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Travel Image Goa is one of my favourite states in India. I suppose it helps having worked there for nearly eighteen months and for a change having quite a settles life style. We had transport there and were able to drive ourselves, Junna was there to keep us company and Marg and I were able to have some good quality time together. No matter how tough the day was, to be able to take 30 minutes out each evening at 5-30 PM and take a walk down the beach, was great! It is a pity that everyone working in their stress filled cities cannot have a beach just 100 meters away to enjoy. Utorda Beach, where we were, is next door to Majorda and close to Denpassar in South Goa. This area is the stand alone resort place, with Leela Palace, Taj Exotica, Majorda Beach and now Hyatt, all on their own stretch of the beach with the peace and quiet to go with it. North Goa was the area discovered by the hippies first and then the package tourist, so it is much more crowded,touristy but also with more events happening and restaurants to get to.The markets and festivals take place in north Goa more and there are many more cheaper budget hotels and hostels to choose from. Further south from the main hotel area there is miles of beaches and places to explore. Marg and I have traveled down to the border and have come across white sand beaches without a soul on them, quaint fishing ports,temples scattered in the hills and basically unspoiled country. There are plans though for a couple of major hotel concerns to build and open further south, so I do not know how long this peacefulness will last.There weather is very good in Goa, with a monsoon and then months of blue, clear sunny skies. This is the main tourist time, from December to February, but Marg and I actually enjoyed August / September better,as the weather is cooler, some days there might be a quick late afternoon shower, but otherwise also blue skies and not too many people around. I always advise friends to see Goa at these times instead of at the height of the tourist season.Goa was a colony of Portugal up until 1972, a long time after India achieved independence, so it is no surprise that the old buildings are Portuguese in nature and that also half the Goan population consider themselves Portuguese. It is still a fact that there is surprise that residents applying for a passport are given an Indian one and not a Portuguese one! It is the next state south from Maharashtra and the city of Mumbai and takes about 8 to 10 hours traveling time to drive down. Apparently the roads are in a reasonable condition with freeway style for a good part of it. Flying down only takes 45 minutes, just time enough to take off, have a snack and then land again!The food of Goa is on the spicy side, being part of south India, with uses of pork and vinegars as well as a lot of seafood. It is a cuisine in its own right, but we also did not find too many authentic Goan restaurants there. The regional Indian influence is gaining a strong foothold and North Indian restaurants are becoming more and more popular. Luckily, not too many people go to Goa for the food alone, but for the beaches, and here the shacks that spring up each season do a very good trade. Fresh seafood grilled and served with an ice cold beer, for a fraction of the cost of the Hotels. The hotels all complain, but sadly, the food quality found in most of them is extremely poor, so who can blame the guests for looking further a field! The only consideration is the hygiene factor, but again, not many of the local hotels come close to being hygienic anyway, and most seasonal travelers with have their favourite shacks that they go back to year after year. Francis on Utorda beach is one and John of Seagulls up at Bogmallos is another that we found to give good, clean food with very pleasant service. Even though Goa ids one the coast, there is either very limited diving or it just has not been charted yet. The only diving we were advised about was about 14 miles off the coast with the comment that it is not all that great. Swimming is quite good in a lot of areas, but to also know the local conditions as it is ocean beach and the tides and rips can be quite strong. There are places that have a lot of water sport activities with the proper people in charge, so good times can definitely be had! There is also good bird life, enough temples and churches to explore out and see, waterfalls, forest parks and various plantations to visit. Buffalos still plough the fields and bullock carts ply the roads, but just be careful of the trucks and buses here,the same as anywhere in India, where they feel they rule the road and look out anybody smaller!
Boat on Majorda Beach, next door to Utorda
Utorda Beach in South Goa
Kenilworth Hotel at Utorda Beach, Goa
The beach side grounds of Kenilworth Hotel
Landscaped gardens at Kenilworth
The swimming pool at Kenilworth Hotel
St. Francis Cathedral, said to hold his bones
Temple ruins in Goa
Goan temple and compound
Rice paddies being planted in Goa
Beach fishing at Bogmallo beach, south Goa
Beach fishermen at Bogmallo inspecting the catch
Market day in Vasco, near Denpassar airport
Market activity in Vasco, Goa