Bombay, a bit of North Goa and then down to South Goa

Bombay – so just like last time we were going to be visiting my childhood friend Caroline (Cotton) but this time she had moved to the much more central location of Bandra West. It reminded me a bit of hipster London as we travelled past craft beer places and small arty cafes, her apartment is a lovely old building with multiple balconies, 3 bedrooms and a large open plan kitchen, 3 crazy cats, a hamster with 1 ball, her husband Anshuman and daughter Saira.


We didn’t really do much whilst we were there as we were still recovering from Soundstorm but we managed to get some work stuff organised on the laptops, get used to the constant sound of honking car / tuk horns, adapt a bit to the stifling heat and got SIM cards from the Vodafone shop – Got a family deal so 2 physical SIMs and 2 virtual SIMs with about 260gb of data across them each month, texts, calls etc for only £10 a month – this is a post-paid account so needs a residential Indian address.

We also hung out with their friends having food and drinks, some tasty Goan Pork made for us by their maid and even had a go at a proper VR game which was very cool but really disorientating and we declined doing anymore for fear it would make me motion sick, much to Sairas disappointment.

4 days passed mega quick and before we knew it, we were up and sneaking out of Cottons house at 5am so we could get the train down to Goa. There was a small confusion about how to get to Dadar station as we didn’t realise tuk tuks aren’t allowed there but after a few different drivers and our nerves getting a bit fried we managed to get a car taxi that could take us. All Bombay taxis should be on the meter but do watch them as a local scam means they are altered to spin round quicker than they should.

We got the train down to Thivm, which is one of the closest stations to Arambol which was our destination. You still have to get a taxi from the station as it’s about 45mins away, but with the new black and yellow taxi ranks at most big stations at least you know you it’s a set price and the taxi mafia can’t rip you off. It cost us 1500rps, which is about £15 and we splashed out on an A/C car so that I wouldn’t feel so car sick.









Arambol is up in North Goa and it was a new place for us to visit and explore so we’d booked in for 2 weeks at Swati Hotel just off the beach road. It wasn’t quite on the beach but only a few mins walk and quite central for all restaurants and shops and the pictures and description of the property sounded nice. Unfortunately pictures and descriptions don’t tell the full story and our hotel left quite a lot to be desired (Damp walls, doors not locking, amenities not as advertised, dodgy electrics and sulky young lads running the place), we did eventually get a slightly better room but I wouldn’t ever go back to this hotel. 

                                               

The beach however was nice, very busy with different shacks but everyone was friendly and we quickly sussed out a few favs that we frequented. One of these (Santana) had been recommended to us by a friend that stayed in Aramabol earlier in the month, it had a nice raised up seating area as well as having tables in the sand and served cold beer, tasty food and was run by really friendly guys and manager Vipin. Another fav but this time a bit of a late night drinking dive was Pirate Bar, which we frequented to watch the football and drink lots of local blue ribbon gin with the crazy locals.

It was 2 weeks of not doing much, we swam in the mornings, ate late breakfasts, drank cocktails , watched sun sets and demolished tasty dinners. We both came down with Delhi Belly - although Pauls might have been food poisoning, so that slowed us down for a few days but it was probably going to happened at some point in our trip so at least it’s out of the way now.

We hired scooters and poodled off to Calangute to see a dentist there, it was great to be back on the road although we forgot to wear our helmets when we left the beach road so were quickly fined 1000rps each (£10) an expensive mistake but hey ho. I couldn’t recommend Calangute as it’s very much the Blackpool of Goa, filled with Indian lads on tour in their ‘I love Goa’ T-shirts and Brits that seem to want Karaoke and Bingo wherever they go. Fine if that’s what you want but it’s not my scene, this is however where the best Dentists seem to have practises, and as we both needed dental work a few flying visits were going to be needed.

14 nights and our time at Arambol came to an end, all in all it wasn’t a bad place just very busy with Russian and Indian tourists, I would go back just maybe not for 2 weeks.

