Goa has always held a special place in my heart. From taking overnight trains from Ahmedabad in my college days to renting scooties to roam around; from not worrying about whether I had packed my sunblock to not caring about the wind and dust in my hair! Overtime, I transformed; I started caring way too much about things that really don’t matter. Is it possible to unlearn everything that’s made you the person you are today? Probably not! But every once in a while, it’s important to find your way back to yourself, indulge in some slow living and unearth the bits of you that may have gotten lost in the hustle-bustle of daily life.
My trip to Goa was all about living slow, taking the time for myself and I found the perfect place to do it, Villa Casa De Amor literally translating to ‘Home of Love’. For me, love for yourself. The Portuguese villa nestled in Anjuna, North Goa became my safe space with its open courtyard, cosy charm and an aura of homeliness. Before my trip, I had a short list of places I wanted to visit this time around in Goa and by some magic of the universe, each of them turned out to be in a walking distance of my villa. It was so well located, just made my stay that much more convenient. Here’s how my itinerary looked:
I woke up to my black coffee, brewed to perfection by Seema, the chef of the house who served us delicious food all through our stay. I had my coffee outdoors overlooking the paddy fields and decided to cook myself some eggs. After the early morning, I made my way to Artjuna, a garden cafe; a mere 3 minute drive from my villa for some fresh juice and smoothies and to visit their one-for-one book shop.
If you’re someone who loves exploring art and want to meet with travellers from across the world, you must visit Artjuna. They also have a yoga room, pilates and kickboxing areas and conduct workshops if you want to plan your dates around it. They have a lovely lifestyle store too and our picks were their seashell jewellery!
After our dose of some art and culture, I made my way to Mahé for lunch. Co-started by Chef Sandeep Sreedharan, Mahé is known for its Modern Coastal Cuisine. Our top picks? The Amaranth Phyllo w/ Beetroor Chutney, Cured Mahi Mahi (a local fish) in Coriander Oil and to finish off, the Plantain Coconut Jaggery Ice cream.
Post a heart lunch, I went back to my Case De Amor, again a 2 minute drive from Mahé, to relax for the afternoon. I spent my time lounging in the very well done and decorated living room which gave the space character and a Portuguese vibe. I put on some Frank Sinatra and dozed off right on the couch before making my way to Arambol for an evening dip in the lake.
Now Arambol is a 50 minute drive and a further 20 minute hike brings you to the Arambol Sweetwater lake. It’s a whole world apart from the quintessential Goan beaches and if you’re someone who’s up for an adventure, do make the trip. After all, when you have a villa like Casa de Amor to come back to, you never have to worry about pushing a little harder.
After the evening hike, we headed to Villa Nova, a refurbished villa in Arpora made into a lovely little pizzeria and bar. Post dinner, decided to call it a night. My room with its balconies are the perfect spot to spend your evenings just gazing at the coconut trees as far as the eye can see. And just like that, my eyes opened the next morning!
The morning on my second day began quite like the first, Black coffee and eggs for breakfast and an early morning drive to Ashwem beach, a 20-minute drive. I spent a couple hours just by the beach with the waves, soaking the sun and moved to have a light lunch at La Plage. A must-visit for me because you get to eat, shop and sit by the beach all in one locale.
After my lunch, I had a lovely visit planned to Paris Pao, an artisanal bread bakery run by Sidharth and Sheena. After working with the Indo-French Chamber of Commerce for a while, Siddharth met some of his friends in Mumbai who were starting Suzette and learnt the art of baking croissants. He went back to Paris, learnt some more and moved to Goa to build Paris Pao, a premium gourmet bread destination. If you’re like me and stay at a villa, you can order your supply of bread from them. They also offer home-delivery to Casa De Amor due to the close proximity. Win for Casa de Amor, just makes things easier, I tell you. Also, Naresh and Seema, the caretakers of the villa can help you with car rentals, drivers, vespas, you name it!
The evenings in Goa are meant for sundowners, this time, I chose the latest spot in Goa, again a 10 minute drive from Casa De Amor, Titlie. Just over the Vagator Cliffs, Titlie is the ideal spot for sundowners with live music, delicious drinks (my pick was the Elderflower Spritzer) and a mix of Indian-Western cuisine.
After a picture perfect sunset, we made our way back to the villa for a night of wine and cheese. This is what I love about having a space all to yourself, you can enjoy and experience the city in a way you could never do with a hotel or a resort no matter how luxurious or well-rated it may be.
On my final day in the city of my dreams, I woke up and Sunita had prepared quite a feast for breakfast. Ideal if you’re a family and travelling with kids and need Indian options. She whipped up the best coconut chutneys and idlis and made me my special porridge on request.
Before I began to pack, I spent some time sitting in the open courtyard of the house with my pen and notebook and just reflected on the past couple of days and what I experienced and learnt. It gave me a sense of calm to pen my thoughts and having a safe space to do it just made it all the more easier. As I packed, I stopped by Sublime in Assagao for one last lunch. Again a mere 5 minute drive from the villa, Sublime is right beside the renowned S.E.A and serves the most instagrammable plates. We ordered the Portobello Mushrooms with Blue Cheese filling, the Mezze Platter and a Fig & Feta salad, all of which was lip smackingly delicious but also could be in a food and wine magazine.
This is my first feature on Goa and something tells me there’ll be many more to come. I’m a piscean soul and the waters will always call me back. If they call you to Goa, please stay at the Casa De Amor and fall in love with yourself and explore the city without having to spend hours driving to the car. Just experience it walking and when you meet people, strike a conversation with them. The areas of Anjuna, Assagao, Siolim are expat-central and you will find people from all over the world who have come and resided here to follow their passion. Goa is a potboiler of conversations and experiences, make the most of it!
PS: Casa De Amor is a spacious 5-bedroom villa in Anjuna, ideal for families and group stays with an in-house chef and caretaker. The villa has a front porch, a back patio, garden seating, a pool, an open courtyard and beautifully done rooms. It’s well situated in terms of locations with all major spots being in and around. You can book it by calling Nivedeeta Kurle on +91 91674 38369. The address is: Casa de Amor, House no. 1016/2, Grand Peddem, Anjuna Village, Anjuna, Goa – 403507