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India-Goa - 2007


We flew Monarch Premium to Bogmalo Beach Resort in Goa on a B&B basis. Our tickets had been issued with the incorrect baggage allowance, but this had been queried on receipt of these tickets and assurance gained that we were entitled to an extra 10kg each. Despite having a confirmation fax about the correct allowance, sure enough Monarch check-in wanted to charge us excess baggage at Gatwick.

We had to get the Monarch supervisor involved, to verify our correct allowance, after being accused of deliberately holding up check-in. An unnecessary and unpleasant start to the holiday that could have been avoided by re-issuing the correct tickets or Monarch check-in staff realising that premium passengers all receive 30Kg allowance - and not being so petty, pedantic and bloody-minded.

Our flight left about 1 hour late (not, I may add, due to our discussion at check in, but because of the usual Monarch operational issues). We requested a bottle of champagne, prior to our dinner. Unfortunately, this was offered to us about 8 hours into the flight just before breakfast (we declined). Seating was uncomfortable and service indifferent. We decided never to fly Monarch again - even with upgrade (seats and service well below the standard of many economy class scheduled services). Our Monarch flight back had little to recommend it - check in and security at Dabolim, for the return flight, was diabolical.

Bogmalo Beach
Sunset at Bogmalo

The beach at Bogmalo

Bogmalo Sunset

Our arrival in Goa was much smoother than had been anticipated. We arrived in Dabolim only about 40 minutes late and despite the bad stories about the airport, we had our luggage and had passed through immigration and were ready to transfer to the hotel approx. 20 minutes after landing. Took a taxi (120Rps) and was in the hotel less than 40 minutes after landing.

The Bogmalo Beach Hotel appeared clean and tidy and the staff helpful (despite arriving at 7:10 am they had a room ready for us in less than 30 minutes!). Our impression of the general cleanliness and staff helpfulness never changed! Our room was on the top floor, overlooking the sea and, whilst not the most luxurious of hotels we have stayed in, was perfectly acceptable - with the possible exception of a very hard bed. Breakfast was an OK meal but, in general, far better food can be obtained in the village.

We were very pleasantly surprised by the lack of hawkers on the beach and lack of hassle in the village. The beach was about 1 km long in a gentle crescent and we were never troubled by hawkers. In the village, whilst the shopkeepers would always try to persuade you into their stores, they were always friendly and polite - taking 'no' for an answer. Indeed, once we had been there a few days we were just exchanging greetings in the evening - all very friendly and polite.

There are several restaurants in Bogmalo (outside of the hotel). In the small 'square' next to the hotel itself are 3 or 4 restaurants immediately accessible, the most popular being the 'Full Moon', immediately adjacent to the hotel (The giant prawns and milk coffee took a lot of beating). Two restaurants worthy of note are Joet's (standard menu items - Indian, Chinese and some western??) where the food was always good and which offered good value, and Coconut Creek (behind Joet's) which offered Indian and a more international menu in extremely civilised surroundings at a remarkably modest price. Also worthy of note are Claudio's Corner (on the back road to Coconut Creek), John's Seagull (cheap food, good music) The Beach Club (tasty, extremely cheap lunch dishes) and Sea Cuisine - which many people liked, but which we found to be ordinary.

There is a yellow supermarket 'Sebliz' in the square which I cannot recommend. The first time we went in there we were served by a young girl and bought several things at a low price. We returned the following day to buy some shampoo and shower gel and were served by an older woman, who doubled the price of the goods (same stuff on offer just outside the hotel at 1/2 the price). Needless to say we didn't go back - and this was the only time that we felt that someone was taking us for fools!

Holi - taken from the safety of a bar
Joets - Bogmalo

Holi - keep clear

Joet's - Bogmalo Beach

Beyond the village of Bogmalo there are a multitude of places of interest. South Goa has mile upon mile of splendid beaches, far too numerous to mention. We did like the beach at Mobor and vowed to return.

On our second evening we decided to go to Delhi Durbar, in Panjim, for a meal. We had our first meeting with a taxi driver, Tanaji, who was helpful, friendly and reasonably priced. The whole evening was a success. A guided tour by the driver to Panjim and back (waiting time about 30Rps per hr) and the food most enjoyable. We used him, exclusively, throughout the holiday.

We decided to venture into Vasco de Gama the following day, as SWMBO wanted to buy some spectacles. We had a rough price from Optilabs, who had been recommended to us, but Goa Optics were about 1/3 the Optilabs price. SWMBO was highly delighted and bought 2 pairs!

Vasco we found to be fascinating. A working town and port, not particularly catering for foreign tourists, meant that the markets and shops were so much cheaper than in Panjim or at the resort. Additionally, the colours, sights and smells were an assault on the senses. A great few hours.

Using our taxi driver / guide we ventured out to Old Goa (disappointing), Ponda (a few interesting temples) and a Spice Farm (an interesting well-paced visit - recommended).

Fish for lunch
Fishing Boat on River Sal near Mobor Beach

Lunch (fortunately before cooking)

Fishing Boat on River Sal near Mobor Beach

We also went down to Mobor, to "Betty's Place"
, which, in addition to running a good restaurant, offer boat trips. We took a trip with them, out of the River Sal estuary dolphin spotting and then back, up the river, watching the various birds (Ospreys, Kingfishers etc.) and wildlife, fishing, shipbuilding etc. that was taking place on the river. We had lunch of garlic prawns, BBQ Kingfish and fruit and all drinks were provided. I don't remember the cost, but it was modest and I would thoroughly recommend the trip (about 5 1/2 hours).

A most enjoyable holiday.

In summary:

Bogmalo Beach Hotel - good value, good service - but avoid the food
Beach - beautiful crescent of sand, no trouble from hawkers
Village - laid back, quiet and friendly
Food (Out of hotel) - good, inexpensive, plenty of selection
Entertainment - almost non-existent.
Airline - lived up (or rather, down) to their reputation

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