What comes first to your mind when you read about the place, Goa? Its beaches, water sports, the never ending party scene, too-cheap-to-be-true kings’ beer or the amazing seafood? Well, count them all.
But with so much to take in, there is so much more than you can easily miss out on. Once you hit the roads, Goa is an altogether different place. The history, the Portuguese influence in the architecture and the food, the cultural showdown, and the slow-motion version of an amazing, laidback lifestyle as you witness (or become a part of it).
And this is where hiring a bike or car becomes crucial to the experience and exploring Goa on your own. I have been to Goa before but like most others, fell in the first category and was content with the food and beaches. So when Goa Tourism decided to plan an explore and treasure hunt in collaboration with Honda, I was excited. First of all, I love games. And participating in one with a fun lot from the blogging community? Any given day. Secondly, this was to be a fun chance at hitting the road and exploring the other side of Goa.
Tourists (both domestic and international) have been flocking to Goa for years, primarily for the beaches and the party scene but the number is declining. Billboards and ads are not enough to sell destinations anymore; people are making their next travel plans digitally with the help of bloggers. This is why Goa Tourism decided to partner with Honda 2 wheelers and call us, a couple of bloggers to explore Goa while riding Honda NAVI in the first ever edition of Goa Hunt where we were supposed to go to different parts of North Goa and complete some fun filled challenging tasks. Our stay was at GTDC hotel at Calangute residency with a beautiful view of the Calangute beach.
Now, coming to the drive, the drive in Goa is scenic. It takes you to gentle curves with mangroves in the backdrop (Which reminds me, one should talk more about the mangroves in Goa). And, driving in Goa is not for the faint hearted. There are times when you will get distracted by the view and you may feel like there is a mix of Moto GP and F1 race going on, cars and 2 wheelers zipping down in both directions. On the Day 2, I even lost my way and wandered out without the rest of the group, thanks to which I was exposed to some beautiful roads and vegetable farms which were not in our decided route.
The route of the Goa Hunt was set in such a way that we drove around 50-70 kms daily in a 2-day event exploring churches, the old colourful Latin quarter which was first set by the Portuguese; Fontainhas (the municipality is now trying to get it declared as the Heritage Area) which has restored Portuguese villas. From the famous Anjuna beach and the Vagator beach (which is now more popular as the Singham beach) to the famous Mapusa market, we were lucky to see a little bit of everything that makes Goa the place that it is during our hunt.
Most of the times, when we are in Goa we spend a lot of time on the beaches and lesser time exploring it. Goa is much more than the beaches and the parties that takes place in the latter part of the year. This is what the guys at Goa Tourism wanted to show and by carefully curating these places for us.
Despite being a hardcore commercialised place, and by the virtue of it, a crowded one, Goa still manages to retain a character and a soul. This is a place where even in crowd and chaos, you find relaxation. I certainly did. And maybe that is the nature of the sea. Our overall was experience of Goa was fantastic. From the Gothic churches to the casual beaches, from the mouthwatering sea food to the scenic drive, it was fun all the way.
My next trip to Goa will be to explore the Southern part which I am sure will give me a whole new perspective of the supposed ‘Party Destination of India’.
When was the last time you hit the road?