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      01.11.2011 20:44
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      Got To Go To Goa

      My best friend and myself visited Goa in March 2006. It was our first time here; we had a fantastic time and would certainly return there.

      Before we left
      Before we left for Goa, we were required to buy a Visa. This cost us £30. We downloaded the forms from the Internet and sent them to the Visa office in London. Our visa took about 2 weeks to arrive.

      The Flight
      The flight was 10 hours from Gatwick airport to Goa. From the airport our hotel was about an hours drive. Although we were not looking forward to the journey as we just wanted to get to our hotel the drive turned out to be excellent as we got to see various parts of Goa that we wouldn't have necessarily seen if we hadn't made the journey.

      The Airport
      The staff at the airport were very efficient. Our baggage came out within 5 minutes of us arriving which was great. I really wanted a cigarette after the 10-hour flight and eventually we saw an ashtray inside the airport and asked the guard standing near if it would be ok to smoke. He told us that would be fine and a few people began smoking. However, when I had finished my cigarette and went to put it out in the ashtray, the guard held his hand out. I thought he wanted a cigarette and went to give him one and he shook his head and said 'tip'. I told him I didn't have any money and he just smiled! I thought he was a bit cheeky for wanting a tip for letting me smoke my own cigarettes but many of the people were tipping him so I guess they know when they are onto a good thing. However, don't feel like you have to tip because you certainly don't! We already had our transfers booked with our holiday so we went outside and were directed to our coach. We had to wait for the rest of the passengers for our coach and we sat near our coach and enjoyed the sunshine. We were approached by lots of taxi drivers asking us if we needed a taxi. We explained that we already had one and they continued to tell us that the coach would take 90minutes to reach our hotel whereas if we went with them it would only take 30 minutes. However, we decided to stick with our transfer. Lots of taxi drivers asked us to take their phone number which we did and they said to call on them anytime while we were in Goa if we required a taxi. Be careful of the locals near the airport. The Indians are one of the nicest race of people I have come across but the people at the airport can be very pushy, wanting to carry your luggage and then asking for a tip (because they know many people will give them one!) We had already been warned that they can be pushy at the airport so we just refused to tip anyone. Baga

      We stayed in Baga near Calangute while we were in Goa. We stayed in a 2 star hotel which was basic but very clean. Baga is a small town that has many market type stalls, lots of hotel ranging from 5 to 2 stars and lots of restaurants and pubs. The roads are not like roads in Britain and we were warned by our tour rep that pedestrians come last in the order of the road - you have to look out for the cars and tuk tuk's as they wont look out for you. We were advised to get taxis everywhere but we preferred to discover places on foot and never encountered any problems. Yes, you have to be aware of vehicles and random cows roaming the streets but on the whole we felt pretty safe.

      Travelling round Goa
      You have three options when wanting to get around Goa, walking, taxi or a tuk tuk. We used a tuk tuk a few times and then met a really nice taxi driver and decided to let him take us everywhere for the rest of our trip. The tuk tuk's are slightly cheaper then taxis though. We did a couple of trips while we were in Goa and the taxi prices were very reasonable. We went to a waterfall that was about an 90 minute drive away and the whole journey (which included three other stops) cost us £10 which is £5 each and we found this very reasonable for a whole day out in the taxi. Our taxi driver also gave us loads of hints on places to see and where to buy cheap items. For example, when we did the waterfall trip we could feed wild monkeys. He pulled over on the way there at a tiny market at the side of the road and told us that if we wanted to buy bananas then we were better doing it here and they would charge us more when we got there. We bought about 70 bananas for 50p and when we got there they were selling the same amount for £5 so his advice saved us a little bit! I find that walking is always a good way to discover places but for some of the places of interest in Goa, I would personally say you would be better getting a taxi as they at least know where they are going. Our taxi driver was great, every time he took us somewhere he asked if we had anything planned for the next day and he would arrange to pick us up for our next trip. Goa is very easy to get around and both tuk tuk's and taxis are cheap. Beaches

      There are some stunning beaches in Goa. I wasn't impressed with Baga beach. The undercurrents were too strong and there was no way you could swim in the sea. Although the beach was nice to look at, I have to say I do like going for a dip in the sea when it gets too hot! We only went to one other beach and that was Coco beach. This I was impressed with, gleaming white sand that seemed to carry on forever and clear water the temperature of a bath. There were lots of restaurants along the beach where you could get food and drinks at very reasonable prices. Coco beach was about a 40-minute drive from where we were staying but this only cost us £5 for a return journey in a taxi.

      Markets
      There are quite a few markets we encountered while we were in Goa. Anjuna market is held on a Wednesday throughout the day. The stalls sell fake T-shirts, hand made items such as carved elephants etc and also jewellery boxes. There are also many stalls selling cushions covers, bed covers and sarongs. Although I enjoyed this market, I found a lot of the traders were quite pushy and really tried selling their items even when you made it obvious that you were not interested. If you are not interested, do not hang around the stall and look as they take this as a sign that you are interested and will then pester you. The other downside to Anjuna market was that it was held throughout the day and it was so hot that you soon became bored waling round and just wanted to sit somewhere cool and have a drink. I felt this Market would have been better if it was held later in the day when the sun fades.
      Mapsa market is the market where all the locals go shopping. This is held on a Friday again throughout the day. The stalls sell mainly local fruit and veg as well as household items. There are also spice stalls and cloth stalls.

      The market I would highly recommend is Baga market which is held on a Saturday in the evening. The atmosphere here is incredible. There are rows and rows of stalls although they do tend to sell the same things, spices, hand crafted wooden items, instruments, jewellery boxes and Kasmir. At the back of the market were some fantastic food stalls serving literally anything you can think of. We had Mexican food and a chocolate brownie for pudding and it cost us £2 each which was great! I found that the traders here we not too pushy, if you stopped to look they would occasionally get you to hold the item you are looking at and then tell you the price. If you are not interested just say thank you and hand it back to them, then walk away. They were fine with this. Towards the end of the market the prices start to get a bit cheaper, I guess because they do not want to be taking all the stock back with them so this is something to bare in mind if there is an item you like which you think is expensive. There were also local bands playing at the market which I believe began around 8pm. As we left the market there was a gorgeous elephant stood near the outside. You could pay the men with the elephant the equivalent of 20p and have your photo taken with the elephant. My best friend loved this, as elephants are her favourite animals. Food and Drink

      There is a fantastic variety of food in Goa. I often find it hard to eat abroad as they don't have many options for vegetarians but I could eat so well in Goa. There are some lovely local Indian restaurants and some of their food was the best I have ever tasted. At a local restaurant we paid £2 for a starter and main course each. Drinks were about 50p for a coke and a £1 for a beer. Alco pops and wine were about 70 each so all very cheap. The have a great selection of seafood that my friend enjoyed as it is all caught fresh and the prices are so much cheaper then they are here. For example a baked crab cost my friend £5 and it was HUGE - back here that would cost between £20 - £25! My only advice about food and drink is that you must not drink the local water. It is totally different to ours and has a high mineral content that often upsets English peoples tummy's as we are not used to it. We stayed there a week and I didn't have a funny tummy once!

      The Goans
      The Goans are a lovely race of people. They go out of their way to help you. We quite often asked the locals what trips they would recommend and that's how we came across the dolphin trip for £4. Many of the locals ask you about life in England and as 1st I was very wary, wondering what they were after but I soon realised they were just genuinely interested in our way of life. In one restaurant they got my order wrong and they were horrified when I told them. They gave us free drinks and also told us we could have the meal for free. All this after they had bought me the correct meal shortly afterwards. They really do give 100% customer service! Trips

      We went on a few trips while we were in Goa. We went dolphin watching from Coco beach. We travelled with Thompson and they offered a dolphin-watching trip for £20. We managed to boo the trips with the locals on the beach and it cost us £4 for an hour of dolphin watching. It was amazing, they took us round the coast and showed us the prison which was near enough in the middle of the sea (nice sea view rooms!) and they also showed us a breath-taking house that was set in the cliff top, it was beautiful. We saw loads of dolphins and even saw some babies! It was a lovely experience! Definitely book the trip with the locals though as you get it so much cheaper than if you book with your holiday company and I would rather my money go towards the local people in India rather then a big tour operator!
      Another trip we did was to Dudhsager Falls, which is the biggest waterfall in India. It was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen, it really was outstanding. We walked through a jungle where we fed wild monkeys and eventually after some climbing, we reached the waterfall and were allowed to swim in the water at the bottom. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone. We paid £5 to enter the waterfall sight and it was worth every penny. You have to pay another 50p to be able to take your camera, which we found was quite reasonable. My only advise is wear some sturdy shoes, as there is a fair amount of climbing to do, which I found quite difficult in my flip-flops!!

