We had loosely planned our trip through Southeast Asia and Nepal, but afterward we had no real itinerary other than a vague plan to head to Europe. While we both would have loved to visit India, we didn’t expect to fit it into this trip because of our timeline. In June, most of India is either unbearably hot (up to 120 F) or experiencing extreme monsoon weather. We figured we’d just have to come back for India some day. However, while wrapping up our time in Nepal, we learned that Konrad, one of our best friends, was in India for work. We decided to throw caution into the wind and embrace a once in a lifetime chance to meet him halfway across the world.
We decided to avoid the extreme temperatures of Northern/Central India and meet in Goa, a laid back beach town we’d both read about in Shantaram. Described by Lonely Planet as “a kaleidoscopic blend of Indian and Portuguese cultures, sweetened with sun, sea, sand, seafood and spirituality” we had high expectations. We knew it was monsoon season in Goa and that it might rain the entire duration of our stay, but as Seattleites, the rain scared us less than the extreme heat, so we gave it go!
Most of the year, Goa is a popular international destination, with packed beaches, full hotels, and a mix of people from around the world. During the monsoon, less people travel here, so prices go down, allowing more Indians to vacation who might not be able to afford it when it’s crowded. We got funny looks from locals who continually asked us why we decided to visit Goa in June, but that didn’t stop us from having a great time. Many of the people we met had never met an American before, and their excitement was obvious as they peppered us with questions and insisted on selfie after selfie.
We spent our first night, in Morjim, a bit farther north and more remote than we had expected. After 90 minutes in a taxi, we arrived at an empty beach at the end of a road, no buildings in sight, an hour after sunset. We nervously offered the taxi driver a couple extra rupees to drive around 15 more minutes to find our hotel. Luckily we found it and checked into the empty resort. We heard wonderful things about North Goa, which is known for having nicer, quieter beaches and slightly less touristy villages, but after one night, we decided it was a bit too quiet for us (empty). For the remainder of our trip, we stayed near Caliguante and Baga Beach. This area is said to be busy and “touristy” during the high seasons, but during our stay, it felt like the right balance of liveliness. When it wasn’t torrentially raining (and sometimes even when it was), we lounged on the beach. We ate consistently delicious and very affordable Indian food, explored the local bar scene, and tried to pick up some Bollywood dance moves.
The highlight of the weekend started out as misadventure. We piled into one of the tiny cabs to head north to Chapora fort. The friendly Goan narrated as he drove, pointing out restaurants, hotels, clubs, and more as we crawled north through the green, lush forrest. Upon arrival at the fort, it was obviously closed, but the driver was unfazed, quickly suggesting that we check out some nearby beach areas. After riding through a number of small towns, we decided to stop at a place called Curlies, a beach side restaurant and club.
It turned out to be just what we were looking for: food and drinks spread out over two levels, packed with Indians on vacation. Everyone was having a great time, as evidenced by the big smiles on their faces, which were constant and infectious. The bar was mostly filled with men, and they danced with all the excitement of a Bollywood movie, trying to match steps with one another as if the whole party was coordinated. We did our best to imitate what we thought they were doing: arms up, lots of head waggling, spinning in circles… Any and all dance moves worked, no one cast any judgement, just big goofy grins.
Although we only had 5 days in India, it was fun, interesting, and different from what we’re used to. Well worth it for a chance to see a familiar face and spend some quality time with one of our favorite people. By the end of it though, we were ready to leave wet and stormy Goa, and we were excited to begin our travels in Europe, so we parted ways with Konrad and hopped on the cheapest flight we could find to Europe. We can’t say we’d recommend going to Goa in June, unless you have really great company, but we’ll be back to do India right someday.
If you have any questions about our journey or thoughts you’d like to share, please comment on the blog or send us a message on Instagram @theadventuregoeson!