Exploring the Fontainhas, Goa

Fontainhas is an old Latin quarter at the Altinho foothills in Panjim. It’s one place in Goa where the Portuguese influence is still very evident, so much so that this is the only place in Goa which has Portuguese as the main spoken language.

The name ‘Fontainhas’ was derived from a natural spring, Fountain of Phoenix that sprouted in 1770 and is present to date. Fontainhas was founded in the late 18th century by a wealthy Portuguese named Antonio Joao de Sequeira. He used this land for coconut plantations. But, in the early 1800s, due to the spread of epidemic in the Old Goa, the Portuguese government headquarters was shifted to Panjim. As a result, this area was transformed into the residential area for Portuguese administrative officers and rulers. In 1984, UNESCO recognized Fontainhas as a Heritage Zone.

Narrow lanes, bright and vibrant houses, small cafes, old bakeries, art galleries and every nook and corner that tells an interesting Goan story are some of the characteristics of this amazing place. Even within the hustle bustle of Panjim city, Fontainhas has maintained its serenity and quaintness. All thanks to The Local Beat Goa, I recently enjoyed a heritage walk of mixed with lots of fun and facts about the place. After grabbing a refreshing glass of watermelon juice from the Mamaramma Cafe, just next to the St. Sebastian Chapel, we started off by driving through the uphill lanes of Altinho and the Maruti Temple became our first halt.

 

Coloured in bright hues of orange, a colour that represents the monkey god ‘Hanuman’, the structure of the temple is a perfect mix of modernity and ancient heritage. As I moved in, I came to know that the temple has two idols of lord Hanuman, and even without climbing up to the main temple, one can see the bigger idol through an opening in the lower floor wall. Well I bowed down my head in front of both, the main idol which is housed in a big hall looks majestic.

The prayer hall is huge and a big chandelier in the centre makes it look magnificent. There is a lot of open space around the main temple and the view from the top is breathtakingly beautiful. You can practically see the entire Fontainhas area from there and especially the spring.

We climbed  down the stairs that lead to the Fontainhas spring. It is believed that there was a tunnel from the temple till that spring, which now stands closed, and the door was sealed with a cross. The two structures that line around the spring used to provide light in that tunnel, are mosque like structures and hence this place becomes a wonderful amalgamation of 3 religions.

From there on we strolled through the lanes of Fontainhas, visiting a few art galleries, which house some of the best art that leave you awestruck. Its so interesting to see these old world charm buildings, you know the windows in some of the old houses use shells in place of glasses, as glass wasn’t available back then. And trust me they look so amazing that given a chance I would want my windows to be made of sea shells.

We also visited one of the oldest bakery, named Confeitaria 31 De Janeiro, it still uses the old stone clay oven and bakes some amazing stuff. I tried the french rolls and it really took me back in time, normally don’t get that kind of taste anymore. They were so fresh and delicious. The name 31 De Janeiro holds a significance in history, Rua 31 de Janeira (31st January Road) is named after the day when Portugal got independence from Spain on January 31, 1640

From a light drizzle to thunder shower, monsoons made the walk even more interesting and beautiful. I also learnt that the houses in Fontainhas still need to get painted after every monsoon, it was a rule laid out in the Portuguese time but is followed till date. This keeps the beauty and vibrancy of this place in tact year after year. One of the historic houses that I came across had big well in front of it, though the well is not in function now, but the serenity and peace of the place is inexplainable. You can really spend some quiet time there breathing the natural and man made beauties together.

Another place where you can sit back, relax and enjoy some great coffee and snacks is the Bombay Coffee Roasters. The front wall of this cafe is quite a popular one with photographers. The mosaic is really worth a look and the place offers calm and comfortable interiors, has wi-fi and is ideal to spend some quality time alone and get some creative work done, or simply chill out with friends.

Talking about mosaic, its not just about the wall of Bombay Coffee Roasters, but this tile art is one of the most significant characteristics of Goa and especially the Fontainhas. Azulejo is the Portuguese name for these beautifully hand painted ceramic tiles. This art originated in the 15th century and travelled to India when the Portuguese settled in Goa. Though back then these Azulejos were imported from Portugal, and there were no Goan artists to do it, the art from literally died. It was brought back by a man named Orlando De Norohna, who had a 5 year degree in commercial art from Goa college of arts. He went to Lisbon to get himself skilled with guitar and came back with Azulejos. Since then the art has been fully revived and many students took interest in learning the same. Today Goa is the only state in India where these tiles are made. Take a walk around Goa and you will see these Azulejos as a part of its landscape. From name tiles to murals, each Azulejo tells a Goan story. Azulejos De Goa in Panjim, is one of the best shops to hunt for these stunning hand crafted tiles.

