Hello readers! Its time for some rains to pour and why not, we need an escape from this scorching heat! A travellers’ journey never stops, though seasons keep changing!
The last 2 editions of Travel PitStops series featured hilly destinations (domestic) as they were ideal for travel in summer months.
This edition onwards we switch on to beautiful rainy months ahead. India has a great monsoon and rainy season. 70% of our people are directly/indirectly employed with the agricultural sector for their livelihood. God bless them with abundant rains!
So lets explore the changing colours of leaves from golden to fresh new green and feel that smell of mitti (soil) right through the air by visiting some amazing places.
So keep your windcheaters, umbrellas and crocs handy to travel along rainy paths.
If you ask anybody in India who has never travelled a km outside their city, where does he want to go?
The ecstatic reply will always be “Goa”!
Yah, this destination is such talked about, the energy, vibe and aura of this place is so inviting.
Your visit this month will be greeted with monsoon showers, marking a low tourist season. On the flip side, you can make a budget trip as everything gets cheaper in the slack period, so you can explore more.
Goa was a Portuguese colony until 1961, post which it was taken over by the Indian Army by running Operation Vijay. The state of Goa came into existence in 1987, until which it was a Union Territory.
7 rivers bathe the state, flourishing it with absolute greenery and dense mangroves, providing a biological ecosystem for thriving flora and fauna.
The coastal area is dotted with numerous shacks, giving a pleasant setup to unwind and relax amidst the cool sea-breeze. Hiring a vehicle is the best way to move around locally in Goa.
(In Pic Above: Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church, Panjim)
How to Travel?
Located in Vasco da Gama, Goa International Airport is the only serving airport of Goa with connections to major cities and metros. Almost all Indian domestic airlines and few international airlines fly in here.
The state is well-connected with rail routes penetrating smaller towns. Vasco da gama is the terminus for trains coming from south whilst for others the terminus is at Margao.
It is always advisable to pre-book to protect fares (in case of flights) and make advance reservations in trains.
What to do & visit?
Endless spots to visit. It not only offers pristine beaches, you will come across artistically built cathedrals, forts, dense greenery for eco-lovers, Portuguese-styled mansions and a lot more. Read ahead for a refined list of places to visit.
Panjim, Margao, Vasco da gama, Mapusa and Ponda are the main cities of Goa.
Goa is as simple as black and white. You can visit historically old constructions of old Goa on one side and glitzy-disco spots, beach-side restaurants and lively shacks on the other. It purely depends on the travellers taste.
Churches – Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church, Basilica of Bom Jesus, St. Francis of Assisi, Our Lady of the Rosary Church
Forts – Chapora Fort (‘Dil Chahta Hai’ movie scene was shot here), Fort Aguada, The ruins of the Fortress of Colvale, Corjuem Fort, Cabo de Rama, Fort Gasper Dias
Beaches – Miramar Beach, Calangute Beach (most famous, at the same time crowded), Baga Beach, Anjuna Beach, Ozran Beach, Vagator Beach, Chapora Beach, Morjim Beach, Ashwem Beach, Mandrem Beach
Special Mention: Party Hard @ Tito’s, LPK (Love, Passion, Karma), SinQ Nightclub, Club Cabana
Tip: Boozing in Goa is much cheaper than other places. So eat->drink->party->drink (don’t forget to sleep to party next day). Goan’s have a local popular liquor ‘Feni’, can give it a try!
Food: Goan Fish Curry, Khatkhate (vegetable stew), Bebinca (Sweet Dish), Ros Omlette
Clothing: Pull out all your flashy party wears from your wardrobe! It’s a partying-people’s paradise. Tourists prefer to keep it loose due to humid conditions. Make sure to have cotton apparels more as they dry quickly. Suggested to keep rainy-wear handy, prop it up with smart umbrellas and waterproof footwear.
Temperatures: Range from 20oC to 30oC, quite humid, keep yourself hydrated at all times
Fact: Goa is the smallest Indian state with an area of 3,702 square kms!
Also Read: What exactly is Rishikesh?
Did you love Portuguese Architecture in Goa?
It’s time to visit the architect’s dome then!
Ranked 3rd most peaceful country (after Iceland and New Zealand) in 2017, visiting this destination is a no-brainer.
Portugal, a south-west European nation bordering Spain, is the 18th largest nation in the zone. Rich in heritage, culture and architecture, this marvellous destination attracts tourists from around the globe.
One of the top 20 countries to be visited globally, Portugal greets 13 million inbound tourists annually. Lisbon or Lisboa is the capital city of Portugal.
The archipelago (group of islands) of Madeira and Azores complete Portugal. The highest peak Mount Pico, an ancient volcano is situated in the Pico Island in Azores.
