Gorgeous Goa

Without a doubt, the best part of our trip to date has been our stay in Goa.  Not only were we near the ocean (where I feel my soul should always be…), but you can’t help but relax in Goa.  The palm trees, beautful sunny weather and soft sand always makes you feel like you’re in a bit of a dream.  The sales people aren’t as pushy, the beach is prestine and well maintained and the food is fantastic!  Of course, our stay in Goa didn’t exactly start idealy….

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Goa has a rugged beauty about it…unlike the countries I’ve seen in the Carribean…things aren’t so tame and trimmed here.

We had dinner on the beach and enjoyed some truely fantastic continental food on Patnem beach.  We watched some fire throwers perform and we enjoyed a walk in the water.  Our first night and even the first day weren’t too eventful…actually they were quite enjoyable!  Other than the fact that I couldn’t hear anything out of my right ear, of course….

Honking in India is prolific.  It’s worse than it had been in Guiyang and when you’re walking down the street, that’s bad news for your ears.  It’s especially bad news when you’re walking through a tunnel and someone decides to honk right as they’re passing you…

This happened to us while we were in Jaisalmer.  I felt a lot of pain in my ear for about a day and then forgot about it…until we had to fly.  Flying when you  have a messed up ear is not fun!  As the week in Goa progressed though, my ear started to pop a little bit and my hearing returned.  It’s still incredibly sensitive but Dave doesn’t have to shout for me to be able to hear him anymore, so that’s nice!

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It’s a good thing Goa is so visually stunning…I was able to keep my mind off the weaker of my senses by enjoys views like this!

We also had some difficulties at our first hotel (I woke up with 30 mosquito bites on 1 arm alone….), so we transferred to a resort.  We’ve decided that this trip is already costing us more than expected…we may as well pay a little more and save my sanity!!  The idea of beach huts is great…until you’re actually in one and the mosquito net above your bed doesn’t do a thing!!!

We spent most of our trip doing 2 things:  scooting around the countryside and sitting on the beach.  Both were highly enjoyable!  You wouldn’t believe the colours in India!  Bright colours are very popular here, both in terms of clothing and in terms of paint!

There is a lot of wealth in Goa and nothing shows that more than their houses!  We saw aquamarine mansions…purple mansions…even yellow mansions!  I wish I could have gotten pictures of all of them, but that would have meant pulling over every few minutes for photos, so I just took what I could from the back of our moving scooter.

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This peach coloured mansion extended way into the back as well.

The nice thing about renting a scooter is that you can go out anytime, and go wherever you want.  Because we weren’t at the mercy of a driver, we got to see way more local life in Goa than we did in Rajesthan.  I always say that it isn’t really a vacation until Dave and I rent a scooter!!

My favourite thing about Goa though was the beaches.  It was so great relaxing in the sun and watching the sun go down over the water.   I swear I belong near the ocean…I can’t think of a sound I find more relaxing that waves on the shore.

And of course, it’s always fun playing in the sun too…

 

Our second last night in Goa was spent at a fantastic little restaurant on a the beach called Pedros.  As we were finishing our meal, one of the musicians from the live band came over and asked us if either of us wanted to perform.  Dave quickly volunteered me…I played Mr Jones and then sang while he played Summer of 69!  Great fun!!!

So that was our week in Goa.  We are now in Varanasi…the holy sight of the River Ganges.  There’s a very different vibe here and I find myself  missing the smell of saltwater…

The end of the Rajasthani Road

I have fallen very behind in my writing because although Goa is beautiful and relaxing, the internet there is the worst we’ve seen.  Still, tonight it was behaving for a while so I began the process of uploading pictures into wordpress…whether or not the internet holds out well enough for me to actually finish my post tonight, is another affair entirely… (it didn’t…I’m now in Mumbai, finishing the post!)

We finished our time in Rajesthan in the city of Jodpur.  Nicknamed ‘The Blue City”, Jodpur is famous for the massive fort that sits above the city.  We stayed in a gorgeous old Haveli-turned-hotel and had a stunning view of it.  As I wrote my last post (Jaisalmer), this was the view I had to admire while I worked.

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We were pretty shopped-out by the time we reached Jodpur, so the markets were of no interest to us.  Still, we wound up in one, only to buy some water and be asked at least 20 times where we’re from.  We’ve realized, over the course of our stay in India, that people here think Canada is made up of 2 parts:  The French Part and The English Part.  They’re always very confused when I say that we live in the ‘English Part where many people also speak French…and German…’.

