Firstly you guys have to keep this in mind, if you really wish to see the real Goa, the one which is just not beaches and booze, though we all like to think of it that way. But, trust me, it’s way lot better and more exciting than that! Now, here’s a list of the few most amazing and hardly-experienced, things you must do, see and eat in Goa, to get the bona fide feel, apart from, of course its pristine beaches and supercalifragilisticexpialidocious booze! And, oh yes! Don’t forget to look out for the Portuguese houses and typical Goan styled name plates or even hoarding boards, while on your drive to the hotel, because it’s truly appealing, and grandly beckons your arrival at Goa.
The DO and SEE-list!
- Visit the Candolim beach, and halt at a small taverna (bar), for a drink of feni-a locally brewed drink made from cashew or coconut.
- Explore a ship-wreck underwater (some 400 years of Portuguese era!)Go scuba diving around the Mormugao harbour, near Grande Island and Bat Island.
- Parasailing and Paragliding in Anjuna beach! But, well, this isn’t a movie and this stuff isn’t a piece of cake, so all weak-hearts, step aside, as this might turn out to be more of a day-mare than an adventure!However, despite all the trepidation, this experience is of a lifetime!
- If you like a bit of spirituality on the way or simply wish to explore every nook of Portuguese influence in Goa, what better place than the Churches! Now, in this, land housing 160 churches, approximately, it’s hard tell which ones to visit and which to leave. At this juncture of dubiety, here’s a few most popular churches of Goa- Panaji or Panjim Church also known as The Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, Ruins of Church of St. Augustine, and Basilica of Bom Jesus, most of it in Old Goa.
- History freak ,architect, artist or simply a romantic, the Museum of Houses is your place! This cute little museum, created by a local architect, Gerard da Cunha is to illuminate it’s visitors of the history of Goan architecture and exhibits a fascinating collection of displays on building practices and the local and European design unveiled there would surely unravel your insight of the Goan houses!
And, what can be more pleasantly surprising, to know that just next door, resides the Mario Gallery, displaying works by one of India’s favourite cartoonists, Mario Miranda. Both these places are at the north of Panaji in the Torda neighbourhood and the best way to get there is to board a Mapusa-bound bus till Okukora Circle, also known as Kokeru,a bumpy rickshaw-ride from there and back and all this will cost you almost ₹100.But if you’re not very comfortable in break-way rides, a taxi or a rickshaw is at your disposal and will cost you some ₹300 one-way.
- Watch a Tiatr-Goan theatre in Konkani, also known as Nataks in Marathi.
- Shop at the Antique and Flea Markets-Wednesday Flea Market near Anjuna Beach, 18 Kms from Panaji (11:00 am till sunset), Arpora Saturday Night Bazar near Anjuna Beach (7:00pm till early morning), and Mapusa Market, in Mapusa, North Goa (8 am- 6:30 pm).Don’t forget to bargain to the exact half price they say, or even less, and then according to its worth raise the bar slowly!
- Finally, end your Goa tour with a visit to the NGO, Children Walking Tall (www.ChildrenWalkingTall.com) and experience the unperturbed bliss of innocence with the kids at the shelter hope. You can take some clothes, towels, toys, chocolates anything along with you as gifts for the kids!
Authentic Goan Eateries in Goa!
- VENITE, Panjim (31st January Road, St. Tome Chapel, Panaji, Goa, 403001 Landmark: Near General Post Office)-with charming graffiti on the walls and lamps made out of coconut shells, the place provides an outstanding ambience. Try the mushroom pepper fry and banana-caramel ice-cream,spiced sausages and vegetable vindaloo there.
- BHATTI VILLAGE (Bhatti Vaddo, Nerul, Goa, 403114, Landmark: Near the Sol Hotel)-It’s a typical homely Goan restaurant, hosted by a Goan family!
- MUM’S KITCHEN (854, Martin’s Building, D B Street, Miramar, Goa, 403001, Landmark: Near Times of India Office)-A bit high on the budget but has a breath-taking earthy ambiance, complete with a koi pond and a rustic bar and of course soul-quenching food! Try salted pork, Harem mass, and Almeachim Xacuti, here.
- LA FAYETTE, Chorao Island-This place might not be very known as it’s just a home cum restaurant hosted by an old lady but if you wish to get the feel of lunching on authentic Goan food made by your very own Goan grandma, in an old, withered yet welcoming house with a serene ambience under the sky of canopied coconut trees, then this is your place! Chat along with grandma while munching on extremely delicious Goan egg curry with poi (Goan bread) and beer, of course!
- ANDRON, Nachinola-Run by a retired navy-officer, this is a great place for having authentic Goan non-veg food under the dome shaped hut surrounded by yellow walls painted with scenes of village life!
- Benjoe Rail Restaurant(Railway Station, Margaon, Goa – 403601)- “Where there is humour I will do a cartoon. But when I do structures, I don’t do cartoons… I enjoy drawing much more than cartooning.”- Mario Miranda. Adorned with internationally acclaimed Mario’s sketches the walls of this restaurant speaks volumes about Goa’s day to day life, in the most exciting way! Hop in to this stop to experience this arty-ambience in the company of some mouthwatering delicacies!
Once in Goa, you have to try at least some of these!
- Fish curry known as ‘Human’ (in Konkani), and rice, also known as Kadi or Ambot.
- Dhabdhabit or Fish Suke- Dry spicy preparation of fish, eaten as a side dish.
- Kismur– A type of side dish normally consisting of dried fish (mostly mackerel or shrimp), onions and coconut.
- Tondak-curry made with cashew, beans, etc. Try it with poi!
- Solachi Kadi-zesty curry made of Kokum and coconut
- Arroz doce-Portuguese alternative of kheer.
- Ambot tik-sour curry with meat/fish.
- Canja de galinha- A type of chicken broth served with rice and chicken, and is originally a Goan recipe.
- Xacuti-Goan curry with shredded coconut, and chicken/beef.
- Vindaloo-a spicy Portuguese-Goan curry, a HAVE-TO try. Don’t worry it’s unrelated to potatoes or ‘aloo’. Try and lemme know!
- Croquettes – Beef cutlets and beef potato chop that are common snacks
- Bibik or Bebinca– A layered pudding traditionally eaten at Christmas.
In spite of being one of the most visited holiday destinations,especially in India, travellers and tourists often fail to experience the true Goa, in the midst of the razzmatazz life on the beach. So plunge out of the known, much commercialized tour of Goa, hop on a public transit and get lost in the frolic air of Goa! A doce Vida!