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Phespirit goes to India
Candolim & Hospet     November 2009

Seeking winter warmth and relaxation, Phespirit went to Goa. He got his winter warmth in abundance: clammy and suffocating, almost overwhelming, with stifling humidity for accompaniment. And although he had all the opportunity for relaxation that he could wish for, he hadn't reckoned on so many distractions to occupy his every waking hour. So Phespirit went to Goa for warmth and relaxation, but what he got was baked and busied.

The heat first entered his system on the hour-long bus ride from the airport to his lodgings in Candolim, North Goa. It intensified in his room despite an air conditioning unit that rattled gamely against the odds, whilst a ceiling fan merely eddied the saturated air in vain. After resting and recharging he changed into supposedly cooler clothes and stepped out into the afternoon sunshine for a stroll around town. As can happen, his little exploratory walk turned into a seven mile hike, first south as far as the Calizz museum (no time to visit), then retracing north and on further, detouring east at St. Anthony's chapel to St. Alex's church before returning to the main road and veering west at the centre of Calangute, down to the crowded beach just in time for sunset. What a magnificent beach, magnificent spectacle, magnificent atmosphere.

He strolled back to Candolim barefoot over golden sands and resolved to spend the next day by the sea. This he largely did, still walking instead of relaxing, taking in the coast from Aguada Point at the southern end of Candolim by the mouth of the Mandovi River, passing Calangute on the way to Baga by the mouth of the Chapora River in the north. The whole is one long stretch of beach. His only detour inland was to ascend Aguada Point and inspect Fort Aguada at the summit - a long sweltering trek.

The next two days saw excursions by jeep to the Dudhsagar waterfall; by boat to Anjuna flea market; and by taxi into Old Goa. And for Phespirit's last three days in India he boarded a train to venture outside of Goa altogether, into neighbouring Karnataka. From Madgaon station where the train departed at ten past eight in the morning, just a few minutes late, he travelled for more than eight hours to arrive in Hospet at twenty past four in the afternoon. That's plenty of time to kill. Phespirit whiled it away by roaming around carriages, banging his head on light fittings, sitting in open doorways, admiring passing scenery, finding vantage points for photos, and catching up on a little reading.

No-one travels 375km from Goa to Hospet unless to go a further 13km northeast to Vijayananagar. Also called 'Hampi' after the nearest local village, this once-great capital of empire, now standing in ruins, is as vast and complex as its original name. Phespirit passed a full day at the site, from when the morning sun stood low above the Tunga Bhadra reservoir, to its twilight departure in a pink haze, watched from a high vantage point on Malayavanta hill. It is an impressive site to explore. Phespirit found it quite comfortable too, as the climate felt less humid than in Goa.

It is often said that Goa has lost its charm since the hedonistic hippy heydays of the Sixties, but the same can probably be said of anywhere with an economy dependent on transient visitors. Phespirit never knew Goa in the Sixties - he was postnatal for a mere 147 days of it - so he can only judge it as he finds it today: a hedonistic happy holiday destination alive with colours, fragrances, smiling faces and a buzz of life. A thoroughly enjoyable place to visit.

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