When we Pootled to Goa (Again)

Pootle list #28: 2 of 50 roadtrips in India

Pretend Interviewer (PI): What on earth happened to your blogging resolutions? And why are so tanned – seems like too much of the Vitamin D resolution?

Me (EP): *stretches languorously* just back from a road trip to Goa

PI *full of envy such as induced by looking at Facebook pictures of other people’s vacations* you could have asked us to come along and lounge with you

EP: Ah, but you see, it wasn’t what you typically associate with Goa. Banish thoughts of beach parties, drunken raves, miles of beach shacks and neon lights. Think, instead, of swaying palm trees; crisp spray thrown up by the morning waves, obliterating the horizon under the glowering monsoon clouds; giant hibiscus flowers nodding in the rains; and of course, ginormous brunches and afternoon siestas *gets nostalgic about the Greek omelets stuffed with olives, bell peppers and Feta*

Early morning @ Calangute
Early morning @ Calangute

PI: Oh my! That sounds infinitely preferable! But let’s do this chronologically. Describe the road journey.

EP: As you know, SG is obsessed with driving. With my wanderlust, we make a perfect team for driving up and down the highways of this world. So the weekend rolled around, and I convinced my niece’s parents that they we all needed a break, booked us all into a hotel, packed some sandwiches and beachwear. And we were off.

Or rather we were off, debating about which route to take from Bangalore to Goa. After several conversations, reading of travel blogs, poring over google maps and scrawled notes from previous trips, computations of micro minutes added/saved by diversions and the extreme experiment – the two families taking different routes to and fro Goa – I came to the following conclusion: It does not matter.

Still, for those who care, my recommendations are as follows. Others who are flying to Goa, or have no clue about where Goa is, or don’t know how they landed on this blog post, you can safely skip this bit.

Bangalore to South Goa:

  • NICE road to Tumkur Exit.
  • Have breakfast at Kamath. I recommend the Rava Dosa and the Poori Bhaji if you are not watching your weight. If you are, agonize, order the Idli and then sulk over it.
  • Round off breakfast with some piping hot and sweet filter coffee and instantly regret the diuretic future effects on the bladder and cringe at the thought of dirty highway toilets. Moan about the only disadvantage of being a woman. If only God had allowed women to pee standing up, the world would have been a very different place
  • Take NH4 past Neelamangala – Tumkur-Sira-Chitradurga-Davangere-Rannebennur
  • Marvel at the excellent six lane highways, and sing ‘Windmills of the Mind’ and wonder about the merits of alternate sources of energy and how the world will soon run out of fossil fuel, so it won’t matter if you don’t BELIEVE in wind and solar energy. You better start to! All this mind rambling, courtesy the acres of windmills which line up on the roadside and the hills, merrily waving their arms as you whiz past them
  • Stop at the Rannebennur Kamath for tea and coffee, stretching your limbs, and for very clean toilets
  • Go straight past Bankapur, and just before Hubali, exit left for Karwar
  • Take NH 63 down to Kalgthagi and then onto Yellapur
  • Stop for a picnic lunch on the ghats section before Yellapur. But stay inside the car due to a) rains b) monkeys looking to share your meal. Wonder why SG did not carry the bag of crisps – because EVERYONE knows that crisps/chips are allowed on holidays. Round off with chocolate for dessert
  • Reach Ankola and turn right for Karwar. Pass Karwar and Cancona. Switch on your GPS to deal with the routes in South Goa and to identify which of the dreadfully narrow roads, on the left, leads to your accommodation
  • If you don’t have GPS, go into South Goa, get lost for a bit, ask for directions, get confused by the one-ways, go around in circles, call up your accommodation, get lost a bit more, go around in some new circles, find that there is no one to ask for directions because the entire state is enjoying a siesta, get thoroughly lost, repeat the cycle a couple of times, and finally identify which of the dreadfully narrow roads on the left leads to your accommodation

PS: The GPS shows a road from Bankapur to Yellapur. We did not discover it in time to experiment, if you have or do, please let me know how it goes. Else, we’ll do so next time and let you know.

