Goa - Patnem
If you like chilled-out beaches then Patnem in South Goa is one for you; it's a small, sandy oasis, perfect for spending a week or two. After our travels through South Indian cities we were in need of a place to recuperate and relax before we head to Nepal and tackle the Everest base camp trek.
Patnem beach is gorgeous, we'd heard all kinds of things about Palolem beach (its noisy neighbour) but we definitely preferred the laid-back lifestyle at Patnem. Yoga shalas line the sand, along with friendly beach bars and restaurants (complete with friendly beach dogs). The staff welcome you in to watch the sun set with drink in hand and your feet firmly embedded in soft, golden sand. Our days in Goa slowly took on a routine and rhythm, which is so important when travelling for extended periods of time.
We often spent the morning swimming in the sea and reading our books, then we'd make our way to one of our favourite spots for lunch; Jaali Cafe or Home. In the afternoon we'd write a bit or get some work done before heading to a sunset yoga class and enjoying some delicious Indian food for dinner.
I would love to be able to recommend the first place we stayed (simple beach huts on the sand) but unfortunately we had such a bad experience there that we had to change hotels after a week. All the things that can go wrong in India did go wrong; no wifi, no power, no running water, building work outside our hut, and horribly loud neighbours- one who got so drunk she was throwing up next to our room for 2 hours straight one night. Oh the joys of travelling! We made a swift decision to spend our remaining time in Goa staying away from the beach (but still within walking distance). One of the main concerns when travelling is getting enough sleep. We've often been functioning on too little sleep in noisy India and in Goa we really needed to catch up.
We would highly recommend the Ayurvedic Palm Tree resort in Patnem though, the owners are very friendly, the rooms are spacious and it's beautifully quiet! The restaurant is also pretty good and you can eat on your own private terrace outside your room which is nice.
We only did one day trip from Patnem as we were so busy doing nothing we didn't really want to leave the beach. We rented a scooter for the day and drove up to the Tanshikar Spice Farm, the drive itself is worth it! The road winds up and up through beautiful, lush mountain scenery, we even narrowly avoided a very large snake that was happily sunbathing on the otherwise deserted road.
The owner of the spice farm is an interesting and humorous fellow. He led our group around his farm, teaching us all about the benefits of different spices and recalling various anecdotes related to them. I learnt that turmeric is the queen of spice and can be used to treat various ailments. They also provide a really yummy (all organic) Indian, vegetarian lunch spread. It's definitely worth the hour or so drive from Patnem, and is a nice break from beach life.
One of regular spots was Jaali Cafe and boutique, we'd probably have been there every day if it wasn't closed on Mondays! The menu consists of small plates influenced by Indian, Middle Eastern and European food. We tried most of the things on their menu and loved every single one! The coffee is also the best you'll find in Patnem and their boutique stocks beautiful clothing and jewellery. It's set in a green courtyard, (not on the beach) so some people overlook it, but don't!
Home restaurant on the beach was also another favourite, especially as they are purely vegetarian. We really enjoyed their breakfasts and interesting salads. We'd also consider staying here if we return to Patnem one day :)
My favourite place to practise yoga was Kranti, it's right in the middle of the beach and they have various shalas dotted around. The classes are ashtanga, vinyasa flow and slow flow, the teachers were all excellent and very welcoming. I'm even considering returning there to do my 500 hour teacher training, I liked the atmosphere so much.
After two weeks of sun, sand and yoga we packed our bags and made our way to the pulsating city of Mumbai. A world away from the chilled out Patnem! We've enjoyed exploring this Indian metropolis and I'll be writing all about it in the next post. Tomorrow we fly to Nepal and this time next week we'll begin our Everest trek! I'm nervous and excited to see how it goes...