Goa is every teenager’s perennial party place, every adult’s escape and everyone’s pass to take that proverbial chill pill. But if you think you have had enough of the sand under your feet, the sun over your head and the shacks for company, here’s a Goa beyond the ever-popular sea-bathing, beach walking, beach partying version. This place is so much more that you would happily shun the cliché and don your explorer hat than the common traveller one.
Flea market shopping
Be it the exclusive junk jewellery pieces which add that wow factor to dresses, handicrafts that make for wonderful souvenirs or home decor, or just the ambience, these flea markets – at Anjuna (Wednesday), Arpora (Saturday) and Calangute (Saturday) to name a few – are a world in themselves. The sheer sight of locals and foreigners selling their stuff at one place, their languages, music and food co-existing in harmony, is an experience to cherish.
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Take a boat ride deep into the Arabian Sea, to catch, not a glimpse, but a wholesome sight of dancing dolphins. With enough safety arrangements in place, you might even be allowed to take a dip and play with them. (Tip: The cruises usually start from Fort Aguada, Sinquerim or Panaji Jetty; book in advance.)
Meet the spices
Just take a walk through the fragrant spice plantations of Goa and you would know what makes food taste so differently here. Check out the black peppers, cardamoms, nutmegs, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves and coffee in their most nascent form. (Tip: Do not miss a freshly-prepared meal after the tour. Pick from Savoi Plantations, Tropical Spice Plantation, Pascoal Spice Village and Sahakar Spice Farm; all 30-40 km from Panjim.)
Eat like the end is near
There is pomfret, tuna, mackerel, crabs, prawns, and vegetables; all in a variety of gravies with xacuti and vindaloo being the most popular or the fried versions. And, that is just the beginning of Goan cuisine, which has an evident Portuguese influence. In case your palate has tried everything local, just go and check out the small cafes, night markets or award-winning restaurants; Goa has it all.
Within 15 km of Panjim, you can devote a day to check out these (more than 10) architectural delights or perhaps try to be in your own version of Dan Brown’s series by looking for historical clues and puzzles in these age-old monuments. Start from the World Heritage Monument and the only Basilica in Goa – Basilica of Bom Jesus, which houses the relics of Saint Francis Xavier, and proceed to the most imposing of all- Se Cathedral across the road. Then there is the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, the oldest in Old Goa, Church of Mae de Deus in Saligao, ruins of the Church of Saint Augustine, Divine Providence and many more to give you a lesson on various art forms and architecture.
Try your luck
Well, Las Vegas might be too far, but you can be a part of it right here in Goa. Casinos are what come to mind first when we think of Vegas; Goa, perhaps not closer, but can surely give a similar experience. You could try your luck; many would say even walk out with a fortune but always remember ‘the casino never loses’. (Tip: The motto should be: try it, enjoy it and perhaps forget it if the lady luck is not on your side.)