Myles Harrington

Plans Change in Palolem

In India on June 29, 2010 at 2:18 pm

It was midnight by the time I arrived at Karmali station in Goa and I needed to get to the state capital, Panjim (Panaji). I thought it would be fine, easy and cheap, as is normal in India to get to the town. I expected lots of touts vying for my hotel business and offering me free rickshaws in to the town 9km away. How wrong I was. There were three taxi drivers in a cartel which forced me to pay 260 Rs (£3.70) on a taxi and they didn’t even know the name of one guesthouse between them. After getting extremely frustrated I got out of the cab in the pouring rain, not just normal rain, bucket down monsoon rain, and grabbed the two nearest westerners I could find to get myself a bed for the night. Their place was full, so were the other five places I knocked on. Eventually I found an inviting stairwell up to an empty reception. After calling around the corridor for a while I realised the owner was probably down the pub so I set up camp in one of the empty rooms and the next thing I knew it was 7am. “I could get away with this” I thought, a free night’s lodgings. I picked up my bag, kept my head down and walked straight out the front door past the receptionist on the stairs. At least that partly made up for the extortionate taxi rate.

Panjim's lovely Portuguese cathedral

I arranged to meet the two westerners the next day for a sightseeing trip to Old Goa. They were Brie (yes, she likes her namesake cheese) a 21-year-old from America and Junie, a 47-year-old from Oz. So we were quite a eclectic trio to be travelling together but it worked well and we got on, discussing the intricacies of Portuguese architecture. Old Goa was very beautiful, but it was pretty much just a collection of very large, old churches. A quick fact – Old Goa used to have a population greater than the size of London and Lisbon.

One of the many wonderful churches in Old Goa

Goa is a great place to watch the football. So many pubs with projectors, deals on beer and table service. Check out the set up for the England match we no longer speak of.

Footie heaven is in Goa

Luckily I’d found three English girls who had moved in to the room next to me in the new guest house I was now paying for. So they came along to be patriotic too. At the end of the game it was time to drown our sorrows so we went off to a bar that we made sure wasn’t showing the football. I ordered two double fenis, a very strong local spirit made from cashews or coconuts (the coconut one is slightly better), a double brandy, a bottle of coke and another feni to take off the edge. My total bill came to 100 Rs (£1.40).

after a few fenis

The next day, feeling a little worse for wear, I picked up my damp laundry from Goa’s worst launders and Junie and I hopped on the buses down to Palolem in South Goa. Being in Goa and not going to one of the legendary beaches would be a dreadful sin, so at least for one night we’d stay in a beach side abode. Even though it’s the monsoon we had fantastic weather and I was considering all day whether to miss the 6am train we had booked for the next day and stay on for as long as the sun stayed out. We’d met a few other Brits that were also lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time during the monsoon so I decided to stay with them while. Junie set off at 6am with a stinking hangover and she was back at midday after missing the train and having a nightmare of a journey back. I don’t know when I’ll head off from here now, but who cares as long as the sun is still shining and I don’t miss my flight, which is now only in eight days from the other side of India.

Monsoon madness. It should be raining

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