      The last trip we did was to a Spice Farm. This trip was very educational and included a guided tour around the spice farm and the guide explained what each spice was and explained how they grew etc etc. We paid £5 for entry into the Spice Farm and this included a drink and a meal. As we entered the spice farm, two very pretty Indian girls threw flowers petals all over us which was a nice touch, it certainly made you feel welcome. At the end of the spice farm, we were told that we could ride or wash an elephant if we liked. We were shown the elephants and then given the prices. It would cost £5 to ride the elephant and £5 to wash it so we decided to do both. I found the ride itself a bit disappointing. I have done an elephant ride in Thailand and thought that it was much better. We only got about 5 minutes on the elephant and had to sit with a guide who was pushing for a tip the whole ride. Washing the elephant was unreal though. We went to a big lake with the elephant and we given two scrubbing brushes. The elephant was laid down on her side and just laid there and let us wash her. The men then told us to climb on her back (by this point she was sat upright in the water). We climbed on and then men shouted some commands at the elephant and she began collecting water in her trunk and throwing it backwards onto us! It really is an experience I enjoyed with all my heart and would repeat again if ever given the opportunity.

      I would definitely recommend Goa to anyone. It can be a bit shocking for the 1st couple of day as there are some really poverty stricken areas but once you have had time to adjust, I can promise you will have the time of your life! ..

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        25.10.2010 23:03
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        a great destination, best place in the world!!

        I can only start by saying how much this place has captured my heart. If anyone is thinking of visiting Goa, then i can only say DO IT!!!!

        I first visited Goa back in the early 90's with my parents. It was a package holiday that we got for very cheap.

        So far I have been to Goa every year since 1993, so does this say something to you?



        Goa is in South West India, and is India's smallest state. Goa has miles of lovely beaches (66 miles to be exact), from busy Baga beach in the North, to the chilled and peaceful beaches in the South.

        Goa is actually quite small, and to travel from north to south Goa will take less than a couple of hours.

        The friendly locals, coupled with the famous beach shacks are why hundreds of people go back to Goa year after year.

        Goa caters for all people, serving delicious seafood, and the king prawns are out of this world.
        I take my young son, and i never have a problem ordering him things like chicken and chips. They even have a subway in Baga if you are feeling a little homesick :).

        The local language is Konkani, but english is widely spoken.

        The price of living in Goa is very good. i have never been anywhere as cheap, and i have been to lots of places.

        Beer and other alcohol are widely available for all of you alcohol lovers.

        alcohol and other duty free are very cheap, meaning you can take some back home with you for a fraction of the cost.

        I will highlight a typical day for me in Goa, just to give you an idea:

        After arriving at the hotel by taxi (typically 10pounds for a 60minute journey), unpack and head to the beach.

        Get a sunbed at a beach shack (no paying for sunbeds if you eat and drink at the shack).

        Lay back and let the shack lads bring you drinks. Although i tend to get up off my b**kside, and order myself as i would feel mean otherwise.
        Our shack bill usually comes to less than 10pounds for 2 adults and 1 child to eat a nice lunch and drinks for the day (5 drinks each approx)
        Now that is reasonable!

        After spending the day at the beach, head back to the hotel for a lovely swim and talk to the other guests.

        Out for evening meal at one of the numerous nice restaurants. There is a wide choice; indian, chinese, italian, and so on.

        Again, the bill is very cheap, typically about 20-30 pounds for all 3 of us, including drinks.

        Now to the trips:

        Old Goa - this is where you can have a look at the churches.
        dolphin and crocodile trip - a boat trip which takes you to see these amazing creatures.

        waterfall trip = a jeep ride up the hills, you get to see the monkeys and even feed them ( but be careful, you dont want to get bit or scratched.... rabies :(.
        then you get to the waterfall and have a refreshing dip ( quite cold though)

        trips to other beaches that are very quiet. Nice and relaxing.

        Top tip - ask a local taxi driver to take you places rather than booking tour operator trips. but agree the taxi price before you set off.

        Best times to visit are between November - March. April is the end of the season, and although i have been to Goa in April, it was very humid, and was getting quiet.

        You need to get protection against malaria, which only comes in tablet form ( or syrup for the little children).
        You will need to get medical advice before choosing which anti malarial drug to take, as the advice is always changing.
        My practice nurse and GP didnt have a clue, so the nurse needed to phone up for advice before they could give me a perscription for drugs.

        You will also need injections, which again you will need to make an appointment with a medical professional.

        Last but not least, you will need a visa to go to Goa, and you need to have one before you fly to Goa, or you will be refused to travel.

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        29.01.2010 09:06

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        A lovely part of the world

        What a fantastic part of India. Goa is the smallest state and has much to offer. i visited the area in October 2006 which was perfect as it was the time of the Hindu festival Diwalli which was just outside of the peak season before the area got taken over by tourists. I stayed in an area called Baga beach which is about a 2 mile strip of restaraunts and accomodation which has just about the right mix. The area has a good nightlife which isn't too over the top but just about right.
        Goa is well known from the sixties and seventies when a group of hippies turned up which really put the area on the map, even today there are still a few of the original visitors from that era many years ago. The area is well known for it Fish curries and vindaloo which has an influence from portugese cooking, even to this day there is a large influence of portugese in the area with lots of churches and places named in portugese.
        Goan trance is a music style which has been produced in the area for many years and still brings the most ulikely travellers to the area to find the perfect Goa rave.
        A lovely part of the world.

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        26.03.2009 15:05
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        All in all a crazy busy place but out of the city, amazing.

        Goa was a fantastic place we stayed at the heritage village, it's a first choice hotel but I booked through winter sunshine holidays. The hotel cost £189.00 all inclusive for both me and my partner. I booked the flights with Thomson fly as a late deal they cost around £130.00 for both of us. This was back in April 2007, we soon realised why the flight was so cheap, the flight out had 39 people on board. It was great we all used the rows of four to lie across and got a great nights sleep.

        The hotel itself was great, nice food lovely staff and a fantastic pool area. It was very quiet when we went as it was the last week out for flights from England. We ended up talking to a couple who were from the same village as us and they gave us lots of tips on where to go as it was out first time. They had been out for two weeks and had paid £1800 for their holiday and were not impressed when we told them how much we had paid.

        The temperatures were reaching 42 degrees C around the pool so a dip in the pool/bath was a great idea. The temperature of the pool in the morning was about 15-18 in the afternoon it was reaching the 20's!! It was nice though in the shade of the shim up bar.

        We did a few excursions one was a trip to the local church on a hill to watch the sunset it cost about £5 each and they supplied beer and soft drink while up there it really was beautiful we got some great pictures. The people from the hotel were telling us stories about the church as religion is a big part of Goan life.

        We also went on a private island trip where you sail to a deserted island and get a chance to fish form the boat. We started fishing and litrally as soon as I put my hook in the water I had a fish, then another, then another, it was great. There was about 5 of us fising and the colours of the fish coming up were great. Although my partner did catch a rock fish which had massive spines so be careful if you do go. They also took beer and soft drinks, they supplied a BBQ with the biggest fish I have ever seen, potatos, salad, pasta you name it they had brought it. It was so relaxing the beech was powder white and if you enjoy swimming it's great because it is one of the only beaches without an undercurrent.

        A trip to the spice plantation is a must, you are greeted with a red spot on your head and a flower garland by the dancing ladies. You are shown round the plantation and shown the different spices growing (during which I passed out). You then have lunch and can buy anything from their shop and can go and ride and wash with the elephants. They have great fun in the water, a camera is a must!

        Overall we had a fantastic holiday and would love to go back. However the poverty did put me off a bit. The visit we had to Panjim was horrendous I had a rock thrown at me by a young boy because he had been following is around trying to sell us wallets and belts and we didn't want one. The taxi driver then punched him in the face making his nose bleed and explained to us that we are the most important visitors to the country and we bring a lot of money to the country so they need to protect that. Taking into account the boy was about 11 I didn't agree with this treatment but didn't dare say anything. That was the only bad part of the holiday so I would still go to the country just stick to the tourist trail!!!

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          10.01.2009 22:03
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          One of the most interesting holidays I've had and would thoroughly recommend it to anyone.

          I visited North Goa a year ago and found it an exhilarating feast for the senses.

          When you arrive at the airport it can be a bit overwhelming - men will try and elicit a tip by holding or touching your case on the way to your coach - don't be fazed - find your tour company rep, get directions to your coach and just firmly tell anyone trying to "help" that you are fine and will find your own way and they'll soon leave you alone. If anyone puts a flower garland round your neck expect to be asked for money, so don't be afraid to say "no thank you".

