Happy Valentine's Day. Had a beautiful sleep in a fabulous bed with fabulous pillows. The temperature was perfect; in fact everything about this hotel is perfect. It is just lovely.
10.30 am start this morning for our guided tour of Goa so we had a late relaxed breakfast. I had a lassi, fresh fruit, bircher muesli, a well cooked omelette and marsala tea. Perfect!
Lorraine and Diane and Phil and I met our guide at 10.30 am and proceeded on our tour of Goa. Our guide's name is: Francis Xavier Santa Maria Pedro Fernandez!! He has a very loud voice and perfect English. We can all understand him very well.
We drove to Panaji, the capital of Goa and visited the magnificent world heritage listed colonial churches, the Basilica de Bom Jesus, built in 1594 by the Jesuits. This Baroque style building is revered the world over by Roman Catholics as it houses the remains of Goa's Patron Saint, Francis Xavier.
These dogs guard the church at night and sleep during the day.
This is a carob tree.
And Se Cathedral with its outstanding gold leaf altar. They were both amazing and we are so glad we have come to Goa. We think the rest of our group who are now on their way home (or already there), have definitely missed something very special.
A fresco of Adam and Eve.
The leaning tree of Goa!
Then we visited a local spice farm and I was very excited to discover that I could have an elephant ride, which I did.
We walked across a bridge over a lagoon and were welcomed to the spice farm with a flower garland and the dot on the forehead.
We were then introduced to Juliet who guided us around the spice farm. She was very easy to understand too and was very knowledgeable about the different spices. I should say here that we have been having great difficulty understanding the locals in southern India. We didn't seem to have much trouble in the north last year but I think it is because the southerners speak a lot faster.
The spice farm is owned by four brothers and covers 180 hectares and is totally organic. No fertilizers or pesticides are used. The demonstration farm has only been open for 20 years.
We watched this guy climb up a beetle nut tree and jump from one to the other demonstrating how to pick beetle nuts and then slide down very quickly.
We tasted Feni, which is an alcoholic drink made from cashew nuts. It is 40% proof and tasted a bit like weak scotch. Our guide told us not to smell it first because it smells awful, but just skoll the whole thing down in one go. It was okay.
We had lunch at the spice farm of rice, dahl etc and crumbed and fried prawns and fish. It was nice too.
On the way back to the hotel, Francis took us into Panaji, as about a week ago one of the nose pads disappeared off my glasses. The optician's shop was still closed for siesta, but we saw the beautiful Church of the Immaculate Conception. Stunning against the blue sky. Apparently it is one of only three in the world, the others in Lisbon and Rio de Janerio.
We arrived back at the hotel at about 3.30 pm and wandered around the grounds taking photos. There is a wedding here tomorrow night an as usual, the preparations are over the top. The bride and groom are coming from Dubai.
This guy was following us around the grounds and wanted to have his photo taken with me. Why, for goodness sake?
We enquired about a hotel car to take us back into the city to get my glasses fixed but their quote was a bit much so we walked out the front gate and negotiated a price with a local taxi driver. He took us into Panaji via the old highway which was a lot narrower but more picturesque than the main highway we took this morning. The optician was open and two new nose pads for my glasses would cost 30 or 60 rupees. We decided to blow the budget and go for the expensive ones - $1.10 Australian!
Phil bought some tonic water, some beer and a bottle of local gin and it was a third of the price that you would pay any where else in India.
Arrived safely back at the hotel after our adventure and now having a relaxing pre dinner drink before our Valentine's buffet dinner.
Have just returned from the Valentine's buffet dinner. OMG! The choice of food was fantastic. And the dessert table was amazing. I really made a little piggy of myself tonight. It was all I could do to control myself and not stick my whole head in the pink chocolate fondue fountain.
The waiters are very attentive and notice everything so when our cappuccinos arrived, they had a pink chocolate heart on them! Attention to detail is first class here.
On the way back to our room, we came across the bride and groom being photographed prior to attending their pre wedding ball. As I mentioned before, they are from Dubai and it is obviously a love match, not arranged. They are two of the beautiful people - check out the diamond ring. They are going to Melbourne and Sydney for their honeymoon.
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