Hedonist’s Paradise

It remains distinct from the rest of the other Indian states – it is not just the familiar remnants of European colonialism that make Goa seem so accessible, since the prevalence of Christianity allows Westerners to feel instantly at home.

Although Hindus outnumber Catholics by 70-30, this is not reflected in the locals’ liberal attitude towards skimpy beachwear.

This former Portuguese colony became a favourite place for ‘hippies’, thanks to cheap accommodation and the availability of drugs. Naturists also found Goa a sympathetic idyll for their naked peccadilloes.

Backpackers and foreign charter tourists escaping the winter in Europe have now replaced the hippies.

 

 

 

Palm-lined beaches and lapping waters create an illusion of lethargy – laziness or ‘sosegado’, the local term.

Goa still knows how to party though – the blend of East and West is at once exotic and strangely familiar: Christmas and Carnival are celebrated as enthusiastically by the 30-percent Goan Christian population as Diwali and Durga puja are by the Goan Hindus. On our last visit to Goa it was costing us £6 for a 2 course evening meal including drinks and the quality of the food was very good. If you eat out in one of the top hotels it will cost you a lot more but you won’t get the same cultural experience if you don’t visit the local friendly cafes and restaurants.

The cheapness of the local meat and fish-based cuisine is another fillip for the frugal traveller.

Goa’s lifestyle is best experienced during the winter months between October and end of February, thus avoiding the soporific sun and the downpours of the seasonal monsoon between June and August.

‘Carnival’ should also be experienced – a three day festival of fun and floats just before the 40-day Lenten period of fasting.

For a fantastic range of holidays to Goa call FREE on 0800 433 2300

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Amritsar: Spiritual Idyll

I love India and one of the places that is on my “must visit” list is Amritsar. I want to combine a visit to Amritsar with the Taj Mahal and the Golden Triangle as well as the famous Hill Station of Shimla.

Amritsar is the religious and cultural capital of the Punjab. As a centre of Sikhism, the religious importance of Amritsar means that the city is given to continual celebration and has a perennial festal mood. This earthly vitality is reflected in continual generosity and hospitality to visitors – one of the cornerstones of Punjabi culture.

Much of the city leads centrifugally to the Golden Temple – the holiest shrine of Sikhism. The gilded domes and spires of the temple complement its waterside location – all stunningly reflected in the phlegmatic ripples of the adjacent river.

Music is central to the Sikh faith and the refrains of Kirtan (devotional music with an intoned mantra) can be heard on the celestial evening air. Bhangra music also has its origins in Amritsar, originally a folk dance every bit as symbolic as Andalusian flamenco.

Of course, this idyll was rudely interrupted by the arrival of overzealous British colonialists. There is memorial in Amritsar commemorating the 2000 Indians who were shot indiscriminately by the British under the command of General Michael O’Dyer in 1919 while participating in a peaceful public meeting, one of the major incidents in the subcontinent’s freedom struggle.

The vestiges of India’s colonial past are not all reminders of brutality – Amritsar’s array of wonderful gardens are a testament to the white and Mughal bourgeoisie who planned the gated green spaces with military precision. The Ram Bagh and Ram Tirath gardens are the finest examples of a very peculiar British-Punjab topiary.

Despite its status as the centre of Sikhism, Amritsar is an extraordinarily heterodox city. Mata Mandir and Durgiana are two of the Hindu temples dedicated to deities – Laxmi and Narayan.

Amritsar’s propitious location makes it an ideal place for visits to rural Punjab and a gateway to neighbouring Pakistan.

Delhi, Agra and Rajasthan holiday report

Our client has just returned from a 16 night trip to Delhi, Agra and Rajasthan. Here is their diary of their holiday.

We had an amazing time and would definitely recommend getting a car and driver, everything was so easy and everything fell into place so well.  Even though it was hot we were not tired at all and we had very full days as you will see from my diary.  We used Global Holidays and Namaste India Tours and our driver Sanjay was brilliant, he really took care of us and took us to lots of places that weren’t in our itinerary.

