[Goa] Find me a beach - A Miramar Beach plan

For sun, sand, and sea lovers, there is grand paradise: Goa! As the Goa tourism board says, ‘Go Goa – A Perfect Holiday Destination.’  You will find out why in the next few blog posts on ReachingDelphi.

Goa has a fantastic 101km long coastline with plenty of soft cocoa-sandy beaches. Located in the Konkan region of West India, these beaches are distinguished as being on either the north or south shore with respect to their location from the city of Vasco da Gama. 

Beaches in the north include Querim, Mandrem, Candolim, Miramar and Dona Paula.  In the south, you will find more secluded ones like Bogmalo, Colva and Palolem.

Away from Miramar Beach

The beaches on both ends are lovely. The coastal areas to the north of Vasco da Gama are more developed for tourists and have more travel, accommodations and dining options for all budget ranges compared to the south. The south is less developed and a tad pricier.  However, the beaches tend to get more private and isolated as you go further north or south.   While these further-away beaches are just as stunning, you’ll spend a lot of time and money to get to the centre of the action.  Since I need to hear everyday noise, see friendly people, and feel the daily chaos, obviously I prefer the less secluded ones.

one-to-one time

If you are staying in the busier and bustling Panjim, the capital of Goa, your nearest escape to the Arabian Sea is Miramar Beach.  Miramar was known initially as Porta de Gaspar Dias among the Portuguese.  From there on the shore, you can notice the confluence of the Mandovi River and the Arabian Sea.

Plenty of room for all

I have covered more of the picturesque Panjim in my blog post here, but for now, let’s explore the Miramar Beach.

What shall we do at Miramar Beach?
  • Capture a glorious sunset. My top pick here is to see the amazing sunset over the Arabian Sea. Come a little earlier, find a shady spot, relax and wait. It’s worth every second.

  • Enjoy swimming and water activities. Yes, this is a safe spot to swim. There are coast guards here watching and directing the swimmers accordingly.
  • Do sporting activities. I noted groups and individuals exercising, doing yoga stretches and engaged in frisbee matches. Look at this guy below, he surely is enjoying the sun while his friends plan out the game strategy.

I am happy where I am

  • Visit the Mahalakshmi Mandir. This is a lovely Hindu temple across the street where the beach is. 
  • Have a snack. There are plenty of food vendors 100 meters away from the beach. These food operators are open for business in the evenings. They mainly sell chaats, fruits and drinks. The aroma of the freshly prepared pav bhajis is very inviting. Try it if your stomach is tough and if you can handle the mix of spices.
  • Clock those steps as you take a long stroll along the beautiful firm shore. Find the confluence of the Mandovi River and the Arabian Sea. 

The Confluence

  • If you up for more challenge, you could take a brisk walk north to the Dona Paula view point. Dona Paula is the place where the Zuari and Mandovi rivers meet the Arabian Sea. 

The story of two rivers and a sea
  • Make a new friend. Here is someone I met. 

Hello, show me your faces
  • Have a cuppa. Naturally. 😊 This is ReachingDelphi, and the quest is to have that nice cuppa en route to Delphi. We are close by.

Reach for the Stars

Blogposts on India  from the Coffee Archives:
Panjim - [Goa] Panjim: An Ultimate Guide.
Nashik - Yin & Yan Amongst the Letters of Krishna, Godavari, Dolphins and Santas.
Tiruchi - She Glitters the flow, She Does. Cauvery!
Kovalam - Think twice, its another day, another year in Kovalam
KanyaKumari - A Poet, A Monk and the Rock-Star!!!
ThiruchendurDance to beat of the rain

[Goa] Panjim: An Ultimate Guide.

Top four must-do's activities in Panjim, Goa

India + Stretches of Long Sandy Beaches + Historic Sites + Freshly Brewed Coffee) = Goa!

Yes, it's Goa alright. Today, ReachingDelphi takes you to another coffee drinking city, Panaji, which is the state’s capital.  Panaji is also referred to as Panjim or Nova Gova in Portuguese. The Portuguese ruled Goa for 450 years; Goa was surrendered back to India in 1961.

Sunset over the Mandovi

Goa is in central-west India. It is divided into two districts – the north and south. Panaji lies in the north district. There are frequent flights, trains and bus services between the Goan towns and other major cities in India.  Panaji is 30km away from its main airport, Vasco da Gama. 

The fastest way to get to Panaji from the airport is by prepaid taxi services. And no, there is no Ola and Grab coverage here as of today. I've already looked into this. 😉 

Just as in many other elevated and coastal places, the roads here too are generally narrow, so it takes a little longer to cover the driving distance. The 30km ride to Panaji will take approximately one hour from the airport. Do be very cautious when booking your hotel in Goa. At first, I wrongly made a paid reservation at a hotel which was a two-hour drive from the airport. The late-night ride to that remote but serene resort, was not the sort of adventure I had in mind. That turned out to be a very costly lesson for me. Hence, we decided to relocate to more central location the next day.

