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Goa 1 (and Getting There)

February 27, 2011

We learned an important lesson on the journey from Kodaikanal to Goa; India’s smallest state, a former Portuguese colony, and a popular beach destination. The lesson is that there is almost always more space on a train than they’re likely to let onto at first. Except, of course, when there is no train.

There was no train from Kodaikanal to Goa. So we were forced to take one of the most nauseating bus-rides of my life (hairpin turns at breakneck speeds, the standard overcrowding, Bollywood videos playing at full volume making conversation impossible) to Coimbature. Except there was a landslide somewhere along the way, so we were forced to stop elsewhere and take an expensive three-hour taxi to Coimbature when crowded buses refused to let us on for the second leg as a result of all our luggage.

We rode Sleeper class to Mangalore on “Emergency” tickets, after attempting to get special Tourist tickets we’d never heard of but allegedly fill some quota, after being told the train was booked solid. It seems they reserve a few tickets that people can buy last minute for a little extra, which we happily dished out.

From Mangalore to Goa there were no regular, Tourist, or Emergency tickets available– but what luck! You can always get an unreserved ticket. For all of 35 rupee— less than a dollar. Unreserved tickets come with no assigned seat, but we were the first stop and were initially graced with a nearly empty car. For maybe the first of six hours. After which we were sharing our “8-person” berth with 11 others.

Needless to say we were a little tired and cranky when we arrived, and not so motivated to figure out the public transportation from the train station to Anjuna, the Goan town in which we’d decided to spend our time in the state. One last taxi ride found us at a cute, well-maintained guesthouse, the name of which eludes me. We were oh-so-happy to be situated– at least for a couple of days.

In years past, Goa had the reputation of being a huge rave and party scene which drew tourists in hordes. New laws have cut back the rave aspect of the whole area considerably, but some towns are still notorious for being overwhelming tourist hubs. Others are known to be more quiet and family-oriented. After doing a bit of research, Anjuna seemed to be a happy medium between these two extremes, and in our experience it was. If you’re considering a trip to the state, this town gets my hands-down recommendation!

The first day we just spent at the beach. The next we rented motorbikes, and the last we went to the famed Wednesday market. In between we saw some entertaining live music and indulged in some of the Western culinary fare on offer. Having been in India a little over two weeks at this point, it was a nice little escape of sorts.

i’d like to say we were used to seeing cows just about everywhere, but nothing really prepares you to find them chilling at the beach.

beach stalls and the wood oven pizza place we’d come to love so much.

surf rescue

Motorbike and market tales to come.


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