Many warned us about the zigs and zags of visiting India. However, when it came to Goa opinions were unanimous: “oh… Goa, you’re gonna love Goa”.
So we had pretty high expectations for this last leg of our trip. We are more “nature” than “city” travellers. We love never ending beaches, clear waters to snorkel, mountains to climb, waterfalls to dive in, deserts to walk. So we had been suffering a bit in these last few days in Mumbai, Jaipur and Agra. And, despite the undoubtful beauties of the Red Fort, the Taj Mahal or the Hawa Mahal, the intensity of these cities was taking its toll, and we were in much need of a calmer spot. And Goa did not disappoint.
We were welcomed with a warm breeze and a beautiful view of the Indian sea, inviting us to its warmth.
Goa is full of luxuriant greens and old time relics…
… that we set to discover in our powerful scooter!
The traces of Portuguese culture are still present in some of the most mundane things, like the name of a fishing boat…
… to the place where you’ll ask for penance
From north to south, you’ll find amazing beaches, warm waters and welcoming smiles everywhere…
… as well as the ocasional cricket match by the beach!
Football didn’t stick in Goa: locals only have eyers for cricket
You’ll also have to adjust to seeing cows strolling on the sand, next to you…
… looking directly at you…
… or just ignoring you, while peeing!
Less imposing, but more carnivorous, these starfish invade the shore on the low tide
With some luck you’ll also be able to see one of these shy hermit crabs
Verne chats with a group of friends enjoying the afternoon bliss by the shore
Beach bumming until sunset was one of our favourite activities…
… and it seems that we were not the only ones!
Lifeguards enjoying the end of an uneventful day
The waters were not only pristine but the warmest we’ve ever experienced!
We were starving, so we quickly crossed this bridge, following the intense aroma of grilled fish
Seems that Jules was not the only one fond of fresh fish
A break to help digestion…
… before crossing back the bridge, now with more time to appreciate the surrounding beauties!
A family catches supper
A fishing boat’s oar
You’ll see numerous families strolling by the shore…
… gaining courage for some more radical water sports
There are numerous bays along the coast, with breathtaking views
An exuberant painting in a canoe
Tourism is catching up in Goa, but most of the places still keep the traditional vibes of the region
Fishing boats in Nazaré, Portugal, on the wall of our guesthouse in north Goa
Entry to the Chapora Fort, in Goa
In 1617 the Portuguese built the Chapora Fort on the remains of a previous Muslim structure…
… to protect Bardez from the threat of invaders
An old Portuguese church in north Goa
Taking the bus from the north to the south of Goa
Peeking through the arches of the “Basilica do Bom Jesus”
A stone carving from Portuguese times
Facade of the ‘Sé Catedral’ in Goa
Detail of a carved ceiling
At the entry of “Igreja do Bom Jesus” you’ll find this sign, written in Portuguese, referring to the intervention of Pope Pio XII in raising the church to a “Basílica Menor”
Every church is decorated with beautifully painted frescoes. This is a detail of the altar at “Igreja de São Francisco”
Main altar at “Igreja de São Francisco “
Detail at “Igreja de São Francisco”
The landscape is dramatically different from what we had seen so far in India. It is green and luxuriant, and there’s traces of the former Portuguese colony everywhere, from the architecture of the houses and churches to the unexpected comfort of meeting numerous ‘Sousas’ and ‘Pereiras’.
In 1498, Vasco da Gama discovered the maritime route to India, opening centuries of prosperity for Portugal and bringing together distant civilizations. Goa was a Portuguese colony from 1510 to 1961, when it was reunited with the rest of the Indian Republic. During these 450 years Goa developed a mixed identity that perfectly combines Portuguese cuisine with Indian spices, catholic religion with Indian diversity, and brings out the same welcoming smiles that you’ll find in both countries.
In Goa we did what we didn’t dare to do before in India: rent a scooter and travel the roads, discovering Goa from north to south, seeing the sea peeking from every corner, and bathing on those unbelievably warm waters at every chance. It is a place full of history, nice cuisine and welcoming people, a perfect ending for this amazing 160 days trip.
Overall, our visit to India had its ups and downs, but no round-the-world trip would ever be complete without it. It is tempting to remember it mostly as a destitute place, but that would be terribly unfair. India, together with China, have overcome uncountable hurdles to snatch close to 700 million people from living with less than a dollar per day. Many millions continue to do so, but the world is indeed a better place today.
Heading back to Lisbon now, with the certainty that it won’t be long until we put our backpacks back on!