Usually when we talk about Goa we refer to warm sea, pristine beaches, clear and sunny sky and lots of tourists from around the world relaxing and enjoying together with their family or loved ones. However, this time when I was in Goa for nearly two weeks, my Russian friend came up with an idea to further explore Goa in one day away from the beaches. She came across one Russian travel agency operating in Goa “tvoy Goa” and there we saw a tour package of Complete Goa in one day. In no time, we booked with the agency.
Their office was in Candolim, where we stayed. The place is a mini Russia in itself. The office was also giving a complete feel of a Russian office. Everything was written in Russian; receptionist, managers and all employees were Russian. It was strange and funny that to see India, I was with a Russian tour agency with my friend and her mother. They were accepting fees in US Dollars but I am glad that for me they accepted Indian Rupees as well.
Whole Goa in One Day!
The Complete Goa in One day package included a visit to Temple of Sri Mahalasa, Dudhsagar Falls, Spice plantation garden, Lunch, and Old Goa in the respective order.
Our Russian guide greeted us as soon as our trip started. After 2-3 minutes of talking, she realized I am a non-Russian and her quick question was “vse govarit po russky?” (Does everyone speak in Russian?) We all responded with yes, and she was surprised with my presence and my Russian language. Throughout the way, she was introducing the group to Indian culture, some common myths and beliefs about the Indian society and I was there to help if she needed clarification. The bus became a platform for intellectual discussion on Indian culture with everyone participating and asking questions out of their curiosity and observations.
Passing through the serene roads accompanied by the green trees and zigzagging through the Goan territory, we reached Sri Mahalasa temple. It was like seeking blessing of the goddess Mahalasa, Mohini avatar of Vishnu, before continuing with journey. The temple was shifted from the Velha conquistas (Saxty/salcette) to avoid destruction during the forcible Christianisation of Salcette, Goa. The temple boasts a magnificent deepastambha and a holy pond. Visitors cannot go with swimsuits inside and need to cover their sleeves up to the half-length and legs up to the knees. Footwear need to be removed outside the temple. Taking picture of the front view of the temple is not allowed. However, you can take pictures in the other areas of the temple.
The next stop in our trip was of course, Doodhsagar falls. I would say this was the main highlight of the trip, and it is not in Goa, but in the adjacent state of Karnataka. Last time I came here when I was studying in Bangalore. We trekked along the railway tracks and the view was much better from there. You could actually see the fall very close on a height! The name Doodhsagar came from Sanskrit. It is made up of two words, Doodh (milk) and sagar (sea) so you can guess why it is called so.
Private vehicles cannot go up to the waterfall. We had to get down and take a safari jeep provided by the administration whose fees was included in the tour package. As soon as you get down from the bus, number of local people will come to sell bananas and tomatoes to you for feeding the monkeys. I have fed monkeys a lot, it is quite dangerous and I do not find it exciting anymore. However, I bought it because my friend wanted to. I was unaware of the fact that feeding monkeys was illegal there and we cannot take any eatables inside. At the entrance of the protected area, government officials started checking our bags, though they were not so strict. They were asking politely and as polite was the response from all the fellow Russian tourists, “no, we do not have any bananas.”
From that point, it took another 45 minutes to reach the falls through unmetalled roads and crossing rivers that filled water up to our feet in the jeep. As soon as we got down, I was surprised to see everyone taking out bananas and feeding the monkeys. I was laughing because I thought only Indians do such things, breaking the rules! Probably it is the effect of extra freedom, which Russians enjoy now, after the 74 years long strict soviet rule!
After getting down from the jeep we still had to make our way to the fall, which required crossing fast-flowing mountainous rivers with the help of the rope and climbing small rocks. It was not as difficult as it sounds; people belonging to all age groups were doing it smoothly. Helping my friend and her mom cross all the hurdles, I started helping fellow tourists to cross whether I knew them or not. Girls, boys, men, women, babushki (grannys) and kids, I cannot remember how many people I pulled and guided or lifted to make them reach safe place. It was a bit strange for me, as men in Russia have to serve the army compulsory for one year; I assumed that it would be very easy for them, but I felt as if it was something new for them, and I had to guide them and pull them the same way.
