Sunday, 15 February 2015

Life's A Beach - Adventures in Goa & Beyond



Thank you so much for the warm welcome back and your kind comments, it made coming home that bit more bearable!

Village cats

Ready for more? 

Detail from Hindu temple

Roadside shrine
After acclimatising ourselves in Benaulim and rediscovering the area (if you're interested there's some photos of a morning in Margao, Goa's second city HERE) we gathered our belongings, jumped on a bus and two hours later arrived in Agonda, in Goa's deep South.


India's public transport system is efficient and easy. Climb aboard, take a seat, tell the conductor where you're going and you're charged one rupee (just over 1p) per kilometre. Women travelling alone even have a specific "Ladies Only" seats situated behind the driver.  Often you'll be the only Westerners on the bus, providing the entertainment for the other passengers. You'll be stared at, photographed or tapped on the shoulder and asked where you're from, where you're going and what you think of India. The bus stops every couple of hours so passengers can stretch their legs, use the loo or stock up on snacks and chai.



Once we arrived I sat in a cafe and minded the bags whilst Jon went off in search of accommodation. Never look for a room carrying bags, it puts you at a distinct disadvantage for bargaining for the best deal if the owner knows you're homeless. If they ask then tell them you're already staying at another place in the village but fancy a change.



The Hindustan Ambassador, the taxis of India 
Agonda has changed massively since our first visit 13 years ago. Back then it was a tiny fishing hamlet with just ten simple beach huts all sharing a bathroom, along with a couple of guest houses and a local store. Electricity was limited and sporadic at best, the village had a single payphone and a dirt track served as the main road. Nowadays it's the hip destination of choice for many, Kashmiri emporiums, tourist shops and cyber cafes line the tarmac road and the beach is fringed with trendy hut encampments with prices varying enormously but, despite the changes, its still hard to beat as a place to unwind.





The first place Jon tried charged £80 per night for a coco hut but next door he found one for £5. Both offered exactly the same view of the ocean, access to the beach, a palm thatched roof and an outdoor sitting area, the only difference being that ours didn't have colour co-ordinated sheets or WiFi.

Duck 'n' Chill beach hut. Our home in Agonda.


We soon fell into a daily routine - starting with a leisurely two hour walk along the beach at sunrise, watching the fishermen sorting their catch and squealing excitedly every time we spotted a dolphin cavorting in the water.


Breakfast was eaten in the tiny village cafe, often sharing a table with auto-rickshaw drivers and waiters on their way to work. For 40p each we'd dip crusty white bread rolls (pav) into plates of steaming hot & spicy veg curry (bhaji) and sip from glasses of sweet, cardamom-infused chai.


The rest of the day would be spent back on the beach, swimming, reading and basking in the glorious sunshine. We'd take a picnic to enjoy under the shade of a nearby fishing boat; locally-grown, buttery bananas, juicy Karnatakan oranges and bun, sweet bread flavoured with fennel seeds.


Cows would surround us, patiently waiting for the banana skins and orange peelings.





In the evening we'd head out to dinner. While the beach front is lined with trendy shacks offering increasingly sophisticated food in a sumptuous setting, the prices come at a premium and, more often than not, the only Indians you'll meet are the ones serving you. Instead we step away from the beach and head for the village instead, eating at one of the restaurants set in the gardens of old Goan houses. The decor won't be swanky and the menu will far smaller but its where the locals choose to eat so the food is authentic and, even with several ice-cold beers and a post-dinner gin/vodka and tonic, the bill rarely comes to more than £8.

Typical dinner for two - veg vindaloo, veg pakoras, cucumber raita, chutney and plain rice


After 12 days of beach life the lure of culture further afield beckoned so we packed up our bags and again, with nothing planned, headed off to the railway station, buying a pair of one way tickets to the neighbouring state of Karnataka.



And, yes, that really is a cow on the track!

See you soon.

62 comments:

  1. Im in love with your India , the colours , the food -all of it !
    xxxc

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  2. I think it would be easy to do w/o wifi and coordinated sheets :)

    Love it that you share the beach with cattle!

    And the food.............! How pleasurable. The two of you ought to set up a travel agency.

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  3. Oh how glorious! The photos of you and Jon strolling on the beach are just wonderful, I love your eye for the details, the food and the creatures, and as always, I adore how you write about it all. Your connection to India is palpable.
    Beach life sounds grand, but where to next?
    Love you!
    PS. Remind Jon to get working on that audition song... xxxx

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  4. Arrh, India wouldn't be India without the sacred cow:-)

    Gr8 traveller tip btw:)

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  5. Those cows are so beautiful :)
    The price difference between those two places is astonishing!
    Love that taxi xxx

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  6. I am LOVING these photos and all the travel tips, keep 'em coming!! x

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  7. Fantastic photos , I can almost feel the sun warming my tired old bones
    Twiggy x
    PS thanks for your lovely comments about Twiglet's artwork. I thought it reminded me of something, you are so right it's Screamadelica

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  8. I'm loving these photos, most of them are completely frameable, and they're making me pine for Summer!

