Palolem Paradise

We depart to Palolem in the south, the Spaniards are with us but the French have to return home, sadly. We get there by public buses, connecting in Panjim and Margao. The ride is long and packed but we get there in the end with no issues.

On arrival we walk from the bus stand to the beach front and decide the best way forward is for Eduardo and I to settle in for a drink at the first beach-front restaurant while the ladies walk off the area in search for accommodation. They return about an hour later and we follow them to Hilias Retreat, a nice clean guest house on the far south end of the beach, somewhere in the palm forest, for 400INR the night. We even have rooms with balconies adjacent to each other.

The beach here is beautiful, definitely the best we have seen in India so far. It is about a kilometre stretch of fine sand backed by a forest of palm trees between which there are several dwellings of varynig stability. It’s not crowded (it is out of season), there isn’t much litter around and the local beach vendors aren’t too agressive either. However their repetitive mantra does start to grate after while: “Hello; how are you? What’s your name? Want come have a look at some jewellery [..] in my shop? Just look not buy, looking is free. No? Later/Tomorrow then? Promise?” There are also people selling cattle rides up along the river into the hills and trips by boat to the monkey island at the north side of the beach, which is barely detached from the mainland.

Palolem has (at least during this time of year) that nice small village atmosphere which is so rewarding to find in India, especially after you have had to struggle your way through the more built-up areas where you don’t seem to be able to find any respite from wheelers, dealers, beggars, pollution and chaos.

The only down side is that the monsoon has hit a bit harder than usual and most of the days we spend here are rainy. Actually there is another down-side: I have caught a pretty bad cough from excessive fanning in the Indian restaurants and bars and Eduardo has a pretty serious bout of diarrhoea so he’s not quite himself.

During our stay we eat some very good fresh fish at the first beach front restaurant. Also every morning we have a fantastic breakfast at the Cafe Inn, who also make brilliant coffees (Black Gold). On the third day Ebru and I spend an entire day preparing and uploading content to our web site and in the evening, meet Edu and Isa for a meal at the 24-hour beach-front bar/restaurant “Cocktails & Dreams”, which unfortunately gives me a slightly upset stomach and does nothing for Edu’s diarrhoea.

All of the places, except the first one and the Cocktails & Dreams have the most welcoming staff, making the stay there feel like home away from home.

With Eduardo and Isabel keen to move on southward to Gokarna, we have to make a decision whether to remain chilling in Palolem or to explore onward with our friends. The Rough Guide mentions much historic and religious significance and some beautiful beaches, so we decide that this combined with the good company of our friends will be the best way forward. We leave for Gokarna by train tomorrow afternoon.


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