All our hotels as well as the car were air conditioned which made for a comfortable life.  The only downside for us was that some of the places were vegetarian and not very imaginative vegetarian at that, sometimes we felt as though we were living on rice and cauliflower in different guises, I won’t be buying a cauliflower again for 6 months.  Also there was no drink available in restaurants and hotels and we were just dying for a nice cold beer at the end of the day, fortunately Sanjay always knew where to get one and kept us well stocked for drinking in our room.

We did know that some places were vegetarian and dry states so couldn’t complain about that.  We did find food and drink much more expensive than it is in Goa, our usual haunt in India, and the quality of food was nowhere near as good but that isn’t what we went for so didn’t let it bother us too much.  Would recommend taking a couple of coat hangers with you as we found hangers very scarce if at all in the hotels we stayed in.

Make sure you always have plenty of change to pay for leaving your shoes outside temples.  I think we spent more money getting our shoes back than they actually cost us in the first place!  The tipping business really got on my nerves.  I found some of the waiting staff very rude.  They would bring the bill and stand at your shoulder watching you get your money out of your wallet and even had the audacity to tell you they expected 10% tip.  We found this a particular problem when stopping at restaurants on the highway whilst travelling from one place to another.  I found this a bit extortionate as I do not give 10% tip in Goa and people accept what I give with no complaint.

As stated above we found the food expensive in some places and the service did not warrant a 10% tip.  We are not mean when it comes to tipping and usually tip everyone and anyone but I think it is up to me how much I tip after all tips are meant to be earned and should not be obligatory.  Another thing which I found very annoying was having someone hanging over me whenever I went to use the toilet.  Having someone stood virtually on top of you when you are trying to comb your hair and being pounced on the minute I open the cubicle door really irritates me.  I am quite capable of going to the toilet and washing my hands all by myself, I even have my own toilet roll. All our hotels were booked on a bed and breakfast basis so if this is the case with you inform the waiter when you are ordering breakfast otherwise you will be charged for breakfast as we were on the first day!  Here goes anyway:

Continue reading “Delhi, Agra and Rajasthan holiday report”

A holiday to Goa – Read a customers diary

Once you have been on a holiday to Goa the majority of people return year after year. This is certainly true of one of our customers who always send us a copy of their Goa holiday diary so that we can publish it on our travel blog. If you are a regular to Goa or thinking of going on holdiay to Goa for the first time the diary makes fascinating reading. The diary of a holdiay to Goa is published below. Hope you enjoy it.

This was our 12th visit.  I will give a quick report on our impressions. 

Firstly our usual hotel had really gone downhill.  Have done hotel report on this.  Our usual taxi driver never stopped moaning about the traffic, I told him he should try the M62/M621 out of Leeds every day of his life at 5:00 p.m. he would know what a traffic jam was then.  He also made a few sarcastic comments about the tips we gave him which annoyed me as we do tip him well overall as we do stay out quite late at night.  We have used him for quite a few years with no problem and we have a taxi every evening and quite often in the day too to go to other beaches in the north and south so he does make a lot of money out of us over the course of 3 weeks. 

I don’t know whether the problems was because we were going to a lot of the better restaurants and he suddenly thought we were rich and wanted a bigger share of our money.  Anyway it is to his detriment as we will have a change next year.  I did think the resort seemed a bit cleaner this year.  We actually saw the garbage collectors picking rubbish up from the surrounding area but I have to say I think most of the rubbish is left on the beach by domestic tourists, it was quite common to see them dropping litter as they walked along the beach.  

Things on the beach this year were horrendous as far as sunbeds were concerned.  We couldn’t use our normal shack as the law about 10 sunbeds to a shack is now very strictly adhered to which seems ridiculous as the shacks are losing out on business big time.  Some people hardly spend anything in the shacks so if they are stuck with this kind of customer they don’t make much money.  I can see them all charging for sunbeds in the future. 

