“Once a year go somewhere you have never been before.”- Dalai Lama
I consider travel to be a way of life. You are awake; you eat, go out, see new things, meet new people and explore the culture. Travel is not about just reaching your destination, it is an experience. What’s a better holiday destination than our very own Goa! As Delhi sizzled at 45 degrees centigrade, it was time to plan a trip to one of the most beautiful states in India. Goa, with its pristine beaches, heritage, culture and some fantastic food, is the perfect getaway, especially if you are seeking a short, sweet, and affordable holiday. With two kids in tow, I had a ready itinerary of 3 nights and 4 days in Goa.
The Travel- Getting to Goa from Delhi
Goa has one airport – Vasco-da-Gama and three railway stations (Vasco, Madgaon, and Thivim) and two major bus depots (Panjim and Madgaon). It is well connected with all the major cities in India. I decided to fly down from New Delhi, and then hire a cab within Goa to go around.
App Based Booking with Akbar Travels
I looked up sites such as Spice Jet, Indigo, MakeMyTrip, Goibibo, Ixigo, Clear Trip and Akbar Travels while searching for budget airline deals. I had my departure date set as 15th May. The date was the only thing I was fixed about. I was unsure about the time of flight and the airline. My only other criterion was the fact that I had to get the cheapest deal. For a two-way flight- Delhi-Goa-Delhi, I found Akbar Travels’ airfares the lowest. None of the others could offer me the same price. Also, Akbar Travels offered me a flat Rs 300 off on Domestic Flight bookings (till 31st May 2017). The Travels also have Airport Ticketing Counters for the benefit of passengers who make last minute bookings or changes in their travel plans. These ticket counters are at three of the leading airports in India – Chennai, Mumbai and New Delhi. They are conveniently located near the departure area and provide all travel services such as air tickets, hotel bookings, holiday packages, car rental services and e-train tickets.
Staying in Goa
Having got a good deal on my flight booking, the next thing to do was to choose my place of stay. As I was visiting Goa in the non-peak season i.e. March to October, I was able to get a good deal. I narrowed my search to a quaint hotel near the Calangute Beach. I loved the look of the place; the cost worked out at Rs. 2000 per night for a luxury room with a double bed, along with complimentary breakfast, wi-fi and an airport pick up as well.
Get the geography of Goa
Goa is a tiny little state on the western coastline of India. For ease of understanding, it can be divided into two main regions- North Goa with Panjim as its headquarters and, South Goa with Madgaon as its headquarters. There are almost 20 famous beaches (with a couple of other tiny ones that are equally beautiful and worth a sight). Goa is strewn with ancient architecture, thanks to the influence of the Portuguese, who once ruled this land. Today, it is a place where tourists throng from across the globe, making for a lively and cosmopolitan atmosphere.
Enjoying the beaches
Goa is surely synonymous with fun, beaches, food and rejuvenation. There are some fantastic must see places and must try cuisines too. With over 20 beaches, Goa is the place to enjoy the sun, sand, waves, the beautiful sunsets, shacks and adventure sport. You would seldom get bored here as you could find a whole range of activities to do. Goa has something for every kind of traveller. The famous North Goa beaches are Anjuna, Baga, Calangute, Vagator and Dona Paula. In South Goa, you would find Colva, Majorda, Palolem, and Cavelossim. If I had to pick my favorite, it would surely be South Goa’s Palolem. I loved the sunset here, the shacks and food joints that face it. I dipped my feet in the water, watched the sunset and had some delicious food later in the evening.
The Gourmet zone of Goa
There is no dearth of places to eat in Goa. No doubt it is a paradise for seafood lovers. But, being a vegetarian, I had options to explore too. I must say I wasn’t disappointed. The variety of food one can get here is simply amazing- from Desi Tadkas to international flavors, Goa has it all. The food is a class apart in most restaurants. Most places also offer live music performances on select days that add that extra bit to the whole ambience and experience.
Must carry stuff in your travel bag
As they say when in Rome do as the Romans do. The same things holds true for Goa too. Flip flops are the most comfortable footwear and an absolute must. Goa being a coastal place is hot and humid. Make sure you make yourself as comfortable as possible. T-shirts and shorts are a perfect bet for the sun.
Remember to carry a pair of swimwear. Most of the Hotels in Goa have a pool, and there is no better way to relax than a quick dip in the cool pool to beat the heat of Goa. Sunscreens are an absolute must too. Surely you wouldn’t want the tan to last you a lifetime, right? Last but not the least, definitely a camera to capture all those moments. Also, do carry your driving license. The cheapest way to travel in Goa is to rent bikes. It would let you explore every nook and corner of towns.
And if you thought it is only beaches…
Goa has much more than just beaches. It has a very rich heritage and a unique culture of its own. The place has churches, museums, forts and wildlife sanctuaries too. Popular must see are:
- Aguada Fort: This fort and lighthouse is a perfect reminiscence of the Portuguese rule in Goa.
- Chapora Fort is very famous after being featured in the movie Dil Chahta Hai
- Basilica of Bom Jesus contains the tomb and the remains of St. Francis Xavier
- Naval Aviation Museum dedicated to the history of Naval Aviation in India
- Church of our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is a popular landmark and a one if its kind church in Goa.
For the young at heart
Goa is famous for its rock culture. I also found a lot of small restaurants in and around Panjim that put up some interesting gigs. Do drive along the roads and stop over for one such performances. It’s an experience of a kind.
A typical 3-day itinerary in Goa
I always try to balance out two things – rejuvenation and covering as many places as possible to make the most of my trip. During my stay in Goa, I tried and covered places geographically and frankly, did manage to make the most of my trip.
Day 1: I started from the south and spent the morning in Calangute as this was where I had chosen my accommodation. After a relaxed morning, I headed for lunch to Baga. The weather seemed perfect and I was able to cover Anjuna by early evening. I spent the sunset at Vagator, on top of the Chapora Fort. Dinner was at a quaint place near Vagator.
Day 2: I covered Cavalossim and headed to Colva, Majorda and finally to Bogmalo. The day did seem hectic but the places were so beautiful.
Day 3: This day was dedicated to the Heritage of Goa. I started the day by spending the morning at Aguada fort. I visited the two famous churches – Basilica of Bom Jesus and Lady of Immaculate Conception. Later in the afternoon, my kids had a whale of a time go-karting in the evening.
Day 4: My flight was booked for late evening hence I had a few hours in the morning to explore Madgaon. I loved this town the most, as it still had that distinct Portuguese touch to it.
A Fulfilling Holiday
For those who prefer a far more organized travel itinerary for Goa, try Akbar travels. They have holiday packages at the most affordable rates, in all tourist spots in India and abroad. I found my trip to be very fulfilling as I was able to blend relaxation together with some fun. Away from the madness of a large metro city such as Delhi, Goa’s beaches had that element of serenity that I loved.