A Goa trip during Covid Pandemic sounds crazy eh? We have stayed at home all lockdown but now may be its time to fly around and holiday a bit right? So after a lot of thought, conversations and research I made it there for a good 11 days on my own. So long after Goa reopens, I did a suitcase travel and it was totally worth it.
Visit Goa because its not a off beat area, everyone seemed to be there, accessible by road in case of emergencies, just an hours flight from Mumbai, lots of local friends, super safe if done right and all that. Goa right now is better than a lot of places I guess as Goa relaxes travel guidelines.
Where to stay in Goa?
I chose my accommodation of private rooms in hostels with the hope of meeting new people and rules as on their website being followed. Unfortunately, this new normal has turned things around and now people are staying in hostel for months together. Groups were already formed and was a turn off mostly. This also meant mostly ‘noisy’ and ‘inconsiderate’ domestic tourists totally ruining an actual hostel vibe. I stayed at Woke Morjim, Woke Arpora and the White Balcao Fontainhas.
Woke Morjim was a double room, close to the beach but an average experience with noisy tourists. Woke Arpora had a beautiful single room in Portuguese style by pool and a hammock but flocked with inconsiderate tourists. I wouldn’t recommend it if you cherish a good night’s sleep. The White Balcao is bang in the middle of Fontainhas (rhyme it with spontaneous) and a fabulous place. The staff was great and the double room was an art space. I would totally recommend it.
How to get into and out of Goa?
I chose to fly into Goa and the reviews of Vistara airlines seemed to be the best. I picked the flexi fare so I had some room for changes just in case. I picked a flight on Sunday morning at 0630 to arrive there and left by a 1850 flight out on a Wednesday. The life at the airport is pretty much the same but I really recommend packing all your electronics in one big bag so there are lesser contact points during security check. Web check in was mandatory but I got by without a printout from home. The lounges are back in action, although protocols weren’t completely in place at Mumbai airport one.
As of December 2020, the rules and regulations to fly into Mumbai was showing up with a Corona virus Negative test as covid-19 cases are growing in Maharashtra. No questions were asking in Goa but after landing into Mumbai, we were segregated and made to do the RT PCR test for 1400INR. There were almost no queues and in my opinion it was very well organised. I did mine at some 2030 and the test results arrived by email at 1030 next morning.
How to travel around Goa?
First thing you land in Goa, download the app of Goa miles by Goa tourism. Its basically your Goan Uber/ Ola. The only problem is you may not always get a cab so make sure to start in advance and have a back up. Goa miles, was safe in terms of masks, there was a panic button on the app and super cheap. It was apt for Airport to Mandrem via Morjim, Arpora to Panaji, in and around Panaji and Panaji to Airport.
Otherwise, I recommend renting your scooter and shooting off into this open goodness. As of early December 2020, rates were 300-350 per day + fuel. Remember, filling gas at a station is way cheaper than the bottles on the street sides. Got mine in Arpora from Baba bikes ( +91 9822135811 )
What to do in Goa?
I visited Ashvem, Arjuna and Calangute early in the morning and Morjim in the day. They were all almost empty and absolutely stunning. I even had the chance to take my mask off and walk around when there was nobody.
The Fundação Oriente in Fontainhas is a lovely little art gallery where you must listen to the exhibit of sounds on the outside. The Houses of Goa is a must visit right at the beginning of your trip because then it really helps you understand traditional homes better. The modern art at at Museum of Goa was impressive and a must visit as well. It gave me a lot of insight on Goa in an artistic way. Did you know chillies first came into India from another country?
Read this1, this2, this3 and then you’re good to walk around the entire town on Panaji. Don’t just walk around in Fontainhas once, its not going to be enough even if it feels so. I almost walked 10 times through those lanes and in each time I learnt something new. Make sure to walk at different times so you can really soak in and experience the European bit.
I went to Fort Aguada at 0900 on a Sunday morning. There is a parking fee and the tickets to the fort have to be bought online. There’s not much to see there except some great ocean views. The crowd was surprisingly less on this Goa trip during Covid.
Shop for little Portuguese style goodies at Velha Goa Galleria and sweets at Confeitaria 31 Janeiro.
I put on 3 kilos in 11 days from eating everything I hadn’t in all these Covid-19 months. That is exactly why this deserves another section altogether.
Where to eat in Goa?
Breakfast has to be puri bun in Cafe Tato, Ross Omelette at Brittos and cake at Vivenda Kafe. Other meals can be stuffed crabs at Lazy Goose, Pork Gyros at Thalassa, Meat burger with bacon, mango and avacado at Burger Factory, Kerala style curry with Appams at Gunpowder, Crabs Xec Xec with Poee and Bebinca at Fat Fish, Crabs in Resheado masala at Crazy Crabs, Pork Xacuti and Caramel custard at Viva Panjim, Chicken Xacuti at Ritz classic, and everything from Pork ghee roast to peanut covered fish in orange to Mango dolly to Basque cheesecake at the Blackmarket. Smalls like Passion spritzer kinda drink with sorbet and red velvet cake at Cafe Bodega are a must.
Summing up Goa
Here’s my Goa list; crowd sourced and locally approved. Although make sure to check the notes for thoughts on where I have been on this Goa trip during covid. Travelling in this little state is not for the faint hearted and definitely not for someone who has been overworked, if you are doing your best to stay safe. I recommend, talking to everyone you can, reading all the blog and reviews, making sure you have the mental capacity to do this and only then taking this plunge. Also, avoid this touristy season eh?