Goa

Today we have had a quiet and relaxing day. Simon went out early to get some water, fruit and breakfast cereal and we eventually wandered up to Aruna’s apartment around 11am. I lay in the sun for a few hours and listened to my MP3 player while the kids had a good swim. I did make it into the gym, but decided that 81 calories burned on the treadmill was more than enough energy expenditure for one day and gave up on that quite quickly.

Goa is India’s smallest state and has a completely different feel to it from the rest of India. The Portuguese colonised Goa in 1510 and didn’t leave until 1961 and this is reflected in the character of Goa. Catholicism is a major religion here and huge catholic churches sit besides tiny Hindu shrines. There are also lots of derelict Portuguese villas and some beautiful architecture.

The beaches here are supposed to be the best in India and there is a large expat community. The food is wonderful and there are lots of interesting markets and shops to see. When we visited Goa in 2002 we completely fell in love with it and I remember climbing up the aeroplane steps after a 2 week holiday here and swearing to myself that I would come back as soon as I could.

At 2.30 Aruna took us to Cidade de Goa which is 5 mins walk away. This hotel was Goa’s first 5 star hotel and we have decided that we will spend Christmas day there. The cost of the gala dinner is 5000 rupees per couple (57 pounds) but Xmas on the Beach sounds good and we sit and have a drink at the bar and check out the facilities. The hotel is fantastic and in a gorgeous location right on the beach. Simon is quite brazen and strolls into the healthclub and asks for some towels and although I am a bit worried as he signs for them and scribbles down some random room number nothing bad happens and we have a lovely afternoon chatting to Aruna.

She is quite an amazing and inspirational person and has travelled all over the world to 26 different countries mostly alone. She has me completely hooked listening to stories about South America, China and South Africa especially and I think to myself maybe sometime in the future we will travel to those places also.

We get back to our apartment around 6pm and have a quick shower. Tonight we are going to Candolim to a restaurant called After Eight that we visited a couple of times when we were here before. We met a weird but lovely Asian couple from South London when we were here on holiday and spent a lot with them and it will be strange going back to a familiar place.

10pm and we are back in Dona Paula, the restaurant we visited is now called After Seven and is of course bigger and smarter than we remembered. The areas of Calangute and Candolim are also much more developed, when we came the roads were little more than tracks in places but now are all tarmaced and there are loads more bars and restaurants.
We were pleased though that the food was just as good and had a fantastic meal.
Simon, Ali and I all had fillet steaks and the combination of good service and great food washed down with a couple of Corona’s definitely made a top night out that would be hard to beat.