Travel is a very personal thing. Some people like to take it slow, exploring places on foot, savouring moments while relishing local delicacies. But some others, like me, prefer to zip from one location to the other, strapped for time, taking in only the best sights and trying to be efficient with time. I did a quick runabout in North Goa while I was there on a beautiful red Vespa VX, and this is what I’d recommend if you have just about 12 hours in the beach county.
At around 8am, I started from the Panjim bus stand and made my way to Old Goa to check out some churches. The Church of Bom Jesus and The Se Cathedral are both massive but it’s the relics contained within that interested me more. Priestly robes that wouldn’t be out of place in a Versace collection from the 90s, huge paintings and pillars that have winged angels carved into them, all under one roof. Another must-visit place is the Museum of Christian Art where you can find some more Christian relics and artifacts. It’s great to see some very intricate metalwork and carvings from a completely different age.
If you are not a fan of crowded beaches, you can simply skip Baga and Calangute and head straight to Anjuna, which is a rocky beach. I had lunch at the Purple Martini Cafe, which is a cafe on the cliff above the beach, with a striking blue/white color scheme and many friendly puppies! Amazing 360 degree view of the sea from up there.
Where: Sunset Point, Anjuna Beach, Anjuna, Goa
Price: INR 1,000 for two
Contact: +91 9823772890
Not far from Anjuna, Vagator is a beautiful curved beach with a few rocky outcrops. Chapora fort, near Vagator, is a great viewpoint. Only the outer walls of this fort are still standing and there is a short trek up a steep slope that leads to the fort and another short walk that leads to the edge of the cliff on which the fort has been built. Chapora is like a frying pan in the midday sun but it does give you an awesome view!
Goa’s beaches are all in a straight line and one long road leads to them all. The next one I went to, and the best among them all, Arambol beach is about 20 kilometers from Vagator. The reason I like Arambol the best is because it houses some nice art peppered around the landscape and also the lake! There is a ‘Sweetwater’ lake nestled in a grove of trees you can find if you walk along the beach for a bit. Walk a bit more and you will enter a jungle where you can find a large banyan tree, usually surrounded by people practicing yoga and meditating. Also it was the least crowded of all the beaches.
Thoroughly drained I made my way back to Panjim where I had one final stop to make. The Gitanjali Art Gallery where I found some amazing art and photographs from all kinds of artists. You can also have some stellar food at the Panjim Inn, that’s right opposite the gallery.
Riding along the riviera around sunset is a treat, watching the casino ships and smaller boats bob in the water as the sky changes hues every second. Santa Cruz is a small neighborhood that has many colourful (blue, yellow and even mint) and well built houses in small lanes — a treat for lovers of vintage architecture. Though my heart yearned to keep that red Vespa and ride away to the rest of the beaches in the South, I was out of time and made my way to the bus back home.
So I managed to go to six beaches, one fort and an art gallery in Goa in 12 hours. Without feeling rushed. A day well spent I must say.
Where: Gitanjali Art Gallery, E-212, 31st January Road, Fontainhas, Panaji, Goa
Contact: +91 8322423331
Timings: 9am-1.30pm and 2-8pm
Check out their website here.
All images via: Stranger in Suede