Goa is a land that is known as an international tourist paradise for its vast beaches, tropical greenery, diverse history, and, of course, exquisite cuisine. The best feature of this Indian state though is its friendly people.
After stepping out of our hotel onto the main road, we walked for miles up and down Fort Aguada Road. The road was filled with tourists looking for an open-air restaurant, a good buy on souvenirs or just enjoying the scenery. My husband noticed that most of the restaurants posted their menus in Russian as well as in English because most of the tourists spoke Russian as opposed to a European language. One thing that impressed me about Goa is the consistently good sidewalks across the state (unlike those in many of the large cities in India). I was glad to see that cows still roam freely on the roads.
During one tour, we started the day in Old Goa with its impressive old buildings and churches that were built by the Portuguese in the 1500s. We stopped at the Sé Cathedral and the Basilica of Bom Jesus, which, despite their need for more aggressive preservation, attract many tourists and students each day. We ended the day at Fort Aguada in Candolim, the largest and best preserved fort in Goa, that was built in the early 1600s to protect the area from the Dutch. On top of the fort is a lighthouse that was built much later to aid ships in the area. These historical monuments remind us of the contribution made by the Portuguese to the Goa of today.
Goa is famous for its beaches that run along the western coast. The water here is clean and calm; the sand is warm and plentiful. The one by our hotel in North Goa, Candolim Beach, is clean and popular for water sports. We ate every meal looking out over it. Unfortunately we never made it in time to watch a sunset. In contrast, Dona Paula Beach, in South Goa, is full of activity with vendors selling t-shirts, scarves and snacks along the beautiful pedestrian wharf. Since the town has grown right up to the beach road, it is more of an attraction than a quiet place.
Goa is special because of its people. They were very friendly and helpful. I especially enjoyed meeting the children. They were so friendly and wanted to be in my photographs. We had a great time meeting people in Goa. They generously gave us a trip we will remember forever.
Now, on to Calicut in Kerala…
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