Relaxing times in Goa (Palolem)

Getting to Goa involved a 12-hour train journey south. I wasn’t able to get an overnight train, so had to do it during the day, but I got to see some of the most beautiful landscape along the Konkan railway track between Mumbai and Goa.

There were some changes as we moved south: people were less likely to be wearing jumpers (remember it’s Indian “winter” in the north). The drink of choice on the trains moved from “chai” to “koffie” and food from “samosa” to “masala dosa”.

About 20% of the route from Mumbai to Goa seemed to be in tunnels, which I thought must involve some pretty hardcore boring. As we went through a tunnel, I usually saw a group of people pressed up against the tunnel wall, as it seems that the tunnels are some of the best ways to get from A-to-B in this mountainous area! I also saw two derailed trains on the route, which made me wonder how often these accidents occur (or how long it takes for the authorities to clean up derailed trains).

I arrived in Goa’s second city, Margao, at about 8.30pm, and it was unfortunately too late to get a bus to my preferred destination, the beach resort of Palolem, so I got a ride to the nearest stretch of sand, Benaulim, which was only 3km away.

The place was full of couples, so was pretty sure I would leave early the next day. The sand was perfect though, as it sounded like the snow on a fresh ski slope under-foot.

The next morning I got the bus to Palolem. It was interesting to see how there are differences in how people look here, as the hair, makeup, and clothes of many of the women made me think I was in Latin America or the Philippines.

At the bus stop for Palolem I met Samuel from Sweden – who stood out because he was wearing thick jeans and had a wheelie suitcase instead of a rucksack. Anyway, we went of in search of accommodation together, and each checked into some Thai-style beach huts.

Palolem is very much a tourist destination and to be fair is not particularly Goan at all. But after several weeks of India overload, it was nice to be able to just relax for a few days. The place is full of north Europeans (British, Irish, German, Dutch and Swedish) which meant there were some interesting and some not so interesting people to meet (the British normally being boring beer-minded people).

The waiter at the restaurant Samuel and I had our first lunch, pointed out that Palolem is where they did the filming for the first scene of the Bourne Supremacy, and suddenly the whole beach seemed familiar after he said this. Furthermore, the set for the filming stood where my beach hut is now! Perhaps people will recognise part of the movie from the picture below (with still pasty Alex in the foreground).
Alex on Palolem (Bourne Supremacy) beach

In fact, after I went swimming and walked back to my sun bench, an Indian woman came over to me and said:
“Hello sir. You are very white – from England?”
Highly amusing….

She persuaded me to get a Henna tattoo around my arm (don’t worry Mum, it comes off after a few weeks), so I am slowly approaching the hippy category.

On my last night, the manager of the huts I was staying in organised a screening of the Matrix 1 and 2 using a projector and a white sheet, accompanied by a yummy fish BBQ (I only got through half of the tuna that was given to me).

Although I didn’t think I was going to enjoy the commercialism of Goa, I’m ashamed to say that I really enjoyed myself. However, I’m not really a beach person, so it was time to move off to the school in a village in Karnataka, where my brother volunteered twenty years ago…

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2 Responses to “Relaxing times in Goa (Palolem)”

  1. Olivia Dixon Says:

    What a great photo! However, I would lay off the sun block for a bit: you can’t come back to London looking as though you havn’t been! I wonder what the tattoo round your arm means? LOLyourmxxx

  2. Stefan Zierold Says:

    Hi Alex,
    Love pictures of you on Palolem beach, looking quite man in your shades. I wondering – my friend Tork says spending a nice evening with a guy called Alex on Palolem beach – who looks like your photo, he’s a little shy about what went on between you guys but had an amazing time!

    Big Yah from Germany! xx

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