Road Hog and Hippies
Despite the heeded warnings Anjuna town was laid back and peaceful with the only high influx of people being hippies, or perhaps this is where they stayed after the heyday of Goa ended in the 90's. The beach, a 20 minute walk from our guest house had a few popular bars but the majority were small shacks with sun loungers littering the beach front.
In spite of the popularity, Goa it is not well serviced with interstate buses. It took us four hours and four painful buses to get from Palolem to Anjuna. Luckily our guest house was only 300m from the bus drop off point. However, we didn't get to the guest house straight away, as soon as we stepped off the bus we were greeted by an exuberant American guy, Vince and a shy French girl. We asked them for directions to the guest house but somehow, after a discussion about how to say banana, we ended up at Vince's house. It turned out we weren't the only ones to have been dragged to his house and we met three more guys and a girl who all knew each other through Vince. We were soon out of our depth when discussions turned American on us. Vince was aiming to create a website that would unite the world as a community, all the talk was on positivity, peace and what not. It was far too hippie and happy for the cynical British mind! We did spend a few more hours at the house on numerous occasions and at Café Delish a lovely café run by a hippie British family where Vince and his crew recommended the food and people, among other things! In fact, our most entertaining morning was spent with the two young daughters- Angel and Liberty! They were so outgoing, chatty and lovely, James and I relished their delightful company as they told us stories, acted out jokes and showed us their pet field mouse (Jenny would have loved these two!). We joked with the parents; only in India is it perfectly acceptable, even embraced, to keep a pet mouse in a café!
We didn't spend all of our time in Anjuna just sitting around with hippies but hired a scooter for four days and went off exploring. In the four days we reached each corner of North Goa finding spots we liked and stopping for a few hours. Nothing feels more liberating then having your own wheels in a country with dodgy roads, horrendous traffic and a heavy reliance on public transport. We made full use of the scooter and nipped here, there and everywhere!
Our favourite beaches in the North were Arambol and Vagator due to the sand and remote localities. Candolim had the nicest sand but the most sagging boobs of elderly Russians and brass Northerners. Calangate and Baga were mental, nothing like how I remembered them from my previous trip. Perhaps it was the time of year but you could barely see the sand at Calangate due to the population of India all visiting at the same day! We took two steps onto the beach and got harassed immediately so after 3 minutes of enduring the pestering we hopped back onto the scooter and whizzed off!
After experiencing the rest of North Goa we were pleased with our choice of Anjuna as a base. It only got slightly busy here on a Wednesday as the flea market opens. Last time I was here the market wasn't open due to the monsoon and was just an open field. This time it was in full flow and although most of the produce is repeated everywhere you go Indian markets are so colourful and lively they make just walking around a lot of fun. I did buy a pair of authentic Ray Bans for 150 rupees (£1.50) as mine are so scratched I can barely see out of them and James stretched the pair Jenny gave me.
I can't leave this blog without mentioning a truly unauthentic Indian food experience we enjoyed in Anjuna, in the form of BEEFburgers! It was just two local guys who had set up a small shack and served amazing burgers that rivals Ferg burger and the like. Who would have thought great tasting burgers in India?! We had to restrain ourselves from going back for a third time!
Our train to Hampi was early in the morning so we stayed in Margao, near the train station. The town is not particularly nice or exciting so we simply went to sleep. We stayed in a hotel with the grumpiest workers and attempted to get some food at a restaurant situated in the most bizarre, Fort Knox style, shopping centre. Fortunately the restaurant was closed so we went outside and found a street vendor and tried all sorts of tasty Indian snacks with our total bill costing about £2. The owner was so friendly and had family in London so was extremely excited to chat to us.
On returning to Goa from Hampi we spent one day at Benalium resort and relaxed on the beach for the last time for a while and ate fresh fish with a variety of sauces, my favourite was the Goan masala-yummy! In the book this was supposedly the best place to get fish but we both thought our best fish in India has to be the few nights we had in Kovalam, they were awesome.