Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Se Cathederal

Next on the list of things to see was the Se Cathederal.
This was epic.

It was absolutely enormous in fact.
This cathederal was stunning.
It sits next to the Church of St Francis Assisi and amazingly it trumps that in terms of size and opulence.
Wandering through this cathederal, I genuinely felt as though I was in Europe again. The quiet feel of the place was once again, a world away from the noise of India.
It was also unsurprising when I discovered that the Se Cathederal is the largest cathederal in all of Asia.
This really is an enormous structure.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Entering Old Goa

Goa is famous not only for its beaches, but also for its interesting history.

Up until 1961, Goa was a Portuguese territory (until the Indian Army invaded) and this influence is clearly felt in the architecture.

So after wandering through Panjim, we headed towards Old Goa.

Old Goa was the original capital of Portuguese controlled Goa. Apparently during its peak it was the largest "European" city in the world, larger than Lisbon, larger than London.

Arriving there on the bus, it became fairly apparent that this city was indeed once something to behold. The first thing we decided to see was the Church of St Francis Assisi.

This was more than a surprise.
This was an amazing church. Gilded in gold, it would rival even the largest cathedrals I had seen when I travelled through Europe.
The intricacies of the interior was a clear demonstration of the oppulence and wealth that this city must have had.

Friday, February 13, 2009

No More Beaches

We were done with the beaches. It had been lots of fun lazing on the beaches around Baga, Calingute and Anjuna, but our time there was over.

From here, it was decided that a different side to Goa needed to be seen. A look at the more traditional side of life here.

So, after a bit of haggling we found ourselves a taxi driver who drove us to the capital of the state of Goa, the town of Panaji (now known as Panjim).

This was the seat of Portuguese rule in Goa, right up until the Indian army invaded in the 60s.

Though only about 20 minutes from the beautiful beaches, Panaji didn't feel like it belonged in the same world. It was a relatively small town and it had a much more relaxed feel than the other places I had been in India.

The small size was great as it meant that a walking tour would allow us to see most of what we wanted to see here.

Firstly was a Monkey Temple. It turned out that it was next to a primary school and we were confronted by dozens of kids confused by why random foreigners were aimlessly strolling around.
The main attraction was up the road though.
"Our Lady of the Immacuate Conception Church".
This large church has the prime position at the top of a hill overlooking the entire town.
It provided some nice views of the town. I was very surprised by how much it reminded me of Macau and the ruins of St.Paul's that also sit on top of a hill.
The streets of Panaji continue to hold their old world feel. They are narrow and the buildings are mostly left overs from the Portuguese rule.
It was nice to wander through these laneways, contemplating once more the ridiculous contrasts that India had thrown at us.

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Anjuna Flea Markets

Every Wednesday on Anjuna beach, there are the famous beach markets.

At least I was assured that they were famous.

To be perfectly honest, I had never heard of them in my life. But since I was in the area, I thought I'd head over and have a look.
The setting was nice.
In fact it was very picturesque.
The locals were out in force as were Karnatakans with their wares.
The wares of the Karnatakans were particularly impressive. The women, dressed in their full finery were a sight to behold, as they shimmered in the light.
And India being India ("TII") we were starting to get used to the bizarre sights that we came across on what seemed like a daily basis.

I knew that this was a touristy market, but it was a bit depressing being there. The Russians and Brits were everywhere, pushing and shoving their way through, demanding as always. This market wasn't a market for anyone besides tourists and the junk that was being sold was evidence of this fact.
But, it was a beautiful location, and it was pleasant to be able to wander through the stalls whilst listening to the Karnatakan musicians.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Nightlife in Goa

Goa is famous for its nightlife.

It's considered a party hub and it attracts tourists from all over the world for this reason.

However, do to the recent events in Mumbai, the tourists had stayed at home.

It made going out a bit of a strange experience. We found ourselves in some truly amazing bars and clubs ..... that were completely empty.
It was another one of those surreal experiences in India.

As we sat in these bars, LCD displays showed us images of the parties that had been occuring in the clubs only recently. Yet now, the parties were gone.
Instead, we sought out different entertainment.
Entertainment that was closer to the beach.
We were lucky enough for instance, to be given a travelling circus show one night!
And even if the clubs were empty, that didn't mean we couldn't have fun.

The beach was close, the service was good, and we had friends all around.
Fun times are bound to happen with such a combination regardless of whether other parties are occuring.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Fort Aguada

Lazing on the beach was fantastic.

But Lian and I couldn't keep still and we needed to go exploring. Whilst the others decided that they would prefer to lounge by the pool, we set off looking for new things to see.
After an early breakfast, we set off towards Fort Aguada. Starting off near Baga, we slowly walked the entire length of the beach.

After what seemed like an age (it included stops for swims and drinks), we reached the first part of the old fort.

Lots of restoration work has been done to make it look more like what it did during the time of the Portuguese in the 16th century.

Right next to part of the fort is a small section of beach, secluded away and used almost exclusively by the guests of the swanky five star resort.
Lian and I decided to continue walking around.
The landscape changed dramatically.
This really didn't feel like India anymore.