Back to Goa again! spent a couple of days in the North in February and really enjoyed it so split it this time to 1 week North and 1 week South.
Last time flew with Thompson on the new dreamliner, plane was great cabin crew both ways were awful, everything was too much trouble! so decided to go with Qatar this time, short stop in Doha but flight was great, food good and service amazing, couldn't do enough for you, also nice to stretch the legs for an hour.
Arrived in Goa early hours of the morning and went through new airport, huge queues (no change there then!) this was due to one, yes one Doctor checking everyones temperature before letting them through, ebola I presume? once past him it was the usual Indian regime of half a dozen different people checking your passport and then out into the baggage claim (much more civilised than it used to be!) and then out into the smell of s***, joss sticks and heat that is India (I love that smell!!!!) Taxi to Arpora (£10) and arrived at The Royal Goan Beach club Monterio at 4 in the morning.
We had let them know in advance that we would be there early so key was waiting at reception and we went straight up and were told we could check in once we got up the next day, went straight to bed and awoke at 12 and took a leisurely stroll to the beach.
Baga beach is its usual self with the Indian tourists having a great time, do smile, say hello and speak to them, most are really pleased to chat and of course love to take a few pictures!!!
Noticed lots seem to have these 'selfie sticks' and pop their camera on the end of it and then walk along the sunbeds snapping any bikini clad woman and seem to think its not so bad as they are more than an arms length away!
Also they very enthusiastically join in taking snaps of the Russian girls doing their 'photoshoots', at one point two girls taking pictures of each other writhing in the waves had a group of 14 Indian men behind them with phones and cameras joining in!!
It all makes for great viewing from the comfort of your sun bed.
That evening we ate at The Blue Whale (opposite hotel on the river) this place is quite new and the woman running it was lovely, great authentic food and a lovely ambience, favourite was the chilly prawns and for the two of us with plenty of beer and honeybees came to £12
Took a few trips down to Candolim, walked once and taxi twice (£4) and had a very civilised afternoon tea at Cafe Chocolatti cakes to die for! and a proper coffee or tea, this place is set in a lovely garden plenty of shade and fans and makes for a lovely afternoon break from the sun.
Had a walk down to the Saturday night market while there, great music, great food and a must not miss for people watching, this was the first night market this season so not too hectic, then had a trip to Anjuna on the Wednesday, went early morning before it got too hot, same same but always enjoyable, topped up on spices and joss sticks and tempted by some of the lovely Tibetan silver, although silver prices seem very high at the moment, also Tibetan market in the evening in Baga was great although very quiet.
Spent a couple of nights at the amazing 'Go With the Flow' on Baga river, run by a Brazilian chef 'Guto' this really is fine dining! yes I know fine dining in Goa!!!! the steak was one of the best I have ever eaten , presentation was outstanding and if you do go walk round and look at the kitchens! they look as though they have been lifted from a London restaurant. Guto takes the time to come round and chat and is more than happy to recommend his food for you to try can't speak highly enough of this place, and the price is hard to believe too, for both of us with beer and the necessary honey bees (for digestion of course!) came to £30.
Tried several shacks all good, great fresh strawberry lassi, really miss them!
Took a taxi one night to a restaurant called 'Gunpowder' miles from anywhere but really superb Indian food, very enthusiastic waiters who really enthused about the food we had an amazing beef curry and homemade chutneys, favourite was the 'gunpowder' which was a mixture of spices that you mixed with sesame oil, it was amazing, wish they had sold it by the tub!
Done a few trips out, Tiracol fort and a few different beaches.
Another restaurant we loved was Jamies in Baga, once again fabulous food, huge variety on the menu, attentive staff, lovely surroundings and all for under £20.
Had a morning in Mapusa at the market, hectic as always but love the feel of the place, we were the only non indian people there early morning and it was lovely to slot into a part of local Goa.
This was the first time in six years that we had spent more than a couple of days in the North but we really enjoyed it, yes it has changed quite a bit, lots more 4/5 star hotels, roads better (better than they were!) much much better restaurants still the lovely people, not so many Russians this time, was told a lot of flights cancelled from there and also currency not good, oh and also nice to be getting almost 100rps to the pound.
Although we read no need for anti malarial any more we still took them as we already had them, to be honest didn't see hardly any mosquitos and had very few bites, will do about the South in part 2.