18 December 2005
So after thinking about Goa for so long I took the dive and took the VOLVO bus from the Dolour Church, Marine Lines. It was supposed to start at 1930hrs but finally managed to get on to the Easter Express highway only at about 2200 hrs! It should have been the most comfortable bus journey I should ever have made as the the amount of leg space in the bus would have shamed some business class seats, however it was not to be. Somehow I was very restless and slept very little. At day break it was still the gigantic state of Maharashtra - Samantwadi. Soon after an obscure border crossing we were in the sunshine state of Goa. The landscape was the same. If someone expects beach loads of scantily clad women as soon as he hits Goa, he is going to get a little disappointed! Pernem passed off imperceptibly. The first major town is Mapusa with a difficult pronunciation somthing like MHAP - SSA supposed to rhyme with Lhasa. The bus was mobbed by touts offering us the heavens view on Arambol beach. I tried to catch up on my sleep. Panjim arrives a little too fast for the 12 kms that separates it from Mapusa. From a distance you can realise that why it is called the most beautiful capital city in India. The morning view of the Mandovi and Panjim (? Panaji, ?Pangim, ?Ponjje) is terrific. But after disembarking from the bus going to our destination in Altinho proves to be difficult as no one is ready to take us there for under Rs60. Finally we give in. The city has a quaint colonial character. Its very pleasant. Infact you can learn what "pleasantness" is in reference to a city can mean, here. The roads are excellent. The riverfront is sparkingly clean and very beautiful and there are no traffic lights yet the trafic is remarkably disciplined. Soon after, we start our hunt for a bike on hire, after having a prolonged and hefty lunch at the famed Venite in Sao Tome. It seems we are at the most wrong time - siesta. Finally we haggle to get a Kinetic Honda for the princely sum of Rs600 for three days and Rs 1000 as deposit as we refuse to part with our Identity Card. Driving is a pleasure. We are 'cruising' at 60 on the road to Old Goa and the views of the Mandovi are just fantastic! Old Goa in next post!