It was an early rise heading to Mumbai airport to catch the venga bus, sorry flight to Goa to celebrate John’s 30th birthday. In our sleepy state we were failing to navigate the busy queues, ended up in the wrong airline queue and persuaded to join a quick queue (soon we realised this was a scam for 400 rupees) back to the end of the original queue…eventually we checked in. That was tough work. It felt like a real life game of Snakes and Ladders.
Just before take off John had a subway sandwich. This was to prove deadly later on.
Goa became part of India in the 1960s – Indian Independence in 1947 was only from the British Empire. During the Age of Discovery – Portugal had managed to secure a number of enclaves on the sub-continent – including Goa.
We were heading there for its white sandy beaches, nightlife and party atmosphere. The perfect way to unwind after a multi-day wedding.
We landed in Vasco De Gama airport to a circus of Taxi Drivers and luggage trolleys. And it must have been a circus as the taxi driver expected 7 of us (plus luggage) to pile into this small car like a bunch of clowns. We had to split the band!
An hour and a bit later we rocked up to the Citrus Goa Hotel on Baga Beach in North Goa. What greeted us was a reception covered in Christmas cartoons!
After dumping the bags we struck out to see what all the fuss was about. Baga Beach / Calungate was, as we were to find out 80% Russian populated. Every restaurant had Russian menus, every bar had Russian patrons, every other motorcycle was being driven by Russian commuters. The reason for this is the harsh Slavic winters combined with a flurry of cheap flight tours from Russia to Goa.
We had some pre -inner birthday drinks back at the Citrus Goa- several bottles of champagne and cake were consumed. This led to the game of jumping thru the towel swans which decorated the bed. John enjoyed reading his birthday book – full of old photos, stories and birthday messages from friends and family.
The birthday dinner was good but the poor waiting staff were struggling to cope with 18 of us at once. They were great sports providing staples for John’s birthday sash and banners. They even treated John to a free birthday cake and played happy birthday as it was such a big bill for them. Check out the spelling on that cake!
The end of the night was spent nursing some beers on Baga beach before taxiing it back to the hotel.
Oh do you remember that Subway from earlier? Well it came back with a vengeance to give John food poisoning and wiped him out the whole next 2 days.
With John out of action, Karen took things easy by the pool the next day and even managed to get a spin on the back of Willy Macs moped.
The final morning on Baga Beach was spent saying goodbye to Eric and Shirley as they were headed onwards to Hong Kong, and Ivan and Asha who were bound for a coffee plantation outside Bangalore.
Then followed lunch before the remaining group of us took the circus on the road south to Palolem Beach.
Now there were 5.