There is so much life, music and carnival in the name ‘Goa’ itself that a tourist’s imagination about Goa can’t come out from the prototype imagery- a Goan man in a funky beach shirt with ruffled hair and silvery stud earrings playing guitar while the sun sets down the horizon. There’s an enchanting hybrid smell of so many uniqueness like old western music, cashew feni (country liquor produced exclusively in Goa), Portuguese lifestyle etc which fills up the air of Goa all throughout the year and successfully pulls tourists from all around the globe! Among many other things to try in Goa, when you’re in north Goa you must experience the blissful evening river cruise over River Mandovi while tapping your feet with the beats of DJ onboard and dance programs by local dancers.
|There was this huge crowd in the jetty area waiting for Sunset Cruise!|
I got an opportunity to enjoy this GTDC run Santa Monica cruise over River Mandovi in my Goa trekking trip last December (2013). Being it our reporting day in the base camp at Panjim, we were free for the entire day to explore Goa on our own. I had teamed up with a co-trekker, an engineer from Bangalore and hired a scooter to travel around classical Old Goa. I found old Goa to be a traveller’s paradise but I’ll share that travel story in a separate post. After the clock touched four o’clock afternoon we called it a day for old Goa and remembered of our river cruise tickets in pocket which we had purchased in the morning itself to ensure our evening sail. There were three booking options at Santa Monica Jetty- Sunset Cruise (6:00-7:00 PM, Rs 200 per head), Sundown Cruise (7:15-8:15 PM, Rs 200 per head) and Dinner Cruise (8:45-10:45 PM, Rs 650 per head). Dinner cruised seemed most palatable but there was an added responsibility of reporting at base camp latest by 8:30 PM, so sunset cruise was our safest bet. Having booking slips make you tension free. I was no exception. I rode like a tortoise back to Panjim to discover a fair-ground like crowd in the jetty area much to my surprise. It was not even 5:30 PM by then! Tickets gave no other lead than making us integral part of one of those four long queues. The humidity in the air and expired warmth of so many tourists over the jetty made us sweat like hippos. Slowly in another 20-25 minutes they cleared long lines and pushed us successfully up to our goal. Ah what a relief! It was a double decked spacious motorised (obviously!) vessel, named Paradise Cruise.
|The setting sun left its crimson hue over Panjim and Mandovi!|
|While the music program was yet to start tourists kept enjoying the river view!|
The lower deck/floor was food cum snacks parlour and the top deck was like an open auditorium with laid down plastic chairs for enjoying the cultural dance program onboard. There was a stage at one end with DJ’s strand and light decoration. Nothing much is needed when you have the mystic river breeze to sweep off your sweat and an awesome, constantly changing, multihued sunset sky to create the mood you look for in a cruise party! Securing a seat by the railing, like an amazed child I kept staring at the mainland Goa wet in purplish orange natural light. After few clicks my camera battery resigned and I was out of power supply. My phone camera was no alternate for low lit photography but had to exploit it anyway. Something is always better than nothing, especially when you’re travelling! Luckily my mobile supported HD video shooting and I captured some of those dance moments over the stage. The anchor/DJ was quite lively and left no means to engage the tourists. Ladies, gents and kids were called up stage on separate occasions to dance on happening bollywood tracks. There were moments for couples as well. When a husband sitting in front of me rejected his wife to join her on stage during couple salsa (don’t take it literally), the lady’s angry expression was potent enough to run a chill down my spine (now think of that poor chap’s condition!). Jokes aside, the whole vessel was in a pure celebration mood.
Check this video of a Portuguese dance over our Paradise cruise:-
If you love harvest dance by Konkani farmers you got to watch this video:-
While the live music and dance were on play, the paradise cruise gently sailed along Mandovi, passing several old colonial buildings interspersed with scenic promenades, many floating casinos, luxury cruise ships, till the sky was completely dark and the dots and blotches of light could be spotted over Miramar beach. Then it turned around steadily to take the same return path up to the jetty. Other than three-four occasions where they involved audiences there were four dances from their side, mostly folk dance. Can’t really say whether it’s the influence of history or the superiority of their dance steps, the Portuguese dance item fascinated me most. I tried to capture some of those dance items in my mobile. My location was quite distant from the stage, so video quality won’t be yummy, still enough for you to taste and get an idea before you’re travelling Goa. There was a dedicated bar in our vessel to add that extra zing to the evening float, off course there was no complementary drink at 200 bucks!
|That is a floating casino of Goa, popular among tourists with a heavy wallet!|
I would personally recommend you to experience this evening river cruise on Mandovi River unless you’re really tight on your itinerary. Even if you got a single day at Panjim, you can still end your day dining in a sailing vessel over the river by booking a Dinner Cruise ticket. Other than spot booking, you can also book your cruise ticket online through GTDC booking portal. And if you’re a lone wolf like me who chooses tranquillity over exuberance, you may plug in earphones to savour 70’s rock tracks while lazing in Cafe Mojo with a glass of something that can be called a gentleman’s drink. Do check back soon to enjoy my travel tales of old Goa.