|Outside of the Elephant Temple on the way to Ashwen/Morjim Beach|
The question on everyone's lips when you're a foreigner in Mumbai is "have you been to Goa yet?" With my hectic class schedule, I wasn't able to check out this European-favored getaway until this past weekend.
The draw of Goa? Besides, well, pristine beaches on the Arabian Sea? The prices. My stay at Resort Rio, considered a five-star hotel, came to about $80 per night. Have you started looking up plane tickets yet?
|The hotel's pool|
I spent the first day at the idyllic Morjim Beach, on a sunbed, complete with private, hand-thatched coconut hut, fully attentive restaurant service, and even the option of ayurvedic massages. The price for a full day of cold drinks, my favorite coconut water, lunch, and snacks? Around $8.
For dinner, I headed to Jamie's in Baga, where I feasted on filet mignon, the first bit of red meat I've had since coming to India. It was a glorious moment.
I also got the chance to check out the famed Baga Beach. I spent the day at the Shining Star Beach Shack, where not only do you get delicious drinks and food, but everything from manicure/pedicures (for less than $2), massages, and jewelry is offered to you right at your sunbed. While I enjoy the sight of thousands of men in Speedo's just as much as the next girl (please sense the sarcasm), I found Baga to be a bit too crowded for my taste, and filled with hawkers selling DVDs, strawberries, faux Quiksilver, and just about everything in between. Sort of like the Seaside Heights of Goa, without the added charm of Snooki dancing surfside.
|Perhaps you can see the Speedo's in the background...|
In Baga, I discovered must-visit shop, The Karma Collection. I seriously contemplated moving into the store. Filled to the brim with bed covers, pillowcases, rugs, and just about any textile you would ever want, all made from antique brocade Indian fabric refashioned to fit the Anthropologie-lover's taste. ABC Home & Carpet has nothing on this authentic piece of Indian charm. I picked up several stunning table runners, pillow cases, a tribal-chic handbag (will look super modern with a simple outfit), as well as two one-of-a-kind beachy dresses that would be perfectly at home in the Hamptons.
If you happen to find yourself in Goa, head to the Saturday Night Bazaar in Arpora. While many of the items are obscenely overpriced by Indian standards, and quite run-of-the-mill, in the chaos, I found a few gems. Indian cinnamon and ginger, two gaudy-in-a-good-way tops, and some adorable handmade elephants for gifts. The live jazz band made it quite a fun way to spend my evening.
One thing I've missed from the US is simple, no frills cuisine. While I've certainly learned to love Indian food, sometimes I crave something that isn't decked to the nines in sauces. Lila Cafe, on the Baga River, satisfied my request. Besides the super-cool Fire Island by way of the spice triangle environment, and tee shirts that the waiters wear (you can pick one up in the attached shop for $5) the eats and coffee here are divine. The salad I had, which was simply shaved carrots and fresh coconut dressed in a smidgen of orange juice, may be the most luscious vegetable dish I've had in some time.
Something I didn't mention about Goa? The booze. Although I spent my holiday liquor-free, I would be doing a disservice to the place if I failed to mention alcohol, which is obscenely cheap. Beers will run you about 40 cents each, and a cocktail made with the local vodka? About eight-tenths of a dollar. It is available just about wherever you turn, at any hour of the day or night. So drink up, because back in Bombay you'll be hit hard with the high alcohol tariff.While Goa was definently touristy, it is a must-visit for anyone who finds themselves in India, if for nothing else, the people watching. I have heard that South Goa, however, is much quieter, so perhaps if I get a chance to go back, I will stay there instead.