Friday, February 20, 2009

Goa - Land of Beaches

By Ava Mason

Goa is known as the land of beaches but this small sun-kissed, west Indian state has much more to offer visitors.

Most roads in Goa are little more than a tarmac indication of the direction you can travel. They snake along the countryside with nothing more than an arbitrary nod towards modern engineering and road construction. Around blind corners, cows - exploiting their sacred status - wander across the road regardless of traffic, earning them the nickname from locals of "Goan Traffic Police". In its own way the road system works - allowing day-to-day work and travel with minimum fuss and maximum noise.

There is nowhere on earth quite as intriguing as India and few places on the sub-continent offer such an eclectic mix of colour and atmosphere as Goa. Perched on the west coast of India, with long sandy beaches down to the Arabian Sea, Goa has become India's land of plenty. Migrant workers seeking employment, Nepalese and Kashmiris selling ethnic goods to tourists and wealthier Indians buying second homes boost its population to nearly one and a half million.

A Taste of Portugal... Until 1961 Goa was a Portuguese colony. Travel to its towns and you'll find faded reminders of its past with once mighty churches and faded Portuguese facades lining the streets.

Everything is catered for in Goa but its main attractions are its bars and beaches. Elsewhere you can enjoy the daily ritual of Goan life. At nightfall dance with the Goans " their love of music is legendary and they are known to have a song and dance for every occasion.

Relax, take part and enjoy the experience... If beaches and bars are your holiday then head for Tito's bar in Baga, north Goa - the biggest and probably still the best. Futher north, Arambol and the paradise beach of Qurin offer tranquillity. In the south, Palolem offers a picture postcard beach and an unforgettable experience of real Goan village life. At Palolem the sun sets into the Arabian Sea with the fiery red vengeance that probably launched a thousand superstitions.

A sunset to remember... Sunset on a Goan beach is greeted with a noise and an atmosphere. Villagers set up food stalls, sarong sellers offer silks and cottons, and children offer flower necklaces.

A unique place still off the beaten track - Goa entices the visitor looking for a holiday with an ever intriguing mix of beach and culture.

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