Cheap Travel And Rooms For Backpackers In Goa
We were woken up by the ringing of the doorbell at 7 am by our hostess who walked in carrying a tray loaded with scrumptous cakes and tea. We chatted for a while asking her for directions to Old Goa, which we had heard was popular with backpackers for the majestic churches. She told us to go to Panjim to catch a bus as there was no direct bus from Mapusa.
Panjim - situated on the other side of the Mandovi Bridge is the capital of Goa state in India. It was a mix of modern and traditional architechture. Lots of modern malls have come up selling branded shoes and jeans.
We found the right bus easily and an hour later we were backpacking in Old Goa where we huddled around a location map of the tourist attractions nearby.
St. Francis of Assisi Church - built in the early 16th century, it had wood carvings painted in gold and large paintings. There were no benches inside and lots of signs saying that 'no photography of persons were allowed'.
Bom Jesus Basalica - built in 1605, it has the remains of Saint Francis Xavier a Christan missionary whose body had miraculously not decomposed for hundred's of years. Here you get anything that you pray for - you just have to write it on a note and put it in a box.The altar had gold carvings of angels and looked stunning.
St. Catherine's Church or Se Cathedral - was a white church with slanting Christmas trees in the front garden. It was built in 1510 and is the largest church in India. It had a miraculous cross that grows in size that people were praying to.
Viceroy's Arch - an arch with a statue of Vasco Da Gama on it that lead down a tree lined lane to the Mandovi River. At the jetty, there was a ferry boat - called a gazoline that carried the locals and thier vehicles across the river. We sat on some black rocks nearby with only crabs for company and watched the barges carrying iron ore go downstream.
Adil Shah's Gate - originally there was a large palace here, but it was deserted and broken down after an epidemic and now only the gate stands. We originally thought it was an ornate device for hanging medieval convicts.
St. Cajetan's Church - built in 1640. We spent the time peering through a hole in the altar floor trying to glimse a tiny pinprick of light reflected from the dome above in the water tank below that showed the precision constuction of the building.
Gandhi Circle - was the usual statue of Mahatma Gandhi displayed on a roundabout in the middle of the road.
We had lunch of Goan Fish Curry and rice in an open air restaurant filled with folks backpacking in Goa that was run by Kashmiri refugees. Strolling through the stalls filled with the fragrance of incense we looked for some gifts we could take back for our friends. After glancing through twinkling religious articles and monkeys made of coconut shells I finally settled for a wide hat made of coconut palm leaves while my friends bought rings and shells.
The extra wine we had for lunch saw us sprawled in the shade of a large Banyan tree on the lawns of the Se Cathedral. I lay in the fuzzy grass watching the radiant blue kingfishers playing about on the branches above.
We reluctantly picked ourselves up and caught the bus back to Panjim. At Panjim, on the spur of the moment we jumped onto a bus filled with backpackers who were headed to Miramar Beach to view the sunset.
Miramar Beach, also known as Gaspar Dias Beach is situated at the point where the Mandovi River meets up with the Arabian Sea. Across the river we could see the Aguada Fort. The beach reminded me a bit of Chowpatti in Mumbai - no one was stepping into the sea. There were also lots of Indian families out for an evening walk buying chana or toys from hawkers. Brightly lit cruise boats filled with tourists dancing to Goan folk songs floated past, it was New Years Day after all.
Back at the apartment, for dinner we placed an order for Chicken Xacuti and rice with Heera Restaurant. The rates were economical and the portions were large and delicious when they were delivered.
We washed our clothes and hung them out to dry and planned the next move for our Budget Vacation to Goa Backbacking trip.
Budget Vacation to Goa - Day 2 Expenses
Bus Tickets - 190
Lunch at Old Goa - 250
Limesoda/Coconut Water/Snacks - 175
Hat and other souvenirs - 150
Takeaway Dinner - 150
Total - Rs 915
Day 1 - Mapusa on New Year's Eve.
Day 2 - Old Goa Churches, Panjim and Miramar Beach.
Day 3 - Mapusa, Dolphin Boat Ride, Sinquerim, Fort Aguada, Candolim and Calangute Beach.
Day 4 - Vasco Da Gama, Mormugao, Hollant and Anjuna Beach.
Day 5 - Siolim and Morjim.
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