May 8, 2019
Ray, our cruise director, is getting everyone prepared for the big Indian deck party on May 10. Tonight at the show he appeared in his new outfit that he said he bought in Mangalore for the US price of $43. He also announced that the party will include the crew! Fabulous idea.
Goa is a former Portuguese colony and the smallest state in India as well as its richest area. It only became a part of India in 1961. The Portuguese were the first to settle here and the last to leave. Many did not want the Portuguese rule to end.
The ship docks in Mormugao and the state’s largest city, Vasco de Gama is nearby. There isn’t much to see except the huge container port in this area. Our tour will take us to Panjim and Old Goa.
We were met by music and greeters who gave us roses, pens, drinks, key chains and hats.
We were again touring with Tom and Alice and were met by our tour guide, Valentino, at the port. He told us that the taxi union is very strong here and would harass him if he led us through the many waiting taxi drivers so he asked us to walk far behind him and out of the sight of the taxi drivers!
So we walked out of the area and were asked by many taxi drivers to go with them. We were then joined by Valentino and our driver, Viju. Valentino is on the left.
We visited the Viceroy’s Arch which was built over the road leading from the river to the town which was once the main road into Old Goa. It was built in memory of Vasco de Gama by his great grandson in 1599.
Valentino was very eager to work with us on what we wanted to see on the tour. We told him we didn’t want to visit too many churches so went first to the St. Cajetan Church which was built in the 1600s and is considered to be one of the most beautiful in India. It features a large central dome which was modeled after St. Peter’s in Rome. In fact, Goa is often called the Rome of the east.
There are 14 churches in Goa but only 2 are active. This one is not active but all are still maintained well. It is beautiful outside and in. The carvings are all wood. And all of the windows are placed so that no artificial lighting was needed in the daytime.
Just across the road is the Basilica of Bom Jesus, the most famous church in Old Goa. Bom means holy or good. We had visited both of these churches on our last visit here in 2017 but Tom and Alice had not been to India before. With new guides, you always appreciate something new though.
The tomb of St. Francis Xavier, the Jesuit who spread Christianity in the Portuguese colonies and is the patron saint of Goa, is found here. The building is the first church in India to be elevated to the status of a minor basilica and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was consecrated in 1605 and is the best example of baroque architecture in India. What we didn’t know before is that the church was originally covered in lime plaster which was all removed prior to the visit by the Pope in 1950. You can see that the adjoining building still has the lime plaster covering.
There are many other churches to see but we asked Valentino to take us to some other areas where we could see how people live. Again, we had a nice air conditioned car and plenty of water, it was hot but not quite as hot as yesterday.
We started out on a walk through Old Goa and Valentino took us to a small bakery which was very lovely. He bought us a sample plates of the specialties found in Goa. The bakery also had main dishes and you can see how reasonable the prices are. For an example, 80 rupees is $1.15 US.
The tables were covered with typical Portuguese tiles.
We continued our walk through this area of Old Goa which was really charming. The homes are painted in bright colors and many are in Portuguese style with verandas. The paint is not required anymore but the old rule was that the homes had to be repainted every year. Many still do it even though they don’t have to.
We went to a shopping street and did some browsing and shopping. Some of the signs are interesting!
We had a drink that is made in Boa called KOKM. There are many flavors and Valentino bought us the green amla kind which is the India Gooseberry. It is said to be good for many ailments, including those of the liver and the heart. We got a bottle of the kokum type (red) at the port. Kokum is a purple berry which has been long used to prevent infection, treat sores, cure ear infections, heal stomach ulcers, improve digestion, lessen arthritis pain and alleviate diarrhea & constipation. I guess it is good for almost everything. This picture is the bottle that contains what can be mixed with water. The ones we had were slightly carbonated and very good!
We saw many rooster figurines. Valentino told us that it is the unofficial bird of Portugal and is considered to be very lucky. Here if you see it, it usually means that people in that household wanted to remain Portuguese.
We also saw statues of soldiers on roofs and they indicate that an ancestor was in the army.
They have both land based and casino boats here. Here are pictures of two of the boats.
Valentino took us to the Horizon Bay restaurant for lunch, but he wouldn’t let us pay for his lunch. He did point out some of the specialties on the menu. The restaurant was right on the beach – Indian Ocean.
They had very unusual lights – loved them.
But the signs were a bit confusing!
A great day again. On our way back to the ship we spotted the red bull car!
We weren’t sure whether Viju was a Christian or a Hindu as he had symbols of both in his car.
Tomorrow is Mumbai, our last stop in India. We have been there twice before but it is always interesting, and crowded, and of course, hot. We are looking forward to a fun day with Alice and Tom.