Palolem, Goa Travel Blog› entry 20 of 36 › view all entries
The train experience was actually quite enjoyable, despite the fact that it left over 2 hrs late (not bad for Indian rail as I would soon discover). The time-tabled 12 hr (actually nearer 14 hr) journey was pretty good, as I slept through the night and then enjoyed the majesty of the countryside during the morning. The trip was also somewhat eased by having several westerners in my carriage with whom one could while away a few hours. On arrival at Margao train station, and under advice from Rob back in England (he with the Goan wife), I headed south to the resort of Palolem. Arriving around mid-afternoon on a wonderful day I strolled down the beach looking for digs, and settled on CocoHuts guest house and a room in a brick building some 50 yards back from the beach, the solid structure something I would later be thankful for.
I would spend ten days in Palolem, with odd excursions in land and up the coast, and I will deal with the first 7 days or so first. The night-time place to be was Cafe del Mar, a beachside restaurant/bar that had 24 hr drinking and a pretty liberal atmosphere. It was end of season, therefore the only people here were pretty much travellers, as opposed to tourists, which I have to say made for a great atmosphere. It was also great to walk down the beach without tripping over bodies at every step, as apparently in high season it can be uncomfortably crowded.
While the drinking was largely downed at Cafe del Mar, the eating was split between Casa Fiesta, Cool Breeze (amazing steaks), Little Italy and Magic Italy (this is not to say that we did not eat a lot of Indian food!), with odd others thrown in for variety. The days were spent relaxing on the beach, playing cards, Connect 4 & volleyball, swimming and body surfing, watching England take on Sri Lanka, generally recovering from the previous night's excess and preparing for more to come.
The company was generally superb, and I made some great travel buddies here, the 2 Mariekes from Holland (whom more of later), the Canadians Nat, Sean, Andrew and Michael, Justin, Katte, Mohan, Neal and his gang, Nick, Tor and Barry, Vlad and many more. The local drinks of choice included Kings and Kingfisher beer, and the notorious Feni, made from cashew nuts, and the ruin of many a night out - I generally opted to steer clear and observed its consequences from the safety of beer and/or G&T. With a reasonably small group everyone got on like a house on fire, it turned into the holiday for which a further holiday is required to recover! And then came the final three days in Palolem...
...And the rains came 2 weeks early. We knew something was amiss as we had watched fleets of ships heading north for the past couple of days. And when the tail end of a cyclone hit it stayed hit with a barely a let up. At last I had use for the one unpacked item in my rucksack, the poncho, and very jealous were most of the others! Of course, we did not let such a turn in the weather spoil our time, although to be fair most of was were starting to hit the wall and had slowed right off.
Several stories came out of the storm, Katte was struck on the shoulder by a falling coconut (a conservative estimate of over 200 people a year die in India from a coconut to the head), trees fell through beach huts, slates fell through rooves on to the beds of sleeping damsels, and of course no-one left with out a bag full of sand and water. At first it was quite pleasant to feel the rain after so long without, but this soon subsided with the incesant intensity of the storms. On the Wednesday of the 2nd week I headed to Hampi to escape the downpour with Canadian Andrew.