June 10 is observed as the ‘Portugal Day’ on the death of their national literary icon Luis de Camoes in 1580, who is regarded as their language’s greatest poet.
(In Pic Above: The Torre de Belem in Lisbon on a dreamy sunset!)
How to Travel?
Portugal’s major cities are Lisbon, Porto, Faro, Amadora, Braga and Setubal. From here, one can connect to all other towns via rail / bus. Scores of International Airlines fly to Portugal’s 3 International airports of Lisbon, Porto and Faro.
Iberia, TAP Air Portugal, SATA are few of the many domestic airlines flying here.
Borderless travel across Schengen countries makes any European trail a delight. Portugal is part of the Schengen Pact thus allowing seamless travel in Euro zone. Though the archipelago of Azores & Madeira are part of Portugal, they still are not part of the pact, but follow Schengen Visa Code.
The major seaports are Lisbon, Aveiro, Faro, Setubal and Leixoes.
CP (Comboios de Portugal) is the major rail services provider in here. The different types of train are Intercidades (Intercity), Alfa Pendular (High Speed), Urbanos and Regional & Inter-regional. Check railway connections in Portugal and make your bookings.
Travellers who are from Europe but outside Portugal can buy One Country Portugal Pass from Interrail, giving unlimited travel for the number of days you select with partner rail providers. Remember, for travellers outside Europe, you can only buy Eurail Pass.
These passes also come with additional benefits of discounts on tour buses.
Additionally, stations have bike (aka bicycles) parks where you can park them while coming to and leaving stations.
What to do & visit?
Portugal has some scenic beach fronts, 850 kms of long coastline, medieval castles, dense forests. Porto Santo in Madeira Islands is one such quaint destination.
Lisbon in central Portugal is rich in history, Faro in South Portugal has pristine beaches while Braga in North Portugal has an eminent presence of Roman architecture.
Visit in Lisbon: Mosteiro dos Jeronimos (Monastery), Castelo de Sao Jorge (Castle), Torre de Belem (Tower), Palacio dos Marqueses de Fronteira (Palace)
Visit in Porto / Oporto: Igreja de Sao Francisco (Church), Palacio da Bolsa (Palace), Casa da Musica (Concert Hall), Museu da Misericórdia do Porto (Museum). The term Port Wine is derived from the name of this city.
Visit in Sintra: Palacio Nacional de Sintra (Palace), Quinta da Regaleira (Estate, a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Palacio Nacional de Pena (Castle cum Palace), Castolo dos Mouros (Castle)
The city cards offered by Porto & Lisbon are very economical and effective way of seeing these city for less.
The Lisbon City Card also offers free Metro, Bus, Trams, Lift (Elevators, Ropeways) services.
The Porto City Card (can buy in app or Porto Tourism Offices) bundles free entrance to museums, discounted dining, free use of public transportation and many other features.
Marinha Beach in Lagoa is one of the topmost beaches in Europe and among 100 most beautiful beaches in the world!
The 17 kms long Vasco da gama bridge on River Tagus in Lisbon is Europe’s largest.
Tip: If using a metro in Lisbon or Porto, buy a day pass, which proves to be cheaper and economical.
Clothing: As the temperatures remain moderately pleasant, light summer casuals works well. Do not forget to carry a sunscreen and a sunglass while venturing into beach areas.
Basic Communication Snippets:
Ola – Hello | Bom dia – Good Morning | Boa tarde – Good Afternoon
Boa noite – Good Evening / Good Night | Obrigado – Thank You
Por favor – Please | Bem-vindo – Welcome | Adeus – Good Bye |
Ate logo – See you soon
Temperatures: Range from 20oC to 30oC (Pleasant)
Food: Bacalhau (National Dish, Salted and dried cod), Cozido ( Mix of Meat, Vegetables and Sausages), Pastel de nata (Custard tart)
Currency: 1 Euro = INR 78.63 approx. at the time of writing
Driving: Right side of the road, Left hand drive
Transport: Metro (Lisbon & Porto), Tram (Lisbon & Porto), Public Bus, Taxi / Cab, Uber (Lisbon & Porto), Rail
Visa: Check visa rules & fee for your country here! It may vary depending on the type of passport you hold.
Fact: Portuguese is the 6th largest spoken language globally. 9 more nations use it as their official language.
Guys, this is all about this month’s Travel PitStops Series. I have added Food and Basic Communication Snippets to better understand the place you are visiting.
Let me know your thoughts about the blog. If you want me to add any other details going forward in this series, just comment below & don’t forget to subscribe! Kindly share with people who are intending to travel to these destinations.
If you are travelling to any of these destinations, i would love to hear your experience and story.