by admin on March 31, 2011
Goa, on India’s southwest Malabar Coast, is a place of astounding variety. A Hindu and Muslim trading port with Arabia and Africa for hundreds of years, it then was under Portuguese rule up to 1961. The remains of St. Francis Xavier (d. 1552) are entombed in one of the imposing cathedrals of Old Goa. In the 1970s and 80s, Goa was the destination of choice for hippies and dharma bums who rolled down from their Himalayan sojourns to toast lightly under the palms of its crescent beaches. Today it remains a favorite seaside destination for India’s traditional elite, as well as for all-inclusive package tours for nouveau riche Russian tourists — and you still see the dharma bums in the beachside cabanas. I can do without the big destination resorts of south Goa, but do enjoy the laid back charm and somewhat faded elegance north of the harbor.
I love boutique hotels, especially if they have style and an artistic twist. Casa Anjuna in North Goa was perfect. It was originally a Portuguese mansion converted into a boutique hotel using old, stylish colonial furniture. Each room is decorated differently and we had a choice of which room we wanted. Breakfast included. http://www.casaboutiquehotels.com/CasaAnjuna/index.html
One of the joys of Goa, besides the sun and sand, is its food. A mix of Indian, Portuguese and Arabic spices combined with the fresh seafood make a culinary delight. On the recommendation of friend, we jumped on rented motor scooters and headed 20 minutes north to the towns of Ajuna, Morjim and then to Asvem Beach. It was a delight — clean sandy beaches, few touristas, and just an occasional cow. But the most wonderful treat was finding the beachside French bistro “La Plage,”run by trés charmant Francine and her dashing husband. They spend half the year in Provence (May-October, when it’s hot monsoon season in Goa) and half in Goa (October-April, when it’s cold and damp in France). To our great fortune, they had just that day opened the restaurant for the season. Buttered garlic crab, wasabi grilled tuna, field fresh salads Nicoise in light basalmic vinegrette, and buckets of chilled chablis. Why would we go anywhere else? We were in heaven! Just up the beach, although we didn’t stay there, was a luxury tent camp under the palms. (www.montegobaygoa.com) Looked like a pretty great place to just chill — like I said, why go anywhere else?
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