Mandovi and Arabian before they merge

To many, Goa is a place where beach lovers come to enjoy the hippie life. I find there is more to Goa than just the long stretch of coastline, famous beaches and smoking. There is a wealth of history in its past and, the good news is that it is right here, waiting for us to explore its richness leisurely.   

Panaji essentials. My stay was short but packed. Though I only have four tips in this edition, trust me, it will take you a while to complete all of them.

1.    Explore Fontainhas.

If your interest is to explore the rich history of Goa, then Fontainhas is your starting point. 
'Wait, Mr Postman look and see if there's a letter in your bag for me' :) 

Fontainhas is the old Latin quarter of Goa. Over here, you can see and feel the strong Portuguese influence that envelopes this charming town.

I enjoy exploring cities on foot and I was lucky to have met a companion in Goa. Carlos, the thoughtful owner of the second hotel where I stayed in lent me an excellent guide, 
Cholta Cholta - Sketches of Panjim’. The book provides many walk-route suggestions. I started my exploration with the second suggested walk-route, but 20 meters down the alley, my feet led me onto a different path. In the end, I realised I must have combined three or more different routes. I did it my way. The guide is handy to understand the significance of each heritage-building and notable landmark along the way. 
Exploration continues

When exploring the area, take your time to see, hear and feel the traces of Portuguese significance in the buildings, colours, street signs, narrow streets and from the chimes of church bells and, how this had influenced the everyday lives of the local Goans.
Route 66 in Goa too. Nice!
I completed my walk just in time for breakfast. I was back at the Caravela Café. Artisan coffee is a must-try item here. According to Carlos, there are seven coffee variants at the cafe. We tried the Maher. Yahan bahut acha coffee hai. Good coffee, do try it!
Ready to explore, 2nd round!
2.    Explore Old Goa.
Old Goa is an ancient city and, a must-visit place in Goa. The town was constructed in the 15th century. It had once served as the capital of Goa. Today, Old Goa is listed as a UNESCO heritage site. Some refer to this area as Velha Goa. Velha Goa is not too far from Panaji, just 10km away. The best way to get here is by taxi. One of the most famous landmarks in Old Goa is the 16th-century Basilica of Bom Jesus where the relics of Saint Francis Xavier are kept. The Basilica is not only one of the oldest in Goa but also in India.

And how do you stand the test of time?

3.    Evening cruise on the Mandovi.

There are many cruise operators in Panjim, and most cruises operate throughout the day.  The more popular ones are the evening and sunset cruises.  These are anywhere between an hour to two-hour long trips. Now, this is a great place to enjoy the breeze, meet locals and practice some Hindi or Konkan.
Simply amazing
4.    Visit Miramar Beach
The nearest escape to the Arabian Sea in Panjim is Miramar Beach. Miramar was known initially as Porta de Gaspar Dias by the Portuguese. Since this is the closest beach to the city, it does attract many visitors living in the city. What I found interesting here was the number of sporting activities on the beach. It’s incredible to see so much attention given to being fit and engaging in positive influences. Do come anytime in the evening, grab your shady spot, take a dip, come out, sip a refreshing drink and wait for the sun to set. Perfect! 
Worth every second! Noticed the reflection of the contrail?

Shuffle the sequence, replay the next day.  ReachingDelphi, reaching for the stars. 😊

Thailand ....Ayutthaya Classics...a Toast to the Zesty and Vibrant Chao Phraya....Interlude number 3

Imagine this. You are in Thailand, and you only have one free day to spend in the surrounding areas of greater Bangkok. What do you do and where do you go?  You are right to note that Bangkok is one of the greatest and trendiest cities in South East Asia and, that there is so much to see and do in the capital itself. The next question that comes to your mind would be 'why see outer Bangkok then?' Simple, you have come so far and I wouldn't want to see you miss out on seeing the beauty of the next place I am taking you to @ReachingDelphi.

One of the many temple ruins
One day, is all we have right now. Firstly, stay calm. Do a Zen-check.  To make this a memorable visit -  you need to know where you want to go, be active (walk, cycle, stay awake, etc.) for long hours, brave the heat and, to keep those grey cells charged all the time. Take a deep breath. Count those Stars, a Delphi is calling ……

Where do I start?
One of my favourite destinations near Bangkok is Ayutthaya.  Ayutthaya is located approximately 80 KM north of Bangkok. Getting to Ayutthaya is relatively easy and can be very exciting.

Finding My Buddha at Wat Yai Chai Mang Khon
So, how do you get to Ayutthaya from Bangkok if you have a tight budget? There are plenty of options but whichever mode you decide on, start the day early so that you'd have more time to spend at ancient city. Three of the common ways include:

Ruins of the temple

  • Rail – We landed in Don Muang Airport and we decided to take a train from here. This is a medium paced, comfortable and cheap one-hour ride. The service is regular by my expectation. There are also trains services from the Suvarnabhumi Airport area. During the trip, don't forget to test for responses as you greet sawadika to the locals and gauge the distance your kop khun kaps take you.
  • Road – You could also jump onto the next bus, share a minivan ride or hop onto a taxi. Do agree on the price and know the travel duration before boarding. 😉
  • Boat tours from Bangkok – if you have slightly more time and budget, this would also be an exciting way to get to and explore the ancient city. 
Buddha statues at Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon

Regardless of your travel type – a stopover between two cities, on a strenuous business trip, a romantic get-away, seeking a hideout, or a casual traveller to the region, you will find that exploring Ayutthaya is easy as it displays the rich history of its tangerine-set landscape very openly.

