Goa Holiday Packages

My mother’s ancestral heritage homeThe Mitaroy Goa is a Heritage Homestay situated in the quaint and picturesque Latin Quarter of Fontainhas. It has been carefully restored by local craftsmen using local materials, giving it a luxurious yet authentic feel.

Each Heritage Suite is incredibly spacious, with a large living room, separate bedroom, bathroom and balcony or sit out. It also has nice colonial-style furniture & a certain olde world charm.

  • Return Airport / Station Transfers
  • Complimentary Full Goan Buffet Breakfast 
  • Complimentary Beer and Wine throughout your stay
  • Complimentary Half-Day Sightseeing Tour of the Latin Quarter of Fontainhas
  • Complimentary Late Check Out till 5 pm, subject to availability
  • Complimentary selection of daily Goan Newspapers
  • Complimentary Bottled Mineral Water throughout your stay
  • Complimentary Hand made Bath Amenities
  • Complimentary Welcome Cocktail on Arrival

4 days 3 nights Accommodation in a Heritage Suite: Rs. 19,000

Please make your reservations well in advance since we are a small Homestay and are often booked out quite early.

Mitaroy Goa Hotel Booking Button

The Joys of Christmas and New Years in Goa

My dad blogs from Goa:

View from my Balcao

Everyone knows that Christmas-New Year in Goa is special.

Indubitably it is the time to look out for tradition leading to the holy night when Christ was born. Goans indulge in festivities and every nook & corner of this tourist state is lit up with merriment. Goa remains at the cusp of tradition, history & belief in the divine one.

The best, and possibly the cheapest way to enjoy the festivities is to head to the beach-shacks, not the ones serving expensive taste-alikes, but to the thatched make-shift rooming that sprouts up in season and folds up thereafter when the fury of the monsoon comes roaring in. Staying at the beach allows you a hop-in hop-out of any of the many beach-front eating-shacks that dot the beaches in the North (Baga, of course, Anjuna and all the way to Morjim) and nowadays, also in the South (from Majorda to Palolem and upto Cancona).

I chose to hit the relatively less-crowded south beaches and found Cancona quite a refreshing change from the over-run, dirty, populous hip-beaches of the North. Apart from the swank seven-star luxury hotel looming over in the distance, the sea-side remains relatively private and not infested with tourists from all parts of India and the globe. Goa has remained India’s best-known destination since the swinging 60’s and continues to capture the imagination of toursts of all ages and nationalities looking for fun-in-the-sun.

But this is not what I am in Goa for. History beckons, tradition pulls and I end up in a heritage homestay in Mala-Fontainhas, the Latin-quarter of Panjim, close-by to Old Goa, the shrine of St Francis Xavier, the patron saint of Goa’s large Christian population. I decide to visit the St Monica’s Museum next to Se Cathedral in Old Goa, the 400-year old St Sebastian Chapel right in the heart of Fontainhas, climb many steps to the magnificient white-washed Panjim Church that is always lit-up at night. This apart, there is lots of carol-singing on the streets of Mala-Fontainhas that spills over to Panjim city proper.

The streets are chock-a-block as are the beaches and the highways and a place-to-rest-your-head-at-night is always at a premium, like everything else in goa during this period through the new year. Do what you will in Mumbai or Bangalore, but if you want to make the grade, you’ve got to be in Goa during the year-end scene. Its one big party that stretches from sundown right upto and past sunrise, with nary a hiccup about closure-timings and all that jazz. I notice that the Goa government goes into over-drive in cleansing away the last-night’s garbage so that the roads do not eventually disappear in the mounds of trash generated by party-hoppers. I settle down in a small beach-shack with a fiery feni and watch the dancers sway in the moonlight … nay, early-morning light !

Goa spells timelessness, merriment and wild abandon, making it the most-preferred destination at this time of the year. I choose to drift in and out of over-crowded bars, (drinking home-made local feni), many of whom have started playing Bollywood tunes to please the numerous patrons that emerge from Mumbai like a deluge, by car, by plane or even by bus or train. Everyone, but everyone, girls and ladies included, feel free to sport shorts & tees, maybe even a hat, to signify departure from the strict confines of everyday life. Their radiant faces mirror the innate wish-fulfillment of a life waiting to free itself off shackles of daily-norms. Those with a taste for intimate, may prefer to meander on the quieter stretches, not worrying about safety, which is taken for granted, barring an odd blown-out-of-proportion incident. Goa has seen its share of nudes to be stirred up by a pair of lovely legs in short-shorts and a revealing top.

