OLD GOA is the site of the former capital
of Goa, now mostly grassy parks and Old Cathedrals and Churches, this site is a
must for those interested in the History of Goa, a Museum gives a great view of
the Portugese rule of Goa and its
Archeological past. The main places to visit are Church of St. Francis of
Assisi where the remains of St. Francis of Assisi can be seen and the
wonderful "Se Cathedral" said to be the largest cathedral in
Asia, if you are a religious person on not, Old Goa is a must see and is
located about 20 miles from Alvares, it is an easy half day excursion by
taxi or bus via Panji.
This is a very open site so avoid the heat of mid day.
The site is spread out over a large area, use you taxi for movement between buildings, ask your driver to show you the ruins of St Augustine Tower
We would suggest you allow at least 1.5 hours for your visit.
Have a look on the internet for details of Old Goa before your visit and read som of its history.
There are a wide range of Spice Plantations available for you to visit either with an organised tour company or with your local taxi driver, you will be taken on a fairly gentle walk around the plantation with a guide and shown and demonstrated the use of all manner of spices and sometimes exotic fruit. The visit usually ends with sample of Goan food and a chance to sample the Feni drink ( very strong) most Plantations have Spices available to buy but you may find better bargains in Calangute market if you require any quantities to bring home. Some Plantations have resident Elephants which can be ridden for a fee.....most Plantations are about 40 miles from Alvares.
Make sure you take a note pad with you, most guides will tell you all the medicinal properties of the spices.....Tumeric is very interesting
Take a bottle of water with you, the visit involves some walking under a tree canopy, it can be a little warn.
Visitors at A Spice Plantation shown above having a lecture.
Here are a few websites to have a look at :-
Palolem Beach.South Goa
The Beaches of South Goa are long and for the
most part very quite, South Goa is less populated than the North with wide open
areas and is the area in which you find most of Goa's 5 star Hotels and
Resorts, a visit to South Goa is usually a full day out, some people combine
their visit with an overnight stay at Palolem Beach at the far south of Goa,
Palolem is a crescent shaped beach with no hotels on the shoreline, here
visitors can rent overnight accomodation, mainly rooms built on stilts from
plywood and palm tree fonds, rooms are basic and usually comprise bedroom and a
toilet with shower (mostly cold water) they are basic but great fun,
this accomodation will be part of a Bar / Restaurant complex and will cost
about £10 to £15 per night.............its your chance to try the Hippie lifestyle....great
for a night or two. Most taxi drivers can recommend the best accomodation
but check the rooms before booking to stay at any particular site, if the rooms are not up to standard move on to the next site.........Palolen is about 2.5 hours South of Alvares by taxi, leave early to avoid the mid day heat.
Saturday Night Market
The Saturday night market seems to move location from year to year, (its know locally as Ingo,s and is located near Apora) , so talking to a local Taxi driver will get you to a night of colour and excitement with some great free entertainment thrown in. at the Market you will find stalls offering all manner of items from all over the World, clothes, jewellery, handicrafts as well as newly invented items that will astound your friends when you get home, it was here about 10 years ago that we found the first "Electric Tennis Racket Zapper" with which to stun flies, get to the market before sunset, keep your bag tight to your chest and your camera ready and you will get home with some great memories . there is no need to eat before you get to the market as fast food stalls from all corners of the World are setup for you. a vast range of food all cooked in front of your eyes, make sure you pick up the makings of a cheese cloth Hippie outfit, ideal for fancy dress partys at home as well as some Goa trance CD,s etc. bater heavilly if you get the item for about 30% of the asking price you will have done well, batering is well accepted in Goa and will give you great training for when you get home.
Paniji..The Capital City.
Paniji is the main city of Goa and has a wide selection of shops from local shops to Designer outlets. there are also daily markets to visit, the old town area of Fontaines is a good example of the Portugese archetecture that makes Goa stand out from the rest of India.
Sunset cruises on the Mandovi River are a popular way of spending an hour or so. (prices range from 100 to 150 rupees depending on time / entertainment), opposite Panaji you will find the fishing port / docks of Betem which was a favourite location for the late Keith Floyd when filming his "Flloyds India" also look out for Rick Stein who is a regular Goan visitor.
A very dusty day out can be enjoyed at the waterfalls they are said to be the 5th highest in India at 310 meters, a tour operator can be used for this trip or a taxi driver will be pleased to take you, about 5 miles from the falls you will change transport to four wheel drive (chargeable extra if you are on a taxi run) for a cross country / river bed journey to near the falls, here you continue on foot for the final walk to the falls through the jungle covered slopes of the Western Ghat mountains, after the chance of a swim at the falls your return to the four wheels drives will allow you the chance to feed wild monkeys and see their acrobatics in the trees, a great day out but very dusty so DO NOT wear your best clothes. this visit is sometimes combined with the Spice Plantations by some tour operators....a full day out and a return trip of about 120 miles.
Mapusa is a medium size inland market town about 12 miles from Alvares, it is the main administration town in North Goa and features all types of shops and a daily market with a major market on Fridays, this is the place to go for spice supplies and fabrics, jewellery etc and offers photographers great opportunities to complete their holiday portfolio.
A regular bus service runs from near the Alvares to Mapusa or any Taxi will drop you off and arrange to pick you up later. avoid the midday heat, a good tip for photographers is to shoot from the walkways behind most of the street stalls, as shown here, use fill flash as the light here is very strong.
This is most Indian like market in the whole of Goa....Not to be missed.
North Goa Beaches
North Goa has some of the best beaches in the whole of Goa, they are easily visited in half a day or if time is taken a each beach the whole day can be used, beaches Mandrem , Ashwem, Arambol and Querim are all worth visiting and at any one of these beaches you can enjoy a break, take a walk, take some refresment from beach shacks and have a very enjoyable day out, some visitors combine this trip with a visit to Mapusa which is on the same route. This is a good route on which to use a Taxi as the driver will be able to explain each beach in detail and show you their features a probably introduce you to his friends at the best beach shack.