          We stayed in Arpora, a great, fairly quiet little spot with easy access to the more bustling resorts of Baga and Calangute.

          We hired a moped (pretty dangerous!) which gave us the run of all the coastal resorts in the North and we ventured to the South for a couple of days, although found it extremely quiet there. The roads/driving are very hairy!

          The people are lovely, and very friendly but you do get a bit of hassle from the stall owners and need to be firm but polite. Some of the beaches have a lot of hawkers (e.g. Baga) but others can be fine, with no-one approaching you.

          We loved the food. "Prawns Massala" was practically our staple diet, and paneer (a cheese I'd compare slightly to mozzarella) curry was lovely too. We ate at Margao train station restaurant one day and had the best prawn curry, with poppadoms and lime pickle for £1.50. Eating in resorts is noticeably more expensive though. The samosas you can pick up at kiosks and little general shops are gorgeous. A lot of the restaurants and cafes look very rundown and a bit shocking when you first arrive, but in fact some of the worst looking ones, that if you saw in UK you'd not go within a mile, had the most fantastic food.

          Travelling by train is a great experience but don't expect to get anywhere on time. We spent a whole day in train stations and on trains without actually ever getting where we wanted to, which was slightly frustrating but also really interesting.

          Everywhere is incredibly dry and dusty, and no matter how much you shower you will permanently feel a bit grubby but you get used to it. Don't take any white clothes or anything very fine or expensive as it will never be the same again. Your feet will constantly be ingrained with reddish dust throughout your visit.

          The markets are fun for a visit - Baga on Saturday night is good - but to be honest most of the stalls are all selling the same mass produced tourist fodder. The Wed. flea market at Anjuna we found a bit irritating in terms of hassle, even by normal Goa standards.

          You'll see lots of egrets (crazy cranes as we called them), sacred cows roaming everywhere including on the beaches, elephants, wild boars, kingfishers and birds of prey and masses of dogs. The countryside is beautiful.

          You will also see quite a lot of begging.

          Main tips - negotiate trips with locals rather than booking extortionate tour company excursions, don't take your best clothes, expect hotels to be of a basic standard, don't be scared of the food (we didn't get any "hot" curries even though we tried), never accept the first or second price you are given for an item you might want to buy - always haggle hard and even walk away (9 times out of 10 they'll run after you and drop the price), expect to be stared at & don't be surprised if people ask if they can be photographed with you (some clearly found us fascinating). Do expect to have a fantastic holiday if you love experiencing different places and having adventures.

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            02.01.2009 15:28

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            Well worth the flight

            My boyfriend and I (25 and 31 respectively) travelled to Goa last March for an 8 day trip. Despite the very long flight (9 hours) with no cigarettes, I found Goa to be everything I dreamed of and more.
            The climate in March was wonderful and warm - at least 30 degrees every day - and very humid. This time of tear is quite close to monsoon season and this, coupled with the humid climate, meant that the beaches etc weren't as busy as they could have been.

            We stayed at a B&B accommodation about 5 mins walk from Calangute beach. The rooms were basic and the air conditioning wasn't wonderful (every time there was a power cut, which was most nights, it would go off) but the room met our needs.
            To reach Calangute one walked down a dirt track past various restaurants and local shops - including an English cafe which was really, really good!

            The beach itself at Calangute wasn't my favourite I must say - too many touts and people offering massages for my liking. I preferred to hop in a taxi for about £4 and head off to Cocoa beach - a beautifully quiet beach set into a bay so the waves are tiny.
            Food in Goa mainly consisted, for us, of seafood (which was incredible), rice dishes and curry dishes - all of which suited our pallets well. If you aren't big on any of the former you probably wont have any trouble - we even found an Italian restaurant (but beware, it doesn't tell you it is a vegetarian restaurant!)

            All in all, I completely loved my trip to Goa - the weather was wonderful the locals incredibly friendly and the beached divine - take a trip if you possibly can!

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            22.11.2008 19:04
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            a place one can visit again and again

            If there is one place in the world that i do not mind visiting year after year, then it would easily be Goa.I love this place and i am going to write about it the way i know it.Not the glamorous part of it with 5 star beach resorts, the beaches filled with hippies and tourists and the bustling and busy parts of Goa.It is a little known village that i am going to write about.

            When i visit Goa , i stay with my grand parents who live in a little village town called Mapusa, which is at a distance of 32 kilometres from Panaji, the capital of Goa.Mapusa is a fishing village and has river and sea in close proximity.

            My grandparents live away from the town of Mapusa by the sea side.They have a little boat which they rent out to fisher folk at Rs 50 a day( One dollar)and get plenty of fresh fish in return .Grandpa is a retired teacher and has a small pension.Life is very simple in their little village which has a population of about 400 odd people may be a little more than that.There is a primary school and a government run clinic which used to be shut most of the time before, because the doctors refused to work here.They preferred working in cities.The locals got together and have now formed a co-op, running some basic services needed for the village by donating money and collecting some funds.Now there is a visiting doctor coming twice a week for 3 hours, and a small post office which is run by my grandpa and my grandma.There is a church as nearly 70% of the people are Christians and the rest like my folks are Hindus.There is one Muslim family.They all live in complete harmony.Everybody knows everybody here, and nothing remains a secret LOL.
            For all other facilities they have to go to Mapusa town which is 3 kms away.There are buses to go to Panaji from there and to other parts like Madgaon and Bardez.

            Al the vegetables are grown here, and there are paddy fields too.So everyone is self sufficient.Many houses have livestocks , so milk and meat is in plenty.
            I love visiting this place , which i do at least twice a year .I get the best of both worlds, get to stay with my favorite grand parents and go off to visit the swanky part of Goa with my friends.
            All the people in the village lament about the good old times when Goa was unpolluted , not so many tourists and no drug menace etc; etc;
            I love all the little markets in Panaji, where i buy a lot of junk jewellery and other stuff like jute bags, hats .Goa is a great place for shopping.Not too expensive.
            Mapusa has a friday market which is a lot of fun.It gets very busy on that day and people sometimes wander into our(grandpa's) little village too.Some of the Foreigners are amazed at what they see, because everything is so basic, including the houses and there are no proper roads, just narrow paths .
            There is everything sold on the market day- i mean just about everything like spices, terracota stuff,clothes, fruits, vegetables, dry fish,papads- all that is grown and made in our village too is sold at this market.

            This is the real Goa, how it was before it became one of the most popular tourist resorts in India.i am not sure how long the village is going to last in its present simple form, because many youngsters want to change and modernise it!

            I am sure this may not seem as interesting as the other more glamorous side of Goa which is known by all tourists and written about everywhere. But i love this part of Goa a lot more .

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              24.06.2008 19:58
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              A relaxing, interesting and beautiful place where your money goes a long, long way.

              It's difficult to know where to start when writing a review for Goa. I've been going there for the past 10 years which surely must say something about the place. The people are like no other in the world, they have a wicked sense of humour and are so helpful, friendly and welcoming that it is difficult to come back home. I have made many good friends there and have always felt safe and happy amongst the locals even when I'm out alone.

              Goa is made up of:
              South Goa - huge golf courses and very expensive hotels which take all the water from the locals!
              Central Goa - including the capital which is dusty and bustling but has many western stores, department stores and wonderful eateries.
              North Goa - a series of coastal towns with beautiful beaches and numerous stalls, hotels and restaurants.

              North Goa always has plenty to offer and is only 20 minutes from the capital (visit Bombay Bazar Dpt. store). Taxis are fairly cheap and public transport is ridiculously cheap if you can bare the crush and the heat. North Goa also hosts Anjuna market every Wednesday - this market is HUGE, the goods are cheap and there is a wide variety. Arpora's Ingo's market is held on Saturday nights and as well as the stalls there is a variety of live music. Mackies is a rival night market not far away and here you can find live music, fire eating, dancing etc. as well as numerous stalls. The spice plantations are some distance away but well worth a visit, as is Dudsagar, the second highest waterfall in India (it's a bit of a treck so not suitable for all).

              Goa is a very safe place to holiday in general, the people are kind and helpful, the exchange rate is good and the food is exceptional - lots of freshly caught fish and lots of wonderful vegetarian food.

              In recent years the state has become more westernised with tarmac on the roads, street lights and small supermarkets. It is a good introduction to India. There are many excellent hotels - my personal favourite being 'The Highland Beach' in Candolim (very clean, lots of services/ facilities and reasonably priced).

