You read the headline and sub-headlines (excuse the journo-jargon) to this story, right? ‘Nuff said. Let’s get started.
A Goa Streets Guide
- Get Wild
In a wildlife sanctuary, that is. It’s hard to know what’s more exciting – Goa’s nightlife or its wildlife parks. Of course it depends on what sort of “wild” you’re into, but for all those who prefer their thrills to come from critters rather than cocktails, check out the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary in the Western Ghats. Among the critters here are the mouse deer, the sloth bear, the panther and the barking deer (and you thought only dogs could do that!). The Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, about 10 kilometres southeast of Palolem, has snakes, monkeys, birds and frogs, though some of its more exotic denizens, such as leopards, sambars and gaurs, are more difficult to spot. The forest department offers some cottages for those wishing to stay the night.
2.Let History Be Your Guide
At a museum! Look, if you think museums are boring, don’t go to one. But if you’re an intellectually curious person who believes in cultural preservation and personal edification, Goa has some nice offerings in this regard. The Archaeological Museum of Old Goa, the Institute Menezes Braganza and the Naval Aviation Museum are particularly worthwhile. Come on, you can have your Kingfisher on the beach later!
- Snorkel, Lounge and Barbecue
Listen up, dear reader. If Monkey Island was good enough for the producers of the movie The Bourne Supremacy, it should be good enough for you. It’s a South Goan adventure featuring snorkeling, swimming, lounging and barbecuing on the beach. Cruises take you from the Panjim jetty or Coco Beach to Monkey Island, where the day’s delights take place.
- Yoga Mania
Goa is known for many things – beach, parties, heritage, shacks, churches, to name a few. In recent years, it’s also come into its own as a global centre for the practice of Yoga. The Oceanic Yoga School in Anjuna is one of the most popular and professional institutions of this kind in the state, and is definitely worth checking out. Oooohhhhhmmmm! Visit www.oceanicyoga.com.
- Heritage Tour
Private Portuguese heritage tours are available, guiding you through such sights as the Se Cathedral, the Basilica of Bom Jesus, Dona Paula Beach and Fontainhas. Lest we forget, the Portuguese ruled this land for all of 451 years that only ended in 1961, which, in historical terms, was practically just yesterday. Goa has two World Heritage sights, the Basilica of Bom Jesus and the churches and convents of Old Goa. A half-day tour will take you back in time and help you relive Portuguese rule – this time, fortunately, without an Inquisition.
- Be A Biker
One of the best ways to see Goa is to rent a motorbike. In a single day, you can drive from Palolem in the South to Arambol in the north, stopping along the way to soak in the sights and sounds. Be sure to wear a helmet. You’ll need to present a valid driver’s license to rent your bike.
- Cooking Classes
It’s hard not to love Goan food. It’s spicy, tangy, not too heavy and usually made with loads of love. In the northern village of Siolim, there’s a wonderful cooking school called the Siolim Cooking School (please take our word for it, the creativity of the food and instruction exceeds the creativity of the school’s name). Located in a posh heritage hotel called the Siolim House, the school boasts very good teachers who reveal Goa’s culinary treasures. Check them out at www.cookingclassesgoa.com.
Goa is certainly no backwater, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have fantastic backwaters for you to go kayaking on! The Sal Backwaters, the Nerul River, the Zuari River and the Mandovi River are particularly well suited to this increasingly popular sport. It’s not just the fun of rowing on the river. It’s also the breathtaking array of flora, fauna and scenery you see along the way that will, yes, take your breath away.
Billy Joel said he would rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints. Now you can, too, at a Goan casino! If you don’t overdo it and lose all your money, then it’s all in good fun (notwithstanding opposition from a good number of Goans who despise their presence). There are casinos all over Goa, but the most popular and probably the best ones are floating on the Mandovi River.
- Sunset Cruise On The Mandovi
These cruises, run by Goa tourism authorities, take off every night around (you guessed it) sunset, and last about an hour. You can have drinks and snacks, listen to live music and enjoy Goan and Portuguese performances while watching the sun go down over the Mandovi River and Arabian Sea. Catch the boat at the Santa Monica Pier in Panjim, and float your worries away!