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Goan...you know


you want to… Melissa Shales shares a sensational Indian experience.


Y


ou’re riding pillion on a ‘pilot’ — that’s a motorcycle taxi to you


and me — along a dusty road. To one side of you are skinny black-bristled pigs roaming beneath banana trees in forest clearings by faded blue houses with tin roofs. To the other side, between the trunks of coconut palms, are fl ashing glimpses of a sparkling blue Indian Ocean. The ladies will probably be wearing a tie-died sarong by now and their hair may well have been braided. This is Goa. Conquered by the Portuguese in


1510, Goa has been a tiny Catholic enclave on the coast of India for 500 years and has become a very mellow holiday experience in that time. In the 1960s it was famed as the end of the fabled Hippy Trail, a reputation it’s been trying hard to live down but has never quite shaken off . Go to Anjuna Beach and you are still likely to fi nd the odd ageing hippy and lots of colourful memorabilia at the Wednesday fl ea market selling the dream. Even the most active of visitors have embraced something of the laid-back hippy lifestyle by the end of their stay in Goa. There are superb beaches much of


the way along the 74 miles length of Goa’s coast, each having a diff erent character. There are party beaches such as Anjuna and Cavelossim; those that are ideal for a chill out and popular with tourists and locals throughout the day and night such as Aguada, Calangute and Benaulim; and framed by the lush verdant nature of this coastline there is Varca beach. For a pure beach holiday with good watersports facilities —


Winter GETAWAYS


Indian costume jewellery


which can be just as much fun as a spectator sport from the comfort of a sun lounger — the best sand is to be found in the far south, around Colva. If you want to go off exploring and


immerse yourself in the rich Indian culture, you need to head for the Goan capital, Panaji, in the centre of the state. From here, it is easy to get to the grandiose Catholic churches of Old Goa, the spice farms at Ponda, and take a gentle and meandering river trip inland or do a forest trek to the spectacular Dudhsagar waterfalls. At the end of the day, you can


look forward to a sumptuous spicy feast. While Goan food frequently includes fish, rice and coconut, this is also the place that invented the vindaloo! And if that wasn’t enough, they also created another monstrously dangerous local speciality — feni — hangover- inducing distilled palm ‘wine’. Goa is truly a holiday experience to be savoured by all the senses.


Silves Castle


History, heights


and sights From mountain highs to the beautiful beaches below, Sarah Lee fi nds there is more to the Algarve than golf.


P


ortugal’s Algarve may be renowned for golf and beautiful stretches of


beach but with the steamy summer giving way to the cooler winter days it’s an opportunity to head inland and discover the region’s traditions, delicious cuisine and history against a backdrop of bright blue skies. Among the most exciting fi nds on


St Catherine’s Chapel, Old Goa


Praía Dona Ana, on the Algarve


the Algarve are the historic towns of Silves and Lagos. Silves is the former capital of the Algarve and dates back to the days of the Moors, who invaded the region around 713AD. Moorish architectural features such as domed roofs, archways and Hands of Fatima door knockers dominate the town. Silves Castle, dating from the 8th century, is a fortress of burnt red sandstone and, just a few hundred


www.rci.com HOLIDAY 17


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