I did think there were far less English tourists out there this year and lots more domestic tourists.  We did have a trip to Agonda for 3 days which we loved and hopefully in the future we will spend a week down there.  We didn’t find things any dearer this year as the exchange rate was so much better this year so this compensated for any price increases. 

We did hear of more serious crime this year, e.g. a fight between staff at Bobbies shack and Big Banana, first reports were that someone had been killed, then it changed to someone getting their arm chopped off with a machete, then it was just a big fight which resulted in both shacks being closed for a couple of days.  But customers ending up screaming and running off down the beach.  Also a couple of hotels were broken into with safe deposit boxes being wiped out.  Here goes but I do warn you we do a lot of sunbathing and eating…

Continue reading “A holiday to Goa – Read a customers diary”

Incredible Goa – Read about a holiday to Goa

Good customers of ours book their holiday to Goa with us every year and after they return from Goa they send us a diary of their Goa holiday. If you want to read their very interesting diary from 2010 click this link – Goa holiday diary.

Goa remains a holiday destination that attracts many return visitors year after year. If you want to enquire about a holiday to Goa please call us FREE on 0800 433 2300. In the meantime, if you are considering a holiday to Goa please read this fascinating diary from a customers 2011 Goa holiday below –

Unfortunately life took over once we arrived home and both of us have had some health problem or another with time off work, nothing to do with Goa I might add although we were given a thorough check up by the doctor.  I think it was all down to the English weather, Liz is still coughing for England.

I will give details of the places we ate in and the prices in a separate post.

Saturday, 11 December 2010 Continue reading “Incredible Goa – Read about a holiday to Goa”

Diary of a holiday to Goa

If you are thinking about a holiday to Goa and you have never been before then it is a good idea to obtain as much information about the destination from people who have visited that place. Also, even if you have been to Goa before and you have fallen in love with the place it is good to read where other visitors go, what they can receommend you do when you are there and where the best places to eat are.
One of our regular customers has recently returned from Goa and she has written a diary about her 3 week holiday. We have obtained her permission to publish it on our travel blog, so, if you are interested in Goa then …read on !

3 week diary 

I know it is well over 2 months since we returned but unfortunately life takes over but I am going to make an attempt to do my report now.  Like a lot of other people when I look back perhaps we didn’t do much but lay around even though we were full of good intentions and we did read lots of books.  Hope its not too boring for you!I did try to take the rose coloured spectacles off this time and look at things with an open mind.  We did have problems with taxi drivers wanting to rip us off this year although in a way it was a good thing as it got us into using the bus, something we will definitely do in the future. Anyway I will now attempt the report on more or less day by day basis.

Continue reading “Diary of a holiday to Goa”

Goa and Kerala with Taj Hotels

Goa in India is a very popular winter holiday destination and the destination has some excellent 4 and 5 star hotels which offer luxury holiday accommodation in stunning surroundings and near to excellent beaches.The Taj Group of hotels have some fantastic hotels in Goa and they are well worth considering if you are looking for luxury and outstanding service and attention to detail.The Taj Group have several hotels to choose from in Goa and Kerala including:

The Taj Exotica is a 5 star hotel Set amidst 56 acres of tropical gardens on Benaulim Beach in south Goa.

The Fort Aguada Beach Resort is  built on the ramparts of a 16th century Portuguese fortress, the resort is part of a large 73-acre complex overlooking the Arabian Sea.

Taj Aguada Hermitage, north Goa. Situated in the grounds of the Fort Aguada Beach Resort, on the slopes of a headland, this deluxe resort was especially built as a ‘Retreat’ for the Commonwealth Heads of Government. Perched above the Fort Aguada, there are breathtaking views of the Arabian sea and endless miles of the golden Calangute beach.

