Lin Urman, our resident Food and Lifestyle writer based in Tel Aviv, takes us to Goa where hippies frolic with fire and the only thing burning is that curry your waiter said wasn’t spicy. So, without further ado, without masks and secret wants, this is her trip diary from India’s famous beach bum hangout.
The food is for the body and the beach is for the soul.
Getting rid of old boyfriend and starting a new chapter.
So, I packed up the tasty comfortable life of Tel Aviv (or any city and it’s restaurants and the predictable men on the menu), the hectic work and constant running around, and went to India.
I am now in Goa on a beach called Arambol. There are plenty of beaches to choose from and if you don’t like one, well, the next is a walk away. Goa, the land of fashionable hippies, come every year to spend cold winter days on a friendly and sunny part of India. For me, those seasonable friends look, from first sight, like a tribe which embraces you all over again every time you come.
I chose to stay in Arambol – the finest hippie resort – because they have one of the best shows in India… a drumming circle where you can see unbelievably unrealistic physical movement and dancing with a backdrop of amazing sunsets. From the beginning it may seem like a close family meeting, but you soon will find out that it’s enough to know only one of them and you are on the highway to meeting all of them.
Arambol is a northeast beach of Goa and it’s very easy to find. Here, there is also everything your body and soul will need. To make your landing easier you can take a private taxi right from the entrance of Goa international airport. It should cost 1170 rupee ($26) and you’ll be on your first ride with Indian smells and sounds surrounding you. For the next hour and a half drive you will not see any traffic lights but you will pass a few unbelievably huge and impossibly complicated traffic roundabouts that you have never seen in your whole life.
The main road of Arambol beach, which sometimes is called “a market,” will take you directly to the beach, where the only choice you will have is to decide either to go left or right. All the possibilities of accommodation will be laid out in front of you.
I found a nice hut in a place called “Residencia” (perhaps left over from the Portuguese). It’s a nice basic bamboo house with no toilet or a shower, but with all day long WI FI on the porch, a taxi driver, laundry service, safe box, food and drinks nearby. There’s even a printing service and money exchange and they’ll do anything for you and your “dolachis”.
The sea view is more than compensation for not having your own toilet, and believe me, its better not to have one because very soon it becomes more a problem than a solution when it gets stuck and starts to stink in front of your pleasant bed. “Residencia” is well known as a place of return clients and seasoned travellers and is very easy to find, just take a right when you reach the beach and after 50 meters you will see a huge nice well kept garden and a clean sand trail.
A little trick: before checking in, take a quick look at the shoes in front of the doors so you can easily predict who your potential neighbors are: rich, slobs, techies or seasoned Indian shoe wearers.
The restaurants of Arambol have everything you could want: Russian, Israeli, Continental, Chinese, Japanese and even Tibetian cuisine, but I prefer a spicy vegetarian Indian food because the spiciness kills all the microbes before they start killing me.
The Italian restaurant “Fellini” (on the main road next to the beach) has the best pizza in Arambol and high quality live music almost every evening. At “Relax in” (right on the beach, but you won’t see anything like a restaurant, only chairs and tables), you will never be able to fined a free chair to seat after 7 pm, but if you do, you can enjoy real Italian food and very cheap fish dishes.
“Olive Garden” which is also located on the beach (on the left side), you can find very cheap, tasty Indian “paneer” dishes (cottage cheese in different sauces),but you’ll need interesting book or a very good company because the wait for food is excruciating – even by Indian standards.
“Laughing Buddha” has a nice Anglo Saxon atmosphere with music and buttoned up waiters (the owner is British). Although it was a little too English for me, the food was nice and pleasant, especially the “malai cofta” dumplings made from potato puree filled with vegetables and raisins in a thick nut sauce.
The main pick up/party/dance bar in Arambol is “Coco Loco” located on the beach and, from 22:00, it becomes very easy to find its location. You just need to hear the booms in the air. Gypsy party, R&B styled- Bob Marley tribal rave, house and even trance, every night new adventure.
The best place for the after party is a place called “Woodstock“. Hungry for music, musicians and their audience will go there after Coco Loco closes around 1:00 am. Woodstock is a guesthouse-open air sit-on-the-ground restaurant which is incredibly comfortable for spontaneous jam sessions because it’s located far from the beach with no neighbors around. An Israeli guy owns this place and will do everything is needed to keep policemen out of his place so you will have one more hour in the great company of musically developed people.
Enjoy the beautiful sunsets, go for a walk to the next beach with a lake on it, and a find a secret road to the jungle where you can meet a real Baba smoking on a magic tree. Dance, smile, eat well and swim every day in warm and nice water, but never ever try to figure out with an Indian waiter if the food that you ordered is a spicy, because there is not any chance he will tell you the truth.
If you’re smart, you’ll eat Indian. It takes awhile to adjust , but it’s tastier and reminds you less of home. The other people try to recreate home, but unfortunately that usually means that their food is not well made and causes what is well known as ‘the runs’…
So now is it clear why does everyone from around the world wants to come here to heal, experience, and feel a change?
Drummers, hippies, guitar players, music, people clapping, and dancing. As it gets darker, fire displays around people, trinkets spin, spheres, and little ribbons fall and flicker at the end of a chain.
By 20:30, I stop by the Tibetan stand and get a chocolate ball for 20 cents. Best dessert on this side of Asia. I head to my place, put some music on my laptop, light a candle so I won’t be cold, pop a beer, and very quickly make an acquaintance. My parting words: If you like the sound of the music from far away, walk towards it. It is probably some beach party, a circle of drummers or some house music. Up to you, you can always feed your brain and read your book.
But with Goa, there’s a lot more variety on the menu.