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India-Goa - 2008


We flew Monarch Premium to Goa, via Manchester - an interesting route! That said, the flights were very good, the service, food and seating (2nd row window) perfectly adequate (yes this was Monarch).

We landed at Dabolim about 20 minutes early but were made to wait for an hour on taxiway, before pulling up close to the terminal. Untypically simple and smooth immigration and customs and no hassle from porters - was this really Goa? We found our taxi, which we had booked from UK, and were off to the Holiday Inn, stopping at an ATM to get some Rupees. We then waited for over 4 hours to get a room - they seemed to be allocated on a "last in gets first room" basis.

What a set of clowns! We were unimpressed to say the least when we finally got to our room - it was downstairs, not upstairs as requested, with a dirty bathroom, filthy floor. We cleaned the bathroom as we didn't want any hassle (had enough of that on our last trip in to Bangkok in the Shangri-La) and just got on with the holiday.

Mobor Beach, Goa
Fishing, River Sal Goa

Mobor Beach, Goa

Fishing, River Sal Goa

Mobor beach was great - there were 5 shacks, not including the hotel's own; Sam's (our favourite), Pearl's (near the Leela), Mike's, Betty's and Titanic (in order of preference). There were also a few good restaurants locally; Fisherman's Wharf; Bettys Place and Hill's Den (again in order of preference) and then many more in Cavelossim, a short taxi trip away.

We absolutely loved this end of Mobor beach and just strolling along the beach, either to the Sal Estuary or to Cavelossim. There was no real hassle with beach sellers (only one who eventually gave up, saying he much preferred Russians to the English - I must have made the right impact there)! The shacks held regular beach parties - all similar with music, dancing, entertainment, fireworks, etc., but good fun nevertheless.

Taxis were much higher priced this year and demanded commission from every shop that you visited, causing much ill feeling with the genuine traders. We had dinner one evening in the Leela Palace and managed to blow 9,000 Rps. (Yes I know, but it was fun), but we could eat very well in restaurants for about 1,000 to 2,000 Rps., or in shacks for about 500 Rps. for two!

There was surprisingly good food in the Indian restaurant in the Holiday Inn, at a reasonable price. They also had an absolutely magnificent Thai oil massage in their spa (from two Thai girls). Beware though, they do not supply spa underwear. We agreed that their massage was one of the best we had experienced, so we returned a few times despite the expense!

We visited several other hotels, as SWMBO was looking for 40 to 50 rooms for November. The Leela looked good, but expensive and rather lacking in atmosphere. The Hyatt and the Radisson White Sands were both excellent; the Taj Exotica also looked very good, if a little tired, and the Ramada also seemed good, but slightly below the others in quality. The food at the Ramada was excellent and reasonably priced for hotel food. All seemed to have great beach locations, but The Hyatt became the first choice.

Dinner for 2 - Holiday Inn, Goa
Jazz Before Dinner - Mobor Beach, Goa

Dinner for 2 - Holiday Inn, Goa

Jazz Before Dinner - Mobor Beach, Goa

We had previously taken most available trips, including Betty's Boat on the Sal and Dolphin spotting, so we contented ourselves with the pool, the beach, the shacks and local restaurants, although we did visit Margao and the markets. This took 50 minutes, outbound, by bus at 10Rps each and returning by tuk tuk for 200 Rps. Whilst the markets and the shops were interesting, as a working town we prefer Vasco - the sights, sounds and smells are much better.

We had intended to go to back to Bogmalo, but never made it. Cavelossim town held little interest for us and we only went in three of four times. We ate in the Goan Village and Get Down, but found the food was pretty average and nondescript.

All too soon, it was time to return to UK. We had painless trip to airport by taxi and, surprisingly, very, very smooth check-in, security and departure procedures (is it my imagination or have they expanded the departure area at Dabolim, after security). We had a great flight back, front row, window seats, with good food and good service (it was a shame about the stop at MAN on the return flight).

We arrived at Gatwick on Good Friday, only 12 minutes late, and then it happened!
No suitcases! We reported to the baggage handling agents, wrote out the appropriate forms and were assured that we would get a call, regarding the cases, on Saturday.

We checked on their website Friday night and, whoopee, our cases were located (in Manchester). We waited in on Saturday, needing to do some urgent food shopping, but no call. We phoned the baggage people and were told to expect a call and the bags on Sunday. Once again, we waited in on Easter Sunday but it was a repeat of Saturday, called again and were told to expect a call and bags on Monday. Monday came and (you've already guessed it) no bags. They finally were delivered, after having to divert them to Janet's workplace on Tuesday.

In Summary:
A great, relaxing holiday, good hotel and staff (despite the early problems with cleanliness) good flights, but we were, indeed, "
Monarched" in the end!

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