We left Gatwick on Thursday 23rd Feb at 9.00 am onboard a Thomas Cook flight. Now I know there are a lot of people who dislike poor old TC, but I have to say, this is the 2nd time we have flown with them and cannot fault them for the service received on board , the food was really good and even received a mini cornetto (which amused me no end!) during the afternoon. We arrived early at Dabolim, our flight was only 8.5 hours long, think the pilot must have been on a promise!!!! The usual chaos at the airport trying to find the suitcases and then Mr Jobsworth (not what I called him at the time!) making us scan our suitcases when leaving the airport, asking for whisky, cigarettes or money??!! As we watched everyone else strolling past, to say I was angry was putting it mildly, he was just at it and think he got the message and started picking on someone else. Outside Anil was waiting for us, have used this guy the last couple of years, a lovely reliable guy who is actually a very careful driver and has a large 5 seater taxi, the fact that he lives next door to our hotel also comes in handy ! Arrived at our hotel, Sunset Beach in Candolim and was greeted to a warm welcome by the staff, even though it was 2 am. This was our 2nd stay at this hotel, a lovely small family run place, it can be booked as a Thomas Cook package, but as before we paid the hotel direct. We stayed in room 128 which was the last room on the 1st floor, our neighbours, across a small wall were Indian families and I just loved sitting on the balcony watching them going about their daily business.
I woke up early on our first day, threw open the balcony doors and sat with a coffee watching our new neighbours waking up too. My OH – Steven was not quite so chirpy, his time clock had not adjusted to Goan time and as far as he was concerned it was still the middle of the night!! Half an hour later he was fully awake, thanks to the very vocal cockerel and the bread man- oh yes he had a horn!! I’m seriously considering getting these in Scotland as Steven never slept late again for the rest of the holiday After breakfast we went to the shop next door and got an Airtel sim card for 650rs which included 450rs talk time, I would advise everyone to get one of these as it makes phoning home so easy and very, very cheap. Off to the beach. Each year I say we are not going to use the same shack every day, but guess what – we did!! We like Stringfellows, Dennis and Rocky look after us well, the toilets are basic, but clean and the beach is less busy in this area. We are not big eaters or drinkers during the day so our daily bills were on average 550rs. My own personal shopper aka Gita, the beach seller painted the nails and supplied me with sarong etc. I have to mention that there are a lot of sellers, but I personally only buy from Gita, I tell her what I want, she brings it to me and I only pay what it’s worth, this has paid off big time, as no other beach girls come near me now, Gita has warned them all off !!! On the way home we go in past Newton’s and stock up on supplies, which included mossie coils for the balcony and may I recommend Lacto calamine, no longer available in the UK, but works wonders on sunburn. We ate at Kalinga, 1st time there for us, a really good meal and a few drinks – cost 830rs, crossed the road to the Stonehouse and ended our night there listening to the music and drinking a little too much Romanoff and Old Monk diluted with coke !! Note to self, never a good idea to phone home to your teenage daughters half-cut, don’t do it again!!!!
Our next few days, we were very lazy during the day, restaurants we ate at were Foxys, best place for steak, 2 course meal and drinks 960rs Horizon Grill – 950rs, The Bistro – 870rs (number 1 rating on our list of favourites) Angarra – 930rs We never had a bad meal anywhere in Candolim during our 2 weeks there.
Shopping wise, we both got new glasses from Treasure eyes, have had several pairs from here with no problems, bought a pair last year from somewhere else and had the lenses were decidedly dodgy, so this year it was back to Treasure Eyes. Clothes wise we paid a visit to Paradise Tailors (across from Fisherman’s Cove) had not used them before, but went in for a nose and really liked them. Altaf and Nisar are a lovely pair of guys. Armed with my photos of dresses etc provided by my daughters and also my own requests they made us some lovely clothes, a navy leather jacket, shirts for Steven and all at a fraction of the cost here. One thing to mention, we had unwittingly overpaid them and believe it or not, we were sober when it happened! We started walking back to our hotel only for them to appear on a scooter and inform us we had paid them too much and gave us the extra 2000rs back, now how this happened I do not know, as we counted it out in the shop and so did they, but they were most insistent we had. Cannot believe their honesty and have no hesitation in recommending them to anyone.
I had brought some old gold items with me so off to Everest Gems I went, I traded them in and the gold was used to make a lovely bangle and my darling husband paid to have 24 diamonds in a really unusual setting added to it , of course it would have been to’ plain’ without the diamonds and good Old Monk worked it’s magic again on my husband! Ikram has supplied me with lots of other jewellery which I’ve had valued here at more than twice the cost I paid him.
We also visited the chemist next to Stonehouse where we stocked up on medicines and creams, I had to laugh when I asked for mosquito bite cream as he speedily threw 3 tubes at me, I said i was hoping not to get bitten that much and he just laughed and replied “they only bite the sweet skin” what a salesman!!
We went to Jambalaya on Sunday nights; Blues was on form as usual. It was good to meet up with people we had met before and also some new ones. A special thanks to iaintwoeyes for coming over and introducing himself, hope his trip to Agonda went better than mine- read on!