This day gave me an unforgettable moment as I lost my slippers in an attempt to support my friend and save my mobile while crossing the river with the help of the rope. From that point, I walked barefoot throughout the trip: in the jungle, in the garden, on the streets and in the church. The result was red feet due to excessive acupressure by mother earth!
Our next stop was spice plantation garden. It was like a forest where you could see spices growing. It is an interesting place if you want to know a little more about the common spices that you include in your food daily. However, for an Indian there is not anything new. Nevertheless, it is a good concept to introduce foreign tourists to Indian spices and their richness. We were provided lunch in traditional Indian style on Banana leaf; tea and Goan feni (local alcohol) was served right on the table. I was having a friendly conversation with the guide when a group of girls came and occupied seats next to me, everyone was curious to know what was there on their plate. It was interesting to see that whenever we had free time, the conversation took a spiritual and intellectual turn. No matter if you visit Goa or Varanasi, if you came to India you will not go without taking some spiritual lessons from this ancient country.
In the spice garden you can see elephants, ride on them or bath with them as elephants splash water on you from their trunks. Interesting, isn’t it? My friend and I decided to take a ride on the elephant. It was for 600 rupees each (not included in the package) for a quiet small ride.
Our last stop was Old Goa where we visited some of the most magnificent churches of Goa and Asia. Cathedral of St. Catherine is the biggest church in Asia. The cathedral is known for its Golden bell, which is biggest in Goa and one of the best in the world. Once sounded, the vibration of the bell can be heard as far as 14 Km! The church belongs to 16th century, which was the time when Europeans started forced Christianisation of India. We also visited Basilica of Bom Jesus, which has the relics of the Apostle of India, St. Francisco Xavier. He is known as the most successful catholic missionary in the world in the history of Christianity.
It was evening already and our guide gave us options whether if we want to visit a museum or want to go back home. All of us were filled with excitement and emotions, but we were tired. We decided to return, my feet were red, with impressions of stones and rough surfaces of forest, roads and grasses. Nevertheless, I did not care, as I was lost in the bliss that Goa gave. Our guide on the way home was telling more about Indian mythology and I was lost somewhere. My friend was cutely sleeping with her head resting on the window and her mom was smiling. There was silence in the bus, not because we were tired, but we were saving the memories of the day. Thanks to Goa, thanks to tvoy goa and thanks to the guide Elena for making the day perfect!
Tvoy goa (Your Goa) is a Russian tour agency operating in Goa. Eh! you would be thinking that I am crazy. Nevertheless, the rates were reasonable, probably because it was not a British company! You can get further 5% discount if you book from their website. Children get additional 50% discount and payment can be done after the trip. Tourists, whether they have been to India or not, often have some myths about Indian culture, Indian society and religion; here is the list of top ten myths about India compiled by our Russian journalist from St. Petersburg. It is our personal recommendation for you and clear your doubts about India.
Have you ever been to goa? Where did you go and what did you do? Share your experience, your views and tips in the comments below. Our team of international journalists would love to have discussion with you. And do not forget to share and follow us on your favourite social networking site
6 Things you can do in Tijuana
Tijuana is one of the largest cities in Mexico. Located in the northern part of the country, its proximity to the US border has make it a popular tourist destination among American citizens looking to experience all the recreational activities this beautiful city have to offer. If you are planning to visit Tijuana, we have a list of our six favorite spots in the city, so make sure you do not miss them.
1- The Caliente Xoloitzcuintles Stadium
Soccer, simply known as football in Mexico, is the country’s favorite sport. And there is no football team with more devoted fans than Los Xolos. It does not matter if you like football or not, visiting the Caliente Xoloitzcuintles Stadium while you are in Tijuana is a must . On the days there is a football match scheduled, you definitely need to go to the stadium a few hours early, since there is a big party going on on the parking lots of this stadium. People park on the parking lots and eat roasted meat while drinking beer with their friends. Then you can head to watch the football match. Los Xolos enthusiasts are known to be among the most friendly football fans out there, and will make sure you feel welcome and have an experience you will never forget.
