To continue from my previous blog entry on Rajhastan (Pushkar, Jaipur, Udaipur), Delhi, and Rishikesh, here is part 2 of my India story discovering the beautiful southern paradise Goa and a bit of Karnataka. Himalayas deserve their own chapter hence I will continue with another blog entry just for the majestic northern region.
We arrived in North Goa via train from Ahmadabad and luckily our bike was shipped on the same train with us. All the nitty gritty details about transporting our bike on the train is here. We drove our bike from Madgaon train station (in Margao) to Arambol in 1.5 hours with a huge grin on our faces while admiring the beautiful tropical landscape of Goa after the hot dusty deserts of Rajhastan.
Our much anticipated arrival to Arambol!
Between staying in a resort, renting a room in a guesthouse or renting a house, we chose to rent a house for 21,000 rs (~$320 US) per month that came with a full kitchen and 2 large rooms. I found it pretty easy to find a room in Arambol with a kitchen or a house by walking and asking around.
As anyone who has visited different parts of India would agree, Goa is very different than the rest of India. Since it’s a former Portuguese colony, the predominant religion near the beaches is Christianity. As soon as we entered this southern state, the sights of hindu temples were replaced by churches and the names of stores and street signs changed from Vikram, Gupta, Ganesh to Xavier, Fernando and Augusto.
Some fantastic views from different beaches of Goa. How can you not fall in love with this, especially when the rest of the northern hemisphere is experiencing heavy winter conditions! 🙂
Goa is popular among foreigners (mostly Russians, Israelis and Europeans) as well as Indian tourists. Facilities are visibly comparable with western beach towns and life is less conservative than the rest of India. It’s popular with its beaches all the way from north to south and women can wear sleeveless dresses and bikinis on the beach freely. Of course it is important to be mindful about the culture and religion and dress accordingly when you are not on the beach. Unfortunately this silent rule was not followed properly and various rape and assault cases were reported while I was there.
If you are traveling on a small budget and looking for a place to stay long term, you are into smoking ganja, hippie crafts, juggling, hulahooping, live music, dancing, tantra workshops and all sorts of yoga, Arambol is THE place. While I have been in a few great international parties/festivals, Arambol and Anjuna seemed too much drugs, sex and rock’n roll oriented to me, hence I preferred chilling more on the southern Goan beaches that were away from that sort of scene (Patnem, Palolem, and Agonda).
These beach photos from Arambol Beach would speak for themselves:
Also in India overall but specifically in Arambol, be ready to be hassled by the street/beach sellers who won’t leave you alone for a second to try to sell you bracelets, lungis, massages and henna services. They will do anything to give you a head massage or pedicure right on the beach regardless of the fact that you can be eating, sun bathing or reading a book. You will never be alone in Arambol, trust me! 🙂
While staying in Arambol for a few months (I guess 3 in total), we made day trips to other towns nearby mainly to Anjuna and Vagator for the infamous Goa psytrance parties and day/night flea markets. In the second half of our Goa trip, we stayed in Patnem and Palolim in South Goa and Kudle and Om Beach (in Karnataka) for a much needed “shanti” time.
The winner for me of these super popular summer towns among foreigners was Patnem with its peaceful vibe and lots of yoga opportunities on the beach. Its crescent-shaped beach, which is backed by a coconut tree forest and its bamboo huts dotted around the forest were hard to leave behind.
There are various options for accommodation in Arambol for every budget and some examples are below (all are private rooms with attached bathrooms, per night):
- Holiday Village Bungalows 600 rs ($9 -ask for a room with fridge)
- Maya Huts 400 rs ($6)
- Lotus, right on the beach 2000-3000 rs ($30-$45)
- Horizon, right on the beach 1000 rs ($15)
Some places and events I loved in North Goa:
- Artjuna (Anjuna) art, yoga, good food, super hip boutique with reasonable prices, and cool atmosphere
- Zuuri’s (Anjuna) magical sunset view and eating international food
- Tantra treehouse (Anjuna) on the beach for good chill out vibes on tree houses
- Anjuna Night Market on Saturdays 6 pm till very LATE
- Anjuna Flea Market on Wednesdays 12-6 pm
- Hilltop and Shiva Valley (free on Tue) for partying your ass off 😉
- Magic Park (Arambol) for good atmosphere and vegan food
- Lamuela (in Arambol and Mandrem) very stylish shop and attached café/restaurant
- Garden of Dreams (Arambol): shop, aerial yoga and café
- Twice in Nature (Arambol): events, live music, bar
- Eyes of Buddha (Arambol): restaurant on the beach
- Rendez-Vous (Arambol): restaurant with the best internet connection
- Ash (Arambol) for live music and dance performances
Juggling Festival followed by the Acroyoga Festival in Arambol in February
Yoga with Alex Iyengar style classes with this amazing German teacher/friend Alex (from 8-10:30 every day on a rooftop all season)
The excruciating heat forced us to leave Goa after 3 months with lots of nice memories to move up to the Himalayas. I found out that migrating seasonally between northern and southern India was the natural course and it’s possible to bump into the same people in Rishikesh, Manali and Dharamsala, which are popular in spring and summer months.