Sunday, 19 February 2017

Busy Boys – the Tale of Two Weeks (first bit!)

The tale starts with saying good-bye to two lovely people, Leon and Sarah, at the end of their two week holiday and the arrival of our friend Cris, from Manchester, at the start of his two week holiday.

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To mark the changeover we all met up at ‘Curries and Grills’ in Candolim for one of the best meals we’ve had so far (and the food is good wherever we go so that is saying something!). Leon and Sarah, Doug, Cris and James.

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A couple of days into Cris’ hols and we hired a couple of scooters to head to Apora night market. That’s the one which starts at 3pm and finishes at 3am! As Cris is a biker anyway, the scooter was no problem to him, but the standard of driving and the general ‘no rules’ principle took him a few minutes to get to grips with!

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Anyway, we made it safely to the market where we had a good mooch around with some evening sustenance of beer and a burrito (purchased from our friend Graham (the “burrito boy”)). 

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We caught up with or friend Sachin at his spice stall in the market. This pic is not for the Guinness Book of Records but just to show that James and Sachin are not entirely on the same level so to speak! Haha!

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Sachin is a real delight and we have come to now him and his family quite well. Life can be very tough for people like Sachin but he’s never without his smile.

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Life in Goa is not all about eating and drinking and going to markets – sometimes there’s work to be done!

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Just down the road is a wonderful garden restaurant called ’’Shivers’. In the evening its an enchanting environment of lights, waterfalls and viol drapes amid green-lit palm trees and mown grass. We chose to eat their delicious and quite unique food there one evening accompanied by a live Blues singer.

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After the enjoyment of the previous few days Doug and Cris decided to enjoy themselves some more with a parasailing excursion. You can see by Doug’s face that he’s not looking forward to it!

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Shortly after take off there’s a quick few dunkings to be had before it’s ……..

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……. up, up and away!

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Next it was Cris’ turn. A quick hook up and then ………

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…… away he goes! Looking very much the ‘cool’ dude’!

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In our somewhat bizarre life there are occasionally even more bizarre things that can happen and one of those is meeting up with friends Brian and Mike. They only live a few miles along the coast from us in Sussex but, due to our (and their) numerous travels around the globe, the only place we seem to be able to meet up is Goa! This is the second year running that Panjim (and our favourite place “Down the Road”) has been our only chance, and place, to catch up with them. James,Cris, Doug, Brian and Mike having a drink before the pizza chef arrives at 3 o’ clock to cook for us.

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A day later and we are enjoying the evening at Ryan’s Shack with his weekly BBQ, bonfire and fireworks party.

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The next evening its back on the scooters again and a 40 minute trip up to Vagator and ‘Thallassa’, the Greek restaurant on top of the cliffs above the beach.

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There is no specific reason for this pic other than it’s a really good one of both Cris and James.

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This has been our third (and probably final visit) to this enchanting venue during our stay in Goa this time. A restaurant where you can wait up to 10 days for a table, it’s the perfect spot to watch the sun set over the Arabian Sea.

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The atmospheric conditions cause the sun to set above the actual horizon …..

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…… and, at the final moment before ‘sundown’, another great pic – this time of Cris and Doug.

Well, that’s almost one week’s worth of Cris’ stay – what happens next?

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Oh No! Not Another Island Trip!

February 6th arrived (the date for the Indian elections) and, at last, after 4 weeks of the Code of Conduct Goa could get back to what it does best which is giving it’s tourists a good time. During the Code of Conduct no music could be played after 10:20, no alcohol sold after 10:30 and bars had to close by 10:45. Additionally, the 3 days prior to election day there was a total ban on the sale of alcohol! However, there’s always a way around these things though – just ask for a pot of tea (wink, wink). It’s made things even more difficult for the tourist trade in an already difficult season.

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Talking of Goa giving it’s tourists a good time, this is our friend Ranju who is a waiter in Xavier’s Shack in Baga (further up the beach). On election day he was given some time off and he came to see us. As he had his work uniform on we let him borrow some clothes to make him look more like a tourist (!) and we waited on him for a change.

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Sadly, the time came for our friends John and Louise to return home. We’d planned to go with them on an overnight trip to see elephants but James got a stomach bug and couldn’t leave the toilet (!) so John and Louise went on their own and had a wonderful time on their last two days. They’re safely back in the UK now but we had a thoroughly fantastic time with them. Thanks J and L!

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Two lovely people who John and Louise met on their elephant trip were Leon and Sarah who we met up with when they all came back. Leon and Sarah wanted to go on the infamous island trip (the relaxing day out as advertised!) and we didn’t need much persuading to join them.