If you want to stay close to the Caliente Xoloitzcuintles Stadium, we recommend you check out in a nearby hotel like Tijuana Marriott Hotel since its proximity make it pretty convenient.
2- Morelos Park
Morelos Park is one of the best destinations in Tijuana if you are traveling with kids. This park is the biggest in the city and features a lot of green areas, a huge artificial lake where you will be able to see ducks and fish, and even a small zoo featuring native animals like iguanas or jaguars.
There is a small train that will take you for a ride around the lake. On this lake you can also find a small dock with small boats for rent.
On weekends, you will also be able to enjoy public performances especially created for children, like clowns shows or puppet theatres.
3- Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe Cathedral
The cathedral Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe is also known as Tijuana’s Cathedral due to it being the most important one in the city. Although this cathedral dates back only to 1909, its beautiness immediately made it one of the most visited tourist spots in the city. This building design used as inspiration Mexico’s traditional temples, which made the local authorities give it the accreditation of historical monument.
This monument is located just a few minutes away from the city centre, so if you are looking for accommodation in the heart of Tijuana, we recommend you check out Hotels like Fairfield Inn & Suites Tijuana due to its convenient location.
4- Wax Museum
Tijuana’s Wax Museum is one of its most original buildings. Across 10 different halls, you will be able to enjoy many wax figures, all divided according to different themes like Mexico’s historical figures or Mexico’s legends. One of the most curious things about this museum is that it has a Horror hall, where you will be able to enjoy the scary figures of Dracula or Frankenstein, although we do not recommend this if you are weak of heart.
5- Tijuana’s Cultural Centre
Its modern sphere design has make this building one of the most visited locations in Tijuana. This Cultural Centre was created to try and promote art and culture in the area. On the different rooms of the building we will be able to find an art exhibition, an aquarium, an event room and a film library.
6- El Trompo Museum
This amazing museum is the perfect mixture of science and fun, helping us to introduce our kids to new knowledge by using games and interactive activities. The museum also includes a 3D cinema and a concert room.
The best places to stay during your holidays in Isla Mujeres
When we dream about our dream holidays, we often picture ourselves in the middle of a Caribbean beach, letting the sand and the waves take away the stress of our daily lives. No place embroiders this ideal like Isla Mujeres. This small island is located near the Mexican Caribbean coast and its white sand beaches with crystalline waters have make Isla Mujeres one of the most popular holidays destinations in the world. If you are planning to visit this island soon, then you should definitely check out our list of accommodation suggestions.
Staying in the island
Isla Mujeres may be a small island, but it features all the commodities you could wish for in a Caribbean island. But if you are looking for something intimate while luxurious at the same time, then you should definitely check out boutique hotels Isla Mujeres.
The main difference between average hotels and boutique hotels is their size. A boutique hotel features all the commodities a luxurious hotel could have while having a lower number of rooms available. One boutique hotel we can not stop recommending in this island is Hotel Casa Sueño.
Hotel Casa Sueño is located between Punta Sur and and the center of the island in a truly idyllic location. The hotel is right next to the Caribbean Sea, which means that you will be able to enjoy some amazing views during your stay. The hotel is run by some of the most courteous staff members we have ever ever encountered and you will be able to enjoy an amazing gourmet restaurant and a Spa center among the services provided by the hotel.
Travelling on budget
While most people looking to travel to the Caribbean want to do so with all sort of luxuries and commodities within their reach, others prefer to discover the area on a more humble way. One of the most popular ways to do so is by using the internet site Airbnb.
This online portal allows people to rent someone else’s empty home for their next holiday. If you are planning to visit Isla Mujeres, you can use Airbnb to rent an apartment in the island or in a nearby city like Cancun. This will allow you to be more independent than if you stayed in an hotel. And if on top of that, you use a cupón Airbnb you will be able to save some extra money in a place that was already cheaper than a hotel.
Discovering a foreign place does not have why to be expensive, and you can make your next travel the best example.
