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Published: August 24th 2013
In order to leave Hampi, we got ourselves an early morning rickshaw to Hospet where we would pick up our first day train since arriving in India. The 8 hour journey would bring us to our next destination….Goa.
When deciding where to stay in Goa, we agreed upon a fairly unusual spot being Panaji, the Goan capital. There is nothing in itself strange about Panaji, however when Goa is mentioned, the first thing people tend to think of is….the Beach. Being fans of the sun and the beach, this would seem like the perfect spot for us for a week or two, so why not head to the beach?
Well, we would love to say it was because culture comes before laziness on our top things to do, and this is why we shunned the beautiful beaches and instead headed for the capitol, however this was not the case. Being that we had arrived in Goa in July, and this was their rainiest month by far, we knew that heading to the beach was optimistic to say the least, and so decided it was probably better off avoided. To be honest, after having read about
Panaji, it sounded like a great little place to spend a couple of days, so it was decided and off we went.
The train towards Goa from Hospet was rather uneventful to be honest until we neared Goa. Once here, the landscape seemed to change dramatically with stunning lush green rolling hills, vast waterfalls and paddy fields in every direction. This was both spectacular to see from the window of the train and a real relief to be honest. A relief, as the first two thirds of the way provided a fairly bleak outlook of India where the towns were made up of slums and there were more people openly dropping number two’s on the disused railway tracks and local area than I care to recall. I was actually finding myself getting rather nauseous approaching each train station by the end as the smell from the open window of the train started to become a little too much. Not only did you have to endure the open defecating around the stations, but on top of this, the train toilet empties itself onto the tracks whilst sitting at the station turning the line into one large open toilet, which was
pretty grim to say the least. Unfortunately though, this is just a way of life here, and the way things are. I’m not judging it, but felt it was something that was worth mentioning since this is just so removed from what we are used to at home. It’s quite a wakeup call to be honest, and sometimes you have to see things with your own eyes to truly believe certain things just happen this way in this country… it really is unbelievable at times.
Panaji itself is actually a great place to spend a couple of days. Being the capital of a state in India, you would assume that it would be out and out carnage like the rest of the cities here; however it actually operates on a much slower, calmer pace than we expected. There’s a lot less people hassling you and vying for your custom here and people in general seem a lot more laid back. Having been run by the Portuguese many moons ago, Panaji still has its fair share of Portuguese architecture around too. Much of this is in a fairly dilapidated shape now and in need of some serious TLC,
however this does give it a certain charm to be honest. We had a great time wandering round, checking out the old streets and buildings along the way, and heading into some of the smaller neighbourhoods outside the centre, with their colonial charm and art galleries this really made for a great stroll. We also ventured into old Goa whilst here visiting the numerous churches and convents that were around which made for another good half a day or so.
The rain that we pretty much banked on during our time here actually stayed fairly dormant apart from the odd shower here and there, and we even saw glimpses of the sun. It’s weird really as we have been to places in the past in Monsoon season, and there tends to be a point in the day when it rains hard for an hour or so and then that’s pretty much it. Here it rains on and off constantly throughout the day, however the downpours rarely last more than a few minutes or so and just as you have got the Rain mac on, it’s time to take it straight back off again.
stay here in Goa may not have been a standard one with the beach and yoga being the activities of the day, however despite this we have really loved what we saw of it. The people are friendly, the vibe is relaxed and there was plenty to see here. The taxes on the booze here are also a fair bit lower than most states in India too, so that means beer is in abundance and is really cheap. We took advantage of this each evening after our stroll, by lazing on one of the local bars balconies, cold Kingfisher in hand, watching as Panaji life unfolded around us.
Had it not been for steeping full onto a dead rat on the pavement whilst here, I think our time would have been close to perfect!
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