I am right here

And why Ayutthaya? We are here today to see and feel for ourselves the serenity of the ruins where a great Siamese kingdom once stood.  The Ayutthaya Kingdom ruled between 1351 and 1767. It was the second capital of Siam. Ayutthaya is also known as Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya. The Burmese invaded the city of Ayutthaya in 1767 and burnt it down. Today this area, where the temples and ruins stand, makes up the Ayutthaya Historical Park. The park is situated in the centre of Ayutthaya and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Some of these temples have been restored while restoration is still in progress for many more. We were informed that the heads of the Buddhas statues were stolen from most temples during the invasion. Today, as part of the restoration, new ones have been placed. As you walk along, observe  and spend more time at the park, you will realise that each Wat (temple) is different in structure. These unique ruins are very well preserved.

The grand Wat Chaiwatthanaram

So, you have reached Ayutthaya by train. Now what?  You are now left with another important decision - how do you explore this city? Do you want to be adventurous? You could opt for the tuk-tuk way, as we did.

Chao Phraya River front

A tuk-tuk is a local taxi in Thailand. Every region in Thailand has these. Here are some tuk-tuk essentials before you start your Indiana Jones exploration.
Wat Chaiwatthanaram, simply magnificiant, and those steps..

  • Tuk-tuks are usually operated by the individual drivers. After a few phases of can-cans and same-same-s, your deal is sealed. You are now the captain in your taxi and assumably know where you are heading to next.
  • The Test of Time.
  • There are plenty of ruins, palaces and temples at the park. Frankly, one day is not sufficient, but your tuk-tuk driver will offer you a menu of choices and places you can cover within your limited time constraint. Our tuk-tuk driver suggested several spellbinding temples to visit, we went with her expert suggestions and, we were not disappointed at all. Though some temples were more exciting than others, all are worth the time for its history. Again, remember to negotiate a comfortable price. Since I didn't know how to handle a motorbike or ride a bicycle steadily, I found the tuk-tuk  being the cheapest and the most flexible option for my travel group.
  • Wear a big smile always, even when you have had your head bumped onto the ceiling several times during the ride. It is not the drivers fault if you want to see all the temples before sunset, or is it? 😊
  • Hungry–  Here is a handy Thai phrase when travelling in this country. Keep it safe. ‘Aa-han Jey'.  It means vegetarian food. Our tuk-tuk driver took us to a local Jey (vegetarian) shop in a residential neighbourhood on the outskirts. The food was just a few Bahts for plenty of delicious variety. Since there are lots of shops, stalls and restaurants around, you don't really have to carry along too much emergency supply. If you get a chance, do try some local spicy papaya or mango salad.
  • Thirsty?  Stay hydrated - Make frequent stops. There are lots of cold iced-coffee and juice stalls along the way. While in Thailand, opt for fresh tropical fruit juices like pineapple, mangoes and coconut. 
Find a spot to meditate, maybe behind that door?
  • Take short breaks in between temples to absorb in and digest the events behind this great civilisation. Have more extended stops if you are travelling with young children. Again, you have control over time.

    Ohhh My Buddha!
  • Some of the ruins and temple areas have relaxing and shady places where one can meditate or do some soul-searching. 
Wat Mahathat
  • If you do not have a reference book on the national park or have not read up on Ayutthaya, engage a guide who speaks the same language you do for a couple of hours. You can do this at the park itself. It is indeed a bonus-deal if your tuk-tuk driver is also your guide. 
To Sir with Love. Duty. 

If your feet are tired and you have decided that one day is not enough, stay a night here. There are plenty of safe, clean, low-medium priced accommodation if fancy is not the criteria. There are also quite a few higher-end hotel options in the neighbourhood.

Our Tuk Tuk ride. This trip was made years ago but it feels like I had just visited today.

My coffee image is one from a familiar surrounding. The bright orange cup reminds me of the red-and-yellow sunlit ruins of the grand Ayutthaya. The coffee cup and the coffee are both as hopeful as the Mississippi which I talked about in 2017.  (https://www.reachingdelphi.com/2017/03/get-your-mississippi.html). If I were to give this a name, it would be the Chao Phraya because it looks zesty-vibrant yet so at peace with itself, just as the Chao Phraya River front in this blogpost.  Many of us have set out a new sail recently. May the Chao Phraya help us all find the Zen we are looking in this journey.

Zen, IOT :) 

Search and reach for those stars. Reach for Delphi. The Zen and the answers you are looking for are not too far away. Enjoy your cuppa.

More Blogposts on Thailand  from the Coffee Archives: