Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Goa, India

Thu Dec 17, 2009 11:09pm EST
 
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By Shilpa Jamkhandikar

PANAJI, India (Reuters Life!) - A small state on India's Western coast, Goa boasts of quaint Portuguese colonial charm, sun-kissed beaches and great seafood.

Goa is also favorite haunt for domestic and international travelers, and Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most out of a visit to this beach town.

FRIDAY

7 p.m. - Start off your holiday in Goa the way you are meant to -- sipping a beer or cocktail, and watching the sun go down at Baga beach, one of the many beaches that dot the coastline. If you are the more adventurous sort, indulge in some water sports or para-gliding, popular activities on this particular stretch.

9 p.m. - Dine at Britto's, one of the many shacks located right on Baga beach. Don't be fooled, however, by the modest surrounds: Britto's is not just a shack, it is more of a local institution. Try the pepper prawns and their trademark baked crabs and finish with their fabulous home-made desserts, especially bebinca, a traditional Goan sweet made of jaggery and coconut milk.

11 p.m. - Burn off those calories with a walk up to Tito's, one of Goa's most well-known -- and packed -- night clubs. Frequented by tourists and locals alike, the energy and buzz around this place more than make up for the claustrophobia you might experience amid the hordes that turn up every night. If you prefer something slightly more crowded, head over to the Butter Lounge, in nearby Candolim. It may not have as many people, but the music is equally good for dancing the night away.

SATURDAY

9 a.m. - The best, and cheapest, way to get around in Goa is to hire a motorbike. You can get them in most places, even in the smaller towns. Make sure you have a valid license, put on lots of sunscreen and head out toward Old Goa, or Goa Velha as it is locally known. Visit St Paul's Cathedral, and the Basilica of Bon Jesus on the other side of the road. The 16th century basilica, built by the Portuguese, who ruled Goa until as recently as 1961, houses the body of Goa's patron saint St Francis Xavier. The body has been preserved for more than four centuries and devotees from all over the world flock there to pay their respects. This is one of the best places to get a sense of the Portuguese influence that pervades most aspects of Goan life.   Continued...

 
<p>Water scooters are seen parked on Baga beach in the western Indian state of Goa March 16, 2008. REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe</p>