              Goa certainly has plenty to offer, there are boat trips and river cruises, a variety of beach sports, temples and historical buildings, wildlife reserves, live music in numerous venues, wonderful shopping and perhaps the best food in the world. Nothing costs very much and the pace of life is extremely relaxed. Temperatures are high (the most comfortable time is December) so pack only light clothes. Please, please bring children's clothes in your case, they can be given to locals or one of the local orphanages will collect them from you. Some airlines even allow an extra suitcase of children's clothes which the 'El Shaddai' orphanage will collect at Dabolim airport (look on their website).

              I'm now thinking of any adverse things about holidaying here to try to give an unbiased view of the place. Religion and language are no problem, the state is 30% Catholic and the remainder mainly Hindu with a growing number of Sikh and Muslim traders. Everyone mixes in together and over 90% of people speak English, so no problems there. Topless bathing is frowned upon and women must cover their arms to enter temples. There are very few cases of malaria but you must take insect repellent as there are a few mozzies. High factor suncream is a must! If ice is offered it will be made with bottled water so it's fine, but do not drink from the tap or well - only bottled water is safe. Milk and eggs are perfectly safe to consume. There are numerous chemists and doctors surgeries so you do not need to take medications with you (also the dentists are fantastic - way more advanced than in Britain and so cheap). Some areas of the sea are not suitable for bathing because of strong tides, but these will be pointed out to you and there are many swimming pools available. You will see poverty but nowhere near the scale of other Indian states.

              If you want a relaxing, interesting holiday where your money goes a long way, in a beautiful place full of friendly people, that's Goa.

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                04.04.2008 13:27
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                A beautifull Place

                Goa - place of beaches, My fav spot in India, Most you might have already been there and know almost everything about Goa but this can be Usefull for someone who has not yet been to this place, its paradise for all beach lovers.

                Its the 25th State in India, Panjim being its capital. Earlier portuguese did settled over here in Goa so you could still see the construction and work done by portuguese over here, the Portuguese culture. it attracts many tourists every year, and the new celebrations are just too good over here by the beach.
                It has Basilica Of Bom Jesus, it has the Mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. Goa is situated along the Konkan belt with Maharashtra, it shares Border with Maharashtra 7 karnataka.

                Vasco Da Gama was the first to European to find india through see route, there is Place in goa by his name and its known as vasco.
                Goa has transport access by all means from Airlines, to Trains and by road as well. But once you rach in goa the best way to move around and see the beauty of goa is by moving on Motor-Bike, this is the best way to move around in Goa.

                The Culture in Goa is diversed as people from different caste resides over here, but the most popular are Goa carnival, Christmas, Diwali, ganesh Chaturthi, New Year day, Easter 7 so on.

                Food is delicious over here you will get any food over here, because there are hotels which makes World food as this place is visted by most people around the world, so you wont miss your home food. But the local food is Rice & Fish curry 7 in most curry's you will find Cocunut for sure, then you will find different spices, so all you people who enjoy spicy food this place wont let you down. Drinks are no problem at all you will get every drinks over here, but the local drink over here is Feni which is made from Cashewnuts. So if want to try something different then do try it, Goan feni is quite Famous.

                Hotels - There are good hotels to stay in goa to name a few which i know are
                Taj Exotica Goa
                Marriot Goa Resort
                The Leela Goa
                Oceanic Hotel
                and so on, there are other cheaper hotels as well. But the most cheapest place to stay are the rooms offered by the locals out there, they let the rooms in thier houses which compared to Hotels is much Cheaper if you planning to go on a long visit.

                The places which you should not miss are

                Candolim Beach - you should visit White Horse Shack you all will have a great time there.

                Baga Beach - This beach is most of the time crowded , this beach is beautifull, good restaurants and bars & nice people.

                Anjuna Market - At this place you can do your shopping, coz here you will get the stuff you would like to take back with you to your home.

                Fort Aguda Lighthouse - It is near Miramar beach and on the hill. from this light house you can panaji city & a panaromic view of Miramar beach. Its a nice place.

                St cajetan Church - You have to walk a bit to see sthis church, they you will se the construction this beautifull church of Portuguese. You can also visit Viceroy Arch, this was used as a entry to Goa from River Mandovi.

                Also to visit are Basiclica of Bom Jesus, Bhagwan mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary,, Acorn Arcade. Calaungte Beach.

                Goa has a very good night life, Pubs & Bars you will just love to be at this place. and the time when most of the people visit goa is from October - February.

                The Best Clubs to visit in Goa are,
                Club Tito's - this is near Baga Beach.
                Club Extreme - On Miramar Road.
                Cluc Cabana - on Arpora Hills.
                Club Antoos - On Calangute Beach.
                and many more good ones.

                the forts in Goa are also good to Visit and the ones you should not miss are Fort Aguada, Tiracol Fort, Rachol Fort and more.

                i Have been to Goa many times, but still love to go there because this place is lively. During My Engg Days that was for 3 years i was studying in Kolhapur which is 3 Hours away from Goa, me and my friends would live for gos any time on our bike nad the whole journey use to be so fun, i miss those days when we all use to go to goa.
                I know my review isnt great & its nothing when you writing about a place like Goa. But i hope you all atleast like it.

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                  08.03.2008 13:38
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                  Goa, a place you must visit......

                  Well moving on from my Gujarat experience, I still have many more places in India to review, as you can see a hell of a lot in 6 odd weeks. My next destination was one that I always wanted to go to, even as a child, however only experienced it in 2005, we went to the beautiful and tranquil place that is Goa. I had always heard such great stories about Goa, the people, the landscape, the whether etc, and my family had gone many times before I was born, and hearing them bragging about their experiences only made me more determined to visit it the next chance I got. This review, will focus about my time in Goa, I spent four days there and managed to see and do a hell of a lot, ill try giving some tips about what to see and do, the culture and lifestyle, some historical background and so forth, like many of my other reviews, so ENJOY.

                  History of Goa:

                  Goa, located in the western region of India, is the smallest state in India, in terms of area, and forth smallest in terms of population. Goa's name was originally derived by the Portuguese who ruled it over 450 years ago, and translated means "Patch of tall grass". Although Goa's past can go back a thousand years, its most important period was during the late 1400's when Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese explorer become the first foreigner to step foot their, and its Portuguese influence then made an ever lasting impact on the nation, with is religion, industrial architecture, sports and governing politics.
                  About 65% of the population is Hindu, however over 38% of the population are Roman Catholic, whom were influenced during the Portuguese control. This makes Goa on of the most densely populated Christian Populated region in India, however several other cities do follow the religion.

                  My Hotel:

                  Now there are so many hotels in Goa, largely due to the fact that it has become such a global tourist attraction in recent years. Hotels range from small hostels, to 1 - 5 star resorts, along the beach or nearby the beach. We at the Holiday Inn Goa resort, which was one of the best hotels ive probably stayed in, better than Dubai I guess. This section will discuss the facilities of the hotel, the staff, the price, food and drinks, and general ease of getting around.

                  Price:

                  Price ranges can vary upon how many rooms you want, how many beds in each room and the duration of your stay.
                  We stayed for four days, with 8 of us, sharing between four rooms. Each room included two single beds and cost us around £65 per night, we stayed in a standard room, however they also offer a balcony view, a pool view, and so on, however prices are more steep for those rooms. So all in all we spent £260 per room for the four nights, which included breakfast and dinner, so it was a really good deal. For more info on price range and room availability visit; (http://www.holidayinngoa.com/tariff.htm), prices may have changed since our 2005 visit.



                  The Rooms:

                  We stayed in the Plaza rooms, because they were the cheapest for us; however they all seemed to be just as good as any other room. Each room came equipped with two single beds and a fold out coach that could also be turned into a third bed if needed. The rooms were fully equipped with air conditioning; however we were not too far from the sea, so you could really feel the sea breeze in your room, which was a big advantage. Each room came with the standard shower and toilet facilities, a colour television with most cable channels, CNN news was our main one, as well as a kettle, sink and small fridge to out your water in.
                  The room included a standard safe, which meant we didn't always have to carry our precise passports or money we didn't need, I suppose the best bit was they had a mini bar, and sharing a room with my cousin meant we pretty much finished it once we left. Each morning, they would replace the bed sheets with new ones, place fresh flowers on the table and a mint under the pillow, just brilliant.

                  Facilities:

                  Like most of the top hotels in Goa, they offer numerous facilities to their guests, including a gorgeous swimming pool, use of gym, tennis courts and steam room, sauna etc. I used the gym every morning during my stay, woke up at about 5, because it was so sunny, gym was opened by 5:30 am and I would say I spent about two hours in their, working off all the food I eat the night before.
                  Although the hotel had so many other facilities, we didn't see the point in using them too much, as we wanted to explore Goa, not its hotel, time spent playing tennis could be used to go the market and so on.


