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Published: September 4th 2018
Today we got the bus to old Goa. This was a surprisingly straightforward venture and very cheap (10p each!). We were lucky enough to get seats on the way there, although we had to stand on the way back. Old Goa used to be the Portuguese capital of Goa, with a population greater than that of London in the 16th to 18th centuries. Unfortunately they had to move the capital to Panaji in 1843 due to Malaria and Cholera. The area is now a world heritage site and full of old churches and cathedrals to see.
On arrival we were surprised at how small the area is and how little there is in terms of cafes or places to eat. The guidebook recommends a day trip there but unless you’re particularly interested in the archeology museum or Christian art gallery I would have thought a half day adequate.
As we stepped off the bus we were inundated by tauts trying to persuade us to buy ‘offerings’ for the church. Whilst I understand the candles the garlands of flowers were new to us!
We started by seeing the Bascilica of Bom Jesus, famous for containing the remains of St
Francis. It was packed and we were funnelled through it in a rather odd way. They had fenced the main part of the church off so you couldn’t go and sit quietly or pray if you wanted to. we found the candle offerings rather funny as people clearly hadn’t done it before and there were no instructions so rather than standing the candle up and lighting it they were lighting bundles of candles lying flat on the trays and creating quite a bonfire.
After seeing the Basilica we crossed the road to see the Se Cathedral, the largest in Asia. It’s an imposing building and worth a look but after being spoilt looking around the churches in Rome and the UK the slightly neglected buildings here are less awe inspiring. All of the churches other than the basilica were relatively quiet, and much cooler than outside.
The museum of Christian art is currently shut for refurbishment. We saw the other churches in the area, and particularly enjoyed the ruined Monastery of St Augustine. We then headed back into Panaji for some late lunch.
In the evening we went to the delicious Black Sheep restaurant. The atmosphere was
great, as were the cocktails (I enjoyed the home made star anaise gin). The food was fantastic, which is fortunate as this is not a cheap restaurant (but is currently the highest rated restaurant in Goa according to the Times, India). Budget blown we walked back to the hostel past the beautifully lit up Church of our lady of immaculate conception.
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