Although RiderMania had been the primary trigger for this Goa trip, I guess it was the venue where the least time was spent. Sunday started unusually early by our standards. I was up by 6, woke R up and convinced him that it was a good idea to go for an early morning ride. So by 6:30, we were zipping down the empty roads of North Goa, headed towards Arambol ( which, according to Hampi, was the next ‘upcoming’ location in Goa ).
Google suggested that the shortest route would be taking the Aguada-Siolim Road, and turn right towards Agarwada. But any navigator worth his/her salt would know that the shortest route is almost never ever the most enjoyable one, so we took a left turn instead of a right, and moved towards Chopdem-Morjim instead.
This road, a narrow, curving affair that had closely packed houses on one side and the sea shore on the other, was a treat to drive through. The soft breeze from the sea was refreshing, the mild light of a still-sleepy sun and the general lack of almost any traffic on the road made it a hell of a ride. Made small stops at the Morjem and Ashavem beaches en-route, and rode till Arambhol beach. As expected, all the beaches were deserted, presumably still hungover from all the partying that is a norm in weekends here. None of the restaurants were open yet. No point staying there, we just took a short stroll and left for hostel.
We had planned to be back at the hostel by 0815 – partly because breakfast was on the house, and partly because of the killer samosas which I just could not forget. Got acquainted with a couple of ladies from South Africa, who had just arrived at the hostel. Unfortunately, they had arrived earlier than the stipulated check in time, and had to wait in the common area until the previous tenants vacated the rooms. After breakfast and a little bit of freshening up, we packed our stuff and headed towards good ol’ Chopara Fort. This place was probably one of the highlights from the last time we visited Goa – because of the fact that it was mostly free of annoying crowds and gave us the freedom to just sit and do nothing in peace. Rode up to the nearest approach road, parked the bike precariously (once again) on the hill slope and trudged our way up to the fort. The ascent up to the fort did not seem as perilous as it did last time – maybe because 2015 has turned me into a more confident person, or maybe just because those 3 months at HyperMonkey had actually been fruitful!
As expected, the place was (almost) empty – barring a few selfie snapping visitors who had occupied the popular vantage point. We shuffled around and found a comfortable spot overlooking the sea and the adjoining Chapora beach – at a convenient distance from the usual ‘tourist’ spots where crowds usually build up.
There is something inherently soothing about the medley that is created by the waves – a continuous cycle of ebb and flow that has a kind of a calming effect on your nerves. It is this relaxing sensation that appeals to me – much more than the allure of beaches or sunbathing or the water itself. We sat there for more than a couple of hours – bathing in the beauty of nature’s performance. The waves, the birds, the swaying leaves, the sounds coming from the far off beach – all of this combined to create a curiously peaceful harmonic melody, one which you can effortlessly listen to for hours. Indian Ocean’s Kandisa, playing softly in the background, seemed to be in perfect sync with the burning greens, elevating us to higher levels of serenity.
As the sun climbed up higher, the footfall increased and the bliss of peace and quiet slowly faded away – and we decided to head back to the hostel. Descending the slope of the hill, especially when the path was covered with loose, gravelly stones, was not easy. Slipping down was always a distinct possibility – though it would probably not be a fatal incident – but it would be immensely painful and inconvenient all the same. Fortunately, we climbed down without any major mishaps, managed to extract the motorcycle from the messy, make shift parking lot that had suddenly sprung up in the last couple of hours – and rode off towards the hostel.I went back straight to bed, he rode off to the arena to do some justice to the fact that we had come to Goa for RiderMania. Apparently, the last stages of the dirt track events were going on. Also, the motorcycle needed a cursory check-up before we embarked on the return journey. Unfortunately, it was during this check-up that a potential leak was found in one of the rear suspensions. One of the seals had apparently broken off, and the fluid from the suspension was leaking out slowly. The only way out was a complete replacement – something that needed time and proper supervision. So it was decided to get it fixed after returning to Bangalore.