                  Food:

                  The hotel had many restaurants and food complexes, some of which you would have to make a reservation the night before. Food ranged from anything from North to South Indian food, to European and Continental cuisine. I would recommend trying the "Fish Grill", which is a sea food barbeque during the night, they serve their local fish, crabs, squid you name it, but it must be tried as Goa is famous for its seafood, for obvious reasons. Breakfast and Dinner are served in all the restaurants; however breakfast closes at 11:30 so make sure your awake early. The hotel also has a great bar, with vodka, run, Jack D, try their Coconut Rum, its brilliant.

                  Holiday Contact Info:

                  Holiday Inn Resort Goa,
                  Mobor Beach, Cavelossim-Goa. Tel.:(91-832) 2871303 Fax ( 91-832) 2871333


                  The next section of my review, will focus on the places I saw and the things I did, if I will only talk about the major things I did, as I could really go on and on, but it would make this review like 10,00 words long, so enjoy this next section. Goa has so many attractions that have such a cultural and historical impact, from the time of the Portuguese ruling. Many of the Cathedrals ,and building we saw were styled the same, and gave us a sense of how big an impact this had.

                  Dudhsagar Falls:

                  Perhaps one of the most famous tourist attractions in Goa is the Dudhsagar waterfall near the Mandovi River. Now my dad has visited this a few times before and thus it was his idea to come hear, now im going to be honest I didn't at first want to see a waterfall, because I had seen so many in and around India, and when I went to Canada, so I though if ive seen one, ive seen them all, boy was I wrong.
                  The waterfall is so unique and different, from the rest, its surrounding wildlife and habitants made this a brilliant trip. Now the reason this place is called Dudhsagar, is because translated it means "The Sea of Milk", why you may ask? Well because the water actually at certain times of the year looks like a milky white colour, its almost as if it really is milk going down from the top to the bottom, clear enough to drink with cereal.
                  We got their by a coach trip organised by our hotel, most hotels organise similar things, however ask in advance, the trip lasts about 35 minutes and cost about £7, the coach stops off at a local town called Mollem. Mollem is a small town in Goa were the waterfall begins and from here you will be put in contact with a tour company that will arrange for you to go to the top of the waterfall, via a jeep ride. We needed to jeeps, four people in each and the journey to the top lasts about 25 minutes, a lot of bumpy rides along the way, but it also gave you a chance to see different sections of the mountain and the surrounding regions, the local plants, trees and if your lucky a few wild dogs and cats, as well as parrots on the way. The jeep ride was about £15 per Jeep, which wasn't at all bad, considering they took us up, waited for us as long as needed and took us back down.

                  The waterfall was within a National Park, now they do charge a small fee, we paid £1 to enter and £3 to bring in cameras, but this money is like a donation, to preserve and look after the park, it was worth it, as it didn't cost much.
                  Now before we got to the waterfall, we had to go through a stretch of jungle, it was actually a really good experience, I always wanted to go to the Amazon Jungle, but this was the next best thing. During the walk through, you see local wildlife, you can here the birds singing, and if you were lucky enough you could see wild monkeys, they were really noisy.
                  Once you make your way though this amazing jungle of wild habitants you arrive at the top of Dudhsagar Falls. The view from the top is simply breathtaking, at times it reminded me of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the last scene were Indy is at the top of the mountains, with the army after him. The water really was as milky as it could get, the smell of the clear water was vibrant, and the mist that brushes back on your face from the force of it hitting the rigid rocks. You can also have a little picnic at the top of the waterfall, however they closely monitor that all rubbish is taken with you, to keep the park clean.


                  The Beaches:

                  Goa is renowned for its beautiful, simple and exotic beaches that make you feel in a whole as if you really are in paradise, I must have visited a few beaches during my stay, all of which I found to be breathtaking. Wild coconuts on the sand bed, the water touching the tip of your toes, crabs making their way into the water, and fishing boats scattered around the beach were a common sighting. There were also many foreigners along the beach strip; it was like not being in India.

                  Anjuna Beach

                  Anjuna beach was one that we visited many times, it was actually very popular with tourists from American and Spain, and the beach stretched 8-km west of Mapusa. The golden sand, swift sea breeze, music and scenic views make this one of the most popular beaches within Goa. You can eat, drink and sleep within the beach, and depending upon what time of the day you come, there is always something happening. During the day, it's a place to just take everything in, relax, sip a coconut, and takes some sun in; perhaps go for a swim or even have some fresh fish for lunch caught only minutes before. However, in the evening this beach transcends into a musical carnival, with youngsters coming out to dance to the local music, a collection of Bob Marley, UB40 amongst other being played. A lot of the tourists their seemed to be Hippies, which was quite pleasant to see, since they were always looking for some cannabis to smoke.
                  Other beaches that you should visit, if you get the chance are; Vagator Beach & Chapora Beach.

                  The Basilica of Bom Jesus:

                  Throughout your stay in Goa, you will really some breathtaking churches, the architectural designs, simplicity and colour really making them appealing to look at and perhaps visit. This holiday wouldn't be complete without visiting the St Francis Xavier Church, which was about 15 minutes drive from our hotel. A friend of mine, who has family on Goa, told me about this Church and so I decided to visit it.
                  The church is in dedication of St Francis who came to Goa in the mid 1500's and has been a memorial of his work, faith and passion ever since. The church is open for both praying and tourist viewing and is usually open between 6:00 am till 6:30 pm. The church itself is simply beautiful; it has both an Indian and Portuguese influence, with a vibrant earth brown colour, spirals at the top of the roof. The inside has a simple layout, with pictures of the St's along with chairs to sit down on and. The wildlife around the church makes this place even more pleasant to see, we were lucky enough to see wild peacocks, and small wild money near by, whilst several palm trees are located towards the back of the church.


                  Shantadurga temple:

                  Along with many churches, Goa also has some of the most beautiful temples in India, and this one is no exception. What really attracted me to this temple was that you really got a sense that their was a lot of European influence in terms of deign, structure, colour position, unlike most Hindu temples across India, found this one to be very different. The temple was made to honour Shantadurga who was a Hindu Goddess who acted as a mediator between Vishnu and Shiva. However the original temple was destroyed in the 1500's when the Portuguese arrived however was reconstructed again later. The temple is located at the top of the mountains and is about a 30 minute drive to get to from the main town centre, 20 minutes away from Holiday Inn. The temple has three smaller sections, all with different worshipping areas, however one main worshipping area. Like most temples its free to enter, however they do expect a small donation, and be respectful to the faith, I.e. enter with shoes off, try not to make to much noise, they do however encourage people to take photographs inside.


                  Local Markets:

                  Local markets can be found throughout Goa, they usually sell hand made crafts such as necklaces, small pots, masks and religious artefacts; however they are really nice and relatively cheap so you should try to pick something up, maybe a gift. You can also purchase local fruit, sometime not found in the hotels at again a very affordable price, so it's worth looking out for this too.
                  Entertainment:

                  There is also a lot of nigh time entertainment available in both the bars, clubs and beaches. As mentioned above the beaches at certain times of the year have parties, were music, drink and food is available on the beach, its worth looking out for this, or asking your hotel about it. With Goa's increasing popularity with tourists, they have introduced many nigh clubs, pubs and bars to help their guest have more fun. There is no entrance fee to most of the clubs or bars, however they always ask for ID, so be prepared to carry some with you. The drinks inside are relatively cheap, and they offer a wide range of selection, most drinks include, Cobra, Kingfisher and Fosters. They also have a selection of spirits. Some of the clubs I would recommend visiting are; THE ALCOVE, ZIGGY'S and JOHNNY COOL'S. These clubs close latest at 12:30 due to alcohol licensing, but they open early, so plenty of time to enjoy yourself.

                  Transport, getting around Goa:

                  The best ways of getting around Goa are either by foot, cabs or by renting bikes and mopeds. Quick warning, if you decide to hire a moped or bike make sure your licences and carry all your documents, as the local cops always stop tourists and if they don't have paperwork, will ask for money. The cabs are relatively cheap and we found them to be the easiest way of getting for attraction after attraction. The cab drivers are friendly and most of them speak English to cater for the tourists, they always ask friendly questions and start conversations and most importantly never over charge.

