Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bangalore to Goa route

I just realized that many of you would be interested in the route we followed from Bangalore to Goa and how was the road condition. So, here is brief information on the road from Bangalore to Goa. The road was lousy in most parts.

Route we followed
Neelmanagala – Tumkur- Shimoga- Sagar- Jog Falls – Honnavar – Karwar - Margao.
Distance, around 570 km.
The road was bad in stretches before Shimoga (after tarikere), then after jog falls and then after Honnavar.

Detailed road plan
Bangalore – Tumkur (NH4)
Tumkur – Tiptur – Arsikere – Kadur – Tarkere – Shimoga – Sagar – Honavar (NH206)
Honavar – Kumta – Ankola – Karwar (NH17)
Karwar – Galgibaga – Palolem – Agonda – Margao - Colva – Panjim – Calangute Baga – Anjum - Morjim - Ashwem

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Goa Beach Guide

Here is my take on goa beaches starting from south.
Palolem: Palolem is the southernmost of Goa’s developed beaches. This is a lovely crescent-shaped beach, mostly visited by foreigners. When I went in November a lot of beach huts were functional and were available quite cheap. You would be amazed by the number of foreigners here and it seems they are living here since ages. The market next to the beach is also worth a look. There is also a dolphin-spotting rides available at this place, so plan your visit to the place accordingly as evening and early morning would be the right time.Agonda : This one has the best beach huts and kind of place that would be loved by people looking for solitude. You can hardly see three people at a time on the beach. This is a good base to see quieter beaches further south and also great choice to just spend time with your loved ones or may be for individuals who want spend time with themselves. This one is my personal favorite and must visit place.
Colva: Colva beach is a typical Indian beach which is too crowded and having a lot of water games. There is government run hotel on the beach. And personally I did not like the place at all. I said place because I cannot say I did not like the beach as all the beaches on Goa are good.

Calangute-Baga-Sinquerim-condolim: I have combined all theses beaches together as they all are very much reachable from each other and you can just stay at one of these and visit all other from there. I would suggest you to stay at Baga as most of the pubs and discos are here and you can just walk back after drinking at night. The most famous disco ‘Titos’ and ‘CafĂ© Mambo’ is also at the Baga. There are plenty of hotels and guesthouses available here. Calangute and Baga beach both offer a lot of water games. Calangute and Baga beaches are adjacent to each other and on walk able distance. Both these beaches does not have beach huts here but have lots of beach shacks serving all kinds of cuisines.The only difference between the two is that Calangute has more of Indian tourists and is a bit more crowded.
Condolim and Sinquerim are located just south of calangute but not at walkable distance.Condolim’s beach has lot of beach shacks and a good option for spend an evening looking at sunset but a better option will be sinquerim beach and my personal favorite for watching sunset. There some parts of Aguada fort overlooking sinquerim and if you climb at the highest point and watch the sunset you would really like it.The beach part is actually very small . Taj fort aguada is also located at this beach.
Anjuna-Morjim-Ashwem: Anjuna is north of Baga. Anjuna is a rocky beach and actually has a very nice view. The Wednesday market here is quite famous but when we went in November I did not find it very promising. Famous disco ‘Paradiso’ is also here. The quieter beaches of Morjim and Ashwem also have good and cheap beach huts. The beach is shallow and also has nice and soothing view.These beaches would be a better choice to stay than Anjuna which in my view is not for ‘mainstream’ people.

We also visited a few more beaches (Galgibaga, Sernabatim and Vagator) other than the ones described above but I did not find them very special so did not talk about it. I think Goa is a place where you should visit every day. Hope the information above would help you in planning your vacation for more information you can provide a comment or mail me.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Bangalore to Goa by road - Go Goa

We (Me and my husband) have been to Goa before but this was completely different experience. Calling this trip as vacation would be again wrong as this was more of an exploration. Exploring Goa - aahh. This time we decided to visit all the prominent beaches of Goa starting from South Goa to North Goa. I have missed some important details before I really start with my trip info here. We stay in Bangalore and we drive our sweet little Alto (Truly Let's go) and my better half is strictly travelocoholic and we do not prepare detailed plan of our trip. We just decide the place to go, take a map and start.

