By Amrita Das.
I have never been lucky enough to possess superpowers, though travelling occasionally gives me the momentary joy of teleporting myself. In one such experience I reach the quaint European colonies whilst being in Goa.
The coloured bungalows of Fontainhas have been etched in my memory since I first saw them two years ago. Since then, no visit to Panjim is complete without a walk here. Flanked by the serene Ourem creek on one side and the orderly Altinho hill on the other, Fontainhas is also known as the Latin Quarters of the city.
|The Verandah at Panjim Inn which serves comforting chai.|
Caught on the intersection of 31 January Road or Rua 31 de Janeiro, I see Panjim Inn on my right and Gitanjali Gallery on my left and I slimly escape the temptation of a cup of chai at the Verandah. After reassessing my priorities, I take the unknown left between Ria Residency and Gitanjali Gallery to meet O Abrigo on Rua Pauline de Dias. The entire architecture of this address has peacock motifs and designs on them. A typical Sunday noon and the building remains closed for no one to answer my questions. I move on as the blue Seventh Day Adventist School calls out to me. But no sooner I reach there, I am distracted by the little blue-purple home on my right. The beautiful bird cage and the artwork on the entrance entices me. This home has specially added charm to all my walks across the Fontainhas.
|The peacock designs at O Abrigo.|
As the mesmerising warmth of these lanes leave me, I walk towards the St Sebastian Church where I see families gathered and sing harmonious hymns. I walk ahead keeping La Maison and Afonso Guest House on either sides and take Rua de Natal to walk through the in-lanes. Who would’ve thought that there is a dried up well and a small landscape hill-top in the core of Panjim’s centre? As I walk by Hospedaria Abrigo de Botelho, there is a sense of confusion. I am torn between lunching at fantastic Viva Panjim or the cosy Hotel Venite? Without wasting any time, I walk to the very close Viva Panjim around the corner.
|Homes at the Fontainhas!|
After a quick but heavy lunch (read: my favourite Pomfret Recheado), I continue my walk through the quiet streets. The upward inclined road of Rua Emidio Gracia will take me to the busy junction of the Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church or Panjim Church, as it is popularly known. The Panjim Church is believed to be one of the oldest churches in the state.
|With Panjim Church behind me, standing at one of the busiest junctions of Panjim.|
Singbal Book House catches my eye and it is a distraction I submit to. After spending some time here and purchasing some interesting books, my walk navigates towards the famous 18 June Road. This road marks the Goa Revolution Day when Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia launched civil disobedience in 1946. I retrace my steps and walk behind this historic road and turn towards Café Central. This place was introduced to me by a friend and till date I remember the delicious chocolate cake she bought me. I stop by the busy café and make my order heard. After a successful transaction, I walk towards 18 June Road and continue as far as Hotel Fidalgo.
My path to Hotel Fidalgo is not free from threats of distraction. 18 June Road is one of the busiest streets of Panjim and sees a lot of tourists who come here for some local shopping. Almost everything requires a second look! From conventional gypsy outfits to intricate silver jewellery to Goan curry sauces and mixes, everything is a tempting buy.
Aunty Maria in Hotel Fidalgo is the only 24 hours café in the city and serves some of the best juices I have tasted anywhere. It would be criminal not to stop by for some juice to continue the walk back to the Fontainhas.
|Early evenings make Panjim Church sparkle.|
As the lights of the Panjim Church light up, I make my way back to the lovely Fontainhas where the colours are now fading into the dark. Even though it is early in the evening, Venite’s unaddressed temptation now weighs double and I find myself taking the left to 31 January Road after Rua Emidio Gracia, which directly takes me to the relaxed balconies of Venite.
|Hotel Venite in the evening is just the perfect place.|
Climbing the stairs of this restaurant, I feel my feet crave for a stretch and some rest. The moderately paced walk and the distracted stopovers have helped me explore a linear section of the Goan capital comfortably. I call it a day with my favourite beer. While looking at the street below and the twilight colours of the sky, it has been a day well discovered.
Have you ever walked through Goa's capital city?
Untravel Goa at a 500-year-old Goan Portuguese home in a sleepy Goan village.
AUTHOR BIO: Perpetually bitten by the travel bug, Amrita has travelled across twenty states in India and Nepal, Switzerland, Italy and Paris. She shares her experiences best through writing, photography and blogging. She engages in all types of outdoor adventure, explores the local way of life, listens to stories strangers tell her and is a firm believer of serendipity and constant change. She blogs at http://travellingidesofmarch.wordpress.com/ and tweets at @Amrita_dass.