Our next destination was Agonda in South Goa, so we had a bit of a trek to do with Taxi back to Thivm then a train to Madgaon, followed by another taxi to Agonda. It didn’t take long and by 1pm we were pulling into the drive of Sea2000 which was the guesthouse we’d booked for Christmas and New Year. 

We’d picked Agonda because we fell in love with this compact little beach town last time we came and I’m pleased to say I’m still in love with it. It’s mainly full of long term travellers that come for anything from 1 – 6 months of the year, has a great beach road full of tasty food stops, beach shacks, a late night dive bar and loads of shops and it’s also the place where a few friends we made in Sri Lanka hang out so I was looking forward to this stop immensely.

The guesthouse was lovely and we got upgraded to a brand new room, that didn’t have as much character as the older style room but at least there weren’t holes in the roof, plus it was literally 10 steps away from the best bar on the beach (Agonda Sunset), which did cheap but tasty cocktails, cold beer, tasty Thai food and to die for Momos – We spent a lot of time and money in there.

Again we developed a routine of morning swim, late breakfast, hiding in the A/C room during the hottest part of the day and then out again for sunset. Cotton and family came down for Christmas but stayed at the other end of the beach so we saw them a few times, plus met up with Nat & Dave, Inge and Per & Andrea, all guys we met in Sri Lanka. We had a trip out to Patnem beach which is lovely and quieter than Agonda and from there we walked to Palolem beach, which is much busier with lots of people, bars, water activities etc. Nice for a visit but I wouldn’t want to stay there.

Christmas day was fantastic as had a morning swim, then cocktails on the beach before being invited to our hosts Christmas curry meal with the other long term guests. I will admit I ate and drank rather too much and so by the time the posh dinner at Kopi Desa came round I wasn’t feeling 100%. It was an amazing meal but unlimited mulled wine plus the 3 course dinner put me in bed by 9:30!

I’m not the biggest New Year fan, I don’t really like organised parties or feeling like you’ve got to have 100% fun or you’re doing it wrong, so as Agonda is a quieter beach without any boom shacks or huge events I was looking forward to it being a chilled one. We ate at Sunset early, had yummy cocktails then strolled along to Bobbys bar which is where everyone ends up at some point during their stay in Agonda, we then went to the beach to meet Nat & Dave and a few other friends where we drank Cashew Fenni, watched fireworks and danced round the fire to speed techno / gabba until the sun started to come up. Needless to say the recovery time was long and painful but it was a brilliant evening.

Sadly we moved not long after new year but I have no doubt we’ll be back to Agonda again on this trip. Next stop was Cavelossim, which was another unknown for us but in the spirit of adventure we wanted to explore a few new places on this trip, plus it was close to Benaulim which was where we were meeting loads of friends over from the UK. 

As we’d stepped away from metered taxis and the government fixed price black and yellow ones we were now left at the mercy of the taxi mafia, which sounds very melodramatic but there isn’t really another way to describe them, they chase off cheaper tuk tuks or out of town taxis and all quote ridiculous prices to go short distances, plus are dead against any sort of uber or taxi app which might end up cheaper for the traveller. We were quoted 1,800 but ended up paying 1500rps to go about 27km, which if it was metered should only cost you about 1,200. I know it’s not a huge difference but it all adds up when you’re here for 5 months and have to get taxis often.

Where we stayed in Cavelossim was a lovely place down by the river called Valeria’s Holiday Home, there were river cruises that go along the river and if we could be bothered the beach was only a 10 walk away. We actually didn’t bother (I know very lazy), the room we had was huge and really nice with a big balcony so we hung out there most of the days, we did walk along to the beach and had some snacks at the beach shacks but having come from a very vibrant beach scene this sadly was a bit lacking, although the sand was the softest we’d walked on. 

We did go out on the sunset boat cruise which left only a few feet away from the guesthouse ran by Cris Cruises and it was great, priced at 1400rps per person (about £14) the drinks flowed consistently and the food was lovely. The vibe for Cavelossim is very much older pension age brits, young Russian families and posh up market hotels, so not for us although we ate extremely well on our 4 days here and I am glad I experienced it to cross it off the map.

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