Another night, another overnight train adventure
Before arriving in Goa, it was time to embark on another overnight train journey.
We were slightly better prepared for this one, and travelled in much more comfortable clothes. Our taxis also managed to pull up right next to the station, so there would be no walking across the train tracks to reach our platform this time (check out my post Overnight train to Mumbai to read about that particular adventure!)!
Donna and I were thankfully going to be in the same carriage again, with Asmaa and Klaus in the compartment next to us.
This time we were on the bottom bunks of our quarters, and we would be sharing with a group of Sikh university students.
As we had found on our overnight train journey from Udaipur to Mumbai, Indians don’t like to sleep early. Not on overnight trains anyway! But as we were sleeping on the bottom bunks, which were also used as seating during the daytime, it meant having a couple of awkward conversations when we were ready for bed and they weren’t. Hints don’t work in India either. I tried to lie down subtly after getting my blankets ready, but the students just didn’t take the hint. As much as direct and blunt can feel awkward and rude, it is the only way your likely to get any sleep. Even then, I ended up with someone sitting very close to my feet while I tried to catch some 💤 ‘s.
The one thing I definitely wasn’t prepared for this time was motion sickness. I managed to drop off at some point but woke up in the middle of the night feeling horrendous. I didn’t feel ill at all on the first overnight train, but this time I woke feeling dizzy and sick. My head was all over the place. Donna was fast asleep so I didn’t want to wake her. I managed to find my shoes and stumbled down the carriage to the ‘western’ toilet (there’s normally two types of toilet in each carriage. One for sitting, one for squatting!). At this point I wasn’t sure whether I was going to faint, be sick or get an upset stomach. I just clung to that grotty sink for dear life and prayed that I wasn’t going to pass out!
I’m still not sure what brought the sickness on, because I had felt fine on the previous journey. In the end I put it down to the fact I was sleeping on the bottom bunk, and I felt as though I was sleeping right above the wheels of the train, so I felt every small movement the train made 🤢.
Thankfully, the same rocking motion that had caused me to spend half the night in the bathroom, also sent me back to sleep again once I made it safely back to my bunk.
Our final destination: Goa
I had been daydreaming about Goa for months. I knew finishing our trip here would be a completely different experience to the rest of the places we had visited on this trip. However, after travelling across half of India, I was looking forward to spending a couple of days unwinding and doing very little, other than laying by the pool and sitting on the beach drinking cocktails and eating delicious seafood.
After the cold start to our trip, it would be nice to get the opportunity to head back to the UK in a couple of days time with just the hint of an Indian glow.
Sadly, Goa had other plans for me. Not that I was aware of it at this point.
As we stepped off the train into the Goan heat, everything felt different. I’d never been to a beach resort outside of Europe or America before, but Goa was just what I expected. There were locals selling beautiful juicy fruits outside the station, and everyone looked chilled and happy and just grateful to be alive. The sun was already blazing and it was only just gone 10am. As we boarded our mini bus, I was excited to get to the hotel, eat, and jump straight into my swimsuit.
Even the bus journey to our hotel made me feel happy. Goa was beautiful. The roads were quieter, everyone looked relaxed, and there were beautiful palm trees everywhere. I couldn’t wait to get out and explore.
Our first stop on arrival was to check into the final budget hotel of our trip. As I’ve mentioned in many of my previous blog posts, when Intrepid say basic, they mean basic. However, Dona Julia Beach Resort was very much the exception. Although still a budget hotel, the facilities were great. The little poolside restaurant served breakfast, lunch and dinner and catered for all your needs whether they were Indian, Chinese or something a little bit more westernised. They also served a great array of cocktails. It had a lovely little ambience and to be honest, if the beach hadn’t been calling, I probably would’ve spent much more of my day there. Some people on the trip complained about how hard the beds were. For me, of course they weren’t as comfortable as my bed at home, but I didn’t expect them to be. They certainly weren’t any harder in Goa than the other beds we had experienced on the trip. And there was warm water. Beautiful warm water. Something I had missed hugely throughout this trip, but was grateful to experience once more.
Myself and Asmaa found ourselves in a beautiful little room overlooking the swimming pool. Not that Asmaa was there very much towards the end of the trip 🙈 After meeting a Punjabi Romeo on the overnight train from Mumbai, we had hardly seen her since.
She did however join us that afternoon for a stroll down to Calangute beach, which was less than a 5 minute walk from our resort. It was lovely to relax and unwind walking along the beachfront, soaking up the sun, and enjoying the company of my new friends. After a good long stroll along the beach it was time to find ourselves a beach shack where we could get a cocktail or two and a sun lounger, in order to put our feet up, watching the world pass by, and taking in the atmosphere as we watched the late afternoon sun start to go down.
After a couple of cocktails, it was time to to head back to the hotel to freshen up, as that evening we would be heading back down to the beachfront to have dinner at one of the many beach shacks.
When we arrived back at the beachfront, it was now dark, but the restaurant had laid out a beautiful table close to the sea, and it was covered with beautiful little lights.
Whilst I was lost in the pure romance and magicalness of the setting, others in the group started to moan. As it was dark, they were having problems reading the menus. Not one to complain about trivial things (and yes, ok, being caught up in the romance of it all made these minor details less important to me), I reached for my phone and read my menu by torchlight. I guess some people expect a lot more for their money, but we all knew we were getting basic when we booked the trip, and by day 13 you would’ve thought they had become a little bit more accustomed to it!
My friend from work had been to India a couple of weeks before me, and she had highly recommended trying the seafood in Goa! Always one to try to follow advice from those who have experienced things before me, I opted for a local Goan prawn curry. And locals always meant to be best right?
Unfortunately the service we received that evening was really quite poor. We had a long wait before we were served, and an even longer wait before our meals slowly began to appear. When many of them arrived, they were either not what we had ordered (or expected) or they were frozen. Mine wasn’t either, but it was last to arrive, so by the time it came, I was really quite tired and not that hungry anymore, especially after so many of the group complaining.
Our tour guide apologised, and said that unfortunately in Goa, unlike other parts of the trip, the owners of the beach shacks were regularly changing from season to season, so just because the food is good one time, doesn’t mean it will be good every time.
I just about managed to eat my prawn curry, but I struggled to get it down. As soon as people had finished eating the edible parts of their meals, everyone went their separate ways. I headed back to the hotel as I was starting to feel quite tired and a bit nauseous. I thought perhaps I was just tired from being awaken on the train the night before, and the fact my meal on the beach hadn’t been very appetising.
Hoping I would get a good nights sleep, I put my head down, and hoped I would feel better in the morning ready for another relaxing day by the beach or the pool…