City-kids have gathered in hordes, coming as they do for all-night shindigs, beach-combing, flea-markets, fun-in-the-sun. Goa opens its doors to open-minds and an all-pervasive camaradarie prevails everywhere you go.

One of the downsides of Goa at the year-end is that you do not get enough space to stay or roam freely, thanks to the perpetual jostle in public spaces. But nobody, with the exception of some of the oldies & prudes, seems to mind this metro-isation of an otherwise sleepy state of Goa. You will get to know quite easily, that the local people are fun-loving, love to mind their own business and are friendly without being intrusive. They proclaim loyalty to their beloved state, fiercely protect their Goan identity, but throw open their arms (and homes) to the tourist influx, and are happy in the realisation that tourism is a nice way of doing business and making a decent living. A sparkle in the eye, a smile on their face, its the people of Goa that make it the most exciting place to be in during Christmas and through the new year.

I’ll be back home in Goa for Christmas – thats for sure. Thank God I have a home there !!

Contact Us for a special Christmas / New Years Package…

 

Goa’s colonial history rediscovered

Like with most colonial – native relationships, Goa has always seemed to have had a love – hate relationship with Portugal. Goa, once a Portuguese colony, was ruled over by Portugal for over 400 years. And in a sense, Goa’s Portuguese colonial history has made Goa what it is today. 

But as a new generation grows up in Goa today, more familiar with Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Figo as Portuguese heros rather than the old Portuguese rulers of Goa, Goa’s relationship with Portugal and everything Portuguese seems to be changing. Suddenly, everything described in Goa as “colonial,” “Portuguese” and “Latin” and suddently, Goa’s colonial history seems to have become an integral and intrinsic part of Goa’s “identity”. 

When compared to other colonial relationships in the region, especially “India’s” relationship with Great Britain, this is only common. The old guard – the freedom fighters who fought against the Portuguese or those Goan citizens who suffered under the 400 years of Portuguese colonial rule – are either dead or too old to retain their prominence and importance. Today, it is the youth of Goa that has grown up watching Cristiano Ronaldo or Luis Figo on television that determine what is cool and what’s not. In “colonial theory”, the longer the time gap since the end of colonial rule, the more positive the recollections of the colonial era are. There was a recent uproar in India when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, speaking at his alma mater Oxford University, said in a speech that Britain’s rule over India was not all that bad. And although this raised quite a few heckles among some parts of the population in India, most youngsters (eager to gain a British degree or fans of Manchester United for example) tended to agree. And Goa’s youth seems to be going the same way. 

One important area where the rise of Portugal’s popularity can be seen is in its language – Portuguese. Till 1995 or so, only a few students learnt Portuguese in Goan schools. Despite the efforts of the Indo-Portuguese Friendship Society and the Fundação Oriente promoting Portuguese in schools and colleges, most young Goans saw Portuguese as a language of the past and one that was more associated with one’s grandparents rather than one’s peers. This attitude towards Portuguese has changed dramatically over the last few years with University and private Portuguese language courses springing up like mushrooms all over Goa. Despite Portugal’s poor economic state, the youth of Goa today hope that learning Portuguese will increase their career prospects, especially with the emerging Portuguese-speaking economies of Brazil, Angola and Mozambique. Brazil, one of the BRIC countries and one of the fastest growing economies in the world, is suddenly now on the lookout for talented, Portuguese and English speaking employees – a gap that Goa is happy to fill. 

Tourism seems to be another area in which Goa’s colonial history is seeing a renaissance. 

Tourist brochures are full of “old colonial houses” providing an old world experience to tourists, who are looking for more than the usual sun and sand of Goa’s world renowned beaches. 

The “Latin Quarter” of Fontainhas – home to my Mitaroy Heritage Homestay – is also experiencing a revival of sorts. As more tourists learn about Goa’s rich cultural and colonial heritage, they seem eager to experience it first hand. Unlike the regular half-day bus tours to Old Goa and the Church of Francis Xavier that resemble cattle transport rather than tourist providers, many tourists now want to spend a few days simply walking around the quaint bye lanes of Fontainhas and soaking up the Latin atmosphere, rather than competing with the throngs of tourists in Old Goa or the beaches of Anjuna – Baga. 

While there remains lots to be done in the area of Heritage Tourism Communication – the topic of my PhD thesis in Salzburg, Austria – recognising the importance of Goa’s colonial history and heritage is the first and most important step in this direction.

Mandovi Cruise Boat Owners in Panaji unite

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/captured_by_badri/2515311271/sizes/z/

While most foreign tourists from the UK and Europe prefer a tuk-tuk ride, Indian tourists to Goa simply must go on a Mandovi Cruise atleast once during their Goa holiday. 