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                    04.04.2007 19:05
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                    Over Commercialized in the worst way with bad infrastructure

                    NORTH GOA TODAY


                    The once acclaimed “Queen of beaches”Calangute also Baga and Candolim now consist of wall to wall shacks and sunbeds (many unoccupied) which stretch endlessly as far as the eye can see with no space to turn the beds to follow the sun.

                    The post cards that one sends home are of a Goa long since extinct.

                    Beach walking at high tide is now impossible as these sunbeds reach right to the high tide line, and many often have to be quickly moved if the tide is a little higher than expected.

                    Walking at low tide is impossibility in some beach areas owing to Jet Ski and boat trailers with their accessories taking up the beach.

                    Bathing can be a risky business as unregulated Jet Ski operators drive amongst bathers to pick up clients that their touts walking the sands have found.

                    Indian tourists roam amongst the beds ogling any female and blatantly photographing any topless bathers (Toplessness incidentally is a violation of the decency laws in India)

                    These same tourists will spit at will, throw their litter around where ever they are, totally ignoring litter bins, and urinate against any available wall, bush or tree regardless of all and sundry who may be in the vicinity.

                    Piles of garbage are found amongst the bushes behind the beach shacks and in every available spot.

                    Prices are way way too inflated and well out of proportion with the rest of the Indian sub continent and non tourist areas of Goa. Beer (Kings) that can be purchased for 13 Rupees at many off licenses is up to 40 or more Rupees in many tourist restaurants and Beach Shacks. Not much by European standards maybe but if you think Rupee one hell of a mark up. Still, that’s what tourists are for to rip off aren’t they.

                    The expression of “Old is Gold” when used by Goan males of a certain age refers to
                    The fact that the Goan that finds himself to be a “Toy Boy’ usually expects to have hit the
                    money jackpot.

                    Taxi drivers just ignore the regulations passed nearly 12 months ago that electronic meters must be used. They charge extortion rates to all and sundry.What are the repercussions if they get caught.NOTHING.They will just gang up and cause an “agitation”as the local press describe it and the police and government back down.


                    Room rental prices have hit the roof. The reason given is that Indian tourists will pay the asked price as they are now big spenders. Reality is that the price is met by up to 8 Indian tourists sleeping on mattresses on the floor in a room that by European expectations is suitable for two.





                    Professional beggars regularly accost anyone who is obviously non Indian, and upon being told (In Hindi) to get a job will inform you that begging pays more. Just remember that the 100 rps that you in mistaken pity give them (Oh it’s only a quid) is as much as many local WORKING PEOPLE earn for one days work.

                    The once renown greenery of the tourist areas is fast disappearing and Goa ‘s northern tourist belt of Baga,Calangute and Candolim is becoming a concrete jungle and getting more like any other Indian City with over crowding.

                    Power cuts are a frequent occurrence as very little thought has been put into infrastructure with buildings springing up haphazardly. Planning regulations, what a laugh. This is a country that talks the talk but bribes prevail.


                    The poor condition of many roads, and lack of footpaths, cause one to take ones life into ones hands walking on the road, considering the bad standard of Indian driving, Still this is a third world country is the response.One in which incidentally the rich get very rich and the needs of the other end of the social scale are ignored.

                    These observations are not those of a two week tourist that has visited this continent once or twice but those of someone with many years of visits now residing here for most of the year and one who has seen the adverse changes that have taken place and are taking place.
                    All and every comment written here has in one form or another and at one time or another been a subject in the local paper the HERALD.

                    We are all aware of what tourists and tourism have done to Spain. Well it’s repeating its self here.
                    English all day breakfasts and Sunday roast dinners are replacing many of the traditional dishes.
                    In tourist areas.


                    Why do I live here??? Well the climate is definitely preferable to the English one(Except leading up to and during the rains).Political correctness has not yet reached these parts, and I visit the tourist area as least as possible and certainly do not pay the extortionate tourist prices for my provisions or meals.



                    .

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                      17.01.2007 05:14
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                      Great food, friendly locals, beautiful scenery

                      March 2006 was our 3rd visit to Goa. We usually stay in Calangute It's a nice bustling resort with lots of choice of good inexpensive restaurants and a long sandy stretch of beach .We stay in the cheapest accommodation that has a pool on a B & B basis as staying all inclusive in Goa is a total waste of money as it really is SO easy to find good food and inexpensive drink anywhere.

                      Food and Drink
                      Its not all curries either there is a good range of food but no fast food outlets apart from Dominos Pizza and a Baskin Robbins! We have never had a problem with "Delhi Belly "as we only use bottled water especially for cleaning teeth and rinsing toothbrush. Just be sensible and eat food that is fresh cooked even at markets. Beach shacks are excellent and look after "their guests "royally and offer excellent service and you can eat and drink to your hearts content for very little. A meal in a local restaurant can start from anything for £1 for a main course for one person. A large beer will cost you 70p! A large beer is enough for two people to share. They have an excellent selection of seafood in Goa and this is also very reasonably priced - for a large Kingfish it cost us £3 and this is more than enough for 2 people to share. We found a lovely restaurant called Souza Lobos which is right on the seafront. This is one of the more expensive restaurants, still very reasonably priced - you would look to pay about £1.20 for a main meal. Everybody in Goa knows where this restaurant is.

                      Beaches and About
                      Goa has fantastic beaches and the sea is warm, however, there are undercurrents which can sweep you off your feet in seconds so you need to be aware of this. Our favourite beach is Coco beach as it is a nice bay and it is safe for swimming. There are a couple of dozen beach shacks all with terrific food. We spent around a tenner a day for 2 of us and we ate and drank from 9 in the morning till 5 at nite. You can even get a proper cup of English tea in a mug which was divine and always welcome around 4pm. (that's the only English thing I love). Also on the beach, you can help the local fishermen haul their nets in. There are a few local people selling sarongs, T-shirts and jewellery and they sometimes approach you on the beach to see if you are interested in buying and to ask if you would like to look at their stalls.

                      Beach Huts
                      Beach huts are available on many beaches around Goa. They are basically huts on stilts, usually with very basic amenities. Inside the beach hut we stated in, we had a mattress on the floor with clean bedding, a ceiling fan (needed in Goa!) and a key for the padlock to secure the hut while you are not there. The bathrooms are shared, a bit like campsites back in England. The washrooms consisted of a shower and toilet which were fairly clean. There are usually a few huts or restaurants to get food, again these are all reasonably priced. The hut we stayed in on Palolem beach (which is about 2 hours from Callangute) and cost us £2.50 for one nights stay for both us.

                      Massages
                      There are massage huts which offer massages for around £4 for a full massage of 40 mins.You can do dolphin trips for about £3.

                      Getting Around Goa
                      Tuk tuk drivers will drop you off and pick you up at any given time.
                      Tuk tuks are little yellow trikes with a cab on that takes a driver and 2 people around Goa. These are cheap and great fun. Drivers are happy to let you shop and either wait for you or come back later. Calangute to Coco Beach cost is £3 for a return trip.

                      Markets
                      The Saturday nite market at Baga is a must. Full of atmosphere, stalls, bands from various countries, fantastic food stalls from every place imaginable serving hot, cheap food. Usually lots of scummy cakes on sale too! Stalls get a bit repetitive and the Kashmir traders are a bit of a pain but just walk on by unless you are seriously interested. Prices are always cheaper near the back of the market. We like to turn up around 7.30 have a quick look round then watch the bands. There are lots of seats but these fill up quickly so just sit where you can. It's a very hippy feel to the whole thing. The market ends in the small hours. Get a tuk tuk driver to drop you off and arrange a time to be collected. Make sure you know exactly where to meet him as there are hundreds of Tuc tucs there. There is also Anjuna market on a Wednesday bur personally I prefer the Baga market as Anjuna market is held during the day and can be very hot to walk around. It also doesn't have the same atmosphere as Baga market and I found that the traders were pushier at this market. Another market is Mapsa market on a Friday during the day and is mainly for the locals, it is still nice to while a coupe of hours here. They sell general household items, lots of fruit and veg, spices, and the usual Kashmir traders.

                      Scuba Diving in Goa
                      Not many people realise that you can scuba dive in Goa. My husband and I passed our open water PADI diving course while we were first in Goa. The dive school is a 5 star IDC centre, based in Miramar near Panjim and are well recommended for their customer service for which they have won awards. Equipment is very well maintained and safety is paramount as it should be. Diving is very reasonably priced and many people return from all over the world regularly to dive with this school. Visibility is not first class but still a lot to see, and there are many diving sites to explore. We also visited Karnataka with this dive school and stayed in a hotel next to a magnificent 100 foot high statue of Shiva (one of the Hindu gods). The diving here is superb. You will look to pay about £200 per person for 2 nights, 3 days there. This price includes diving equipment etc, transport and meals.

