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Some general info for smarty-pants... ;-)
Favorite thing: DID YOU KNOW THAT...
Local Time: GMT + 5 hrs 30 min
Capital: Panjim (Panaji)
Electricity: 220 Volts
Currency: Indian Rupees
1 US Dollar (USD) = approx. 45 Rs (INR)
1 Euro (EUR) = approx 55 Rs (INR)
Driving: Traffic is on the left! Easy for Brits and Aussies! Difficult for me!
Goa is India's smallest state in terms of area.
Goa's sole airport is the Dabolim Airport (Code: GOI) (no, not Dublin.... Da-bo-lim. haha!)
Panaji (also known as Panjim) is the administrative capital of Goa. Goa's legislative capital is Porvorim. Old Goa is very interesting for a day trip to explore historic churches, temples and architecture.
It has a rich Indian & Portuguese heritage, visible in numerous chapels, churches and temples dotted around the area amongst the beautiful landscape. Take a walk around... wander aimlessly... you'll come across some beautiful heritage sights & old buildings!
The north coast of Goa is where it all happens: Aguada, Candolim, Calangute, Baga and Anjuna beach are seamlessly tied together.
Goa also has rich flora & fauna, with lush greenery, fertile fields & tropical forests.
Being in the tropical zone and near the Arabian Sea, the region has a warm & humid climate for most of the year. The month of May is the hottest, with temperatures of over 35 C (90 F) with high humidity. The monsoon rains arrive by early June. Most of Goa's annual rainfall is received through the monsoons which last till late September / early October. We travelled in late October/early November and only had 2 rainy days, which was perfect!
- Nudity on beaches and public places is forbidden & punishable by law.
- Do not buy articles made from rare / endangered species which are banned.
- Tourists are advised to observe silence, due respect and proper decorum inside the places of worship & religious monuments. Always remove your shoes at the entrance to the main hall of any holy shrine.
Fondest memory: A BIT OF HISTORY...
In 1498, Vasco da Gama became the first European to set foot in India through a sea route, landing in Kozhikode in Kerala, followed by an arrival in what is now known as Old Goa. The Portuguese arrived with the intention of setting up a colony and seizing complete control of the spice trade from other European powers after traditional land routes to India were closed by the Ottoman Turks.
Later, in 1510, Portuguese admiral Afonso de Albuquerque defeated the ruling Bijapur kings on behalf of a local sovereign, Timayya, leading to the establishment of a permanent settlement in Velha Goa (or Old Goa). The Portuguese intended it to be a colony and a naval base, distinct from the fortified enclaves established elsewhere along India's coasts.
After India gained independence from the British in 1947, Portugal refused to accede to India's request to relinquish their control of its exclave. Arbitration by the World Court and the United Nations General Assembly in the 1950s ruled in favour of self determination. Finally, on Dec. 12th 1961, the Indian army moved in, taking the colony by force.
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"Take me to your Druggist..."
Favorite thing: May all your travels be safe & happy ones... but if something should happen whilst abroad, it's always good to know where the next pharmacy is... just in case.
If you fall-off your scooter, step onto something nasty in the ocean, or simply have a headache, you won't have a problem finding a pharmacy along the main road in Calangute. A lot of the pharmacies in India also sell natural remedies such as Homeopathy, Aloe Vera Gel, Herbal ointments and a large variety of teas.
We were a bit confused about the opening hours, but ask any taxi driver or shop owner along the street and they'll quite happily tell you.
Fondest memory: Also, try to not look too shocked once you've entered the place... all of the pharmacies I saw in Goa looked like bomb sites! (click on the picture to see what I mean!)
Boxes, tubes, viles & bottles are piled in seemingly chaotic order everywhere... don't ask me how, but they always know where to find what you're asking for...
Funny, how the same thing has a different name in English in different countries:
If you can't find a Pharmacy, and you can't find a Chemist, try asking for a Druggist... haha!
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Off-peak travel on a budget..
Favorite thing: Palolem Beach ...
Often, if you are on a budget, it pays to find out the peak season dates and plan to leave before the peak season hits. Both airlines and hotels vary their rates and are at their lowest duirng off-season. The difference in prices can be quite significant, plus I enjoy off-peak travel because the place is not so crowded.
In addition, if you are so inclined , you can negotiate a lower rate for your hotel room AFTER you have arrived. The way to do this would be to commit to only one day upon booking. On day one, your mission would be to find cheaper / better accomodations in the same area. You might even find very enjoyable and /or knowledgeable company this way.
Here are some reasons the hotel operators will lower the rate - they know that you are more familiar with competing hotels in the area, they have vacancies , they do not have to pay commissions to the booking agents for those additional days, they can also put you on their frequent visitor guest list for future visits.
Fondest memory: Friendly people, beaches, food, ...
