After our hectic month traveling around India it was time to head towards the south to start our Xmas holidays (yes, I’m calling it holidays!). When we were planning our trip, both of us dreamed about the possibility of spending Xmas at the beach, so we organized our itinerary in a way that would make it possible. Palolem was the chosen destination!
On the night of the 21st of December we caught in Mumbay the train that was going to take us all the way to Madgaon (Goa). In the morning of the 22nd we arrived to Madgaon, but our destination was still a good few km away, so we took a pre-paid taxi to Palolem (around 800 INR). Taking a taxi might sound a little bit posh when traveling low cost, but we were tired and it was by far the easiest option to get to the beach. During the hour long taxi ride we were able to perceive the influence the Portuguese had in Goa, which was Portuguese until 1961, the architecture was colonial and we spotted many churches.
Finding accommodation in Palolem was easy peasy, just ten minutes after getting there we already had our hut at the beach. Not super fancy, but perfect for a few days. We were a bit worried about not having booked anything in advanced, Xmas is high season and we thought everything would be almost fully booked, but there were tons of beach huts and we had no problems at all. So after settling in and with our swimming suits on we went to explore the beach and its surroundings.
Palolem is a beautiful white sand and turquoise waters beach located in the south of Goa. Set in a natural bay it is enclosed by rocky headlands and green palm trees, it is meant to be one of the less touristy beaches within the Goan coastline. And while we believe in comparison with other beach destinations Palomen is still low key, it has already been “polluted” by the tourism industry, the opportunity seekers and it is somehow infested with bars and restaurants. Leaving this aside, Palolem is still a paradisaical tropical beach where one might even almost forget this is in India. Though you get to remember where you are when you see caws laying on the sand and locals bathing (men on their masculinity showing underwear and women with their saris).
We spent our days resting, sunbathing, swimming in the tranquil waters, taking long walks and eating good food, exactly what we needed after two months of none stop traveling. Our only exercise those days was the many hours we spent playing frisbee and the two hours trip we made by kayak. One of the strolls took us to the stunning and almost deserted Patnem, which is just 20 minutes walk south of Palolem. Beautiful long beach, probably not as tropical looking as Palolem, but for sure more idyllic and more tranquil.
At night time the beach became even more alive, all the sunbeds, umbrellas and fruit sellers were replaced by candles, dinning tables on the sand and fresh fish stalls. Watching the beach illuminated by candles and colorful Xmas lights, playing with our feet in the sand and listening to the waves breaking with a cold beer in our hand while waiting for our fresh fish being grilled was probably the best moment of our day in Palolem.
On the 24th December, while everyone was getting ready for Xmas Eve, we had something else to celebrate, Isma’s 26th birthday (I’m not allowed to reveal his real age). Being this the first time he was away from home on this day I wanted to make it special so I surprised him with two cakes and many gifts. Although we almost ended up celebrating my birthday by mistake, as when I went to pick up one of the cakes “Happy Birthday Marta Elicegui” could be read on it. By the look in his eyes I think he really enjoyed his birthday!
We undusted and unpacked the only fancy clothes we brought in our backpacks (just jeans, shirt and flip-flops for Isma and a beach dress with no heals for me) to get ready for Xmas Eve. We started the night with a special romantic dinner at a restaurant with views of Palolem bay. Lobster, seafood platter and a nice local white wine made our stomach happy and made us not to miss that much the food delicacies that were being cooked by our families back at home. After dipping our feet in the water we headed to one of the bars to have a beer while watching some of the fireworks. To my surprise they started playing Irish Christmas songs (like Fairytale of New York), and this brought so many memories from Dublin and all the friends (Sara, Norbert, Jesus, Meri…) that I have recently left there that I ended up with tears in my eyes. We finished our night out dancing some Indian-Regee music barefoot in the sand. Back at the hut we skyped home and Isma had the chance to blow his 3rd candle online (with the help of his granny) while his family sang happy birthday. Great way to end a great night.
The time we spent in Palolem was very special for us, our first Xmas far from our families, our first Xmas at the beach… The beauty of the beach and probably some of the breathtaking sunsets we have seen in our lives have set the bar quite high, so it will be difficult for other beaches to compete against it.
We stayed in San Pedru Cocohuts in Palolem. The huts were basic but very comfortable and had all you need in a beach hut: a fan, a pink mosquito net, attached bathroom (cold water), double bed and even a small balcony. We paid 1200 INR per night, we knew this was probably 2 or 3 times the price you pay in normal season, but this was Xmas and they inflate the prices everywhere. While nothing fancy, they were right on the beach. The owners were easy going and very friendly, they even let us showering in our hut after checking out the night we were leaving.