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Lively and modern, Goa offers a choice of luxurious 5 star hotels with plenty of nightlife, or simplicity and tranquillity by taking it easy on some of the most glorious tropical beaches in the world.
Panaji, the capital, is an easy-going town with Portuguese styled cafes, whitewashed churches and overhanging balconies, while Old Goa, east of Panaji, once the capital of eastern Portuguese Empire, is a fascinating small village surrounded by huge convents and churches. Among them are the stunning Convent and Church of St. Francis of Assisi and the famous Basilica of Bom Jesus. The mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, who spread Christianity among the subjects of the Portuguese colonies, are entombed there.
As for the beaches, there are so many to choose from along the 100km long coastline of silvery sand. Among the favourites are Mobor, Calangute, Baga and Colva with its warm turquoise sea and fishermen hauling in their nets by hand in the clear morning light as they chant an ancient sea song; or sophisticated Aguada, with its jet-set beach and sixteenth century fort.
One must is the experience of a full-moon party at Anjuna, and another is a visit to Calangute, which sells handicrafts, jewellery and a variety of fabrics. Do, too, have a look at the old Portuguese for in Chapora, which is surrounded by secluded and sandy beaches and dense, green coconut palms.
As for Goa’s Portuguese-influenced food, it is mouth watering. Choose massive fish steaks fresh from the sea or a wide and delicious choice of both international and Indian dishes.
For an exciting day out, take your camera and photograph wild boar and sambar in their natural habitat in the hills of the Western Ghats at Bondla, one of the Goa’s wildlife sanctuaries. In addition, the island is justly famous for its many colourful festivals, including Mardi Gras, which is celebrated with fervour!
But, principally, Goa is for relaxation and the experience of idyllic peace. If you have ever dreamed of a warm land of space and light, where the beaches stretch for silvery miles, where the glittering sea always beckons you, where the people are always smiling, where the succulent juice from a bite of ripe pineapples or papaya drips on your hot skin as you luxuriate lazily on the white sand, then Goa, is it… and you will wish to linger.