Back to the trip now.
15th Nov,2008 - We started early morning around 6:30.Goa is around 580 kms from Bangalore if you go via Shivamoga (commonly known as Shimoga). Reaching Goa on the first day seemed difficult; spending a night at Karwar wasn’t a bad idea. Karwar is the border between Karnataka and Goa and as we already had been to Karwar before, it would be easy to find a hotel (we don’t book one in advance but it makes sense to take a list of hotels in that place and also some on the way just incase something goes wrong). I had taken lot of stuffs to eat on the way so we did not stop anywhere and zoooooomed straight to Karwar. We reached Karwar around 6:30 pm. Hotel we stayed in is called Premier (we stayed at the same place last time). One other option was Devbagh Beach Resort - but we decided to go cheap.

Let me describe a bit about Karwar. Rabindranath Tagore liked the place so much that had written a poem on the place. It’s a small town with a beautiful beach with mountain on both the sides. The beach is on the left side of the highway and the road parallel to the highway has most of the hotels and also the main market place where you have a restaurant (I forgot the name) where Milind gunaji had come a number of times. You can enjoy the Konkani food (what else fish- the healthiest and tastiest food).

16th Nov, 2008 - Next morning we started for Goa and within an hour we were inside the Goa state. All the while I kept singing Go Goa... Go Goa. The first we visited in south Goa was Galgibaga. It is a bit out of the way but yet we decided to go for it as we had read that this is the turtle nesting site in South Goa. The beach was good. A local group was having picnic there but we couldn’t see any turtle. So we tried to find out why and got to know they come only after sunset and there was no point waiting there till sunset. This one is not very favorite with tourists. There were no options for accommodation too. So we thought of now going straight to Agonda beach which is known for the best beach huts in Goa. Another option could have been to go to Palolem but we headed to Agonda. You can find lot of beach huts there and also other good and cheap accommodation. We stayed in Mahamahanas. Believe me - we could not imagine of anything more. It was a double storey beach hut (tree house) bang on the beach with big balconies, hammocks, hanging chairs. Immediately after taking the room we headed towards the sea . It’s a kind of beach which would be liked by people who like solace. Most of the tourists here were foreigners. Amazing place you will never feel like leaving. The food also was excellent.

17 Nov, 2008 - Next day we hired a scooty and went for a ride to Colva beach. There is nothing like having scooty ride in Goa but you should not plan a long trip on scooty because you can hardly drive at 50 km/hr and then after sometime you will be totally tired. This is only recommended for nearby places. So considering this, plan to go to Colva beach was a bad idea. Anyways, we did not know this secret beforehand and we were already on our way enjoying every thing on the way. And yes we also visited a fort on the way but it was not something great.Colva beach is a typical beach with lot of Indians and highly crowded and definitely the one I will never like to go again. While coming back it started raining and in this weather getting wet is no big deal because in few minutes you are dry again. We were totally tired while coming back yet we decided not to go to Agonda but to also see a nearby beach Palolem (I told you isn’t it that my better half is travelocoholic). Palolem(10 kms south of Agonda) is the southernmost developed beach in Goa with plenty of beach accomodation options. It came as relief after a not so good experience. We went for a dolphin ride and saw a lot of dolphins around. Palolem also is a bit crowded but here the crowd is mostly foreigners. The market around the beach is also worth a look. Then we drove back to Agonda ate and slept with background sound of sea roaring.

