Anyway, what we really, really wanted after the cacophanous experience of Mumbai and northern India were a few days of quiet on a beach, with some cultural enrichment spinkled into the mix.
Wednesday 28 November
Arrival in Goa and it's time to sample India's "prepaid taxi" system. We have avoided it to date thanks to airport transfers organised by our respective hostelries, but, if truth be told, it's quite a simple procedure. You go to a desk where the different taxi fares corresponding to the various possible destinations are shown on a board. You pay the requisite fare in advance (700 ruppees in our case) and are given a receipt. Someone then ushers you to your taxi driver and the fun begins.
On reaching our guest house, we give the driver our receipt, tip him and then bid him farewell.
"Heaven Goa" is run by an Indian-Swiss couple, Sunil and Karin. Located just outside the village of Benaulim in south Goa, it is a 10-minute walk away from the beach. Admittedly, we favoured this hostelry on the strength of its Swiss connection. Sure enough, it was perfect for us, with a very homely and friendly feel.
Thursday 29 November
Friday 30 November
Saturday 1 December
We conclude our day on the beach with another swim in the sea, a Mango lassi at our favourite beach shack ("Greg's") and a nice view of the sunset.
Sunday 2 December
Since last year, beach hawkers have been banned from wandering over and approaching unsuspecting, sunbathing tourists on Benaulim Beach. Instead they must set up their stalls on the side of the beach and hope to attract passing custom. Although extremely persistent, they are actually very polite and friendly. As tourists, we would run the gauntlet each day past their shops and onto the beach. Consequently, we ended up being on first-name terms with a good handful of these locals. In turn, they relieved us of some of our ruppees. It was a good-natured game of cat and mouse at all times.
|Paddy fields - a common sight in Goa|
Monday 3 December
We catch a taxi back to Dabolim Airport and leave Goa with heavy hearts. First, it's back to Delhi courtesy of SpiceJet. We then hang around Indira Gandhi International Aiport for what seems an eternity before boarding our flight back to Switzerland in the early hours of Tuesday morning. The eight-hour flight home is torture, as I can never sleep on flights - while nearly everyone else can. To compound the ordeal, my video display isn't working correctly, so no films either!
Tuesday 4 December
And so many memories of an incredible country. Hard to condense in a blog.