While we were on the road to some other destination, on some other trip, a sign board was flashing the words “Panaji 322Kms” at us and we thought: someday. One month later, excitement beyond words, we were once again on the same road, driving to Goa.
The original plan was to start from Manipal at 5.30pm (exam gets over at 5), and reach a beach called Apsara Konda by 7 pm and pitch a tent for the night. Unfortunately, this day being the last day of the semester, and with a lot of packing to do, we started by 7 pm; and by the time we reached the place, it was 10. As it was too dark to pitch the tent at this time and hour, we decided we’ll find a lodge at Honnavar.
We reached Honnavar at 11 pm and we didn’t happen to have any cash on us as it were, and it was the Demonetization time, meaning most of the ATMs didn’t work either. We assumed since Honnavar is a town big enough, hotels would accept cards, but we were wrong. So we decided to ride on to Gokarna and stay there instead. It was pretty late by then and traffic was quite minimal and we missed the turn and rode on for a few kilometres. After finding out that we’ve covered enough distance to make a difference we then made the decision to ride on till Goa.
It wasn’t just dark, it started to get really cold too. After being on the road for more than 5 hours, we started to wish for something warm to have. As it was past midnight, there was very little hope of finding anything, so it came as quite a surprise to find Cafe Coffee Day as soon as I wished out loud for a warm cup of coffee. It was a much-needed break. Since our phones were almost dead too, we stayed there for quite a while, drinking coffee and charging our phones while listening to pleasant songs.
After the break, with excitement enough to keep us up and energetic we resumed our journey at 2 am. At this time, in the middle of a reserved forest road, with no lights at all and hardly any traffic on the road, the only source of light was the millions and millions of stars above. We stopped for what felt like a few years and just stared at the stars. At the town of Karwar, there is this particular coast side road, that is extraordinarily beautiful, with street lights along the coast, and the ocean mirroring the moonlight.
Rest of the journey was pretty uneventful, except for once where fog had drowned everything and almost nothing was visible for quite a while. We reached Panjim at around 4 am
The remainder of our group was supposed to arrive at 6 am and as they had no clue about our change in plans, we thought we would surprise them by meeting them at the station.
Our group comprised of 5 people, 2 of us were going to goa on a bike and the remaining in a train. Unfortunately and predictably the train was delayed for an hour and a half. So instead of meeting and surprising them, we went to Calangute beach and slept there and asked them to wake us up when they reach. We slept through sunrise and had breakfast and freshened up at their home-stay. The others rented two-wheelers as well, gearless (Activa) and we went to a handful of beaches. Anjuna was the first we went. It was a rocky but very pleasant beach. It was a very sunny day but the water was still welcomingly cold. The water and the beach were surprisingly clean. We stayed there for a while and went on to Morjim Beach. The beach, sadly, was very crowded. We did find a spot away from people and there were a few beds on which we slept for almost an hour. My favourite beach of all was Mandrem. I was going there for the 4th time this year, and every time is better than last. This beach is peculiarly quiet and the only audible sounds are the waves. It’s perfect for a very long sleep or for some light reading. We slept here for more than 2 hours [reminder: we had no sleep all night] and also saw the sunset from here. Even in Goa, we planned to pitch our tent on a beach somewhere but again we were too late for that. So instead we went to a place called Zostel and booked a couple of beds there and crashed there. Having stayed here on multiple occasions we even got a nice discount.
: We decided to see Panjim and everything south of it, it was pretty uneventful. As any responsible group of adults in Goa, we too got really wasted in the night and stayed up almost all night, just to make the crazy trip a little crazier.
Too tired and hungover, we started the return trip at 8 the next day. Stopping at almost every beach on the way back, we were extremely tired, being on a bike for three full days. After almost 1200kms we were back in Manipal, making it the last trip and one of the best trips of 2016.