Goa is an amazing place. Wild and free, with just about anything on offer you can possibly think of. It's a small coastal state with beach towns as varied as what you might find in California. The trick is to research according to your tastes and then not be attached to the outcome.
We arrived in Goa and headed straight for Anjuna, a little town popular with budget travelers and party seekers, with plenty of beach bars and all-night parties. Now, we aren't exactly partiers, but we like to be around the people and the action, so Anjuna seemed like a logical starting place.
We only had to switch hotels once and settled in for 5 nights at Sunset Guesthouse and Restaurant where we had our own private upstairs bungalow complete with a palm-lined patio that was perfect for morning yoga.
Sunset Guesthouse is family run, and so they keep a peaceful environment amongst the neighboring chaos. It was perfect for us.
The main restaurant patio sits up above the sandy shore and is expansive enough to have a panoramic view of the coastline, proper lounge chairs, and even sun/shade beds to chill on. There is a single row of lounge chairs with umbrellas down below on the sand, so as not to encumber the beach view above.
Anjuna beach has some great swimming and we took advantage of it nearly everyday. The surf was a bit rough during my very first dip and I found myself getting tossed and slammed when I looked away for a second. Each successive day got calmer and calmer, and Nick felt safe enough to take advantage of it too. It's quite a process for him to get in the ocean.
The ocean is so warm, and the waves are small. It's a peaceful way to spend our time, just floating around and swimming around out in the ocean. Historically, Nick and I have done some of our greatest brainstorming while floating in the water. And here in Goa it's the same. We have spent a ton of time talking about the future and the kind of life we want to live together.
Our five days in Anjuna were filled with exploring the surrounding area on our motorbikes. We spent one day SCUBA diving with Scuba Evolution based out of Candolim, a forty minute drive south. All the diving in Northern Goa goes out of this area, out to Grande Island an hour off shore where there's a big ship wreck. Despite the allure of exploring a 120 meter sunken boat, the diving wasn't great due to a measly 3 meter visibility.
I highly recommend Scuba Evolution as a dive operation though. They were very friendly, accommodating, and most importantly they have all brand new dive equipment, something I was not expecting in India.
After diving we hung around the Calangute and Baga area for the rest of the day and experienced what Lonely Planet described as wall to wall beach shacks and endless sunbeds. What a beautiful stretch of beach, essentially saturated with tourists, making us feel content with our decision to stay in Anjuna.
Anjuna area has several weekly markets that were fun to experience. The biggest and most important is the Wednesday Flea Market in Anjuna. It runs from 8am to sunset. We waited until sunset to go, mistakenly thinking it went later into the night, so we got a few good deals as the stalls were closing up.
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The Wednesday Flea Market is a bit of a circus. As we pulled up on our bikes to the main entrance there were fields of pay parking (20 rupees, so not a big deal), and dozens of beggars, cows dressed in tribal outfits, roasted corn cob stalls, flute players, sugar cane juice stalls, women in traditional hill tribe dress, and more taxi drivers than we could count. We were bombarded the moment we stepped foot on the street, "Come to my shop," "Do you remember me from the Night Market?" "Little money for my baby, ma'dam?"
The stalls never ended, or at least we tired out and turned around before we found the end. Unique leather goods, burning incense, colorful wall hangs, tribal jewelry, inviting hammocks, refreshing coconuts, mounds of spices, intricate wood carvings, more hippie pants than could ever sell, pretty flowing dresses, and useless trinkets.
And the bargaining is intense, man! With the steady stream of cashed up tourists all day, these vendors count on Wednesday's to make decent money. We found they quote over three to four times what they're willing to take for an item. I found a dress I just had to have, and he wanted 900 rupees ($13.43) but I ended up paying 250 rupees ($3.73) because I've learned how to play the game over the last 7 weeks here in India.
Anjuna is an incredible place, but we grew tired of it and decided to move north, about a 25 minute scooter drive to Ashwem beach.
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