After the agent left I took a look around. We had been promised some provisions but none could be found. I opened one of the kitchen cupboards and, to my surprise, I found a giant cockroach lying dead. I was grateful it was dead but not impressed that it was there.
It was getting late and we had no way of getting to the local supermarket, so I texted the host asking where the supplies promised were hidden and told him about the cockroach. Our host sent a man immediately around with the groceries we were promised before arrival and this man removed the dead cockroach. When he left I set to making food. Nothing exciting, just eggs and bread but it would see us to the next morning. The kitchen was very grubby and everything was in a really bad state. Dishes looked like they were barely wiped and put into the press and the fridge looked as if it had never seen a cloth. The table cover was covered in cigarette holes and breadcrumbs. The bed sheets had holes and generally looked like they should have been on kitchen duty as cleaning cloths at this stage. This was clearly not the standard I had expected when I booked an AirBnB property which claimed to have signed up to the COVID cleaning protocols. However, It was too late to do anything about this place now, instead I would deal with it in the morning. Róisín was taking it all in her stride. She had seen bigger bugs when doing her J1 in the USA. So giving full gratitude for her bravery and refusing to go into the kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom until it was first inspected we settled in (as best we could for the night). We boiled the eggs to eat with our bread as it required the least use of equipment. I was o grateful for the sleeping bags which backpackers revert to for just such occasions. I did wonder if my 5 star living had raised my expectations to a level that I could never return, but no, the place was a tip. I decided that in the morning we would find a shop and buy some cleaning products. Crazy I know! But the next day was New Years Eve and I knew it would be impossible to find anywhere else to stay.
View from balcony of AirBnB
New Years' Eve
We got up the next morning and headed out to explore the area and to find a shop. It was about a ten minute walk to the beach from our AirBnB and along the way we passed a few little shops but nothing like a supermarket. The beach was pristine white, beautiful and stretched for miles with nobody else around. I hated the thought of going back to the dirty apartment and we failed to find a shop that sold any kind of cleaning products. I could not understand how this guy had managed to get a 5 star rating on AirBnB and a cleanliness badge with his apartment in such a state. I had been an AirBnB host for a few years and cleanliness was my highest priority. To my surprise I learned that buried deep in the small print was a statement that the reviews listed for this property were actually from another property the host owns. I had been an AirBnB host and never knew this could be done. I was so mad when I realised and resigned myself to leaving and taking the loss. I got back to the apartment and started looking for another place to stay. It was the 31st of January and there was no room at the Inn unless you were prepared to pay over €300 for 2 nights. I had stayed at the Marriott for 50 euros per night so this was a huge inflation. I understood it was business. No one was preparing a room on New Years' Eve without being well compensated.
We found a resort further up the cost which we could book for €300 plus an additional €80 for the mandatory New Years' Eve party. I text the owner of the AirBnB we were staying in and told him I was leaving as his property was filthy. I told him I would appreciate a refund of remaining days as the property he had rented to me did not meet even basic cleanliness standards. I put it to him that if he gave me a refund I would not review, as in any real since the booking had been cancelled. If he chose not to give a refund I would be reviewing his property with pictures and I would not be glossing over the state of the place. Having to book alternative accommodation at this late stage was costing me a fortune and I was not going to take this hit alone. I was giving him a chance to get out of this but he claimed I was blackmailing him. He claimed that the apartment was not as bad as I was saying and that the problem was that I had expected "European" standards of cleanliness and not Indian. I sent him the full collection of pictures taken and he returned with an apology. He was quite good about things in the end and offered to compensate us for the alternative accommodation which I told him was very generous but not necessary. I knew it had been very difficult in the tourist industry for the past two years and I had no intention of making matters worse for this man. I knew a review from a European could make or break a business this part of the world as things were opening back up since the pandemic. I was happy to get the remaining days refunded and not review his property at all, good or bad which I felt was fair. We managed to book a taxi to our next destination, which again because of the day was now being charged at €40 and an hour long wait to be picked up. Beggars can't be choosers, so within the hour we were collected and driven to our new accommodation.