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After seeing dolphins on the way we were soon at anchor off one of the islands and ready to take to the water. James is usually the first in but Leon beat him to this by executing an amazing dive. (well he would, wouldn’t he!)

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Sarah’s day was mostly taken up by being mobbed by all the Indian boys! And yes, they don’t bother with swimwear, they just keep their pants on!

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Despite Sarah hogging most of the limelight James was still occasionally required for a photo shoot!

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This is Ajeet, one of the boat crew, preparing the tuna for the BBQ ………

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……… and he’s also just wearing his underpants!

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We had a great time, as always. Apart from the four of us the rest of our boat was made up of Indian lads, all of whom shook our hand as they boarded at the start of the day. What wonderful manners (and teeth!).

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Sarah still being required for selfies on journey back ………

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…….. which was a bit rough to say the least and we got incredibly wet!

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Luckily the camera held up against the constant barrage of sea water! Here’s Ajeet, James and Sarah.

That must have been our fifth or sixth island trip (we’ve got one more to pack in while we’re here). It never fails to be a great event and it’s always the people that make it so.

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In the evening, after we’d rung everything out and showered, we met up with Sarah and Leon at Mikey’s Place. Here’s Doug with friend Bobby (who we rent our scooters from) with “Yen” trying to get in on the act.

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Here’s “Nuffy” and “Yen”, Mikey’s dogs. We’ve rather adopted them while we’ve been here (or maybe it’s the other way round). They always have a few biscuits from us and then see us home when we leave.

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We’ve also got to know Manju quite well. He’s a waiter at Mikey’s Place and he’s studying for his Masters in politics and sociology. He works at Mikey’s until 2 in the morning then gets up to catch the bus to college at 7 o’ clock. A great lad who doesn’t seem to need much sleep!

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He’s also a “charmer” – giving Sarah a red rose during the evening!

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Boat Trips and Sunsets

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We accompanied John and Louise on “the Island Trip” which we seem to have done oodles of times now, but it’s always a hoot.
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The sea was very calm on our journey out and we had the joy of seeing two pods of Dolphins with about twenty individuals in each pod. They ‘performed’ very well for us – coming close enough to our stationary boat that we could hear them breathing.
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Here we are (after off loading the food, cooking equipment and make-shift sun shades onto Monkey Beach ready for the BBQ) before heading off to another island for some swimming, snorkelling and fishing (nobody caught anything!)
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Just before we got to the island we had to do an emergency about turn and head to the rescue of another boat in distress. The engine had failed and they had been drifting aimlessly for days! (Not really, but we need to add a little bit to the drama!). Within a few minutes the crew had unbolted our spare outboard engine and here they are transferring it to the other boat.
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Drama over and we got to our island for the snorkelling and fishing and then returned back to Monkey Beach on Grand Island for some lunch. The Indian people always know how to enjoy themselves and it seemed we hooked up with just about everyone for a laugh and a joke at lunch time. Raju, in the stars and stripes, was the really naughty one!
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We were mobbed in the water by even more boisterous young lads. Once they know we’re English they go hysterical – but great fun!
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And then it was all aboard for the return journey. The advertisement for this event describes it as “relaxing”. Well,” chaos verging on the manic” is much more of an accurate description! Great fun of course but this is the chaos on just two of the dozen boats trying to get passengers and equipment aboard. With unlimited beer, rum, whiskey (oh, and soft drinks in there somewhere), good food and plenty of crazy people its always a day to remember.
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On a more relaxing note, we went up to ‘Thalassa’, the Greek restaurant at Vagator, on our scooters. The restaurant is high up on the cliffs overlooking the beach and famous for it’s view of the stunning Indian sunsets. We’ve been once before and enjoyed it so much that we thought Louise and John would enjoy it as well.
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The camera doesn’t seem to like sunsets and people at the same time so this a bit dark.
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The sunset though, on most evenings, is a joy to watch.
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We had to use the flash to capture John and Louise with some degree of definition and the sun can just been seen as a small dot in the distance (which it wasn’t in reality)
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Of course, we have to get in on the act again!
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The haze on the horizon meant the sun set well above the sea but the performance wasn’t over as, after a few minutes, the sky started to turn crimson.
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Our food was terrific but Doug decided to try the patience of the staff by ordering some sort of flambe pudding. Our table was right at the front and was taking the full force of the sea breeze. By the time the staff got it lit the pud was doing the breast stroke in it’s own sea of brandy!
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Not to be outdone, the moon soon followed the sun and provided us with it’s own special performance …….
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……. and after the moon came the lights down on the beach and on the hillside.
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It was a  really enchanting spot and from the time we arrived until we left there was something beautiful to see.