Got up early, jumped on the local bus back down to The Leela Hotel Resort to kidnap Clare and expose her to the India that we’ve been used to over the past three months!!! Stood by the corner of hotel waiting for Clare to show up and chatted to the security guards who recognised us from last night – which made us feel a hundred times better than when we turned up yesterday – as least they didn’t stare at us like we were going to run inside and play havoc inside the grounds! When Clare arrived we jumped straight back on to the same bus and headed for Margao (the capital of South Goa), about 30 minutes away from her hotel. Once we arrived, we took her straight to a street food cart and fed her aloo dumplings, chilli samosas, fried chapatti and chai tea!
Fully stocked up on dirty street food, we jumped on another local bus to take the scenic tour to Old Goa. The bus journey itself was quite nice and Clare enjoyed going through the local towns. However, the journey itself was a bit TOO scenic and all three of us where definitely glad to be off the bus after an hour and a half! Old Goa was the formal capital of the Portuguese Indies and, between the 16th and 18th century, it was considered the ‘Rome of the East’. It’s reign was short but glorious – boasting a population that exceeded that of Lisbon or London but outbreaks of cholera and malaria forced the city to be abandoned in 1835, with the capital of Goa moving 10km down the road to Panaji less than 10 years later. We tried to start off at the Basilica of Bom Jesus but mass was being held so we crossed over the road and started with the largest church in Old Goa – the Sé de Santa Catarina. The largest church in Asia (at over 76m long and 55m wide), construction began in 1562 and the final finishing touches were added in 1652. The church itself was beautiful – with different alters dedicated to different saints and an exposed section of a crypt. We then wandered down the road to the Viceroy’s Arch where Clare and I spent time drooling over a Royal Enfield motor bike. We then went to the Church of St Cajetan, the Church of St Francis of Assisi, the Archaeological Museum, the Chapel of St Catherine, back to the Basilica of Bom Jesus, the Monastery of St Augustine before climbing up the hilltop to the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary to look at the view over the Mandovi River. All of the churches were beautiful in there own way and showed a very Portuguese building style with some Indian influences. Suitably shattered from walking around in the heat, we jumped back on the bus to Panaji and went to a restaurant to order Clare a paper masala Dosa, Puri and Uttapam – all food that we normally buy at street food vendors. Got the ‘express’ bus back to Margao and jumped straight back onto the local bus that would take us the rest of the way to our sections of South Goa. Reluctantly left Clare on the bus although she got back to The Leela before us since we have to walked 1.5km from the bus stop to our guesthouse! Jayne and I tried to watch some more of Harry Potter but we were both too tired and only managed another 30 minutes before falling asleep!
Saturday 2nd January 2016