Recently, I visited Goa for the fifth time. The first visit was a school trip right after my exams, so naturally there was a lot of excitement—we covered  typical tourist haunts like the old churches in Panjim, the beaches and flea markets in the north, and all the important museums across the state. My next holiday was with family where I explored similar experiences, including an evening cruise aboard a ship called Paradise and a visit to a village called Big Foot at Loutolim in the south. On my third trip, I was going to ring in my 21st birthday in Goa. I did a lot of research before heading there for this special trip. I landed there armed with tips from friends and family on all the hip cafes and nightclubs frequented by young adults. I wound up mostly in beach shacks like Zooris, Curlies, and Thalassa, and danced at discotheques like Titos, Brittos, and Paradiso. My fourth stay in Goa came when my cousin decided to throw a destination wedding in the south of Goa.

A view of sailing boats in the ocean at south GoaThe south of Goa is the most peaceful part of the state, and it is perfect if you’re looking for a refreshing break from the tumult of city life. So, even though we were mostly restricted to the resort during this visit, it was completely worth it! The fun thing about Goa is that you can keep going back and discover new things each and every time! That’s what I felt after my most recent trip to Goa last year in December.

The fun thing about Goa is that you can keep going back and discover new things each and every time! South Goa is known for its susegad, or the relaxed, laidback attitude historically associated with the state—where most stores shut shop all afternoon for a lazy siesta.

My father was going to celebrate his 65th birthday with the family at a resort at Varca beach in south Goa. My sister, who lives in the United States was visiting us with her two sons (aged 5 and 2), so it turned out to be a family reunion of sorts as well. South Goa is known for its susegad, or the relaxed, laidback attitude historically associated with the state—where most stores shut down all afternoon for a lazy siesta. It’s also away from the hustle and bustle, the shady rave parties and the crowds that frequent north Goa. Since my two nephews accompanied us on this trip this suited us well, as the idea was to bond as a family and I had no “to-do” list.

The best part about being in the southern part of the state is the serene beauty, lush greenery and clean pure air that surrounds you—something that’s become a luxury for harried, pollution-inflicted Delhiites like myself. So, we welcomed the retreat with more than open arms.

Having visited the area extensively, I have come to realize that while north Goa is the place people head for a few days to party into the wee hours of the morning, the lazy south is possibly the place people choose to buy a holiday home or where they choose to live on a permanent basis. Driving through the south brought about visions akin to an old, rural setting—complete with heritage Portuguese homes, quaint churches, Catholic public schools, municipal hospitals, offices, and Russian signboards (to cater to the large Russian population that moves here when their country faces biting cold winters). Other highlights included spotting wild waterand sipping feni, eating kokum (a fruitlilies and sipping feni, eating kokum (a fruit-bearing plant from the mangosteen family with a tangy taste), and coconut water straight off the endless line of palm trees.

One day we ventured into town to explore and relax. Colva beach was close by and the kids were treated to a thrilling motorboat ride. We then headed to Margao, which is known for its buzzing local market—Margao Municipal Corporation (MMC)—it is a huge covered canopy where you can navigate crowded narrow streets and inner lanes with colorful stalls selling everything from fruits, flowers, vegetables, spices, Goan vindaloo paste, coconut palm jiggery, xacuti masala, fish, chouricos, prawn and mackerel pickles, banana chips, cashew nuts, marshmallows, iodized rock salt, bibenca (an indigenous fruit-based specialty dessert), Christmas decorations, clothes, accessories, shoes, souvenirs, and other trinkets! A quintessential Goan feast for the senses!

Selling fish at a local south Goa marketWe then went to The Fisherman’s Wharf in Cavelossim for lunch—a lovely restaurant by the water, which was highly recommended by everyone we met. The place had an ethnic décor—walls adorned with Mario Miranda’s art as well as an exquisite view overlooking sailboats on the water. Serving authentic Goan cuisine, we gorged on some of their signature dishes like the wharf shrimp cocktail, devil tuna salad, crab xec-xec, prawn curry rice, mutton xacuti, chicken cafreal, and pork sorpotel.

With the relaxation afforded by the scenery and the laid back lifestyle adopted by the locals, it is hard not to feel completely relaxed after a few days in Goa. And, my recommendation is to definitely visit and spend time in South Goa without sticking to the more popular and ritzy North.

At the end of that uplifting getaway, I was reminded of what someone told me about Goa—this isn’t just a state, rather it is a state of mind.

How to reach:
By air: Goa has an international airport at Dabolim. There are plenty of flights that connect Goa to several Indian cities. Most resorts in south Goa are about a 45-minute drive from the airport.

By train: Goa is well connected to most major Indian cities by train as well. There are two railway stations in the state—one in Margao and one in Vasco da Gama, both in the south.

By road: Goa is also reachable by road. Buses from Mumbai and Bengaluru take about 10 hours to reach.

Best season to visit:
October to January.

Best places to eat:Mario Miranda's art at The Fisherman's Wharf
The Fisherman’s Wharf
At the Riverside, Near Holiday Inn Resort,
Mobor, Cavelossim, Goa.
Martin’s Corner
Binwaddo, Betalbatim, Salcette, Goa.

Neha Kirpal is a freelance writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Wanderlust for the Soul, an e-book collection of short stories based on travel in different parts of the world. You can read all her published work on www.nehakirpal.wordpress.com

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