    Please tell me there are more! xx

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  9. So beautiful, what an amazing place and I reckon that going off the tourist trail sounds like the way to go. I always like to meet and 'chat' with local people when I'm abroad.

    I've fallen in love with the paintwork on that Ambassador, its completely awesome. I reckon Archie would look fabulous with a paint job like that. At the moment the only Indian influence he's got is his Lakshmi air freshener and the flower garland on the back seat!

    Your food photos are making me feel hungry and I like the sound of bun as I love fennel seeds.

    Can't wait to read the next installment xxx

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  10. I love the taxi. The price differences are huge, but I prefer your way to go. x

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  11. If I ever go to Goa, I'll definitely compile a collection of Vix's travel guide tips! So much to love in this post... the colours, the cows, the delicious looking food (can almost smell it and taste it from here), the stunning beach, glimpses of local life and your enviously gorgeous bikini bod :-)

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  12. It looks wonderful Vix, thanks for sharing with us. I definitely wish I was in India right now after reading this post xx

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  13. Beautiful colours and pictures. What a great start to your trip, your accommodation was fabulous, right on the beach - I know I would rather save £75 and do two hour beach walks rather than 2 hours wifi! can't wait for the next episode - I think you could write for Fodors! Betty

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  14. It looks almost too beautiful but so tranquil and restful it makes me all to aware of the tension and knots in my neck as I sit here reading!

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  15. Hello Vix,

    After your extremely hectic year, this relaxing time must have been very welcome indeed.

    The simple beach hut is charming and the view of the ocean is incomparable. A perfect spot.

    And, how wise you were to eat as the locals do and where the locals do. That is always the way to experience the real life of a country. And, what delicious food you had too!

    We cannot wait for the next adventure instalment!

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  16. What interesting photographs telling a story on their own! Love that painted taxi and fish patterns, amazing!

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  17. Takes me back in a way to my childhood in PNG.
    All slightly worn, but carefree. The food is better in India! And pigs were the sacred animal not cows.
    I'm relaxing just thinking about it all :-) thanks xo Jazzy Jack

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  18. That taxi is fantastic!

    I really love the photo of you walking into the water as well.

    Seems like a lovely vacation.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  19. Very colorful and beautiful photos Vix. Welcome back and have a lovely week. xo

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  20. Glad you are back now there is something interesting to look forward to , These photos are stunning and you have had a wonderful well deserved holiday , Love the old buildings bet you would love to live in one , That bikini body never seems to age either xxx

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  21. Looks such a feast for the senses. Quite wonderful. We must go one day. With a half Indian husband it's shameful not to.
    You're looking fab in your bikini Vix! Xxx

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  22. The colors of your travels are brightening my morning, dear Vix - our landscape is monochrome (and the temperatures here unmentionable!) so I am happily uplifted by your posts!

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  23. So colorful, beautiful, peaceful, and oh my I want that breakfast right now. You and Jon look fabulous, so full of joy. x0x

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  24. Dipping crusty white rolls into hot and steaming veg curry - sounds heavenly!

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  25. Your travel diaries are always so refreshing. I sick of looking at bloggers posting about their grand and uber expensive travels.

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  26. Such a beautiful place! Just seeing the beach and sunshine warms me up a bit. The food looks yummy! Thanks for sharing the adventure with us!

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  27. Gorgeous photos! I so miss India.

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  28. I read this post twice, you made my day. I sit here in minus 40 Celsius temps, snow blowing and there you are sunning in balmy India, amazing, every photo, every word,

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  29. 80 or 5, 80 or 5? Kind of a no brainer.

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  30. I am so glad to read your adventures in Goa, dear Vix. We are still in hospital after a month.
    Keep the good stories coming.
    Great to have you back
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

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  31. Wow, what a great beach hut for so little - and that meal looks scrumptious. Looking forward to the next segment!

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  32. What a great way to see India. I like yours and Jon's way of thinking. Look forward to the next installment! :)

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  33. I feel quite rested after reading this! The beach, food and scenery look wonderful. xx

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  34. fantastic!
    beautiful pictures to dream about! love your bond girl bikini photo!!!! xxxxxx

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  35. Those cats are gorgeous! I so enjoy reading your adventures, dear Vix. It reminds me of my travels in Taiwan a while ago, in the depth of the country - simple, exotic for us more or less Western people, beautiful life. The restaurants where locals like to dine are always the best (and cheapest, of course). Love the photos, just wonderful! xxxxx

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  36. You really have captured the warmth in these photos. I love how the cows would come and hang out with you! You don't see that at Vancouver beaches. Such a pity.
    Going local is the best way, I agree. I look forward to more stories and photos.

