Trip Start Dec 15, 2009
Trip End Aug 27, 2010

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Flag of India  , Goa,
Friday, May 21, 2010

After collecting our bags, we emerged from the airport in Goa to a welcome 35C and a very nice man holding a sign with Derek's name on. Better still, the nice man came with an even nicer air-conditioned car to drive us an hour to the Lemon Tree Amarante resort in Candolim. On arrival, we checked out various rooms before settling on a second floor room overlooking the pool. Derek had indeed done well and the resort was exactly what we were looking for; nice rooms (clean with good a/c), decent pool, gym and internet access (though expensive by the minute). Luckily it’s low season and our room that, according to lonely Planet, would have been $325/night was a snip at $100/night! Not only that, but their summer package includes free breakfast, free bottle of wine per stay and a free bar for two hours a day and Derek was also able to negotiate an extra bed for the kids for no extra charge! I think we’re going to like it here ...

Having checked in at about 6pm, we hastily changed into swimwear and made our way to the pool. Not, of course, because we were desperate for a swim but the free bar was already underway at the swim-up bar in the pool. Rather odd when you think about it as they have signs up saying not to use the pool after drinking, but they provide a free bar in the pool, hmmmm??? Being our first night, we decided to try the restaurant in the resort, the Republic of Noodles. Shockingly expensive for India, but wonderfully good (Thai/Indian) food!

Lemon Tree is a chain of hotels, and refer to their various locations as branches, but they also play on the lemon theme very well, from the lemon scented air freshener in the welcome car to the "lemon twist" toiletries. Luckily we like the smell of lemons!

The temperature is relatively cool (30-35C) compared to the other parts of India that we have visited, but still extremely warm and rather humid too. So, we were grateful to discover the following morning that the gym was well air-conditioned and with slightly thick heads, proceeded to work off the indulgences of last night….or was it more about burning enough calories to feel less guilty at the breakfast buffet?

The breakfast buffet is one of the most impressive we’ve seen, containing everything you might expect and a little bit more; cereals, yoghurt, cheese, fruit, cold meats, salad, lassis, chutneys, milkshakes, juices, breads, donuts, muffins, and that’s just the cold stuff. Hot foods included all manner of Indian dishes (rices, curries, breads, pakoras, etc), sausages, bacon, tomatoes and an assortment of more western non-breakfast dishes such as sauted vegetables, lyonnaise potatoes, vegetable au gratin, chicken nuggets. Plus, an egg chef who had an array of about twenty different ingredients that could be added to your eggs and a pancake/waffle/dosa chef!    

Following a hearty breakfast/lunch, we waddled to the poolside and spent most of the afternoon swimming, reading and soaking up the sun. Later we headed out for a walk to find out just what the area has to offer by way of beaches and restaurants… and soon discovered that most of Candolim has closed for the season! The beach was calling and so we found our way down a small sidestreet, through the sand dunes and onto the beach where we were slightly surprised to find a huge rusty tanker grounded just a few metres from shore? OK, so it wasn’t totally surprising as we had read about the tanker, but it was quite startling to see just how large and ugly it is sitting so close to the beach. Its situation is also a little less shocking when you look further out to sea and see a myriad of ocean liners just off the coast, clearly there is a shipping lane running very close to shore and it was only a matter of time before one of them got a little too close (In Derek’s version of events the sailors were too long at sea and were straying close to shore for a gawk at the bikini-clad sunbathers). Returning to the main street had us playing the restaurant guessing game …. and low season at 5pm they’re all pretty much empty, but we placed our money on one that had a few tables already occupied – Fisherman’s Cove. Dinner was fine, though nothing to blog home about, but we will return one evening a little later when they have their tandoor (oven) running and give them a second chance…. Must get going though, I think the bar will be open soon ...
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