Thalassa had been chosen as the lunch spot for that day. Both zomato as well as the small ‘Welcome to vagator’ booklet that was given by the HostelCrowd guys recommended this place as one of the best in Goa, especially for Italian cuisine. Going by Goa’s laid back attitude, the thought of getting a reservation never crossed our minds. Surprisingly, when we reached Thalassa at 3 p.m., it was almost fully packed. Fortunately for us, we managed to get a seat that was reserved for 4:30 – that meant we had a comfortable 90 minutes to complete our lunch. Both of us ordered different variants of beef steak – seasoned with the requisite variants of wine. Needless to say, the steaks were perfectly cooked, and incredibly delicious. We ended with scoops of Gelato, which made for a decent dessert after a lip-smacking lunch. Made a mental note – the next time that we return to Vagator, we are going to book one of the seats which offered a pristine view of the beachline and the sea – and gorge on steaks to our heart’s content.
The next place on our list was the Ozran Beach, also called the Little Vagator. A relatively small stretch of sandy beach interspersed by rocky formations, it seemed to be a popular haunt for foreigners. The only approach paths involved a lot of climbing down through narrow, ill formed stairs, which might be why Ozran was relatively less crowded compared toother beaches. There were a lot of standalone restaurants as well as resort areas. Perfect place for some silent introspection, as we sat on the rocky shore and watched the sun disappeared behind the red horizon. It was a sinking realization – with the end of the day, our small vacation was also coming to an end…
The late and unusually filling lunch meant that we could afford to have a light dinner. The hostel was starting to stirr with people getting slowly taking up their spots for enjoying another weekend night. We still had one roll remaining – decided to spend it at Vagator. But unlike the beautiful and borderline chaotic Baga, Vagator presented a lonely and desolate picture at night. There was literally no one, and a couple of shady liquor establishments by the side did not inspire much confidence. So we decided to ditch Vagator and ride till Baga. After checking out multiple options, decided to return back to the same shack which we had used the previous night. Another couple of hours spent eating calamari on the sea shore and rambling on about random stuff – by then we had already bypassed our cut-off time. We had to start early to get back to Bangalore (600+ kms of riding), and so our ride captain had issued strict instructions about getting proper sleep and rest. As we headed back to the hostel, hundreds of people streamed towards the party hotspots and the beach – the night was just beginning for Goa.
The hostel reception would only be starting service after 8:00 am the next morning, so we had to complete the check out formalities before the left on the previous night. Bag packing while returning back from a trip is never a pleasant prospect – we coped with it by hastily dumping everything in the saddle bag. As always, sleep eluded us when we needed it most – I ended up curling up on the hammock, while he managed got himself a book and got busy on one of the common room cushions. By the time we actually returned back to the dorm, it was just 4 hours till departure time!
Managed to wake up as intended in the morning, geared up and hoisted all the luggage on the motorcycle. It was then that the saddle bag lining gave way – a seam next to the zipper split open, probably due to the pressure created by disorganized packing. There was nothing to be done about it – we decided to risk it and started for Atlanta resort, where the rest of the team was waiting for us.
The return back was not entirely uneventful. The first phase went pretty smoothly, we managed to reach Chitradurga by lunch and were confident of reachinng Bangalore by evening. But there were some delays after that due to multiple reasons – malfunctioning EFI sensors, miscommunication leading to splitting up from the remaining team, and last but not the least – torrential rainfall for the remaining leg of the journey after Chitradurga. At times, the rain was so bad that we had to stop to let the engines cool down after riding through almost ankle high water, and to drain out water from our boots and gloves! On the positive side, the rain gears were put to the test and turned out to be pretty decent in stopping water. Visibility was down to just a few metres ahead; it took copious amounts of concentration to follow the rider ahead and at the same time, try to negotiate the potholes and avoid the water srpays from the other speeding vehicles on the road.
It was almost 8 when we reached Nelamangala. In traditional IBR fashion, we stopped for a short good bye session, and congratulated each other for completing what turned out to be tough ride ( mainly due to the rain ). Everyone spread off to their own directions – and we bickered for a while before deciding to end the gruelling day with some hot, piping Korean food from Thran.