                      Visas
                      For us there is no downside to Goa (apart from coughing up £30 each for visa which last 6 months! A visa form can be downloaded online. Fill out the form and send it to The Visa Office in London. This can take anything from a couple of weeks onwards depending on time of year you are going. The fee for the visa is only payable by postal order which is a bit of a pain. Leave plenty of time to get your Visa as you can not travel without one.

                      Locals
                      The locals in Goa are the friendliest people and usually genuine. They are always happy to help and are very interesting to talk to. The service in resturants is excellent and they genuinely want you to have the best possible experience while in Goa.

                      General Goa
                      Goa is different things to different people. We now have friends who live there and spend a lot of our time with them diving off the Grande Islands and at Netrani. There are churches, waterfalls, many beaches complete with cheap beach huts to stay in, lots of towns, and local markets to visit or simply chill on a stunning beach. ). If you have never travelled to a third world country first appearances when you are dropped off by coach leave you a bit shell shocked as the hotels are usually set down a back street. Give yourself 24 hrs and you will love it. Everyone I know always returns to Goa so it must have something. If you are a first timer get yourself a lonely planet Goa book and enjoy

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                        12.04.2006 18:53
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                        The generous hearted people.

                        We have just returned from our fifth holiday in Goa. We always stay at Colva (boring eh!). We take flight only and book into the Star Beach Hotel, the staff are friendly, the rooms clean, good pool and about £10 per night. Only drawback could be, no bar in the hotel (owners are Muslims) but if you can't get enough booze during the evening, well you're not trying hard enough. We had a fortnight holiday in December with my brother, sister-in-law and niece and nephew ages 7&5. The children had a fantastic time, they were photographed by every Indian in Goa (well it felt like it) and indulged by every waiter they met. My brother berated us for keeping Goa a secret, well I thought I'd bored the pants off everyone since I first went there in 1999. During this holiday I asked people we knew abut the possibility of tickets for the one-day cricket match in April. Matthew the owner of the Kentuckee Restaurant, near the beach, said he would get us tickets, so my husband, daughter, her boyfriend and I went back at the end of March. This was my daughter and boyfriends first trip to Goa. Sure enough Matthew came up with the tickets, we all spent the most amazing day at the cricket, marred only slightly by the result (England lost). The match started at 9.30 but all local advice was to get there early, Margoa is only 10 mins from Colva. We left the hotel at 6.15a.m. We arrived at the ground passed through security and were in our seats by 6.45a.m later other people told us that they had queued for up to two hours to get into the ground. Moral - don't ignore local advice. The atmosphere was fantastic and the noise level deafening. Bangra drummers were touring the top level of the stadium where we sat, and stopping to play and get the crowd dancing with them. A couple of English men who sat behind us moaned about the noise and one of them asked the drummers if they did requests and then requested that they f**k off, I can only assume that the drummers did not understand them or were not going to allow anyone to spoil their day, we felt ashamed to be English. As the match ended all the Indians sitting around us shook hands and we congratulated them, what a great day, its something that we will never forget.
                        My original plus for Goa is the people, they are all so open-hearted and generous, they are pleased to see you, eager to talk with you and if you are invited to their home do please go and accept their hospitality. They remember you year after year, we had a break of four years between holidays and it was like we had never been away. On a personal note I feel perfectly safe and would holiday alone.
                        One day whilst at the beach and Indian family with a little girl, set up a tightrope and she does tightrope walking and tricks, I had seen her before at Anjuna Market, after she has finished she goes around collecting money, I was amazed at the number of people who had just watched her and applauded but would not give her anything. Don't street theatre artistes in big cities go round with a hat after their show?
                        I wondered if people who come to India are so indoctrinated with the mantra 'don't give to beggars' that they lose sight of the fact that they have just been entertained.
                        Finally I would urge everyone to go to Goa, remember you are in a third world country albeit one of the more affluent areas, be sensitive to their customs, don't waste water, I catch the shower water in the bucket in the bathroom and use it to flush the loo, not much but every little helps, accept that Indians do not understand the concept of queuing, try buying a railway ticket, Indians drop their litter everywhere, and finally yes it does smell.

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                          10.03.2006 22:34
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                          What we think!

                          I have just read you review and you mentioned that Goa is a bit touristy, name me a place in the world which has not yet been affected by tourists? Basically, wherever a plane can go, people go!! In an ideal world you may be able to get a wooden boat and float to an island paradise, but sorry the age of the jet doesn't allow that - everyone wants to see the world and experience other cultures. If you have ever thought of going to Nigeria (one of the many places we have seen), you will find that has even been affected by tourists, even though that is a dangerous place to visit - you may have your views (fair enough!) but the whole world is out there for us all to visit, but i am sure if you went to the Amazon forest you would still see David Attenborough (english!!).

                          Basically take off your rose tinted glasses and accept the world is a tourist driven economy! Please tell me of a place/country which is not driven by tourism? Because it is probably an island which could be bought by Richard Branson! Then no-one can go there anyway!! - so accept things for what they are and get on with your life - and I will get on with mine, without the perfect ideal of how things should be!

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                            14.07.2004 21:27
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                            • Hawkers