- Budget Travel
Favorite thing: An easy way to keep in touch with friends and family back home is to use your mobile phone. This as you know can be quite expensive and even a simple text message can cost £1. The answer is to get a local "pay as you go" sim package which are widely available in Goa. I got set up on IDEA for about 450rs and this gave me about 200rs of talk time. Top up cards come in various sizes and are readily available. You will need your passport (or a photocopy) when you buy your sim. A text message cost me 5rs and a call to a landline back home was 30 something rs/min. Your phone will need to be open to all networks, you can get it unlocked in Goa cheaper than back home. The phone I used in Feb 2003 was a Nokia 8310 and this year I will be taking a 7250i (the 8310 will be getting donated to a Goan friend)
Getting cash in advance at Calangute and Baga area
Favorite thing: There are two ATMs at the centre of Calangute. Make sure you have your credit card 4-digit pin number before entering to Goa.
If you have not the pin, you have basically only one option to get cash in advance at Calangute area: Bank of Baroda near at the village centre. It is open daily basis, also at Sundays, but do not count on that. Morning is the prettiest good time to transact. There is only one exchange desk at Bank of Baroda.
Department of Tourism
Favorite thing: The Department of Tourism office provides some good information, free and useful maps, etc. It has zonal Offices in North Goa at Mapusa and in South Goa at Margao.
Their website www.goatourism.org is also quite useful for information
- School Holidays
Children walking tall...
Favorite thing: If you would like to help rebuild the life of one of the many Goan street kids then check out this website...
Or if you are in Goa why not pop into All Spice Restaurant in Arpora and leave a donation with Vinnie.
You know it makes sense!
Favorite thing: Most people know about Goa's excellent dentists but they are now moving into general medical tourism too. The leader in this market is Vrundavan Hospital in Mapusa. Whether its a general check up or more involved procedures like hip-joint replacement, cosmetic surgery etc then this is the place.With state of the art facilities like spiral CT scans, excellent private wards, and more than enough nurses, this place has my own personal recommendation.
Favorite thing: I would suggest you get to Goa and exchange foreign currency for Indian rupees, locally you can get a better rate than even the going rate. Check with 2/3 people before actually changing as each offers a different exchange rate usually. Talking a bit and asking for better rates usually helps.
Favorite thing: One of the best known, and most upto date surgeries is:
International Dental Centre Goa , C-2 Landscape Royale, Calangute-Arpora Road,
Above Arte D'ouro Cyber Cafe, Near Bank of Baroda,
Porbavaddo Calangute Goa India .
The Dentist is Dr Toshepu Aomi...top bloke!
Soft drinks and Munchies
Favorite thing: There is an abundance of soft drinks all the favourites like Coke and Fanta and can be bought almost any-where. Mineral water is cheap and I recommend you also brush your teeth with it as tap water although clorinated in big hotels can still give you stomach problems, be careful when buying bottled water on the street make sure that the bottle top is secure because some vendors have a tendancy to refill bottles with tap water. The food in Goa ranges from curries to burgers in fact you can find a lot of food catering for the westener. Where curries are concerned be careful when you order because their version of hot is different to the western palate and hot means very hot so start with a mild curry and work your way up if needed although the Goans are getting used to the western diets. Rule of thumb is on the coast eat fish and in the countryside eat meat. Most of the places that you eat will have cutlery but if they don't put the food in your mouth using your right hand, because the left hand is used for other purposes!
If you are a smoker...
Favorite thing: ... please remember that in Goa gas lighters are not allowed in your hand baggage and will be taken away from you at the security check when you are leaving Goa.
After you pass the control, in the duty free area there is a smoking room, but no one has a lighter and the electrical lighters in the smoking room are out of order!
So just put your precious gas lighter in the luggage that you check in, and have a box of matches with you.
- Budget Travel
5 things to bring
Favorite thing: 1.Flashlight: Power failures happens daily in all of Goa.
2.Mosquito repellant: Not only do mosquitos disturb you beauty sleep but they can give you malaria.
3.Water subsitute: Stomach trouble is almost mandatory for tourists. For Swedes I recommend "Resorb".
4.Sun lotion. Pink isn't such a lovely colour as one might think.
5. International driver's license. Required if one want to rent a moped or a motorcycle. Useful if you don't want to bribe the local police.
Alex's general tips about Goa
Favorite thing: Baga beach - go dolphin watching and then go to a few beach bars, watch the sunset, have a few drinks and something nice to eat at one of the beach bars (particularly the UB40 one).
We went in Febuary and it was a bit stifling at 35 degrees - particularly stuffy at night. Best time to go would be between November - Jan I believe.
Fondest memory: Relaxing in the shade with a cool bottle of Kingfisher. Its about 30/40p for a lovely big bottle and a pound for a really nice curry!
Favorite thing: Dosa was most delicious! its actually a south Indian food ( I think ) that I ate at a small south Indian restaurant in Betlabatim ( think the name was Kaveneesh) but it was really very delicious, try this when you in Goa.
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