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Goa, finally!

On an impulse, we went to Goa for a long week end, stealing two days of the busy week. We took the car and the driver because it would be easier.  So early on Thursday we set off. It took around 10 hours to navigate from Pune to Goa. It was a pleasant drive and we stop a few times just to enjoy Chai, relieve our bladder or simple lunch. We spotted a new lunch place called Hotel Nishigandh where we had Butter chicken, Bhindi ( Lady Fingers) Masala and Masala rice something I never had before but quite enjoyed. 

The restaurant banner 

The road to Goa had many hills, some waterfall and lots of greenery that made for a beautiful landscape.
We arrived at our hotel located in Porvorim. It is a bit far from the beach, and not luxurious at all. However it is quiet, far from tourist traps and proper. We settled down and then headed to Candolim beach where I read there was the best beach shack of Goa. Candolim was busy, packed with tourists drinking and eating at local overpriced restaurants and shacks. But for some reason the shack that called itself Alex was empty and did not look good. We decided to run away from the tourist site and find another restaurant a few kilometres away. We settled for Riverside which was a bit isolated but packed nevertheless. We order butter garlic kingfish, battered prawns and prawn sizzler plate. The battered prawns were tasty but tiny compared to the picture offered in the menu so it was a bit of a letdown. The kingfish tasted way better but the sizzler took the prize. On the plate was prawns in a dark and sweet sauce, grilled veggies, roasted potatoes and a smoky saffron rice. Diner was late but good and the service was excellent. Our waiter who looked like Jacky Chan was attentive and respectful. Afterwards we went straight back to the hotel to enjoy some shuteye.

On the second day, we had breakfast at the hotel. There was not a lot of variety for a buffet but it had my favorites like Upma and Masala omelette so I was satisfied. Then I took the kids to the pool for fun. We then headed to town to look for a Mosque since it was Friday. After the prayer we headed to Thalassa restaurant in Vagator beach. The place was beautiful, just on a hill in front of the beach, which made for a gorgeous view. The restaurant was all white and blue with wicker decor. We ordered seafood salad, boneless stuffed chicken and chicken casserole. 

 Chicken Casserole

 Stuffed chicken

The salad was fresh and succulent, the stuffed chicken to die for but the casserole was just okay. I would not mind going back just for the ambiance, lazying in those comfy chairs and watching the sunset. After late lunch we went for fruit Juice at Jai Ganesh fruit center. The place was tiny and packed with tourists, mainly Russians.The whole area near the fruit center in Vagator reminded me of a scene from the movie the Beach; Caucasians wearing short shorts, Sankrusti printed shirts, colorful sheer kaftan over swimsuits, heavily tattooed, pierced or with dreadlocks, hanging around. Let us just say that it was not my scene but I enjoyed people watching while waiting for my pomegranate juice which took forever. But it was sweet. We finished our drinks and headed back to the hotel for some rest. Later that night we went to eat at an Italian restaurant in the neighborhood called Kudos. Our female waiter was so nice and attentive, she made our diner experience very enjoyable. We ordered seafood pizza, ravioli pasta and seafood pasta. The seafood pizza  was nice but a bit chewy, the seafood pasta lacked a bit of salt and the ravioli was okay.


  The garlic bread was fantastic, by far the best item of our diner and the chocolate vanilla ice cream we ordered for the kids was excellent. Frankly I had better Italian but the great service made me overlook all that. We just headed to bed exhausted from our day.
Day 3, we spent a lazy morning at the hotel then headed to Baga beach for lunch. The place was packed with restaurants, souvenir shops and tourists. We wanted to try Bristols restaurant but we were told that all the tables in front of the sea were occupied. We were ready to settle for another table but after seating for 10  minutes without even a waiter looking at us, we decided to leave. We settled for another restaurant on the same street that was so peaceful it was hard to believe that we were still in Baga beach. It was called Banana Republic Calaba, a bar, restaurant with a nice pool and beautiful garden. We sat in the garden and had a quiet lunch of Goan curry for adults and lasagna for kids. The food and service was good. And the location was so nice I wanted to stay longer. After lunch we checked the Tibetan market that had some nice jewelry but was too overpriced for me. I think that the shops around the beach are all overpriced for I tried to buy plastic shoes at one point since my sandals failed me and the lady gave me a 650 rupees quote. I was like: " Are you crazy? I live in India. I am not a tourist. I know how  much these cost!"  I was so disgusted I did not feel like shopping, which is sad because there was a lot of nice stuff like printed Kaftan, tie dye maxi dress. Meh! I really do not need it though.!
After the market we headed to Cafe Chocolatti in the same area for dessert. I had two scoop of chocolate chip ice cream that I ended up sharing with the kids for it was too much. 

  Chocolatti Sundae

The kids had Chocolatti Sundae ( brownie topped with chocolate ice cream and whipped cream) and the hubby had Muesli Frughurt. I found the brownie of the Sundae a bit hard but the ice cream was scrumptious. The place is very nice, we ate in a garden, and it was breezy. It looked like an oasis in Baga beach crazyness. They also provide free Wifi which made the bubby stay longer that he normally does at an eatery.  We went back to the hotel for the kids to enjoy the pool before the Sunset. For diner we tried a local restaurant recommended by the staff at Kudos restaurant. It is called Alua, and it located barely minutes from the hotel by car. The restaurant is a huge rustic house with heigh ceilings and white walls. It reminded me of my Grandma's old house, I felt right at home. We went crazy and ordered several Goan dishes: Prawn Caldin, Prawn Baljao, and Shark Emboti with roti and fried rice. The prawn Caldin was a green soup that had a hint of cilantro but tasted so sweet. I was not really hungry but you should have seen me almost licking the bowl, that thing was so good. The prawn Baljao was a thick tomato gravy that was sweet and spicy at the same time. And the shark Emboti was also tasty. I was eating shark for the first time but it tasted like meat. Our experience at Alua was great but that diner ruined my diet.

The next day we drove back home to Pune saying goodbye to Goa. I think we found our Hawaii in India for Goa was fabulous. I loved the food, the ambiance, people are more laid back, the colorful houses, the melting pot of religions ( churches, temples and mosques everywhere), the big trees and flowers, the beach ( seen from afar), even their radio station ( Indigo). I really can't wait to go back and stay for longer....


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