I was really worried about the flight from Kolkata to Mumbai because of the problems I had with my ears and adjusting to the cabin pressure, with the cold that I had had. Thankfully though it had now cleared up and so it was a pleasant flight across India. In Mumbai I transited successfully and uneventfully in the ultra modern airport terminals and soon was on a flight down to Goa. On exiting the airport I found the prepaid taxi counter and got a taxi to Palolem beach for 1,000 Rupees (13 quid), which considering that it was about 50 miles away was a reasonable price.
I had been to Palolem beach before when I had gone around India and then it was the end of the high season and I had a fantastic time. I had done some research on the internet and the high season started in October, but what the internet had failed to tell me was that the high season started in the end of October. Before then everything was being rebuilt in preparation!
So it was that I arrived at night-time down in Palolem beach and most of the guesthouses along the beach had not been built yet! I had a definite idea about where I wanted to stay from what I remembered when I was here before, but the place was not built yet and after avoiding the touts on the beach I was faced with a black empty spot beneath the palm trees. Eventually I had to go with one of the touts to their place, which was slightly inland and so defeating the object on staying near to the beach.
I stayed in that evening and had a meal in a local restaurant and tried to get better. My room had a tv and so I spent some time watching that and trying not to think that it had been a massive mistake in coming here. Still, it was too late now and I had to make the best of it.
In the morning I got up and wandered down the beach and discovered the extent of the rebuilding. Most of the beach bars and restaurants were either not built at all or were in the process of being rebuilt. Even the best bar on the beach – Café Del Mar was still under construction. I asked the workers when it would be finished and was told two weeks. I would be gone by then!! The bizarre thing was that the weather was lovely and so why this was not officially the high season I have no idea.
Feeling a bit depressed I hung around in a couple of the open beach restaurant places but they were almost empty – most of the tourists were not here yet either! This was not the end of travelling Grand Finale I was thinking of. This was an anticlimax. I couldn’t even stay on the beach! It was a very quiet night.
The following morning I was woken up early to discover that the owners had assumed I was moving out because I had paid them the previous day! Thankfully they had another room which I could move into, but it just added to my sense of things not working out. The day was spent chilling near to the sea in one of the open beachfront restaurants and then after a bit I had a haircut in a local place for 50 Rupees (about 70p). Bargain!
In the evening I headed down to Cocktails and Dreams – one of the 24 hour bar/restaurants on the beach that had recently opened up. This place was more of a restaurant though with lines of chairs facing one way, so it was quite hard to meet people. Eventually though I got chatting to three women sitting behind me. One was a Scottish woman, one an older English woman and one an Indian woman. I ended up telling them about my desire to find somewhere to party and they recommended Baga beach to me as apparently there were loads of people there. With this in mind I then decided to depart in the morning and head up there. I still had time (just about ) to change locations comfortably and not feel rushed in my final couple of weeks. Palolem had proven to not live up to my memories as I had feared.