I’ve realized, since we left our driver behind, that Prama is like wine…he got better as the trip progressed (not a lot better…but better…).  Because the fort was so far from our hotel, we weren’t able to get around on foot and were sort of at Prama’s mercy when it came to what we would see.  But, instead of bringing us to Emporiums (where he’d make commission off of any of our purchases)…he brought us to a lovely (free!) park!  We saw monkeys, beautiful gardens and eventually stumbled upon some beautiful old temples that reminded me of Ayuttaya in Thailand.

This is where I’m going to make note of something I realized while walking along the temples in this park.  In many temples (especially active ones), you must remove your shoes if you wish to enter.  In warmer places this isn’t an issue, but in Delhi it drove me nuts because the stone was so cold under my feet that my legs were cramping.  We missed out on a lot of temples because I just couldn’t deal with the pain in my leg (my leg is doing much better these days…but it still has its limits).  In Rajesthan it wasn’t too bad so we took off our shoes and toured the old buildings.  When we were on our way back through the park though, we saw this….

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That’s all garbage…

I took this picture about 5 minutes away from the temple where we took off our shoes to show respect and to avoid tracking dirt into Hindu sacred space.  Seeing yet more garbage in a beautiful park made me wish that Indians treated their country the way they treat their temples.  For people who are so profoundly religious and deligent in their duties to the gods (not eating beef, treating animals with respect, the most devout are vegetarian or vegan), they completely ignore their duties to nature.  The number of times we’ve seen garbage like this has been depressing!  India’s current president, Narendra Modi, is putting a lot of effort into cleaning up the country, but he has a long road ahead.  It’s a good thing he works 18 hours a day, because I can’t imagine how he’d get anything done if he didn’t!! (Jay, from Jaisalmer, is a big Modi fan.  We learned all sorts of things about him!  I have hope for this president!).

Ok…I digress…

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A worthy digression if ever there was one…

Our next stop was to the big site to see in Jodpur:  The fort!  We’ve seen several in Rajesthan and it seems like every city has both a fortress and a palace to tour, but Lonely Planet spoke especially well of this one, so we paid the 500 rupees each (50 for locals) and the extra 100 rupees for our camera (free for locals) and we took the tour.  It was honestly worth the money…There was lots to see and the audio tour was very well done.  My only complaint was the hoards of Indian tour guides that all insisted on shouting above one another and pushing anyone who wasn’t paying them out of the way…I was nearly knocked over at one exibit, while looking at the ornate elephant seats from Jodpur’s history.

The audio tour was awesome…it told us the history of the fort.  I learned that it has never been taken by an enemy and I even heard the stories behind the cannon holes in the walls.  There was a lot of battling between the Kings of the different Rajesthani settlements back in the day.  It was neat learning their history.

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The red circle is around a hole caused by Jaipur canons.  The king of Jodpur had been offended by the neighboring royalty, so he ordered a carivan of wedding gifts to be seized on its way to Jaipur.  Jaipur retaliated by (unsuccessfully) trying to take Jodpur fort.

Also interesting were some of the artifacts in the museum part of the fort.  In addition to the elephant seats, there were also carriages that carried the kings and queens of Jodpur.  You can tell which carriages were womens’ because they hid the women away behind curtains and stained glass.  In the past, women in India lived in Purdah…only to be seen by their immediate family.  Women often hid in seperate rooms when guests came to the house, to keep themselves from the ‘prying and lustful eyes of men’ (my favorite line from the audio tour).  This particular carriage was of significance, because it belonged to the queen that was alive during the Brittish take-over of the country.  The Brittish were very interested in the royal families and wanted to know what the women looked like, but all they ever got to see was a flash of the queen’s ankle as she walked up the steps of her carriage.

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This carriage

A photographer managed to get a picture of that ankle and a story was suppose to be published the following day in Brittish newspapers but the royal family intereceded and the pictures never went to print.  A little different from our culture, where Kim Kardashian can ‘break the internet’

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The only picture in the shoot where she was still wearing any clothes….

Our final stop in Jodpur was at the ‘mini Taj Mahal of Jodpur’.  A king had it built for his queen, when he heard of the Taj Mahal being built.  He thought it was a beautiful act, so he wished to do the same.  It isn’t as grand or as semetrical as the Taj Mahal (more on that in the future!), but it was beautiful in its own way!

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I’ll leave you now with some pictures of our hotel/Palace!  This was probably our favorite hotel in all of Rajesthan, not only because of the great restaurant, but also because of the gorgeous view and the beautiful rooms.  For anyone reading this and looking for a great place to stay…Krishna Prakash Heritage Hevali is where it’s at!

And the grounds were beautiful too!!

Next up will be Goa!  We seem to have better internet in Mumbai, so  I should be able to post again tomorrow! (Unless we are out exploring…)

Thanks for stopping by!!   Anyone visiting my blog with questions regarding any of the places we have been can feel free to leave me comments in the questions section!  I will do my best to answer any and all that are asked!