daughter along for the drive). As it was Friday evening of Holi week, the kids had set up road blocks at intervals along the route, where they were banging drums, throwing paint around and asking for money. (Had we been on our own and not understood that it is all festive fun, we might have felt quite threatened.) Sawantwadi road is a nice rural station with chairs rather than the ground to sit on, no stray animals, and nobody wandering
onto the tracks to have a wee (as in city stations in north India). Comfortable overnight journey arriving punctually early in Mumbai Central. We then took a suburban train across Mumbai to this hotel close to the airport. As in Delhi, there was plenty of rubbish alongside the tracks, and slums had been self built alongside the railway, but almost no cows at all. The other difference is that it is not so smoggy and dusty as Delhi. (although being hot, it is quite smelly) It is unclear if this is simply because it had rained overnight. We decided to check into a cheap hotel with wifi, shower and aircon rather than go sightseeing in the heat before our night flight. We chose this place because it is cheap and close to the airport, despite the poor reviews, since it is only for a few hours. (Normally I like to do extensive research on Trip Advisor etc)........Water in toilet and shower not working, manager will bring water in buckets, check in advertised 'from 7am' on web means 11.30 in real time, grubby towel, and he accidentally gave me back our passports with someone else's identity card tucked inside! Its nice
to lie down in aircon and have good wifi with which to moan about it! In a way this final experience is a good one: It demonstrates to us conclusively that the time spent checking reviews of accommodation on the internet is vital research, and not at all time wasted. (will add my own bad review to others on Trip Advisor after checkout). Also......lack of running water in the bathroom is really a 'first world problem' in a world where so many people cope day in day out using a railway line or a street corner as their bathroom. We are lucky lucky people. Looking forward to a soak in a nice warm bath when we get home, as well as seeing Helen and Peter, of course!
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