Friday, June 13, 2008

Bringing in the Monsoon at Goa

The Beach, Leela GoaWith the long periods away from home during April and most of May, I needed a quick break to recharge and spend a little quality time with my family. When there isn't too much time to plan, the default choice is always Goa. So off we went for a week during the last week of May. This time I decided to stay at The Leela, which is located in the southern part of Goa. I chose this resort for two reasons: one, they have a good beach which is not very crowded, and two, because I had heard good reviews from friends.

We drove down from Pune to Mumbai and then took a Jet Airways flight to Goa. The sunlight shimmered on the Arabian Sea as the aircraft began it's descent. The beach stretched out below us and I was already feeling relaxed as I gazed at the distant waves crashing into the beaches and the greenery of the countryside. A perfect landing, jostling at the baggage claim, getting into the waiting car, and we were off to our resort!

Welcome Drinks, Leela GoaThe rains had not yet begun, but the day was humid and hot. The cold towels and the bottles of water in the car came to good use! After about an hour's drive through the Goan countryside we reached the resort. Designed to look like the old Hindu palaces of Vijayanagara, the Leela is spread over 75 acres of land between the Sal river and the Arabian Sea. On arrival, we were welcomed with marigold garlands and tender-coconuts to drink from. Check-in was fast, as a host personally escorted us to our room.

Our room at Leela GoaThe Conservatory Premiere room we had booked was fairly large and split into a bedroom and a sitting area. Both areas boast of LCD TVs and the room is equipped with a DVD player, which came in handy for my little angel who could get her daily dose of Dora and Diego during the few hours we stayed indoors. The sitting area looked out into the lagoon and the greenery surrounding it. The bathroom was spacious with a tub, two basins and separate rooms for the WC and the shower stall. All in all, the room was excellent!

Our Little AngelThe Leela GoaAlmost immediately we dressed for the beach and went out to quickly explore the property. First, we ventured towards the riverside. Here, Leela has it's shopping area and Casino (I think this is the only resort-hotel in Goa with a casino; the only others are on ships that are anchored offshore). The Riverside Italian restaurant is located on the banks of the Sal river. We could see many fishing boats anchored on the distant bank of the river, where fishermen seemed to be selling their day's catch. We walked back towards the beach, which is on the other side of the resort. The garden in the Leela has a section devoted to Indian spices and fruits: mango, jackfruit, black pepper, cloves, etc.

The Beach at Leela GoaThe Beach at Leela GoaThe Beach at Leela GoaPast the swimming pool, we went, along the resort's golf course, and we we finally found ourselves at the beach. The beach here was quite perfect. White, clean sand and mostly deserted as far as the eye could see! While my wife and I lay back under the swaying palms drinking in the scene, our little angel gleefully went to work with the sand. A couple of beers later, I was already marveling at how much fun this was. No cellphones, laptops and Blackberries after such a long time! After splashing around for a while, we dragged our reluctant little girl back to our room.

Sea Bass at Susegado, Leela GoaWe went back to the beachside Seafood Grill, Susegado, for an early dinner. This restaurant not only served us the best seafood we had eaten in a while, they also had the most friendly and helpful waitstaff. We chose a sea-bass from the day's catch on display. They cooked it in two different ways for us: a spicy Goan masala-covered fillet, and the other with garlic-butter, both grilled to perfection. We were so delighted, we ordered another sea bass and requested an encore. As you can expect, with so much fish under our belt we were quite stuffed.

Grilled Sea Bass Goa StyleGrilled Sea Bass in Garlic ButterSusegado is located right on the beach, and as the cool, briny breeze blew in from the Sea, we could hear rumblings of thunder announcing the onset of monsoon. In the distance, we could see flickering lights from anchored ships on the distant horizon, even as the sound of crashing waves rose to a crescendo. The thatched roof, flickering lanterns and the candle on the table added to the lovely ambiance. We had to reluctantly drag ourselves away from here and back to the room since our daughter was already quite sleepy and had to be put to bed - ah, the joys of parenthood! :-)

To Be Continued...

Earlier Posts on Goa:


17 comments:

Sank said...

Your daughter is beautiful and she's getting so big. Looks like a fantastic place to vacation. Much better than St. Louis where' I'll be in a month of so.

foodette said...

Why have I never drank anything out of a coconut? Life is so unfair.

Thanks for the great pics - those palm trees are amazing!

Travel In Malacca said...

Hi, nice blog...
I want exchange link with your blog, my travel blog is about my historical hometown, Malacca. Please leave me a message if you wanna exchange link with me, thank you.

My travel blog: Travel In Malacca
http://travel-malacca.blogspot.com

Shantanu said...

@sank: Thank you! Yes, she seems to be growing taller every day.

@foodette: Maybe you should plan a vacation here or somewhere in the tropics next. :)

@travel in malacca: I will certainly visit you blog too!

Sig said...

How awesome is that you can just go to Goa at the drop of a hat! And to top it all, choose your own fresh fish and have someone cook it for you... Both the seabass dishes look delicious!!!!!!! Glad you got a nice break with your family.

Priyank said...

Goan Fish :) Surmai fry is my favorite, with that salad and chutney :) I dont know what that fish is called in English, do you?

Shantanu said...

@sig: It is! Goa is not very far from Pune, and that helps. :)

@priyank: Surmai is also called King Fish in English or more specifically King Mackerel.

HAREKRISHNAJI said...

Wonderful.

Every year I have been thinking of visiting trip to Goa during monsoon. After reading his post I am determined to make it this year only

backpakker said...

Nothing is more relaxing than a trip with the family..My Goa trips have been so much fun and so relaxing..Im already missing it
Lakshmi

Rajesh said...

Shantanu u blog is cool and ur Post articles rocks Leela Goa Hotel is very beautiful to live in.

Shantanu said...

@harakrishnaji: Thank you for visiting. You must visit Goa in the rains, especially since it is quite close from Mumbai and the drive is very scenic too.

@backpakker: Absolutely! Which is why we visit Goa once every year.

@rajesh: Thank you.

AzAzura said...

aww what a gorgeous girl... I think goa will be my next destination.

Shionge said...

Hey, just wanna thank you for visiting my blog and yes, catch Kung Fu Panda for a good laugh.

Shantanu said...

@azazura: Thank you and good to see you again on my blog!

@shionge: Have to do that! Also, my wife can't miss anything which has Jackie Chan in it, even his voice! :)

Anonymous said...

Nice blog. Came here looking for what can one do in Pune except resto, movie, trek and now shopping..

I used to be a regular at Leela/Goa till i discovered this
http://www.conradmaldivesrangali.com/Conrad/SunsetWaterVilla.jpg
Morning you can leave Pune by 3am and be in this paradise by 11 the same morning !!
I found it to be much more interesting that Goa/leela/Hyatt.
Maybe you would like to visit and then add it to your blog.
Have fun..

Shantanu said...

@anon: Thank you. I guess every resort in Maldives looks enchanting. Have been meaning to got there in a while. Maybe next time!

Alisha said...

A tourist always wants a good place at vacation time I think you select a correct place which you mention in your blog.The Leela resort is a good choice because a tourist get everything over here just like a beach (near The Leela resort), food, accommodation facilities, fun area,playing area and more.
goa in the monsoon