We were both pretty travel weary by this time and, having looked at the public transport to get to Palolem, we decided that a taxi was definitely the easiest option and worth the small extra expensive for the ease and the comfort of air con.
We had booked in to stay at Crystal Goa, a slightly quirky hotel a short walk from the beach, so without the beachfront premium. Our room was essentially a shack on the roof but it had a good shower, a kettle and effective air conditioning so it was pure luxury as far as we were concerned.On our first afternoon, we went for a jaunt to explore the area which was much quieter than Anjuna, with a much more laid-back feeling. The beach is a beautiful, long, wide run of golden sand backed by palm trees and shacks. It looked just like the pictures and was definitely more like what we had imagined Goa to be.
We took the opportunity to take some long overdue beach jumping photos.
That evening we did not venture further than the hotel restaurant for dinner. With the benefit of hindsight, we probably should have made a bit more of an effort as it soon turned in to a sort of school disco when the expat families that lived locally descended on the place, cranked up the music and started to party. We managed to hide at a table around the corner and eat our food in relative peace. We had a couple of nice enough meals there and for convenience it suited us down to the ground.
The restaurant had two other excellent features, the first was the cow that casually popped in half way through our meal.
The second was this ingenious method of holding mosquito coils.
Palolem is significantly smaller than Anjuna and significantly cleaner. It takes about 20 minutes to walk along the main stretch and whilst there are still a healthy number of tourist shops, these are interspersed with actual clothes shops and some really tasty restaurants.Our lifestyle in Palolem was relaxed to say the least. We found a place that served a delicious bowl of porridge and returned there for breakfast every day. This is not uncommon apparently, we saw the same people each morning and overheard one group saying as they left that they would be back for lunch. We managed to be a bit more adventurous than this but for breakfast, Little World restaurant is the place.
Caro tracked down a yoga class, which was a little harder than anticipated because the season was drawing to a close and the first couple of places she tried were apparently abandoned.
A walk along the beach solved the problem with signs for classes with Swami Dayanand Ji. A 5-minute walk amongst the beach huts scattered through the forest brings you out at the yoga studio, which Caro suspects may also double as a manége.The classes were great and 90 minutes of vague exercise each morning meant that, once again, Caro felt completely entitled to eat her bodyweight for the rest of the day. Also, the Swami was a bit of a hero.The only slight downside was that he was very keen for Caro to have an astrology reading and this resulted in a couple of very British conversations in which she attempted to be polite and accepting of other people’s beliefs whilst also communicating that she believed the whole thing to be complete nonsense.
Swami: I could do a reading for you
Caro: It’s not really my cup of tea
Swami: Not your cup of tea
Caro: No, not my thing
Swami: But I could help you make life decisions
Caro: mmmmm, I’ve already made the biggest one so far and don’t foresee making drastic changes anytime soon
Swami: I could tell you how your relationship is going to turn out
Caro: Well I’m pretty locked in to it now so I’m not sure that would make a huge amount of difference
Two classmates arrive to hear the end of this conversation and Caro felt relief that the heat may be off her. Also, they were both lawyers so she suspected that they were likely to be of the same mindset as her, however:
One: I totally see where you are coming from…. I don’t want to know my future either
Caro: Errrr… yeeees
Two: But it’s not just about your future, it’s about making decisions. How do you know what car to buy?
One: That’s true
Swami: Your reading says that you will come back to my class for a month next time
Aside from these awkward encounters, the classes were excellent and being out relatively early in the morning also meant being there to watch the fishermen hauling their catch and boats back on to the beach.It was even hotter in Palolem with temperatures creeping in to the 40s so we could only manage a couple of hours in the sun each day and spent the afternoons hiding in the air-conditioning reading and, admittedly, watching a fair bit of Netflix. If you are looking for a truly beachy holiday then it would be wise to visit before April.As mentioned previously, we were pretty travel weary by this point and once we found a restaurant that we liked we were inclined to return to it rather than seeking out other options. This was bad of us but in our defence, we are pretty sure that we found the best dinner available at Dropadi Bar & Restaurant. It’s the first place you come to as you hit the beach from the main road, the service is a bit casual but the food is absolutely gorgeous and the portion sizes too big even for us to finish. If you go, and you should, make sure to have any biryani, it was one of the best meals that we ate in India.On our first visit to Dropadi, Caro was a little distracted from the food and the lovely sea view by the fact that there were puppies on the beach. Having insisted that she wouldn’t be able to go near them because it would make her sad she somehow ended up drifting towards them after dinner.
And then just getting a little closer, just to have a look.
Well, this was inevitable from the moment she saw them really.
James stood patiently for 10 minutes whilst Caro had a cuddle and chatted with all of the other mental people who stopped to fuss the dogs before making her put the puppy down and ushering her off the beach.
Note: Please don’t worry about the puppies; there was shade for them, they were with their mother and they were being left water. Palolem is full of exactly the kind of crazy people who look after puppies on beaches and then adopt them once they are weaned so we are sure these puppies are happy, certainly compared to a majority of the street dogs that we came across in India.
Our final day in Palolem was particularly toasty and even Caro looked apprehensively at the sun lounger before deciding to at least try sitting in the sun. This lasted all of 20 minutes before she too was forced in to the shade that James had been sitting in for the past 4 days. It was turning it to one of those uncomfortably hot days where the only place that you could stand the heat was in the sea. Caro was all for heading back to the room but James insisted on renting body boards for pennies and this made for a marvellous 45 minutes being bowled around in the waves and swallowing copious amounts of seawater. We emerged bedraggled but happy and feeling as though we really had rounded off part one of the trip properly.We had to leave for our flight at midnight so we went back to Dropadi for an early dinner and looked back on the trip so far, over biryanis of course. It was actually the first time that we had really stopped to reflect on the trip as a whole and our first instinct was to be incredibly glad that we have the blog and also written a diary every day because we found that we already couldn’t remember some of the details. As dinner went on, more and more amazing memories came back to us and soon we were listing all of our favourite places, best experiences and funniest mishaps. Not once did it even occur to us to mention or even have any regrets. We’ve played in waterfalls, swum with turtles, manta rays and sharks, walked with rhinos and got up close and personal with a tiger. We’ve driven across Australia, camped on Mount Cook, met Warren the Seagull and been struck dumb by the Taj Mahal. We’ve drunk tea in Sri Lanka, hiked the Himalayas, eaten momos and slept under the Southern Cross. We’ve met the kindest, craziest and most generous people. And we aren’t even finished yet; the most amazing thing of all is that we get to go home, sleep, repack, and set off on another adventure. First things first though: sleep.