Goa picks


Just arrived in Bombay / Mumbai after 10 relaxing days in Goa, on the coast — lovely beaches, food of the gods, and twice-daily yoga.  I am so relaxed that my shoulders are now seriously three inches lower than they’ve been all year!

I was quite lazy during my week in Goa and did not see all the sights by any means, so my recommendations are more idiosyncratic than comprehensive.  But I’ll share anyway…

My Goa favorites:

Yoga on the terrace There are lots of yoga and ayurvedic options in Goa, and I was really happy to spend part of my time there with a group led by Sabine Kuehner.  Sabine is an amazing yoga teacher who is originally from Germany, lived for many years in San Francisco (where I met her), and now lives in Pune, India, where she assists and studies at the Iyengar Institute. Her specialty is medical/therapeutic yoga classes geared toward working with people with injuries and non-typical bodies. I first went to Sabine’s restorative therapeutic yoga classes at the Yoga Loft in San Francisco because I had a serious repetitive strain injury in both wrists, from typing, and was finding it too painful to do any of the weight-bearing poses that regular yoga classes require.  After several months with her, I built my strength back up, learned to re-align my muscles to prevent re-injuring myself, and was able to take regular yoga classes again. Sabine leads an annual 10-day yoga retreat in Goa over Thanksgiving week and occasionally has other classes, including an upcoming week in Rishikesh; contact her through http://www.namaste-yoga.com/.

Warm aubergine salad at Bomras

Warm aubergine salad at Bomras

The best meal I’ve had in India was at Bomras, a Burmese fusion restaurant in North Goa that was truly delicious. The menu descriptions won’t do justice to how delicious my food was: warm aubergine salad, pumpkin soup, and homemade fried tofu with tamarind sauce that was like no tofu I’ve ever had — the carnivores at the table were all grabbing pieces of it and eventually had to order their own! http://www.bomras.com/

Travel Bar is a bar, restaurant, AND travel agency, run by the tireless and fierce Angeline, who will do whatever it takes to make it right, whether it’s your meal or your booking. Someone at the Travel Bar has had some serious chef training and it shows in the creative menu which ranges from risotto to noodles to fresh fish to burritos, all with a slight Indian twist. Lovely atmosphere, delicious cocktails (ice made with purified water) and desserts as well. Calangute, North Goa. No website; see Trip Advisor ratings here: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g306995-d1171421-Reviews-Travelbar-Calangute_Goa.html

Angeline booked me a couple of nights in the Baga Marina hotel, a new and very nice hotel for about $95/night (includes full breakfast). The location is central to all of the restaurants, bars, and shops of Baga, yet the hotel is set back from the main road and is very quiet at night. Nice amenities, two restaurants, 24-hour room service, every room has a balcony, 10-minute walk or 2-minute rickshaw ride to the beach through a busy lane full of shops and restaurants. The beautiful swimming pool with a built-in bar was a lovely place to hang out all afternoon with a vampire book, a glass of red wine, and a plate of pakoras. http://www.thebagamarina.com/

Sabine’s retreat was held at Dona Florina, which is somewhere between a hotel and a European-style pensione.  The Goan owner, Jessie, lives on the premises with her daughter and oversees everything keenly; there are about 15 spacious, comfortable rooms, each with its own bathroom, as well as a couple of larger apartments for families.  Guests are mostly older Europeans, many of whom come back every year and stay for weeks at a time, giving the place a mellow vibe. “Resort” as it’s called on the website is a bit of a stretch, but Dona Florina is a lovely, simple place to stay, and you really can’t get any closer to the beach unless you sleep out under the stars.  Bring your own toiletries and expect the staff to clean your room every three days, rather than daily as in a regular hotel; this keeps the place super affordable (around $30/night during peak season; breakfast included). As with many places in India, the electricity and water go out from time to time, but all of these episodes were short (less than half an hour) during my stay. The terrace is nice for yoga or an aperitif, and there are restaurants and “beach shacks” serving food all around, as well as on-site ayurvedic and regular massage. Easy stroll to the main road for access to the rest of North Goa. No air conditioning. Book in advance and ask for a sea-view room. Candolim, 1 hour north of the Goa airport. http://www.donaflorina.com

Barracuda Diving is the original dive shop in Goa. I went out one day but was unable to dive (my ears wouldn’t equalize), and they kindly offered to refund my dive fee. Diving in Goa isn’t the greatest due to low visibility (8 feet on the best days), the local practice of dynamite fishing, and polluted waters; but if I were going to dive or even go snorkeling again in Goa, I’d go with these guys for their professional, friendly crew (all Brits on the day I went out) that double-checks everything and emphasizes safety and fun above all. http://www.barracudadiving.com/

I had lots of great local meals too, but I was too busy eating to take pictures. We had fresh pineapple, papaya, and watermelon every morning and I enjoyed sampling the Goan speciality, vegetable xacuti (also available in chicken), a rich dark curry made with coconut milk, available everywhere. The Anjuna market held every Saturday is huge and a fun place to shop and bargain; I bought a lovely hand-embroidered jacket and a fierce-looking belt from Nagaland featuring (supposedly) yak teeth. My fellow yogis liked getting massages on the beach from women like the one pictured above who offer hourlong sessions for less than $10 US, but I didn’t indulge, since I was already mellow enough.

More soon!

One thought on “Goa picks

  1. What a lovely post! I am super envious of your time with Sabine- you describe her so well- I wish I could head over to the Loft for some time in her classes- perhaps Goa instead.

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