With Leave UR Mark’s internships taking up so much time and energy, several interns decided it was time to unwind a little and take a plane to spend the weekend in the small province of Goa, at India’s western coast. Originally a Portuguese settler area, Goa is now one of India’s most popular touristic destinations, with its long beaches, rich culture and famous party life. Staying on Baga beach, North of Goa’s capital Panaji, one realizes soon that even though it is the summer’s monsoon season, the daily downpour usually lasts no longer than fifteen minutes, and leaves the rest of the day pleasantly warm and even sunny: the perfect destination for a weekend off. Incidentally, one of the advantages of traveling in down season is also that there are relatively little tourists, making Goa’s hotels cheaper than usual.Especially the Ronil Beach Resort is a winner, with two pools, good service and clean, spacious rooms, while being only a short walk off Baga beach.
Despite the down season, there is a certain bustle of aliveness throughout the streets of Baga beach, and with the right group of people, it is easy to have a lot of fun. What some of the interns recommended especially, is to spend an evening at the karaoke bar at Britto’s restaurant, just up north on Baga beach. It’s a spacious, welcoming place to spend the evening cheering or laughing at the many people who try their luck at the vast repertoire of songs. “The karaoke bar really is quite amazing.” Abhisheik, an in intern from Dubai, agrees. “As for Goa itself, I really enjoy relaxing here, away from the hustle-bustle of the city.”
Still, despite being one of the best places to relax, there are many things to be done around the small province for the more adventurous travelers. Goa has a rich – Portuguese – history and there are some very interesting churches and museums to visit, such as the Bom Jesus Basilica, which is about an hour’s drive inlands, or the Goa state museum. There is also the option of taking an evening boat ride on one of the cruise ships, which perhaps isn’t quite as much fun as a club, but a great and enjoyable way of seeing how the Goans celebrate a night off.
A particularly nice experience is a trip to one of Goa’s spice plantations. Laurie, an intern from New York, took a group of Leave UR Mark interns there on a friend’s recommendation: “He didn’t say a single thing about it, but told me I simply had to go and find out about it myself. We smelled the spices, ate the food, and got to touch everything: it is a great way getting the real feel of India.” Isobell, an intern from the UK, agrees: “I loved it. It’s nice to get out of Bangalore after a while: at the plantation we were greeted with flower garlands and ginger tea, made of the spices they grow there. I loved the walks around the forest, even when the monsoon kicked in after a while.”
Goa also has some excellent cuisine, and the restaurants around Baga beach are in general very good. One that stands out for its amiable staff is the Limelight restaurant, which lies on the road from the Ronil hotel to the beach. The seafood there is very good, although for those who prefer some Western food, there is the Cape Town Café, just a little down the road, which also offers an interesting clubbing experience, with happy hour extending far into the night, and foreign DJ’s occasionally making their appearance. One thing that is hard to notice while walking through the lively streets around Baga beach, or driving through the green fields of Goa (where you’ll occasionally pass an elephant), are the many billboards advertising all kinds of liquor. Abhisheik explains, to the general cheers of the other interns, that these are part of a deal with the local supermarkets and clubs: in turn they get subsidies, which halve the prices of most of the alcohol they sell, and which makes Goa all the more attractive for party goers.
As for the nightlife, a good place to go out – although a little bit more expensive than most – is without a doubt Mambo’s, which lies just off the road from the Ronil Beach Resort and right next to the beach. It’s got a healthy nightlife, but its dancing floors are separated from other lounging areas, which allows for conversation and casual drinking as well. In addition, Mambo’s is a great place to meet other international travelers, and mostly all interns from the Leave UR Mark group found people from their own countries to converse with here.
Still, no matter what you do or where you eat, what makes a trip to Goa especially attractive, is the company you keep. Renae, an intern from Oregon, US, agrees: “I really enjoyed spending time with the group, relaxing and walking on the beach. The laidback atmosphere really helps you unwind, and it’s nice to get out of the city for a while. The food and the nice people only increase that feeling.” In all, whether you spend your time in fancy clubs, or simply sipping Goan fenny on the beach, watching the sun rise with your friends, Goa is an experience that’ll be easy on your wallet but great for your time in India with Leave UR Mark.
Email Leave UR Mark at email@example.com to apply for an internship/volunteer project in India and join in on a weekend excursion with the other travelers on your free time.