Kerala is beautiful. It’s green and fresh all year rounds. It’s humble and filled with traditions. But what I love the most is how generous and hospitable people are in this place. We spent a week in Kerala, doing nothing but eating and visiting relatives. Time went by quite fast, and then it’s time to drive back.
This time we decided to drive back to Pune via Goa. This trip opened my eyes about Goa. I went to Goa about 10 years ago for a friend’s wedding, and we didn’t really explore much. I had a fainted memory of a town that embraced the bold tourist industry with its old culture. But what I heard over the years about Goa was scary, and it made me avoid visiting this town. See, I’m more like a peaceful travelers. I always seek for solitude and calm places tucked in nature. I love mountains, seas and silent lakes. I don’t like the crowds and the parties. A lot of people made me think of Goa like Pattaya in Thailand. It’s a beach party town, and it was quite dangerous. My friends warned me about drugs, and all the scary things that could happened to tourists in Goa. But the thing that scares me the most was noisy people who would distract me from the authenticity of that place. So I’m always happy to skip Goa from my travel plan.
Sadik told me there is another side of Goa. There are beautiful, quiet places where people go sitting alone on the beaches— meditate and do yoga. It’s far from the tourists and we would love it. I loved the Idea! So we drafted a map, and got ready to explore.
We started from Kerala in the morning, by noon we already left the state on National Highway 17, a busy highway which runs from Mumbai in Maharashtra to Cochin in Kerala. We entered the state of Karnataka, and from here, we saw a massive change of NH 17. The road was widening, and we noticed the highway is also called NH66 now. It is a massive project. The road is now better and will become faster. In the future, his mega infrastructure will allow us to drive from Pune to Kerala in one day. We are very excited about it.
We stopped at the town of Mudureshwar at our regular stop, RNS Highway Hotel. This hotel is the best option to stay if you need to spend a night in the area. It’s reasonable and clean. You can also opt for RNS Residency and RNS Golf Resort if you want the fancier places to stay. Earlier, we planned to stay here longer because we wanted to go scuba diving at Netrani Island, but it’s not allowed to do that anymore. We might be able to go snorkeling there next time.
In the morning, we continued our journey to Goa. NH 17 (NH66) continues to get revamped and expanded. We could only imagine what this highway would bring in the future: faster transportations, greater number of vehicles, and better highway facilities. This will definitely support the development of the industries and businesses in the regions that are connected by this highway.
And it’s time I reconstructed my perception about the beautiful city of Goa. This trip changed me a lot. When we crossed the border between Karnataka and Goa, there was a fee of 250 rupees for a car. I thought it was a bit much, but we could understand the tourism concept of this town. It’s known for vibrant beach parties, relaxing lifestyle, and cheap alcohol. The other side of Goa boasts beautiful Portuguese-influenced architectures, old churches and delicious local cuisine. Two sides of Goa seemed to co-exist in harmony. True, Goa is crowded, but somehow the number of people didn’t seem to bother me. There were a lot of tourists, but everyone seemed to be enjoying the city in their own ways. The city is vibrant, and it made me feel very enthusiastic in a way. We didn’t have much time to explore Goa, but we already planned to go back again. It wasn’t scary or dangerous at all. Actually it was quite nice.
We booked a place as per a friend’s recommendation. He said it’s a beautiful family-run place with clean rooms and home-style food.
We arrived at Goa quite late so we decided to have lunch at a small place first. We had a traditional Konkani meal with crispy fried fish, crab curry, clams and oh, so many things. We also tried delicious Sol Kadi which is made with Kokum fruit and coconut milk. It’s very refreshing.
We decided to go see Fort Aguada. It’s overlooking the clear Arabian sea, and the long white sand beaches which packed with people enjoying water sport activities.
Late afternoon, we decided to check in to the hotel, but believe it or not, we encountered another problem with our stay again. Although we have booked a room on the phone earlier, due to online-reservation, the hotel had given the room to someone else, and there was no room available for us. We were kind of tired, and we drove all the way looking for this place. But fortunately, a girl at the hotel was very nice, and she helped us find a room at a nearby guesthouse. And I was kind of happy that we did stay at this quiet and nice place called Joaquina’s House. Yaseen’s first expression was “this room looks like a house!” This place is neat and lovely, and it’s exactly what we’re looking for.
Okay, I almost forgot to tell you. When we arrived, we found out that we didn’t actually stay at a peaceful beach after all. We ended up at one of the most happening places in town, Calangute Beach. This area is filled with colorful shops, eateries, bars, and nice places to stay. There are a lot of foreigners staying and hanging out in this area. It’s one of the clean and well-maintained places in Goa.
On the beach, there are a lot of shacks where you can sit and order food and drink. The sand is white and clean. The water is clear. Yaseen was immediately in love with it. He said it’s the best beach in India, and he had fun swimming there.
At night, we walked a bit before having ice-cream before dinner. We had dinner at a place called Grapevine Restaurant. We didn’t order anything traditional because we already had a hearty delicious Konkani meal for lunch. So at this place, I had fish and chips, Sadik had some BBQ chicken with honey, and Yaseen enjoyed his Spaghetti Bolognese. We walked back to the guesthouse and hit the bed.
In the morning, it’s time to drive back to Pune. We had breakfast at a small café. It’s important to be nourished in a long road trip. We followed NH17(NH66) and headed to Amboli Ghat via State Highway 180. This was an enjoyable ride. We joined National Highway 4 at the town of Nipani. We stopped for lunch at McDonald’s at the town of Kolhapur before continuing to Pune.
We were back in Pune on Saturday night, January, 9th, after 3 days travelling nonstop on the roads. We came back to a super cold night. We bought food from outside because there was no way I could cook anything at that point. We were tired, hungry and cold. And the house was such a mess and full of dust. This always happens when we leave the house for weeks. We could actually see our footprints on the floor as walked because of the dust. We were too tired to bother so we just ate and slept… and dreamed of our next exhausting wonderful long trips.
PS: I know I didn’t get a lot of photographs this time. I’m sorry. But I did get a lot of videos which I will share with you guys soon 🙂