Recently returned from 3 months in Candolim - bliss! We spent the first 3 weeks at the Xavier Beach Hotel located just off the main road on the beach side. This was a typical Goan-Portuguese style hotel run by Prem and Nutan Kohli. They and the staff were lovely and couldn't do enough for us. The kitchen was overseen by Nutan (who is British) and the food was not only very good it was very, very safe. My wife is OK but I have always returned to the UK after visiting Goa with stomach problems (the last time I caught Campylobachter - a notifiable disease!) but our stay there was just fine. They also have a young Alsation, called Rex, who is great fun and provided regular entertainment - especially when chasing the cat, Miaow-Miaow!
We moved out after the 3 weeks to get a bit of independence and found a flat in the centre of Candolim, behind the Alor Grande complex. This was owned by an English lady (who is lovely) and provided a great base. It was a good size - lounge, air conditioned bedroom, kitchenette, shower room, seperate toilet and 2 balconies - but a bit tired decor wise. Nonetheless we had a great 9 weeks there. If you need to know more, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Things we liked. Gatto Loco - a great restaurant serving principally european food to a very high standard. Floyds (but NOT Floyd's Hut), Cecilias, Casa Sea Shell, Infernos, Alexandras and Minerva all also stand out. Good coffee at the Gazebo, by Sol Areia Resort (ask for Lancaster who is an absolute mine of information), and Cinnebar by Akron Arcade. Mango Spice is great for people watching whilst downing a Kingfisher or three. This is also true of Cactus Shepherds Pie. The best beach shack by far is Tidal Wave: the food is not only excellent but also very safe. Armani is a very good tailor but not the cheapest in town - gets my vote nonetheless. Fern's, Casa Manik and Lewande are all very useful mini supermarkets. The veg market in Candolim is excellent and very cheap.
Things we didn't like. We were very disappointed not to see the departure of the River Princess, especially as it was supposed to go from mid-March. It just seems to be one problem after another. It all looks quite positive however.
We were extremely surprised at the lack of hassle now: you can walk past stalls without getting the traditional "you looka my shaap?". What is really irritating however is all the taxis that line the road, their driver's shouting "Taxi!" at you everytime they first see you. This is very wearing if you are walking any distance. Our recommendation is Rajesh and his brother, who are reliable and reasonably safe taxi drivers - 9822103366.
The traffic is now very heavy and driving standards are appalling. Walking alongside the road is extremely dangerous and you must face the traffic because it never does what you expect. As a pedestrian you are pretty low down the food chain. There is no doubt that this is losing Goa tourists: we spoke to any number of people who said they would not return because of the danger.
There is also an ever growing problem with waste. Litter is just left to pile up and it is quite common to see the boys from the beach shacks chucking the empty plastic water bottles (amongst other things) into the sea at the end of the day. The problem is recognised by the authorities but disorganisation continues to rule the day.
Nonetheless, Goa remains wonderful and, once you get away from the built-up areas, beautiful too. The traditional Goan charm and hospitality is still freely visible and such a change from the miserable faces found in the UK.
Will we be going again? Most definitely: there's nowhere like it!
- Also Known As:
- Xavier Beach Hotel Goa/Candolim
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