When you step onto Goan ground, the first impression you get is vibrancy and a cheery disposition, evident in the brightly colored houses dotting the suburban countryside.
On our first day in Goa, we soaked in the sights at Dona Paula, which reminded me fondly of riverside views in Portugal. As I watched the boats floating by, I wished time would just stand still so I could relish the peaceful serenity and paint a picture perfect memory in my mind.
You will find beauty where you seek. And there you will also find inner peace. I had a moment of zen at the Dona Paula viewing platform perched upon a rocky headland jutting out into the Arabian Sea. The viewing deck risen upon hundreds of steps above sea level promises a picturesque vista of the sea, its waves constantly hitting the moss-covered rocks that pebbled the coast.
Sahakari Spice Farm
In India, Marigold flower is associated with the sun as it is a vibrant yellow color and represents passion and creativity. It is often thrown into the air as people enter during festivities and weddings as a sign of welcome. And what a warm welcome we got as we made our entrance into the Sahakari Spice Farm!
If you’re looking for experiences beyond the beaches that Goa is famous for, twirl beneath the shadow of coconut trees, take a cultural tour of the Sahakari Spice Farm cultivated with spices, fruits and medicinal herbs, then have a satisfying buffet lunch of traditional Goan dishes at the in-house restaurant. There’s also an elephant ride next door if you seek a little adventure!
I never travel alone because memories are even more unforgettable when shared with someone who can laugh at the same stories, who will help you remember some place you’ve been but can’t seem to recall, and that time you got lost? Yup, thank goodness we got lost together! 🙂 On Day 2, with our family in tow, my travel soul sister Miles (@bubblymiles) and I explored the lush outbacks of sunny Goa at the organic Sahakari Spice Farm.
Old Goa & Church of Our Lady of Pilar
Up next we hopped on over to the landscape of churches clustered together in the religious community of Old Goa, one of which was the Se Catheral. It felt a little like Rome with a church at every block surrounded by perfectly manicured lawns and rich foliage.
We then hopped on over to the Church of Our Lady of Pilar adjoined to the Pilar Seminary, which is one of only two surviving seminaries originally built by the Portuguese, situated up on a hilltop in Panaji with panoramic views of the countryside. Pilar attracts pilgrims by the numbers who come to visit the tomb of Father Agnelo D’Souza, and devotees who flock to the church to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Pilar.
Still waters run deep and in silent reverie I contemplated on how I got this far. And I don’t mean the three hour flight from Dubai to Goa and the one hour road trip to Anjuna beach on Day 3. I mean every path that led to where I am today, making it possible for me to step on pieces of the globe and marvel at how different each place is and yet find so much that feels familiar.
What I love about beaches is the opportunity to just sit around looking pretty, allowing yourself to be enamored by the view, bask in the sun, revel in the salty sea breeze, take an extended moment and stay just a little longer.
No woman is an island. But there’s something so transcendent about being in the presence of a friend without saying a word, adrift in your own thoughts, enthralled in a moment of zen, lost in the beauty of nature, as you know that in the end they will always be there and the memory is worth more than the conversation. Perched upon a rocky enclave we stared across the ocean like pirates in search for gold.
It was still quite hot in Goa during the day at highs of 33 degrees when we visited in December, but the weather cooled down considerably before sunset and that was the perfect time of day to enjoy the sights.
Reis Magos Fort
While driving through the countryside on our fourth day, we discovered the Reis Magos Fort, high above the towering palm trees overlooking the Mandovi River in Bardez, Goa. An old prison fort this place once was, and it had captivated me!
The Reis Magos Fort was once used as a residence for viceroys traveling to Lisbon and later converted to a fortress. It was then occupied by the British army, but later abandoned by the military served as a prison. It has now been restored and open to the public. One can even host social events such as weddings at this historical location.
So far my trip to Goa had involved climbing numerous flights of steps, always straight up and straight down, but alas I found a spiral staircase…and a pretty peacock feather fan that perfectly matched my blue ensemble! The mosaic ring was a gift from a kind shopkeeper who was sweet enough to give it to me as a sign of gratitude for bringing in the crowd hence helping her reach her sales quota for the day.
Nowhere near the magnitude and not nearly as challenging as the Great Wall of China, however, climbing the unyielding steps that led from the Reis Magos Fort gates to the highest point of the fortress was definitely a steep feat. But nonetheless great for cardio!
Panjim & Mapusa Market
Day 4, we explored the busy streets of Panjim, the capital city of Goa, lined with colorful old buildings inspired by Portuguese architecture. Houses beaming with color have such charismatic personalities that emit a friendly glow and makes you look on the bright side.
We then spent a couple hours at the bustling local Mapusa Market boasting of vibrant textiles and handmade jewelry, a bargain hunter’s paradise.
On our drive back home we came across a solitary purple farmhouse facing infinite fields of rice and crops. We stopped by the roadside and took the liberty of stealing one shot up on the staircase. Imagine waking up to this every morning! Life is void without color. And here I stand immersed in purple.
Airports are the busiest places in the world. Every day millions of commuters hustle, haul luggage though security gates, stand in queues at immigration. Some of them are anxious to get away. Some of them can’t wait to get back home. For others it’s just another work trip to scratch off their calendar. But no matter where you go and how much fun you had exploring new exotic destinations, there’s no place like home.
We flew Jet Airways from Dubai-Mumbai-Goa and vice versa. I have to say that for a budget domestic airline the food was good and the staff were courteous compared to other airlines in the same rank. It was a smooth flight all the way!