Taj Holiday Village. This 5 star hotel is located in Northern Goa on acres of palm-fringed landscaped gardens, approximately 1 hour from Goa airport, adjacent to the Fort Aguada Beach Resort, overlooking Sinquerim Beach.

Taj Green Cove Resort, Kerala.  Located on one of India’s most popular beaches, this first class property enjoys an elevated position offering breathtaking views of the backwaters and unspoiled beaches. The resort is spread over 10 acres of lush tropicallandscape on the golden beach of Kovalam. With its exotic tropical beauty and warm hospitality, this getaway is the perfect place to enjoy relaxation and rejuvenation of the mind, body and soul.

CLICK THIS LINK TO DOWNLOAD OUR GOA AND KERALA HOLIDAY BROCHURE

Goa and Kerala with Taj Hotels

Luxury beach resorts in glorious Goa and KeralaINCLUDING• Family holidays• Romantic breaks• Ayurvedic Spas• Unbeatable Value• Free night offers• Honeymoon offers

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Things to do in Goa

 

The Indian state of Goa has become a firm favourite with UK holidaymakers in recent years, particularly for its stunning beaches, dramatic architecture and carefree spirit.Located on the country’s south west coast, it is synonymous with partying and beach holidays, but also has an array of other sights and experiences for travellers.

Portuguese traders first landed on the shores of Goa in the 1500s and the area existed as a Portuguese colony for centuries, until it was annexed as part of India in 1961.Goa has more than 20 delightful stretches of white sand beach down its 101km long coastline, some of which are crowded year round with holidaymakers, while others present secluded palm-fringed paradises for those seeking a quieter break.

 Every type of traveller and size of wallet is catered for and accommodation along the coast ranges from five star hotels to palm-leaf shacks. Goa is now India’s richest state and has seen a huge influx from neighbouring areas in recent years.

Calangute and Baga in northern Goa are heavily developed resorts and full of the usual tourist amenities, the south offers simpler and more peaceful resorts like Colva and Benaulim, while partygoers head to Anjuna, Vagator, and Chapora. Goa was famous as the hangout for hippy travellers and the psychedelic generation during the 1960s and 1970s and it still attracts similar visitors as well as more conventional tourists, luxury travellers and backpackers, and there are a number of popular yoga resorts in the north of the state.The Portuguese influence is widespread and food in Goa is a delicious blend of meat and fish cooked with Indian spices in a way unique to the region.

Alcohol is freely available in the state and Goa produces large quantities of rice and coconuts, which feature in many of the dishes.The ruins of the former Portuguese capital at Old Goa are a key tourist attraction, with an exotic mix of European and Indian architecture and a number of quaint churches and cathedrals.

The influence of early Portuguese merchants can also be seen at the ruins of Fort Aguada in north Goa and the Bom Jesus Basilica, which houses the mortal remains of St Francis Xavier.Goa has a number of charming market towns, as well as the bustling state capital Panaji. Vasco-de-Gama, the largest town in the state, has some interesting colonial and native architecture, while the town of Anjuna has a popular weekly flea market.

Other towns of interest include Margao, Marmagao, and Mapusa. The state is dotted with ornate and colourful Hindu temples and holds a number of lavish annual Hindu and Christian celebrations. As India’s smallest state, Goa represents a manageable slice of the vast country and has just 1.4 million inhabitants. Inland visitors can walk in the Western Ghats range of mountains, a world biodiversity hotspot, visit numerous estuaries and river valleys, and a number of small islands. Its tropical jungles in the east of the state are home to bright birds, wild boars and the region has a large snake population. The Salim Ali Bird sanctuary is particularly interesting, with its exotic mynas and parrots.

Visitors to Goa generally arrive by air or travel to the state from the Indian capital Mumbai. The Konkan Railway line, built during the 1990s, runs parallel to the coast between Mumbai and Goa. Once in the state, public transport largely consists of buses, unmetered taxis, auto rickshaws and the state’s unique yellow-and-black motorcycle taxis.