One week into our holiday we headed off to Agonda, we had visited there for a day 2 years ago and had always wanted to return. I had made a reservation online with H20 beach huts and sent the deposit by bank transfer with no problems. They are very pricey by beach hut standards, 9000rs for a 2 night stay, but as I thought it would be a nice romantic break for me and Steven I arranged it as a surprise for him, especially as it distracted him from the dry days!! We travelled there with Colin and Claire (sunseagoa and OH on TA ) who we had met last year and kept in touch. On arrival H20 def had the WOW factor, oh boy, black huts, brightly coloured curtains blowing in the breeze, the whole set up looks like something off a film set. I was a bit dubious about the outdoor open air bathroom, but hey ho, try anything once, it did feel a bit like going into your garden when you needed the loo!!! Lots of sunbathing on our private black fancy sun beds – pure bliss!! And then... night time prevailed. The decor of the huts is black, very black which is lovely in the daylight, but as it gets dark, you couldn’t see a damn thing, switch on the light and well they were so dim, it didn’t make a difference, but the lights did attract a very large variety of bugs! Thank goodness for the spray that Steven packed. We ate at the restaurant, a lovely meal with beautiful presentation and so retired for the night. On returning to our hut, Steven found a frog firmly stuck to the mirror, as i jumped on the bed having the heebie jeebies, my husband (aka known as Bear Grylis) wrestled with the frog trying to remove it. “There he said- all gone” – NOT- 5 mins later the damn thing hopped back up the steps, well by this time the romantic mood had totally gone, I was convinced we were going to be attacked by ‘killer frogs’ and all sorts during the night. I wrapped myself up in the sheet, mummified would be the description and didn’t sleep the whole night!! Steven was not amused and even less so as when he woke up the next morning he was covered in bites, I swear that chemist was psychic! Anyway spent a lovely day strolling around and sunbathing, a lovely sight was the whole village meeting on the beach for a Christian celebration, they minister walked ahead, someone carried a large cross and everyone walked behind the whole length of the beach, it was an amazing sight. Sat on our veranda watching the sunset, Romanoff in hand was so relaxing and then..... the darkness loomed....... Off we all went to Jardin de Mar restaurant, now we had read very good reports on this restaurant, but I can honestly say, this was the worst meal I have ever had in my 3 years of visiting Goa. Claire and Colin chose fish and said it was nice, me and Steven ordered steaks. Well when it arrived it didn’t resemble steak, it was all battered and shredded and served with a massive pile of lettuce! Nothing else, just lettuce! I took 2 mouth full’s and abandoned it, so did Steven. On the walk home, the ‘fear’ set in again, my very own Bear Grylis checked for intruders, he had even went and bought some candles and lit them in the bedroom, this was as I refused to sleep in the pitch black! Not for any romantic setting! The sound of the waves crashing on the beach was terrible, not a gentle lapping but a great thunderous crash, I was expecting the doors to cave in any moment as we were hit by a Tsunami! Bear Grylis was totally p’d off by this time and asked had I brought any diazepam with me as he had had enough of my whingeing!! We can both laugh about it now, but we def won’t be staying in any beach huts again! The next morning over breakfast, we were all like zombies, Colin and Claire had not slept either, so we were all very relieved when Anil’s taxi arrived to take us back to civilisation!
On the journey back to Candolim, Colin asked Anil to stop at Monginis, now this was a new experience for me and one that was to be the downfall of the waistline, which by now had expanded rapidly! Monginis is a bakers shop selling, pastries, sandwiches and cakes to die for, well after H20, much comfort food was needed! We bought strawberry gateau slices, a large 10” chocolate cake for Anil and his family and 2 bottles of Pepsi for the grand price of 270rs- result! Arrived back to Sunset Beach and sat on the balcony eating our cakes and glad to be ‘home’ That night we ate at Rising Waves, we love it here, meal cost 735rs, no alcohol as the dry day was extended We also got visa photos taken at the shop next door which we collected 2 days later.
Colin and Claire went home 3 days before us, so we all met up for a meal at ‘The Bistro’ they had not eaten here before and were very impressed by it. We all ate 3 courses, drank loads and the bill came to 3400rs. Early dark for us as we were absolutely stuffed! We were also off to Ashwem the next day so an early start was required.
We visited Ashwem twice during our holiday, Anil took us and waited for us and we spent 2 very relaxing days at the Silver Sands shack (loto beach end of Ashwem) this shack is owned by Preem and is the very last shack on that stretch of beach. The food is gorgeous and very speedily served, here I had the best sweet lime sodas and the yummiest pineapple fritters. I did ask him to relocate to Candolim, but he has been there for 15 years and has no intentions of moving, probably just as well as instead of gaining half a stone, I’m sure it would have been a lot more! Speaking of food- Anil very casually pulled up at yet another Monginis on the way home, me thinks he liked his chocolate cake! Steven and I bought him more chocolate cake and we got some pineapple gateau slices, again at much cheapness!
Our last couple of days flew in, it was extremely windy at the beach and on the last day my legs got very sunburnt, cue the lacto calamine! It’s very deceiving that wind. Holi day occurred, but we escaped the splashing of dye by the children, my legs were red enough as it was! All too soon it was time to head to the airport, Anil presented Steven with a bottle of Old Monk, as if he didn’t have enough in his suitcase already, but he assures me another one won’t go wrong! Surprisingly there were no major queues and no hassles, the usual waiting for the visa check to open but all in all a very smooth affair. Our flight home was uneventful; it left on time at 01.55 and landed 25 mins early at Gatwick at 06.50. We had to catch a connecting flight home to Inverness at 09.30 so were relieved there were no delays. Our daughter met us at the airport and we were sitting in our house by 11.30 back to reality with a dull thud and a large pile of washing!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this and not fallen asleep, it’s the first time I’ve written a trip report and depending on the feedback, it may be the last! We are returning to Candolim next February so be warned....