23rd – 27th December – счастливого Рождества!

AKA Merry Christmas! A belated one by the time I upload this and you see it. When I was a little girl I could never sleep on Christmas Eve, and it’s the same even when I’m miles away and only have one present to open! (thanks Mama J by the way).

We are staying in a 5 star hotel in ‘Candolim’, North Goa. I use the ‘ ‘ because it’s nowhere near Candolim, certainly not walking distance to the beach, Fort area and bars/restaurants anyway. Was a bit angry with myself when we checked in because I wanted to stay more where the ‘action’ is, especially being away for Christmas etc. On hindsight its not too bad, the suite itself is bloody lovely, facilities are ace, spa, gym and pool all on offer, and we were able to hook up our laptop to the plasma TV to watch some Christmas classics. Also, from what we saw of Candolim I’m not sure we would have enjoyed it so much… imagine a Spanish resort with loads of lobster, overweight, Russians and Europeans getting drunk! Lovely 🙂

We booked a crab fishing adventure on the River Nerul one afternoon, to experience some crab fishing followed by eating our catch. The whole day was interesting to say the least! Firstly, it was so badly organised, if you are going to advertise an activity in English at least have someone in charge who can speak English! The trip was full of Russians, nice enough people for sure, but you had the typical alpha-male and his son making what would have been a lovely peaceful afternoon into a not-so-nice one. They were loud, never sat still on the boat and kept prodding at things in the water! Grrrr.. even chilled out Steve was wishing for the son to fall in the river, hehe.

Goa over the last 5-10 years has attracted a large number of Russian tourists, so much so that a lot of the signs and restaurant menus are all written in Russian. This has put some Europeans off from travelling there, so the locals rely on Russia a lot more now, some even going to the lengths of learning the language. However, we’ve read in the papers that there has been a fall in charters over the last two years from both Europeans and Russians, down by around 60%, which is a massive fall. Made sense because everywhere did seem quiet in comparison to what we had read in the guides. Seems to be down to a number of factors: Russia is going through economic struggles at the moment, demonetisation has had an effect on domestic tourism etc, but personally for me I think Goa has perhaps lost its charm to some people. Whether that’s the Russian tourist invasion, or the complete redevelopment of it all, or even the price just to visit (not as cheap as you think it would be), like with everything you can never have too much of a good thing. However, I think we would definitely return, if not to just open up our own beach shack called ‘Funky Little Shack’. For a relaxing holiday I definitely preferred South Goa to North Goa, from what I saw of both districts, a lot more room to relax and just take everything in.

We also visited Old Goa and Panjim, both places are a must-visit, even if just for the historic churches. Due to the Portuguese arriving in the 1500s the churches built are extremely grand, the Se de Santa Catarina in Old Goa is the largest church in Asia! The Portuguese didn’t muck about when trying to convert natives to Catholicism, they even had their own Inquisition in Goa at one period of time, Goan Inquisition. I recommend a slight hike to Church of Our Lady of the Mount to get a gorgeous view of Old Goa, and imagine what it was like back in the 15-16th Century.

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