This year my partner and I decided that we were going to take our 2 weeks annual holiday over Christmas and escape the tedious tasks of cooking, wrapping presents and mainly escaping the cold for three weeks..

We decided to go Goa famous for its all year round sun and great beaches. Goa is situated on the west coast of India on the Arabian Sea. Our hotel was located in Vainguinim Valley in Dona Paula which was just 8km from Panjim the Capital of Goa and even more importantly the beautiful Vainguinim Beach was just a few minutes walk from the hotel.

Goa is kind of divided into two parts North and South Goa and we were staying in South Goa. South Goa is surrounded by beautiful countryside along with some fantastic beaches and many of the beaches here are isolated from anyone and anything. Vainguinim Beach was beautiful and runs around in a bay from Dona Paula and was the ideal spot just what we needed..

Most of time was spent exploring the wonderful and beautiful beaches and some of our favourite in North Goa was the Calangute beach which is also the site of the Aguada Fort which is one of the best preserved Portuguese forts. The beach here is about 7km along and the sand and sea were just perfect. We also took a walk to the fort which can be reached by heading towards the Taj Village and going past it and towards Nerul. You then need to walk down a lane which will take you up a steep hill towards the woods although you cant actually enter the Fort as it is now used as a Prison the walk is fantastic.

Bogmalo beach was another favourite and easy to get to. Bogmolo is essentially a small fishing village and we decided to participate in a scuba diving excursion from this beach which was just perfect the sea was crystal clear and we say lots of sea life and what was great was being able to sit and relax afterwards in one of the little beach bars and have a drink..

Palolem Beach is one of Goas most beautiful beaches and this gorgeous ‘C’ shaped beach, with the scenery of the Western Ghats, is just an incredible beach. The hill at the north end of the beach is partly submerged during high tide which gives the impression of an island in the middle of a calm lagoon. At one end of the beach is Canacona Island which is linked to the land by a causeway and made a great romantic walk. The village of Palolem village is just a short walk from the beach where you can get some great locally produced things and buy some of the regions fruit for a really cheap price.

We also visited Panaji and caught the local bus which is an experience they are very small , hot and crammed but they are extremely cheap and we got to Punnaji safe and sound. We visited Panaji to do a little bit of shopping and it is a very bustling town that was once ruled by the Portuguese right up until 1961. You can definitely still feel that there is a lot of Portuguese influence here. The Church Square or Largo de lgreja is the focal point of Panaji here we were able to see a beautiful image of the Lady of Fatima which was in one of the altars. The city of Panaji surprised me a lot its a charming little place with beautiful red roofed houses and some great gardens with lots of statues. We were able to buy some great souvenirs and is definitely worth visiting.

We decided to visit Old Goa in order to see the beautiful Portuguese churches located along side the Hindu temples. We visited several churches and Hindu temples as well as a spice plantation. Goa has been populated for thousands of years and in the 16th century it was colonised by the Portuguese and Vasco da Gama was one of the first to land here and a statue was erected to memorise his arrival. We visited the Church of St Cajetan which was built in the second half of the 17th Century on the site of a Hindu Temple. The Church of St. Cajetan was built in the second half of the 17th century, on the site of a Hindu Temple. The Portuguese replaced many temples with churches as they wanted to convert Indians to Christianity and the church of St Cajetan is modelled on the St Peters church in Rome. The church has some great and huge 17th Century painting and lovely wooded altars.

Next we visited the Cathedral of St. Catherine, which was built during the first quarter of the 17th century. The Cathedral contains seven different chapels, and was built in the Tuscan style. Just across the road from the cathedral is the best known church of Goa, the Basilica of Bom Jesus. This church was built between 1594 and 1605, the Basilica contains the remains of St. Francis Xavier, which were amazingly kept preserved through several trips across Southern Asia. You are able to still view through the transparent coffin in the Basilica.

We then drove to a Hindu Temple in a nearby village. The Temple was impressive, and there were many worshipers attending a mid-day ceremony which was great to see and we felt very lucky to be able to see the local people conducting a service.

After the temple the next stop was to the Spice Plantation. Here we stopped for lunch and lunch started with feni, the ancient Goan alcohol distilled from fermented coconut. Lunch was buffet style all served in the traditional was on a banana leaf served on a straw plate. The food was awesome and very very tasty it was quite spicy which was great .We were then shown around the plantation and were shown the many spices that were grown. Some spices are trees, some bushes, some vines and some roots. At this plantation they harvest spices and fruits which included cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, pepper, cardamom, chilli peppers, jackfruit, mangos, cocoa, pineapple, bananas, curry, and others. What was even better is that they even had a feni still.

A few days later we took a trip to the Dudhsagar Falls. The gorgeous Dudhsagar Falls drop a sheer 600 meters and are one of the highest falls in India.. The falls are located on the border of Karnataka and Goa, in an area of tropical jungle, where there are plenty of delightful streams with shallow pools, which were safe enough for a afternoon swim. It took us around 90-minutes on one of the local buses and then we stopped at small village and then transferred to jeeps.

The jeep ride took about 45 minutes and was right through the jungle which was really exciting we drove over very rough and dusty roads, through several streams and bounced and shock the whole way. We then had a 15-minute walk and had to climb, over a really rough track to reach the falls. The falls were amazing and we sat on the rocks and even jumped into the water and had a swim under the falls. even though the water was freezing but it was nice to be out of the heat and Goa sun for a little while. We were also able to feed the monkeys that live around the fall and some of the local people gave us some nuts and bananas to feed them with. The monkeys are obviously used to humans and we were able to touch them . quite easily. WE then left the falls and took the long and bumpy ride back to the next destination.

We stopped for lunch which was again delicious and served in traditional style. After lunch we finally got our elephant ride in the jungle. This was a highlight of the entire time that we were in Goa. The Elephant that I was given was amazing I cant remember her name but I remember that she was named after an Indian Goddess of music and creative arts. She was a great natured elephant and I was able to feed her which was great. The trek through the jungle was awesome. The elephants mover very slowly and although not really comfortable you felt safe and secure. It was one of the best things that I’ve ever done..

We didn’t really do much after that we were very lucky to be able to watch a school of dolphins in the Arabian Sea which was fantastic and it was amazing seeing them in their natural environment.

We did get to see some of Goas nightlife which is anther thing that it is famous for and we did go on one of the famous Rave Boats. The rave boats are lots of fun and go on until the early hours of the morning, you can’t miss the boats as they are all lit up and move up and down the Arabian Sea every evening until wee hours of the morning. We had a fun filled night on the boat.

And on a final note one thing you must do in Goa is sample some of the locally caught fish which is amazing..

Goa was the ideal holiday choice for us.. Goa still remains relatively cheap and there is so much to do here that 2 weeks was definitely not enough…

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