Exactly a year ago I had quit my job and my birthday was around the corner. Beyond the usual option of spending my birthday in a typical Mumbai restaurant, I chose to solo trip – South Goa. I was feeling a certain sense of freedom after my resignation and wanted to enjoy this newfound feeling with myself. My usual extensive research led to planning this unforgettable trip. Sharing the beautiful experience for my readers to enjoy and explore Goa beyond the North!
1. Experience the Konkan Railways
I have always enjoyed train rides – and weird thoughts of getting down on random stations have crossed my mind much before Jab We Met released :P. I chose the famous Konkan railways, for the spectacular views in monsoon. The train traversed through numerous seemingly cozy towns and villages. It was difficult to take my eyes off the enveloping greenery and numerous waterfalls all along. Traveling in a non-AC coach is recommended as you can feel the wind, the rains, and immerse yourself in the surroundings better through open windows.
2. Stay in a local village with a family
Experiencing the Goan life with a local traditional family is a must-do when in South Goa, to get a glimpse into the culture. South Goa has a unique Konkani cultural heritage with heavy Portuguese influence. A little observation and interaction with locals can take you on your own discovery of culture in food, language, art, and architecture. I chose to Airbnb my stay with a local family at Red Rooster Village Home stay in the sleepy Majorda village. It was a lovely stay with the facility of a working kitchen, bicycle to explore the area and lots of local recommendations.
3. Cycling along the calm pristine beaches
I spent my evenings cycling along the Majorda and Utorda beaches. With no crowd and no one dying to figure out the best selfie, these beaches won’t make you feel like a tourist. You naturally won’t be in a hurry to see, capture, and move. Instead, you would like to sit down and drown yourself in the setting sun and enjoy some heartfelt conversations. I figured this part of Goa is much more beautiful than the popular overcrowded North Goa beaches.
4. Goa is a monsoon delight
Though not as popular but monsoon is one of the best time of the year to experience the real Goa. Monsoon miraculously envelops Goa in lush greenery. Paddy fields against the beautiful backdrop of distant hills make for a treat for both eyes and soul. I loved cycling and walking along random village lanes and chit-chatting with locals on my way. I stopped to capture enough pictures, but they can’t do justice to what I saw.
5. Local Bakeries and Family Owned restaurants are the specialties of Goa.
While in South Goa, instead of online reviews take some local recommendations and visit the family-run bakeries and restaurants to enjoy some unique local food. In Majorda, you could try my personal favorites Anjona Bakery, Masterchef Victoria Bakery, and Pentagon restaurant. A little further away in Raia, there is a famous restaurant – Chef Fernando’s Nostalgia. Made famous by the passionate chef it’s known for its beautiful ambiance and authentic Goan & Portuguese food. Must try – Pheni cocktail and prawns curry.
6. Experience the Bygone era at Goa Chitra Museum
I am still grateful that my host recommended a visit to this Museum. It is a very well-maintained ethnographic private museum.
The museum is the personal collection of Mr. Victor Hugo Gomes as a tribute to the rich heritage, craftsmanship, and culture of the past generation. A guided tour is offered by the museum and I was also lucky to enjoy an experimental game conducted by a BITS Pilani student. The game made the museum visit more interactive than the usual look and move experience.
7. The warm hospitality of the locals
I would often read about the generosity of locals by different solo travelers. I experienced this warm hospitality on this trip. When I was unable to understand the local Konkani language on a bus – a schoolgirl went to the extent of taking a detour to help me locate the destination, my hosts gave detailed pictorial maps for me to travel safe and Goa Chitra Museum owner Victor dropped me to the nearest bus stop when it started raining heavily. I realized the world is full of so many generous souls and traveling solo forces us to experience this warmth of human relations. Forever grateful to all those I met along my way.
How could the end of such an enjoyable trip be a simple train ride back home?
On the day of the return journey, I reached the railway station around 9 pm to find my train back to Mumbai was canceled due to water-logging on tracks. Coincidentally it was a taxi strike in Goa – hence I had to brave a 35 km random scooter ride to Goa airport in the rains. The earliest flight I could get was of the next morning hence had to sleep the whole night on an airport chair. Reached Mumbai in the wee hours!
The last bit of adventure though uncomfortable, added some more thrill to this journey. To creating more such experiences. Cheers!
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