Goa is the smallest state in India (measured by area), but it is by far the most recommended places that I’ve been urged to visit thus far. Especially given its proximity to Maharashtra, many of my colleagues and friends here in Pune have highly spoken of the beach/party atmosphere in Goa. Even getting from Pune to Goa is rather easy; you can take a plane, train, or bus. Despite all this, I didn’t have any real plans to travel to Goa before last week. It was in the back of my mind as a destination, but I hadn’t taken any plans forward.
But when I got a message from a former classmate from Fletcher, saying that she and another classmate would be visiting Goa, I figured it was the best opportunity I’d get. With the help of my coworker, I booked two overnight buses. Honestly, I was rather nervous about traveling alone overnight in a sleeper bus, but it turned out to be one of the nicest public transportation experiences I’ve had on a bus. Sleeper buses are wonderfully convenient for overnight travel, as beds replace chairs. Curtains cover your bed, and it’s relatively easy to close your eyes and drift off to sleep. In fact, I didn’t feel too tired either day after my bus rides. Which is MUCH better than I can about Mega Bus’s overnight bus from Boston to Philadelphia.
My friends and I spent Friday walking between beaches in Goa, eating delicious seafood, and enjoying the time for Fletcher conversations. Friday nights should always end with sipping drinks and staring out at the sea. (If only!)
I also spent quite some time riding pillion on a motorcycle. We managed to fit all three of us on the bike for short trips. It’s really quite fun. I’m seriously considering motorcycle classes back in the US…
Saturday was saved for sightseeing. We woke up slowly and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast with lots of coffee. There is something glorious about sitting in a hotel, coffee in hand, just staring at the lush, green atmosphere and enjoying a wandering conversation with friends. Those kind of slow mornings remind me of so many places and so many delightful people – Heather in Guatemala, Katie and Mollie in Colombia, Stephen and the family in Puerto Rico. It’s a mixture of mildly humid heat and the bitter taste of black coffee. I’m glad to have a morning in Goa to add to this collection of holiday mornings.
Mid-morning we tested our mettle with the public transportation as we traveled down to the historic old city of Panjim (Goa’s capital). The highlight of the old capital was an absolutely delicious lunch of Goan food: chicken vindaloo (Goan style), masala fried fish, pork sorpotel (spicy chopped pork), rice, and bread. To compliment the food (and cool my burning tongue), we sipped feni, a Goan liquor made from cashews, and Limca, a sweet lemonade soda that is very popular here in India. To round out the meal, we shared bebinca, a layered pudding cake, and two bowls of a creamy pudding (I sadly didn’t jot down the name, and Google search is failing me at the moment). So say that we were stuffed is an understatement.
We meandered around a little and then made the journey (this time via ferry, bus, and auto) back to the hotel. After a short rest, we went to Chapora Fort for sunset. The fort itself is famous for a scene from a Bollywood film. We quickly found a nice vantage point and claimed our seats. What we did not anticipate was the smog that blocked the sunset into a vague, hazy pink-orange glow. Even without a clear sunset, the conversation and relaxation more than made up for the view.
Sadly, after dinner, I had to head down to Panjim for my overnight bus back to Pune. It was hard to say goodbye, but it made me excited for future Fletcher reunions – two more in the next few weeks!
So happy holidays to all! I’ll be spending my Christmas in Kolkata with AIF fellows, Pune friends, and a Fletcher classmate. Certainly not a traditional holiday, but I am looking forward to it nonetheless.