Monday, February 27, 2017

Planet Goa

Now that we had tasted the freedom a road trip to Goa gave us, it was inevitable we would try this again. So it was just five months later, we were packed on a wintry Pune morning headed out to our favorite Indian beach once again. Given our experience, I would strongly urge people to try and get to Goa right after the New Year's celebration and party hordes are gone.  The weather is every bit as desirable and the beach-side shacks are open. Yet, the prices are down when peak season ends on January 2nd.

This time, we decided to try out a newer resort, Planet Hollywood, not because we really wanted a Vegas/movie themed resort, but rather because of its splendid location.  Unlike our last trip when we camped within reach of the capital, this time we were amidst the quieter beaches of South Goa.

Planet Hollywood is another new resort that has come up in the last few years on a clean stretch of beach to the north of Majorda.  Uttorda beach on which it is located until now was best known as home to the popular seafood shack, Zeebop.

We repeated our journey to Kolhapur, Pearl Hotel and a sumptuous dinner at Dehati.  However, from Kolhapur we took a different route for South Goa.  The road to Belgavi turned out to be another scenic route - this time through deep jungles and ravines.  I think we drove almost 30 kms through a narrow road through a protected national park without meeting another vehicle on the road.  The only signs of human habitation were the tasteless posters - every one of them had a specific wild animal lying in a  pool of blood with a warning to drivers not to speed since there may be animals crossing.

We passed through Belgavi mid-way and stopped briefly to pick up a pack of Kunda, which I had heard was a popular local sweet.  It was about noon when we arrived at our resort. Having a car is a boon when in South Goa, especially if you want to explore more than the beaches themselves.

We dived into our 'Goa routine' of morning beach walks and breakfast buffets followed by long sessions in the pool.

One one day we drove down to Fish Ka, a tastefully decorated shack near our hotel.  We savored some fresh catch of the day grilled different ways with glasses of wine.  The fish was fresh and the ambience of the evening even better.

One another day, we drove the long stretch to Panjim to repeat our dream lunch from last time at Mum's Kitchen.  This time too was perfect!

That evening we walked down the sandy stretch to Zeebop, a large beach-side shack.  This is where we were treated to this trip's stand-out dinner.  The fresh sea-bass grilled whole in tandoori spices was so good, it still makes me salivate!

We returned to an old favorite in South Goa, Martin's Corner. They still haven't lost their touch. In addition to savoring several favorite dishes, we also discovered a new one: Caldin made of okra and cauliflower - two veggies we have never cooked together before.

Before we knew it, it was time to drive back.  Goa during early January is still crisp and cold during early mornings but fairly warm during the days.  The tourists are mostly gone and the beaches are less crowded.  There isn't a better time of the year to vacation here than this.

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