I’d been to Goa before, but there were many firsts about my second trip to Goa some months back. The most important thing was that it was the first time in almost twelve years that I was travelling without any excess baggage; read husband and children. And if that wasn’t enough to make me delirious and anxious at the same time, it was also a first of travelling in an only womens’ group. I’ve never been too big on women’s groups; never belonged to any during my school, college or working days simply because I didn’t get the whole thing about gender segregation at all. Mixed always worked fine for me; I felt that balanced it out as both men and women were always conscious of the other gender and that took care of erratic behaviours that might otherwise be exposed.
That apart and the short women only holiday being over now, I strongly feel that it’s a great opportunity to do things the way you like them, without the concerns of your family being the topmost priority. It is a relief to be able to order food without somebody screaming into your ear that they like only pasta, pasta and more pasta. Also, it was a miraculous feeling to be able to nurse not just one but many drinks of all colours and shades, for as long as I wanted to, without apple juice or some other strongly coloured sweet stuff being dunked on my trying to look good clothes. It helped that my fellow travellers were also mums with similar issues so here the women-only factor worked!
And holidays are holidays. You are in a good mood and you try to make it work, no matter what the odds; so even if I was suffering from a terrible allergic bout of flu coupled with some fever; I didn’t let that dampen my spirits. Also, holidays make you forgiving, so the places that I’ve written about also have mostly the good points in them. I’m not going to be critical, well, at least not too much, when I’m not travelling in a professional capacity. It felt good to just be a 40-year-old girl, doing whatever she felt like and being equally forgiving of bad attitudes anywhere. After all, the holidays are all about making fond memories; you don’t want to come back with some sour things to remember.
Moral of the story: go for that girls or boys trip. Without the kids, without the partner; and though the guilt hits you initially, you learn to have a good time slowly but surely.
Here’s what I did in rainy Goa on my second trip of quite a many firsts!
Novotel Goa Resort & Spa, Candolim: Safe, comfortable and easy for groups of women, this no-frills business hotel with 121 rooms and suites, where I stayed, is located right in the heart of Candolim, North Goa, where all the action is. It’s also close to Baga and Calangute Beach. Small, homely with a nice breakfast spread, this hotel has good service too.
Browntown Regal, Candolim: Just within walking distance of the Novotel Resort & Spa hotel is this restaurant cum bar cum disco which serves good food and a smattering of old Bollywood numbers sung by a local guy whose accent makes it a tad endearing. The vibe is good and you can feel the rain lashing on the rooftops as you sit in the open verandah with your drink and some amazing tawa fried fish, that was really the highlight.
Sunny Side Up Restaurant and Bar, Candolim beach: Open a bottle of the very sweet and easy on the pocket local Goan Port wine, top that with some masala peanuts and listen to some nice Hinglish songs here, as the wind blows across your face and you stare out into the sea from this beach shack. Just beware that the Port wine makes you giddy, a bit, with happiness so hold on to that!
Olive Bar and Restaurant, Vagator Beach: Local talk goes that Olive’s top honcho AD Singh took 15 to 17 years to find the perfect spot in Goa, to open his flagship restaurant. It was worth it. Ride up high and reach the cliff where you have this pretty place looking like a Greek restaurant, done up in blues and whites. The view is as expected, amazing from such a height and the food lives up to what we have grown to expect from this brand. A tad small to house all the eager beavers who want to go home and say they dined at Olive, it’s a nice place otherwise to spend your evening at; sipping your cocktail and watching the sun go down. And yes, I loved my baked sardines with Ciabatta too.
Cavala Bar and Restaurant, Baga: To shake a leg to some cool English numbers, Cavala is the place to be. A mix between a country house and a bar, it’s spacious, has a good crowd, good music and is packed most of the times. It took me back to my college days of hanging out in places like these with some great company and equally great ambience.
Marbella Beach Resort, Morjim-Ashwem Road: The white tents are alluring, so is the relaxed seating here, on the beach or inside the open air restaurant. It is quite a drive to get here but the scenic road makes it worth your while. Get a bucket of beers and just relax or go and splash in the waves of the beach; whatever, it’s a nice place with good food. Craving for North Indian food? They have a nice spread and you can stay as long as you like: no hurry.
Cohiba Pub, Sinquerim, Candolim: Perhaps the place I loved the most and where I spent the last of my short Goan holiday, Cohiba rocks making it a must visit. Awesome cocktails with great continental food and two singers who really revved up the dance floor, this sprawling villa that metamorphoses into a restaurant, pub, bar and chat spot with loads of people all looking to have a good time, gets full marks. If you love English songs, get yourself here and shake a leg; it will take you back home with some great memories.
As they say in Konkani: Aoo Tsauud Kooshi or I am happy! I truly was.
Here’s to more of Goa and may the party never end.