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  37. I've enjoyed reading this post (and your last one about your travels) so much. I love the way you travel and see and experience the country, it's so different from my own way. I've been brought up in the mindset of being fearful because "places are dangerous" so plan everything beforehand. Seeing your way of doing things I see how wrong this is and how much is missed out on.
    Cows being on the beach has to be my favourite thing!

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  38. It is so great to find your own paradise that you return again and again. Of course we have already booked our next trip to Italy ...

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  39. I am fair GASPING for some Indian food RIGHT NOW. Love LOVE these photos, I can totally feel that warm breeze........it's so stunning.Why I haven't made it to India yet I really do not know. I just love looking at it!
    You guys travel perfectly!
    Love Helga XXX

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  40. What?! You didn't go for the matching sheets, LOL! Your beach hut looks absolutely charming. And the breakfast sounds delicious...actually all the food sounds, and looks, yummy. I can think of nothing better than sharing my peels with doe eyed cows on the beach...sigh...Melanie's right though...there just aren't any cows on Vancouver's beaches!

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  41. It's a feast for the eyes and a salve to the imagination scrolling through these two posts and reading about your adventures. Being a planner myself, I find your deliberate abandoning of fore-planning something of a vicarious thrill!
    Brilliant to welcome you home; great to share in some of your travels.

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  42. Fantastic pictures. India looks so vibrant and colourful. Your posts really make me want to visit one day, perhaps when the children are a bit older.

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  43. While it might not be the first place I would would like to visit, you do make India sound so interesting! And I like how you make a point of getting to know the people and hanging out with them, much more fun I would think. :)

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  44. Oh to be able to travel to Goa. Oh to be a cow in India. Oh to have Vix's bum.

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  45. What a great place and gorgeous pictures Vix , lovely to see you back ! ,have a great week best wishes x

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  46. No wonder you two continue to go back to India. Such raw beauty and colours to make your heart flip.

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  47. What a beautiful place! You've decribed the experience of being there so well, both with your words and wonderful photos. Can't wait to hear where you ventured to next! xo

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  48. Oooooh...am warming myself on your blog....it's been 5 years since I was last in Agonda and 7 since I last went to Karnataka .....looking forward to pics of Paradise although our fav at the time was Half Moon beach....om tiddly pom!!x

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  49. Hi Vix! Such wonderful holiday pictures! The places you've visited look lovely. -Mia

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  50. True confession: i've read this post three times and I don't think I'm done with it yet. I've just googled Karnataka now to guess where your next breathtaking stop might be. I just love everything about your adventures; the sights, the food, the trips, the insider information, everything. Keep them coming, they're the best thing that happens at this time of the year. Xxxxxx

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  51. Your dinner looks absolutely divine...I can almost smell it.
    x

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  52. I look forward to your India adventure posts to have a little vicarious vacation. I've never been, and never will be, a beach babe so it is a treat to see this part of the world from the viewpoint of a tourist, but one who has forged a real connection with the country and its people. You and Jon are really in your element there.

    I might be more inclined to go to the beach if there were lovely cows like that here.

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  53. I swear I feel like I'm on holidays with you ... just wish I could taste the food :0)
    xx

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  54. What a photo to start the post with!! you must frame it!! you are bejewelled, fabulous and hot! I LOVE the pics, your advice is brilliant and I don't understand why people would pay extra money for co-ordinated sheets and wi-fi, peace is priceless - the food is making me salivate, and cows on a beach? love it, and they wait for the peelings, what an amazing experience- I can't wait for the next installment!!! x x x

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  55. You always make me feel so happy when you have returned from India- the chilled vibe and peace are very catching! I did things similarly in Bali.Always tried to avoid the obvious touristic places.

    I've missed you and I PROMISE will post your baubles this week. I left them on the windowsill after returning having missed the post office and there they have remained- will try to get them posted this week.

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  56. I am still smiling by the cows relaxing on the beach alongside you :-) dee xx

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  57. This sounds just lovely. Thank you for sharing!

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  58. I'm wondering if the number of visitors to India will increase due to your blog posts? I wouldn't be surprised at all if they did! I feel like there is something so magical about being somewhere that's so different to your own life, also I pretty sure eating with the locals in the best place to eat. I always think its fun when locals ask to have photos with you - once I was at a theme park in Korea with a bunch of friends. We were having a group photo and a whole bunch of locals jumped in with us and took photos with us - so fun :D I love travel xo

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Don't be shy, if you enjoyed your visit leave a comment, I can come and visit your blog if you do.
Love from Vix
xxx