After a wonderful stay in Munnar, we decided to accept our friend’s invite and moved to Thrissur, where Anita, her daughter and her in-laws were waiting for us. Anita is from Hungary and she and her husband Dileep are part of our circle of friends in Dublin. Unfortunately we weren’t able to meet Dileep as he was going to arrive from Dublin only a few days before our flight to Singapore, and we still had to go through Goa and finally head to Mumbai. Nonetheless meeting up with Anita and meeting Dileep’s family was great. After few weeks on the road it felt good to be in a family environment, to be fed and spoiled and taken care of 🙂
We also got a chance to see Kerala ‘from the inside’, had interesting night-time conversations with Anita about life and Indian culture, played with Isabel (Anita’s daughter, who got along very well with us), and explored a few places around Thrissur, including the elephant sanctuary in Guruvayur.
On the 6th of December we said goodbye to Anita and the rest of the family and got an overnight train to Goa. As the 7th was Emanuele’s birthday we had a wish: spend two or three days on the beach in total relax, and enjoy some tropical sun.
We chose to go to a peaceful spot called Palolem, which is far away from the madness of Indian cities as well as from partying, drug-fuelled crowds which you’d come across in most Goan destinations.
Beach huts are the typical accommodation in Palolem. There are different standards, ranging from very basic and cheap huts to super-luxury. We chose one that suited our budget, more or less in the middle between the two extremes, and because we arrived very early in the morning we were able to secure a sea-facing hut, with a little porch on the front from which we could enjoy beautiful views, especially in the late afternoon, when the setting sun created an amazing blaze of orange, pink and red in the sky. At night the various cafes and restaurants expanded into the beach populating it with candle-lit tables, and by the time we went to sleep the only thing we could hear was the sound of the waves breaking against the sand. We couldn’t have chosen a better place for a birthday break!
Once our batteries were recharged we decided to move to Panjim, Goa’s capital. Being Portuguese I was very curious as to what type of Portuguese influence I would find there.
At first I was impressed with this city: not big and chaotic like many other states’ capitals, but small, warm and relaxed. As we walked into town we noticed that most street names were in Portuguese – we also found a neighbourhood with beautiful Portuguese houses. While there, one of the locals heard us speaking Portuguese and began to speak Portuguese to us. This guy told us that in that area there still are many Portuguese speakers, but it looks like less and less people among the younger generations are learning Portuguese, so the language will eventually disappear from Panjim.
Before leaving Goa, we visited Old Goa, which is now a Unesco World heritage site. Old Goa was a city built by the Portuguese and until 1843 was the state’s capital. Due to a plague that killed many people, that year the capital was moved to Panjim, where it remains until now – Old Goa is now only a tourist attraction with many beautiful churches to see. One of these (namely Sé Cathedral) is actually the biggest church in Asia.
We closed the chapter in Goa having lunch in a Portuguese restaurant, listening to fado and enjoying chourico assado.
After few weeks on the road and months away from “home” it felt great to have a small taste of Portugal.
In the late afternoon we took a bus to Mumbay, without knowing that we were about to embark into a troubled trip. Fortunately, nothing too serious happened and we made it to our destination without a scratch, but we can’t say the same about the bus which was seriously damaged. But this is a story for another post…