We hang about in Goa for our remaining time in India sampling foods from home and join the large expat community and retired folk enjoying what is on offer.
We had decided in Udaipur that it was time to invest some time doing some work on the blog. Our traffic has been growing steadily over the last year, but since we added the last few destinations to our posts we had seen a significant increase in daily visitors and we were outgrowing both our design and our web hosting package.
We decided that a new look was in order and that we needed to invest some time in sorting out our existing posts and planning how we develop it over the next year as we continue on our around the world trip. You will be pleased to know that we are not going to bore you with the minute details of that process. Instead we will tell you of our two week experience of Goa, the place we chose as our office, while did this work.
Returning to Goa
We have visited Goa a couple of times before so we ended up back in a familiar place, Candolim. We had stayed on our previous two occasions in Calangute, but wanted something a bit quieter in which to to work, with good wifi and yet close enough to the main areas to indulge in a bit of the tastes of home and of course a cheap beer or two. We decided we wanted a little taste of home, in an effort to stop the homesickness we’d experienced in Udaipur, on our second consecutive Christmas away from home.
We chose the Veronica Guest House which is situated close to the beach at Tivai Vaddo in between Calangute and Candolim. This family run place was affordable (we were still at the back end of the peak New Year period) and had a good clean room with hot water, TV and the main draw – fast free internet to allow us to work.
It was interesting for us to return here, this is the place that first planted the seed in our head that we wanted to explore more of India. Yet when we returned it felt very little like the experiences we had just enjoyed over the preceding two months as we travelled through Kerala, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
We had gotten used to good Indian food over the past two months, yet here in Goa it is very difficult to find good authentic dishes that have not been watered down or re-spiced for the western palate. We gave up looking.
Instead we decided we would seek out our favourite home cooked meals here in Goa.
In Search of Home Cooking
We knew many of the hotels and restaurants here produce ‘Continental’ or ‘International’ dishes as they describe them on the menu, so we set off in search of what we could find. Here is the best and the worst
Steak and Kidney Pie – After Dark Restaurant – delicious pastry was perfect the meat succulent and just enough steak to kidney ratio, it was also served with sautéed vegetables which included a solitary Brussel sprout hidden under my carrots which nearly sent me into a frenzy. I unlike over half the UK population happen to love sprouts. Score – 9/10
Fish Chips and Mushy Peas – Why Not Restaurant – This has to be one of my favourite home dishes and one I probably miss most. There is nothing better than a perfectly, lightly battered piece of fresh fish served with chips smothered in salt and malt vinegar. Here the fish was not that fresh (not white enough), the batter was crispy but the chips slightly undercooked and the mushy peas perfect. They even had vinegar available which while was not Sarsons finest – it was an acceptable facsimile. 6/10 – if the chips would have had another few minutes in the oil and fresher fish this could easily have tipped a 9.
Chicken and Mushroom Pie with Mashed Potato – Why Not – Sadly this is the dish that made us abandon this place it was microwaved until it flattened to a saucer shape on the plate, but the accompanying mash was creamy and the veg al dente – 3/10
Prawn Cocktail - Spice Rack – this dish was attempted twice by John, (its one of his favourites) once on the beach (day glow orange sauce but with big prawns and lots of salad) and once at what became our favourite home cooking restaurant , the spice rack.
Steak – Spice Rack – This was our first trip here as every Wednesday they have a Steak night where for 999 rupees you got two steak dinners and bottle of the local white wine. For this price we really count refuse. We had low expectations of both the wine and steak but both excelled. The wine was perfectly drinkable and the steak ordered medium care came perfectly cooked, was succulent, and accompanied by a fried mushroom and onion side and vegetables. 9/10 We ended up going back here a few times not just for steaks but other European dishes and the fish florentine was superb, I tried some Indian dishes which were OK but not a patch on what we had experienced elsewhere.
Full English Breakfast– After Dark – ok but the smoked bacon was tasty but must have come pygmy pig it was so small as were the sausage that were chipolata size and made of chicken. They did appear to have Heinz beans through so all was not lost, sadly no black pudding - 5/10, they got an extra point for serving the toast in an old fashioned toast rack, lovely.
Goa Retirement – Stretching your pension
One thing that has become apparent on trip here is that the Russians have steadily increased their influence around the main towns of Goa, menus pop up in Russian all over the place and the ratio of brief swimming trunks on the beach is on the rise. On our previous trips, they had pretty much confined themselves to the northern beaches. So this is now becoming a very popular travel destination with those from Russia.
There is a large ‘retiree-pat’ community in Goa, just after the New year when all the workers have returned to their desks and the snow back home, they arrive and take up long term residence in the hotels and apartments around the beaches. They live a nice life eating out in restaurants in the evening as couples and groups for the price you would pay for a McDonalds back home. Its a great way to spend your pension, food for thought.
Retirement Cost of Living in Goa
During the winter months in the UK or Europe, you could rent an apartment in Goa, with everything you need, Satellite TV with sport and movies, AC a pool in the complex, beach on your doorstep and restaurants where you can have a meal out, very cheaply making your pension stretch further.
There is a nice Goa retirement community here and they mingle and entertain themselves for months while they let the snow melt, the winds die down and wait for the Spring/Summer to emerge back home before venturing back. My only wonder is why more don’t do it? It has to be cheaper than living those months with high heating bills and our UK cost of living, I guess its the draw of family commitments.
At our hotel we had the good fortune of meeting a couple of retired UK gents who have spent the last few years mostly travelling around the world spending their children’s inheritance, they inspired us to keep doing what we are doing and also gave us an idea for something that we may work on at a future date so thanks John and Eddie for making our work fortnight more pleasurable.
So there we are, a few observations from while we were here. We managed a few beach days and ate and drank well. Hopefully you have been enjoying the fruits of our labours with the new blog design and faster response of the website. If this is your first time here, there are plenty of other blog posts to read and hopefully you can access them much easier now, enjoy our journey with us. Whether you are Old or young.