Travelling with the family
Travelling abroad is always complicated, but it becomes especially tricky when we travel with kids. Traditionally, parents would need to sacrifice their own share of fun in order to find a place their kids would enjoy, but thankfully there are now luxury resorts for families. Resorts like ESTUDIO Playa Mujeres were designed keeping in mind the necessities of both, adults and kids alike.
ESTUDIO Playa Mujeres is a luxury resort located in Playa Mujeres. This coastal area is the perfect location for your next holidays, since it is in the continental area in front of Isla Mujeres and near important cities like Cancun.
This resort features everything you and your family could wish for in a summer vacation, making it by far one of the best luxury resorts for families. Kids will be able to enjoy themselves it the Doodle Land® program, which is full of funny activities created to incentivise our kids imagination. Adults also get their fair share of fun at ESTUDIO Playa Mujeres. This resort includes many facilities like a luxurious Spa or a fantastic 18 hole golf course. Then the whole family can spend time together visiting the art exhibitions host in this resort or enjoying one of its five different gourmet restaurants.
Ibiza: not only a destination for young people but also a natural paradise with dream beaches, exclusive locations, and luxury villas
Ibiza is one of the most beautiful islands in the world. This stunning island is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its paradisiac beaches and historical monuments. Traditionally, Ibiza has been associated with party tourism, which means that young people would visit the island due to its famous nightclubs or electronic music scene. However, since 2015 the government has stepped in to try and make Ibiza a more family friendly place to visit. With so many beautiful landscapes to discover and luxurious family friendly villas to stay in, Ibiza is without a doubt, one of the best options for your next summer vacations.
The best places to stay in Ibiza
The first and most important you need to decide when planning any trip is where you are going to spend your stay during the travel. Traditionally,when we travel to a foreign country we tend to look for our lodging at hotels. However, in places as touristic as Ibiza, you will often find hotels overcrowded during the summer season. Thankfully, there is a more private alternative for your stay: luxury villas. You can find numerous luxury villas available for rental spreaded across the island, but the ones which users recommend the most are the ones offered by IKH – Ibiza Luxury Villa Rentals. IKH villas offer everything you may need for a luxurious vacation. They are located near some of the most beautiful beaches and villages in the island, such as Es Cubells, Sant Josep, Talamanca, Cala Jondal, Rocallisa, as well as in Ibiza Town, the main city in the island. These villas are family friendly, and most of them either include sea views or are located at a very short distance from it. IKH villas are often equipped with everything you may need for your holidays, such as a fully functioning kitchen, internet and TV service, air conditioner to survive the Spanish heat, etc.
The luxury features of these stunning villas and the amazing reviews from its customers make IKH villas an option you should definitely consider for your next Ibiza holidays.
The most stunningly beautiful beaches
The main attractive of Ibiza is, without any doubt, its gorgeous beaches. Blessed with pristine waters and white sand, these beaches make out for an otherworldly seaview. The whole island is surrounded in beauty, but if you are looking for some stunning views, we can not stop recommending you check the following beaches during your travel:
- Es Cubells: this beautiful beach is surrounded by nature. Located near the mountains, it offers the perfect mixture between civilization and untouched nature. This beach is located beyond a cliff, which makes it harder to access. However, this can work as an advantage for us, since with a little more of effort we will have access to a stunning beach away from the main crows, which makes up for the recipe for a perfect beach day.
- Sant Josep: this place groups some of the most stunning beaches in Ibiza, such as Ses Salines, D’Hort Cove, Compte Cove or Vedella Cove. It is near the international Ibiza airport and the natural reserves of Ses Salines, which means that this zone has an easy access. The beaches in this zone have turquoise waters and fine sand, which makes them some of the favorites among tourists.
- Talamanca: thanks to its easy access and calm waters, this beach is one of the favorites for families with kids. If you do not have access to a rental car, this beach is one of the easier to reach by bus.
- Cala Jondal: a stunning beach of turquoise waters which shore has pebbles instead of sand. This makes up for a stunning beach view. This beach is located near some luxurious clubs, where you will be able to relax and have fun while watching the sea.
- Llonga Cove: this cove is located near the luxurious urbanization of Roca LLisa. Its calm waters make it a favorite among families and young people looking to practice water sports.
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