The Mandovi Cruise Boat jetty is a 5 minute walk from my Mitaroy Heritage Homestay in Fontainhas, Panaji’s Latin Quarter, and I used to often take a walk in the evening to the jetty to watch the tourists as they waited eagerly to board the Mandovi Cruise Boats for their evening entertainment. 

However, as is often the case in areas with high tourist demand, touts – so called “agents” – were duping the innocent tourists and harassing them. 

In order to weed out these touts and make the experience more pleasant for tourists, Mandovi Cruise boat operators in Panaji have now decided to unite under one banner to streamline the Mandovi Cruise business that attracts over 3,000 tourists each day.

In one of the biggest changes to their business on the Mandovi river since they started out in 1984, the Mandovi cruise boat operators have decided to introduce single window system for ticketing as well as streamlining the entertainment services offered on their Mandovi Cruise Boats. The state-run Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) has done great work in bringing all the Mandovi Cruise boat operators under one banner by doing away with their separate ticket counters and operating from a single window.

As a result, tourists will now be able to easily purchase tickets for the Mandovi Cruise Boats at one single window, thus reducing the commotion and confusion that usually ensued. I remember watching the mad rush by touts and Mandovi Cruise Boat operators alike.

Now that the boats will leave the jetty at regular intervals, thus cooperating and not competing against one another, the rush to attract tourists will also be a thing of the past. 

Any move to simplify the life of the Goan tourist can only be welcomed wholeheartedly. Tourism Minister Deepak Parulekar must be congratulated on his efforts to streamline and simplify the processes that tourists were faced with in purchasing tickets for the Mandovi Cruise Boats.

Have you purchased a ticket in the new single window ? Do let me know about your experience in the comments… 

When to go and where to stay in Goa ?

This week, Angela asked the following question: When to go and where to stay in Goa?

When to go to Goa is a real tough choice. People I speak to have different opinions and each person seems to love Goa in a particular season. Basically, when to go to Goa can be divided into 3 different options:

1. Christmas / New Years in Goa: Christmas and New Years is the peak season for Goa. It is when EVERYONE and when I say everyone, I mean everyone, thinks of going to Goa. While most Europeans book their New Years holiday to Goa well in advance, most Indians do it at the last minute. On the negative side, Goa is terribly busy and expensive at this time of the year. But on the positive side, Goa is at its most happening during the New Year’s period. Visitors get to experience Goa in its best avataar with rocking beach parties, dances and live music everywhere. 

2. Goa Monsoon: The monsoon in Goa is not for everyone. Some people love Goa in the monsoon and some people absolutely hate it. And unlike in most other parts of India and of the world, the monsoon in Goa is quite unique. From mid June to the end of September, the rain lashes down on Goa with great fury. Especially in July and August, there seems to be no letdown from the rain as it pours and pours and pours (well, you get the message) the whole day and night. But if you dont mind getting a bit wet, then the monsoon in Goa is also the time when you get to see a different side of Goa – when most of the tourists are away, Goa sort of relaxes and lets its hair down. The scenery and the greenery are absolutely stunning at this time. Do it like the French, wear shorts, take heavy duty umbrellas and you will really learn to enjoy the Goan monsoon. 

3. Rest of the year: Apart from New Years and the Monsoon, Goa is pretty much the same the rest of the year. The prices are more reasonable, there are fewer tourists and getting around Goa is much easier. For those who have the time, I would suggest Jan – April or October – November as great pre-season times to visit Goa. 

As for where to stay in Goa, Goa has loads and loads of places to stay, depending on your budget and your interests. Most people head to North Goa to the Baga-Calangute strip. This is where all the “action” is and most people choose a medium budget hotel in this area. For those who find North Goa too expensive / crowded, they usually head to South Goa which is not yet as developed / popular as North Goa and hence is much cheaper and quieter. 

Many tourists however are looking to experiment and staying in offbeat areas such as Fontainhas, the Latin Quarter of Panjim. Here you find quaint old Portuguese houses, small bye lanes, a baker cycling by, dogs lying in the sun and cats licking themselves in the shade. Fontainhas is the other Goa, where those looking to learn more about Goan culture and history come to visit and stay. Many photographers (hobby and professional) fall in love with Fontainhas as there is so much old world history to capture in their lenses. Many tourists who stay in Fontainhas love to simply walk about for hours, soaking up the Latin atmosphere. Fontainhas is also home to my Mitaroy Heritage Homestay (www.mitaroygoahotel.com) – my mother’s ancestral heritage home that I converted into a Homestay.