Coconut Creek Resort even as a 3 star was an enormous step up from what we had just left behind. Between finding new accommodations and trying to find a taxi it was 6:30 pm by the time we got to our hotel room. By 7 pm the reception were phoning the room to say we had to head over to the New Years' Eve party. The mandatory party that we had to attend because we were being charged whether we went or not. The hotel bar and restaurant were closed for the evening so if we wanted to eat we had little choice but to go to the party. Now party attire was not something we had considered when packing our rucksacks so I had little choice but to go in what I had. Oh my god! what I had was fine for hoofing around street markets but not for a New Years' Eve party. But luckily I was born with the gift of “brazen it out” as the gran used to say. Quick shower, brushed the hair, no drying as I was going for that "don’t care" look as nothing in my bag could challenge that persona. We were guided along some sandy paths and through some sand dunes to arrive at a beach bar where everything was set up for a fab night of festivities. There was entertainment, great food, table service and drinks included so the €40 ticket wasn’t looking too painful after all. They had participant games which I joined in with (if your doing the "I don’t care wardrobe" you need to be in the thick of it to pull it off!). There were a lot of English families which I hadn’t expected. I later discovered that they were all employees of the British consulate working in India and I suppose it was cheaper to put them up in India for the holidays than fly them all home. Róisín and I had our own table near the back of the room. Where other guests may have seen each other around the pool or at breakfast we knew no one and no one knew us. The owner of the club had, just a short time earlier, placed a bottle of wine on our table and said it was for an activity that was happening later. So when the request for volunteers from the audience to come to the stage to take part in a game went out, I put my hand up immediately. I figured if we didn't get with the program we would be out in the wings for the night. So in my not inspired t-shirt and ill fitting pants I took to the stage and I had a fabulous time. The game required that we had a set time to get particular items and return with them to the stage. As everyone on stage with the exception of myself had large groups or family with them to help, the host very kindly asked the audience to help me as it was only Róisín and I. It was great fun running among the audience asking people for whatever object we were required to get. It was also a great ice breaker. When I returned to our table the people at the next table started chatting and then asked us to join them. That turned out to be a 4 am party and one of the best in memory although it still doesn’t beat Vicars' Street Dublin New Years' Eve 2017. The resort was fabulous with some great craic! (Irish for fun, pronounced crack). The other hotel guests there, as well as an Indian party, kindly invited us to join them into the wee hours. The food was exceptional. I hadn’t had steak since leaving home and was surprised to discover that Goa didn't have the same reverence for cows compared to the rest of India. I had my first steak in this fabulous establishment and it was so good. I don’t usually eat a lot of steak but its extraordinary how we crave the things we are not allowed. We were relocating to a less expensive hotel the following day but for now it was new years day and we were treated ourselves to some spa treatments, good food and any other facilities available to us before our departure.
New Years' Eve fireworks
We checked out of Coconut Creek the next day and relocated to Palmieri’s Dourado, a little further down the coast and on the edge of a tropical forest, only minutes from the beach. This was more within our budget at €182 for 4 nights. We had gotten lost a few times on the trip there and at one point we pulled into the forecourt of the wrong hotel and were told by the owner that the place we were looking for was closed down. I figured he was lying as I had only booked the hotel the previous day and our taxi driver agreed saying he was just hoping to get our booking. But we did eventually find the correct location and this place was a real little find. Our room was on the ground floor with a balcony that lead onto the pool deck and to the restaurant. New Year was over for most and the hotel was empty except for Róisín and I. I think this must be what its like to own a fully staffed private villa with everyone there just to ensure every whim is answered. The restaurant had two members of staff and someone was in attendance at all times.
Goa Beach near hotel
Bike Tour of Goa
We took the opportunity to go on an electric bike tour of the area. We arrived at the place to get bikes and to meet our guide. We were given a little lesson on how to operate them and they checked that we understood the rules of the road. I was confident I could handle this and so off we went. The tour took us out of the village and along a quiet busy road for a stretch before turning off into the narrower roads along the paddy fields and into the jungle. When I went to turn left off the main road and onto the side road I employed my rules of the road training, right arm out and moved to the center of the road, whereupon a motorbike swerved across the center line and just missed hitting me. So the lesson was take everything you know about the rules of the road and forget them. In India. rules of the road are an aesthetic aspiration but nobody really uses them and you are likely to get yourself killed if you try. Any junctions I came to afterwords, I pulled the bike to the side of the road and ensured there was no traffic near me before crossing. Our guide was great stopping along the way to point out interesting things to us like the touch me not plant which curls up when you run your finger along the leaves.
We went up a mountain to see a church and free wheeled down on the bikes. It was mighty craic (even more fun!) and the guide enjoyed my sense of humor. He brought us to some very off the beaten track locations, one being through a village in the forest and down to a beautiful river bank. As we cycled through the village children hung out the windows shouting “Hello” and laughing when I replied. I said hello to everyone I passed and everyone without exception returned a smiling "Hello" back to me. I cannot fault the friendliness of the Indian people. We Irish have a repetition for being friendly but you can still meet the odd grump, haven’t met any here, very pleasant people. Our guide told me that most of the tours he does, the tourists don’t talk and just want to take pictures so he cannot tell whether the group are enjoying themselves or not, ergo he sticks to the program and ends the tour as planned. So if you want to see the road less traveled and less commercialized, be nice to your guide and show them you are interested. Our 10 km cycle with numerous pit stops ended back at the starting point after 3 hours. It was getting pretty hot now so we headed back to the hotel to lazy by the pool for the afternoon. Oh what a wonderful life, Ahhhhhhhh! We spent a relaxing few days in this hotel. Found our way eventually to the beach through a coconut grove where deserted white sandy beaches stretched as far as the eye could see. This hotel was the perfect location to catch a breath and recharge. We had one more location to see in India and then we were on to Sri Lanka. We flew from Goa heading for Kochi after our week long break.
Hi, I'm Olive and I am the writer of this blog. I am traveling the world with my 22 year old daughter, Róisín, who has just graduated University. I wanted to document this journey because it is unusual for a woman of 58 years old to go on adventure that most students do on a gap year. I will try to share my insights into this epic journey with you along the way and maybe inspire more people my age to go on these crazy adventures too.