                            17 months ago I made a promise to the patron of the Amigo Plaza guesthouse in Colva, South Goa, that I would recommend his accommodation to the folks back home. Today, a year and a half later, my memories of Goa are as fresh and vivid as the region itself, and having stumbled upon a crumpled business card for the aforementioned accommodation, I decided it was time to keep my promise. More about the Amigo Plaza later. First, let?s talk about Goa itself. Goa is a small state on the South-Western tip of India. You may well have certain preconceptions about Goa ? all aging hippies and backpackers?trance music and drugs.. or a tacky Med-Style resort full of expat?s that just happens to be in India. And if you choose to stay in the North of the state ? the popular resorts of Baga and Calangute ? then this you may well encounter. Goa is relatively cheap to reach, and very cheap to stay in. Add to that the wonderful climate, gorgeous beaches, and is it any wonder it?s a big pull for Brits and others? So if you are searching for a slightly more authentic experience, I have just one recommendation ? head South! Let?s get one thing out of the way. India is a third world country, and despite the relative prosperity of some of the touristy beach resorts, Goa is no different. This is evident as soon as you step of the plane ? in the ramshackle airport, in the scramble for your bags as soon as you leave passport control, and, when you leave the airport, in the bumpy, dusty roads, lined with candle-lit shacks, the strange, unfamiliar odours in the air.. the shanty towns visible in the distance? My boyfriend and I wanted a flight only to Goa ? our plan was to holiday independently in the South of the state, as we had heard this was more beautiful, and less touristy. We actually ended up paying £380 for an allocate-on-arrival package to North Goa, as this was cheaper than flight only. So on arrival at the airport, we advised the rep that we
                            wouldn?t be joining them, and jumped in a taxi to Colva, one of the South?s largest towns, despite the taxi driver?s protestations that we would have a better time in the North. I wanted somewhere with few tourists, but as we drove through tiny villages, I was slightly disconcerted to note that there were absolutely no Westerners around. A bumpy half-hour later, we arrived at our destination, and the LaBen hostel, which I?d booked online. The hostel was fine, in a backpacker kind of way, costing about £7 a night - but that wasn?t the holiday I had in mind - besides, I couldn't sleep for fear that the wobbly ceiling fan would sail off its hinges and decapitate me during the night. The next morning, I sent my intrepid boyfriend out to explore, while I tried to adjust to our new, sticky surroundings. Peering out at this foreign environment I could see children working in the fields, lush, green palms, and giant-sized crows! When we both ventured out, dragging our suitcases to our new lodgings, our white skins standing out a mile, we were greeted with smiles, waves and introductions. I was warming to Goa! If you hadn?t guessed, our new lodgings were the Amigo Plaza. The complex was being developed when we stayed there, and a pool built, but the room itself was perfect for our needs ? cool, clean, spacious and comfortable ? it even had a TV ? Bollywood dramas galore! And the owners could not do enough to help us, even putting a fridge in our room. So yes, I heartily recommend the Amigo Plaza - the patron is Uday Raikar, the address is 4th Ward, Colva beach (close to the sea): telephone 0091-832-789284. Cost around £6 per night when we stayed. Colva is a town where many Indian families go on holiday, and I was soon to discover that a white girl in a bikini is a sight bound to attract lots of attention ? after all, it?s not really the in-thing for women over there. So my first tip ? particularly if you arrive in early or late season and
                            there are few Westerners around ? exercise modesty on the beach (and everywhere else!) ladies? or don?t be surprised if a nice young Indian gent asks to take a photo of the ?lovely English couple? (and you notice the lens distinctly angling towards you!) After a few days in Colva we?d had enough, and decided to move somewhere a little more secluded. By now we?d realised that our best bet for food in Goa was to be fish and rice - I had some of the tastiest, most succulent fish ever over there, but exercise caution ? my boyfriend paid the price for eating some swordfish that looked like it had been out in the sun too long. But let?s not go into that? I was actually looking forward to trying some good Goan curries out there, but the quality of the meat left something to be desired on more than one occasion. Indeed we were advised by one restaurant owner to avoid Goa?s famous Pork Vindaloo, because the meat wasn?t very nice! This, combined with a regular teatime queasiness thanks to the malaria tablets we were both on meant I was reluctant to try anything much more adventurous? Cavelossim, a bit futher south, was to be our next stop, and it was here that we spent most of the rest of our holidays. We pitched up at the Mobor beach resort, a modern complex which had the largest rooms I have ever seen. The proprietor used to live in England and the restaurant / bar was run by a friendly English couple, Bernisa and Clive. The complex had a small but deep pool, which, as it did not get much sun, was great for cooling off in, and a parade of shops which were closed during our stay. Our room (rate approximately £10 / night) had two double beds, two balconies, extremely high ceilings which were a bugger when trying to exterminate mozzies, and an abundance of desk / drawer space. We stayed in these comfortable, if slightly unconventional lodgings for a week to exploring the surrounding area. One of the most memorable things about our stay was the fact t
                            hat we had literally miles and miles of pristine sandy beach all to ourselves, save the odd hawker selling their wares, and admittedly this was where we spent most of our time. The beach actually stretches for about 25 miles in South Goa, with little variation for much of it. But if you like the idea of an expanse of white sand backed by coconut palms and the Arabian Sea lapping at your toes, then you?ll love it. Aah, the sea! I am a bit of a sea-lover and I have 2 things to say about the Arabian Sea ? great for swimming, crap for snorkelling! It?s extremely dark; in fact, cowardly little me was too scared to go in without my boyfriend! If it wasn?t sharks I was worried about it was seawater crocodiles from the nearby estuary? yes I know! But it was warm, pleasant and clean. There were also some cute little creatures to look at on the beach; scuttling crabs with eyes on tall stalks that would make small burrows deep into the sand, flinging sediments in the air as they did so like gravediggers. Then the wading birds, Sandpipers, that would chase the gentle waves out to sea, then race away from them on their little legs as they came back - a pretty pointless activity, but amusing to watch nevertheless. There were also some magnificent eagles that would soar high above the beaches. Sun beds can be hired on the beaches, and are normally free if you have a drink in one of the beach shacks dotted at intervals along the coastline. But the sand is so soft and comfy there?s little need, and despite the heat, the exposed coastline made sure it never got uncomfortably hot. So what about away from the beaches? One of the best things to do is hire a bicycle. Then you can while away the hours cycling through shady forests, one minute lined with poor, ramshackle dwellings, the next hiding a majestic colonial style mansion house, testament to Goa?s status as a Portuguese colony. Many beaches and villages in the South are reachable by bike ? Mobor, Cavelossim, Bena
                            ulim ? all are recommended. At the far South of Mobor beach is a quiet stretch known as honeymoon beach. Here the sea meets the estuary of the Sal River, and you can watch the local fisherman hauling in their catch. The river itself is a great place for bird-spotting, and bat-spotting. We took a half hour cruise out there at sunset. Half way through, the boatman began clapping his hands and calling like a lunatic, and suddenly the air was filled with the whirring of hundreds of giant fruit bats, whizzing and diving above us. Being a bat-lover this was a joy to me, but no doubt someone else?s worst nightmare. Other species you might see are Kingfishers and Herons. You can also take smaller boat trips dolphin spotting, although we went in the wrong season for this, and all we saw was the occasional fin ? not enough to compensate for my hangover-inspired sea-sickness! Speaking of alcohol, there?s a decent locally brewed beer in Goa named after the local bird I mentioned earlier -the Sandpiper. Costing something silly like 30p a bottle, it?s probably preferable to the local wine, which takes some getting used to! I can recommend one or two more restaurants in the South; first and foremost has to be the River View in Cavelossim ? a bit out of the way but worth hunting down. We spent our most romantic night in this restaurant, on the banks of the river Sal ? just the two of us and the fruit bats above us. Here I had the most delicious, freshly caught fish stuffed with masala. Also the Sea Pearl, conveniently located next to Amigo Plaza in Colva, does delicious fish, and vegetable curries, and reputedly has the cleanest kitchen in Goa! Gaffino?s, the sister complex of Mobor Beach Resort in Cavelossim, does decent Western food if you are all curried / fished out! One day my partner and I hired a taxi to take us inland, to the Pascoal and Curti Spice Plantation, situated in a gorgeous location next to a majestic river. Here an amusing day was pass
                            ed as we tried unsuccessfully to identify various spices growing in their natural states, to the obvious exasperation of our guide. ?Is it turmeric?? ?Nooooo, sir?. It is NOT turmeric?, and so it went on for every plant we saw. At the end of the tour there is the opportunity to buy some spices from the plantation ? nice idea, but be prepared to barter? otherwise you can get them much cheaper from visiting any of the local markets. On the same day, we visited the Bondla wildlife ?sanctuary?, which contained lions and elephants amongst others, although I wasn?t impressed by the state of the animal enclosures. But by Indian standards, apparently it?s quite a good zoo. To hire a taxi for the day should cost no more than £10. At the top of our to-do list was the supposedly paradise-like Palolem beach, even further south. Palolem was the one place we saw in November that felt touristy ? the village itself was full of bronzed backpackers, bright sarong stalls and banks. Palolem beach is a crescent of golden sand edged by small, jungle-covered peaks. Very pretty undoubtedly, but even in November it was too busy for my liking, and I was disappointed to note that the clear blue waters were slightly tinged by pollution.. the impact of tourism was evident here. It was on Palolem beach that that we encountered that unusual species ? the aging hippy, probably formerly a lecturer in economics, who gave up his work to travel India and now lives in a Banyan tree with a small harem of bhindi-sporting white women, and who now wears only a ragged loin-cloth and a long-beard. Occasionally this wizened creature would venture into the sea, to impress us onlookers with his elaborate butterfly stroke, before returning serenely to his tree to meditate with his children moon-cloud and button. I kid you not. My partner and I were thoroughly impressed with Goa, the climate (not too hot or humid), the ease of getting around, the natural beauty, the diversity of the landscape, t
                            he friendliness of the locals (although we were not so naïve to suppose that sometimes the hand of friendship did not have an ulterior motive ? tourism, after all, drives the Goan economy). Sometimes, on the beachers, the hassle from the hawkers selling sarongs and various tat could be tiresome, but never threatening. (Although when a woman and child sit down and 'make a shop' next to your beach towel, it takes a hard heart not to buy anything! The goatskin drum on my shelf is testament to that!) While I know that the beach resorts of Goa are not representative of the rest of India, there are insights of what the rest of this magnificent country might be like, particularly when venturing inland, and into the larger towns such as Margao. Here, the begging is increased, the poverty is more evident, the roads more chaotic and a sense of true daily life in India can be felt. India exerted a strange hold over me, and I truly hope to return one day to explore more of this fascinating, beautiful country. I would recommend the Footprints handbook as a good guide, but Lonely Planet or Rough Guide will also be useful. Here you can find all the boring stuff I haven?t mentioned here ? money, jabs, visa (apply early!) etc etc. If you are thinking of visiting Goa, I hope this review has proved useful. This winter I?m off to South Africa, so expect a report on that early next year! Thanks for reading?

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                            "Goa pronunciation (Konkani: गोंय goṃya; Marathi: गोवा govā; Portuguese: Goa) is India's smallest state in terms of area and the fourth smallest in terms of population (after Sikkim, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh). It is located on the west coast of India, in the region known as the Konkan, and is bounded by the state of Maharashtra to the north, Karnataka to the east and south and the Arabian Sea binds it to the west. Panaji (Panjim) is the state's capital, and Vasco-da-Gama (Vasco) its largest city. The most historic city is Margao which is second largest and with the most western Portuguese culture. Portuguese merchants first landed in Goa in the 15th century, and annexed it soon after. The Portuguese colony existed for about 450 years, until it was taken over by India in 1961. Internationally renowned for its beaches, Goa is visited by hundreds of thousands of foreign and domestic tourists each year, and has become one of the most popular holiday destinations for European travellers, particularly in the Northern hemisphere winter."