So recently some of my business colleagues from Africa were down in India for some medical tests and treatment in New Delhi and after they finished that they were down in Goa for some rest in recuperation so I joined them in Goa for 3 days to show them around .
I landed there Goa in the 4th week of October but this year due to delay in shack allocations the season has started late. Many places which are prime attraction like the Beach Shacks , John’s Boat Tours, Saturday night market etc had not yet started. I reached my hotel in north goa in the evening and as my colleagues were staying nearby, i thought the first place I must take them is Britto’s in Baga since it is an iconic place and captures the essence of Goa in many ways. Now, this is a place that in recent times serves very indifferent food in a nice location and the service is middling at best. IMHO, they are now resting on their past laurels. I would certainly not recommend this place to anybody.
The next day was a Sunday and I wanted them to see some of the famous churches of Goa. The first place on out stop was the Panjim church or more accurately Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church, Goa.
This is probably the most famous church in Goa and has appeared in countless Indian movies and is the poster church of Goa….so to speak.
Since it was almost lunch time I decided to refuel our tummies and that same day a Goan friend of mine had recommended this excellent Asian restaurant in Panjim called Tataki. The place was not far from the Panjim church and we were there in 10 minutes.
The place was very beautifully done in typical Japanese style and the quality of food was outstanding. The Sushis were as good as I have tasted anywhere in India and the rest of the food was par excellence.Our next stop was the Basilica of Bom Jesus and is one of the most famous monuments in Goa. It holds the remains of St. Francis Xavier who was a Catholic missionary who was a co-founder of the Society of Jesus. ( I studied in a school run by Society of Jesus 🙂 )
Bom Jesus’ literally means ‘Good (or Holy) Jesus The Jesuit church is India’s first minor basilica, and is considered to be one of the best examples of baroque architecture and Portuguese Colonial architecture in India. It is one of the Seven Wonders of Portuguese Origin in the World.
The edifice of the church is truly magnificent.
Inside the church the church there was a very nice optional Light and Sound show on the life of St. Francis Xavier and I thought it was magnificent .Just across the road from Basilica of Bom Jesus lies the Sé Catedral de Santa Catarina or Se Cathdral as it’s simply known.
Since shopping does not interest me much, I was sitting at the Mapusa circle while my companions were busy shopping away to glory.
By the time we were finished at Mapusa Market it was dinnertime and the restaurant I had chosen for dinner was The Fisherman’s Wharf. In one of my previous posts I had talked about this restaurant’s branch in Panjim, and now they have opened a branch in Calangute too which is the one we went to since it was closest to our hotel.
This place is known for its seafood and my guests really enjoyed the red snapper which was among the fresh catch of the day . Since I am a vegetarian I had to make do with some rice and cottage cheese preparations which was very good too.
As I was having dinner there, I realized that we were not very far from the Mae de Deus Church in Saligao which I have written about before and one of my friends had told me that is looks very pretty in the night so after dinner we went to visit it and it really did look very serene, beautiful and almost otherwordly….
Next morning our driver had recommended the boat tour from Sinquerim jetty and we embarked on that. the best thing about this tour was that there was a fixed rate of Rs. 300 per person and the boat was spacious and comfortable with life jackets for everybody. They show you about 4 or 5 points of tourist interests and the duration of the ride is around 40 minutes. You also get to see dolphins if you are lucky and we were..
the ride was quite pleasant with cool winds and they actually take you out into the open seas so its not like a typical boat ride in the canals and the swells are substantial though never threatening.
For lunch I had selected a place called Copperleaf in Porvorim which was some 30-35 minutes away by car but I had read very good things about the place and their Fish Thali and King fish Thali.
The food was excellent and so was the Kingfish Thali . This place is more popular for lunch than for dinner and some of their thalis are available only for lunch. I do wish however that they offered a vegetarian thali for people like me.
After a brief siesta we were off to Panjim where I had planned on taking my guests to one of the sunset cruises on the Mandovi river. However, as we set off it started raining heavily and by the time we reached Panjim there was no possibility of any cruise. So I did a quick search for a nice cafe near the cruise jetty and discovered what must surely be the best cafe in Goa , Caravela Cafe & Bistro . The place was very cosy inviting and once inside the selection of coffee was huge, the owner lady was very welcoming and friendly and she told us she was originally from Kenya and still has extensive links with the place. Maybe that is the reason why there was a wide variety of African gourmet coffee on the menu. The food menu looked inviting too but since we had to go for dinner shortly, we didn’t try the food there.
Since I had an early morning flight the next day back home, we headed out for dinner . I had read a lot about Chulha Restaurant in the Grand Hyatt , Bambolim Goa which was not very far from Panjim. The grand hyatt is a beautiful property and the grounds are very extensive and beautifully landscaped. However, as it was still raining, we could not explore the property much.
When we reached the property I came to know that the Chulha Restaurant was closed for renovation but the same menu was also available for the time being in one of their other restaurants, The Dining Room. To be honest, we found the food – both from the Chulha menu and from the Dining room menu -a bit underwhelming. It was good but not great and the same goes for the service. Maybe we just were unlucky because I have had food there previously and it was much better so I would still recommend you go there once.
That brought me to the end of another great trip to Goa. Having been to goa 5 times in last 6 years, I have realized several things about goa…
- it’s very difficult to have a really bad meal in goa…
- the best plan for a vacation in goa is not to have a plan at all…go there and things will fall in place..
- north goa is really a very happening place…
- you will not find a better concentrations of restaurants per square mile anywhere in India than you will find in north goa…
Here are some of the pictures from this trip to Goa… do let me know if you liked any of them…