18 Nov, 2008 - Early morning we woke up and went for a walk from one end to other end of Agonda beach barefoot. I am not an early riser but places like this make me spiritual and I become more disciplined. We came back and had breakfast. There we met a couple who had come from Manchester. They were also leaving the place that day and were heading towards North Goa. We had earlier planned to go to Anjuna beach and stay there but after a discussion with the couple we changed our plan to head towards Baga beach. According to them Anjuna beach has a hippie crowd and visiting the place was good idea but not staying. And as they had been to 9 times before so we thought of listening to their advice. Baga and Calangute are the two adjacent and most popular beaches of Goa. On the way our plan changed and we thought of checking out Sinquerim beach as all ( Sinquerim, Baga , Condolim and Calangute) these beaches were not to far from each other. Sinquerim beach again was nice ( all beaches in Goa are nice) but not the one where we would like to spend a day. So we again went back to the plan of going to Baga. Baga was a 10 minutes drive from Sinquerim. Baga at the first look seemed a nice place to stay for a day. This is the most happening beach of Goa with lots of Discos, Pubs and right kind of crowd. We checked out a few guesthouses and hotels and settled down for hotel 'Cavala'. This one was a kind of premier hotel with a nice swimming pool and complementary breakfast. We were offered a welcome drink which we asked to be served at swimming pool and after keeping things in room, we headed directly to swimming pool. I always use to wonder before this trip why people like to go for swimming pool when there is a complete sea but I got my answer. We found Juhi of Kumkum(One of the soap on tv) fame sharing the hotel with us. Later on I found that there were many actors working in soaps staying near Baga. Due to the strike of television workers they got a time out in Goa. I really enjoy seeing filmstars and soapstars and then talking about it later on. Don't know why? Evening we went to condolim beach. There were lots of beach shacks serving food and good music. We had ginger tea and garlic bread. We sat for a while in silence looking at the sunset and the beach and the lights around. Peace this is all that came to mind.

19 Nov, 2008 - Today we decided to extend our stay at this place to 2 more days as the place was comfortable and everything we would like to see was nearby and can be visited easily. After breakfast we went straight to the beach, then 1 hour in sea and half an hour in swimming pool. We had fish curry and rice for lunch and took a scooty for rest of the day. We then went for ride to Visit Anjuna beach. It was a Wednesday and Anjuna beach’s Wednesday market is quiet popular so I was anticipating a good opportunity for shopping. We reached there in 1 hour and the place for sure was not right choice to stay (The advice of Manchester couple worked well for us). The beach was both rocky and sandy and had beautiful view. The market was not good enough but yes this is not the peak season so may be you go in peak season the things would be different. We also visited Vagator beach which was only at small distance. This was again rocky and we could see some parasailing happening but we couldn’t make out from where we could get there but it was somewhere near by. We left the idea as something’s has to be kept for next time. We came back to the hotel in Baga, totally tired and exhausted and slept off. In evening we decided of hitting some good disco. It had been a long time we had been to one and as in Bangalore discs are closed it was right thing to do. We had 3 choices- Tito’s (oldest and most popular), Mambo’s or Paradiso at Anjuna beach. We were a bit apprehensive about the Paradiso as coming back would be dicey affair. We decided to go for Tito’s. At 1:00 pm we came out and had dinner at one of the restaurants around and in the market near Baga beach 1:00 pm seemed like 8:00 pm. Everything was up and running.I wondered those people never slept.

20 Nov, 2008 – The day started same way as the one before. But for today we decided to spend afternoon a bit leisurely and not do anything tiring. We roamed around, did some shopping and took an afternoon nap. Evening we rode to Aguada fort which again is not far off, just half an hour distance. The sunset here was the most beautiful I have ever seen in my life and you have to see it to believe it.

21 Nov, 2008 –The morning chores were as usual. In our list, some more beaches from North Goa were still left to see and that became the plan for the day. We drove to Morgim beach. This one was a shallow beach and it could have been a good idea to stay there for a day (Next time). A few Kilometers north of Morgim is Ashwem beach, this again had a good accommodation options as beach huts. We had quickly decided that next time we ought to stay at one of these two beaches. Evening we spent watching sunset and shopping around Calangute beach near Baga. Calangute is the most popular destination among Indian tourists and at any time of day you can find this place crowded.

22 Nov, 2008 and 23 Nov, 2008- This is the day we had to start our journey back. After our usual morning session as sea and swimming pool, we left the hotel at 12:00 sharp. On the way back we stayed at Gokarna (wasn’t a very good idea). Next day we stopped to see Jog falls on the way and then back to pavilion. But nothing seemed interesting after Goa and only thing that gave hope was that I will again Go GOA….