Goa’s official language is Konkani, but many Indians speak English and travellers will not struggle to get around the more heavily populated areas. The country has a warm and humid climate for most of the year, with temperatures hottest in May and a cooler spell between December and February. The annual monsoon season starts in early June and runs to late September.

Call Global Holidays on 0845 299 4450 for a Goa holiday

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Looking for a holiday to Goa? – Book Now!

Goa is a wonderful holiday destination. The great weather; the food; the culture;the people; the scenery – all make for a wonderful winter holiday destination. And best of all, its excellent value for money!

Goa is a state on the west coast of India and it has become popular with British visitors over the last few years. In fact, many Brits have bought holiday homes in Goa and they spend a good part of the winter there. Goa is about 10 hours flying time from the UK and flights operate from Gatwick, East Midlands and Manchester between the months of November and April. These months are the best time to visit as the weather is about 30C and there is little rainfall.

Another reason why you should visit Goa is that the food is great and very cheap. A typical meal for two people including drinks will cost about £6 in total so you won’t need as much spending money as you would if you were in Europe.Goa - Aguada BeachThe standard of hotels varies. Goa has some excellent 5 star hotels.

 The Leela Palace is one of the best and rivals many of the best hotels that you will find anywhere. There are plenty of 2 and 3 star hotels. The 2 star hotels tend to be basic but most have swimming pools.Goa is divided into north, south and central. The majority of the hotels are in north Goa and the main resorts are Baga, Calangute and Candolim.

These resorts have most of the 2 and 3 star hotels and the area is more commercialised than south Goa. In south Goa you will find the majority of the 4 and 5 star hotels and the area is less commercialised than the north.There are some cracking deals to be had in November and early December.

 A week including flights and a 2 star hotel will cost about £329 per person and 2 weeks at the 3 star Nazri Resort on Baga Beach will cost from £469 per person. The prices over Christmas and New Year are more expensive and the prices tend to rise in the peak months of January, February and March but we still have good late holiday deals even for these months so it is well worth calling us on 0800 433 2300 to check our latest prices.

A winter holiday to Goa is a great way to escape the cold British winter weather and at such good prices it’s hard to not be tempted.

If you want any advice about a holiday to Goa or want a low cost quote please call Global Holidays on 0800 433 2300.

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How To Get An Indian Visa

UK Passport holders need a Visa to visit IndiaHere at Global Holidays we sell a lot of holidays to Goa and Kerala in India. If you have booked a holiday or flight to India you need to be aware that you need a Visa and you must apply for it well before you intend to travel. There have been reports of lots of people turning up at the airport to fly to India without an Indian Visa and them having to be turned away.

Their holidays have been ruined because their travel agent didn’t tell them that they needed an Indian Visa !  That has never happened at Global Holidays !

Here is what you need to do to apply for an Indian Visa: You can apply for a visa yourself by filling  in the forms online at http://in.vfsglobal.co.uk and then posting these with your passports to the appropriate visa application centre.

The basic cost of a six-month visa is £30, plus an £8.86 service charge, and then £7.40 for the return of your passports by special delivery (up to two passports can be sent back in one envelope) so it would cost you £42.56 each, plus postage.To save on the service and postal charges you can you could go to an application centre and it’s now possible to make an appointment online to bypass the queues. But you may have to wait and annoying though the extra charge may be, it could be money well spent.

There are also several visa companies who will be able to arrange an Indian Visa for you. You send them your application form and passport and pay them a fee and they will take your application form to the Indian Embassy and get the visa for you.It is not possible to get an Indian Visa at the airport on the day you travel. You must apply well in advance of your departure date. The process normally takes two weeks but it is best to check this. At busy times of the year it could take longer.Don’t be put off visiting India though just by the thought of getting an Indian Visa. It’s a simple process and India is well worth the effort when you get there !
 

Call Global Holidays on 0845 2994450 for advice on a Goa holiday