Bangalore to North Goa:

You can, of course, take the route mentioned above and make your way from South Goa to North Goa via Panjim. It adds about an hour to your journey and you will have to deal with Goa traffic. I recommend the below, especially, if you have a car with enough ground clearance and don’t mind a pothole or two

PS # 2: I don’t drive. Till I met SG, I was blissfully unaware of terms such as ground clearance. Marriage changes people.

  • Take the same route to Hubli. Drive to Dharwad and take the left to Mugad. Pass Alnawar and reach Ramnagar
  • Brace yourself for some terrible roads and a gazillion potholes all the way to Anmod (the state border). 30 KM of fearing for the undersides of your car, and your own back and backside
  • Reach Anmod, slip into Goa and thank God for helping with the invention of tarred roads. Pass Mollem, Ponda, and the delightfully named Farmaguddi
  • Pass Mangueshi temple on the left. Read about it on the internet and hope to visit soon
  • Pass Corlim, Velha Goa, and Ribandar along the River Mandovi, to reach Panjim
  • Read directions given above to find your hotel in North Goa

PI: Gosh! The bit about the toilets..

EP: Is a 100% true. The Kamat restaurants have average food but fairly clean loos. Beware, though, while they dot most of the route from Bangalore to Hubli, there are none in the Western Ghats section, so be nice to your bladder when you are able to

PI: So you rolled into Goa. Describe the highlights of the trip:

  • Early morning strolls on the beach, getting drenched by the Monsoon showers, and telling God that He has done a wonderful job with the Arabian Sea
  • Floating endlessly in the swimming pool, in the shade of the hibiscus, while watching the grass grow in the paddy fields
  • Inventing water and splashing games with the niece. Being told I am one of her best friends in the whole wide world because we both love swimming so much *gets all misty eyed and starts grinning stupidly*
  • Wandering the Portuguese quarters of Goa, Fontainhas, on a Sunday afternoon, stopping by The Verandah to have tea
  • Spending the evening pootling around the promenade, and then catching a boat trip down the Mandovi
Raindrops on reflections
Raindrops on reflections

PI: Talking about restaurants, which discovery, related to food, got you terribly upset and psychotically excited?

EP: *gets misty eyed all over again* Serra Dua. This dessert made of soft white clouds. You would have heard of the traditional and ubiquitous Bebinca, which I quite enjoy. Does not hold a patch on Serra Dua, those little wisps of snow. Till I found, that it is made entirely with cream and condensed milk and probably contains more calories per bite than the number of potholes between Ramnagar and Anmod.

Pure heaven, though. Can’t wait to make it, the next time I have to keep myself from guzzling an open can of condensed milk

PI: On the subject of food, what about the beer?

EP:  I could not locate any King’s beer, the best beer in Earth, and only found in Goa. Instead, a respectable amount of Kingfisher and Erdinger was downed. We also tried some Leffe, bought from a local departmental store. Five (slightly inebriated) stars!

PI: When you were not ooh-aahing at the waves and getting pleasantly food comatose, what did you do?

EP: We visited a spice farm near Ponda, for a guided tour and for some delicious lemongrass-ginger-cardamom tea. I came away with a packet of Peri Peri chillies.

PI: *Evil laughter, red hot, Peri Peri, har har har!*

PI: Book of the trip?

EP: Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes.  A super read – about a recovering drug addict – set in Dublin and New York. Gave food for thought, without becoming maudlin. I loved her style of writing, ballsy and funny!

PI: You were found making discreet inquiries at the hotel reception. Anything we would not approve of?

EP: I was asking after some short term – month or two long – accommodation. Planning to return to Goa, research its wonderful desserts and baking traditions, discover more of the architecture, and read for long hours by the beach.

*goes away to day dream*

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