Goa, India

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We knew before going to Goa that it was a central site of Portuguese trade between the East Indies, India and Europe, and so it was a surprise not to find a major metropolis here with a respectable sea port. Instead, the state of Goa turns out to be not a city, but a string of small seaside towns, that have become international tourist destinations. This was our mini tropical vacation away from the “true” India. Its Portuguese influence is seen in the buildings (e.g. whitewashed catholic churches), the style of clothing (fewer saris) and the food (lots of fish). It also moves a lot slower than the rest of India. While, the Indian cities swallow you in traffic, the slower beach lifestyle pervades Goa.

We stayed in a small hotel in the town of Calangute, several blocks from the beach. The water was incredibly warm and we enjoyed a few evenings of sipping our drinks at a beach shack while watching the sun go down. We visited a spice plantation where Iva got to wash and get showered by an elephant in a stream. Another day we went to Anjuna, a town just north of us, to visit its famous Wednesday market. This turned out to be a complete tourist trap with lots of knickknacks, crafts, cloths and spices, but it was fun to walk about for a while and even more fun to walk back to Calagute on foot along the sea. Anjuna also has a number of great night clubs that are pretty alive on weekends and holidays.

We ended our visit to Goa at the idyllic Paololem Beach. Quite possibly one of the prettiest beaches in the world.