A few kilometers from Karwar, Goa begins and thirty kilometers into Goa, Palolem Beach is located. It is ranked as one of the world’s top ten beaches as per the Lonely Planet team (as per SA). The plan was to stop for lunch, on our way to Baga beach in North Goa. The beach had nice sand, nice water, swaying palms and a gentle breeze. Many restaurants dotted the beachfront. The tourist presence was not overwhelming. Even better, just as we arrived, a Daniel Craig lookalike was emerging out of the sea, a la James Bond. This beach clearly deserved its reputation.
We chose our venue for lunch on a purely random basis – SA was blocking my way when I turned to the right to head for prospective restaurants. So I turned left and everyone followed. PR heard Cold play playing in one of the restaurants and decided that a restaurant owner with such good taste would have obviously hired a good cook. By the time we had dug into the yummy continental food and ordered the desert, we felt like we had come home. It was time to discuss what had remained unspoken in all our minds – perhaps we should just stay the night in one of Palolem Beach’s shacks. At PR’s insistence, we shopped around and found a reasonably priced place called ‘Waves’. The owner charged us 500 bucks a day for a beach facing shack and 400 for the one with the hidden view. Again, SA’s speed won the day for the guys and he beat us to the beach-facing shack.
Once we had settled things with our rented car’s driver (who was indifferent) and the car owner (who was furious), we settled back to relax. Staying at a shack is an experience, which has a charm of its own. The room was tiny and just had a double bed and a clean attached toilet. However, it served brilliantly as a room in which you could sleep in the night and come back for a shower after frolicking in the beach. The best part of it all was that when you stepped out of your room, you were..well.. on the beach. PR started playing chess with one of the foreigners staying at the shack. SA and I sat at the balcony of the shack and watched the sun go down slowly. NA went for a walk. All in all, we were quiet and calm and contended. When it was dark, we went for a stroll through the market area with the ubiquitous Kashmiri, Tibetan and other assorted stalls. I convinced PR to buy a jazzy looking belt (which she is yet to wear and is unlikely to wear ever). We chose a nice place on the beach to eat. After a post dinner walk, everyone chatted or wandered off or just went to sleep, listening to the sound of the waves hitting the shore. Bliss.
The next morning, PR, SA and I got into the water and wandered in to the extent that our respective guts permitted us to. Knowing swimming, PR could do better that me or SA. After a while, I remembered my floating lessons from my swimming classes and began to try floating for short periods. Impossible though it may sound, this activity alone can keep one occupied for a couple of hours. By the time, I was happy with the amount of floating I had gotten in, the morning routine of the beach was changing into the mid morning routine. We could make out that the mornings involved some serious jogging or yoga by the foreigners. Post the workout, most of them disappeared for a while and then had breakfast. The rest of the day seemed to be spent on the beach, sunbathing or reading or swimming. Lunches were had at the shack followed by more sunbathing, reading or swimming. As the evening began, people disappeared into some party or the other organised by some long staying resident or the other. No wonder, Goa attracts as many people as it does. I cannot think of a better recipe for a holiday.
For breakfast, we chose yet another restaurant and tucked in some delicious continental food. We were still exhilarated from the experience of having deviated from our itinerary, having fulfilled our dream of staying in a shack and having slept while listening to the waves. All that we had expected to do in Gokarna, we were doing here and it seemed better than what we thought it would have been.