Moving on, we came to one of the major landmarks of this old quarter of Goa, the St Sebastian Chapel. It was also the point from where we started and the point where we concluded our lovely heritage walk. The Chapel of St Sebastian is a popular tourist attraction in Goa, built in 1818. This chapel is dedicated to St. Sebastian.In earlier days, when people were troubled with the disease of pests and plagues, they turned for help to St Sebastian who treated them through his mediation and miraculous interventions.

This whitewashed church has a striking crucifix which originally stood in the Palace of Inquisition in Old Goa. In the crucifix Christ’s eyes are opened. It’s a rather unusual sight to witness a crucifix with Christ’s head up and eyes open, it’s believed to be so in order to instil fear of god. The god is watching those who are troublemakers and they shall be punished for their sins. The Chapel also houses a statue of the Virgin Mary, two marquetry chests and three elaborately carved screens from a church in Diu, which once formed part of the colony of Goa.

This heritage walk of Fontainhas filled me with so much information and beauty, that the memories will last a lifetime. All I could do is capture it in my camera in order to cherish and relive these moments again and again. This is one thing that you should definitely not miss when in Goa

 

Explore Texas Hill Country’s Beautiful Teravista Golf Course

If you are traveling and hoping to visit one of the beautiful golf courses near Austin TX, you might want to discover Teravista, in the heart of the Texas Hill Country in Round Rock. Views from the course cover a span of 50 miles, adding to the enjoyment of the game.

Designed by Clifton-Ezell-Clifton, the course has been awarded the distinction of ‘Beginner Friendly Course’ by the National Golf Course Owners Association; it is a great course for playing with the whole family as you travel Texas. Avid golfers as well as newcomers are all welcome here.

Water hazards, sand traps and unique fairways will be challenging and make your game exciting and memorable. There is the proximity to water on 14 holes, and 60 to 70 bunkers are in the layout. Hole #17 is the no. 1 handicap, with its 443 yards. Greens and fairways are composed of Bermuda Grass. Because there is often a long walk between holes, golf carts are recommended at this course. Tournaments are held here, and wedding and events take place at special times.

As an 18-hole championship course, Teravista offers rolling terrain and challenges for all levels and ages of golfers. It has a 7,200-yard layout with five different tee sets. With its location in the Austin area, this course is known for its great conditions.

Practice

Two greenside and fairway bunkers, chipping green and double-sided range are part of the experience. A 22,000 sq ft practice green is the largest in the Austin area. Visitors can get ready for their game, while hoping to achieve a great score.

Additionally, lessons are available at the J.L. Lewis Golf Academy on the premises. Seasoned players as well as newbies are taught by J.L., an author and two-time champion of the PGA Tour, winning the 1999 John Deere Classic and the 2004 84 Lumber Classic of Pennsyvannia. He offers world-class instruction for golfers of all abilities and ages and enjoys teaching amateurs to strive for their best.

Pro Shop

One can find the popular brands, such as Nike, Titleist, Under Amour, Foot-Joy and more in the well stocked shop. They have an large assortment of products, from balls to gloves.

Restaurant

You can enjoy breakfast and lunch right on the premises from 9:30 to 3 p.m. at the Caldwell Cafe. It is open to the public, seven days a week.

Booking

Travelers can book an online tee-time and can receive a discount if booked the same day at the right time. Advance booking is also possible with a choice of number of holes, players and price range.

With a four-star rating on Golf Advisor, players have commented on how well the greens were kept as well as the fairways. Its well-maintained conditions and course layout make it an excellent choice for those looking for 18-hole games at the best courses near Austin TX.

Teravista Golf Course has a facebook presence with Teravista Golf Club, so visitors can learn of special events or family activities.

 

You Should Know These Things Before Traveling

Are you prepared for a holiday?

 

There comes a time where everyone wants to get away from their current life, even if just for a short time, so it’s best to get the most out of it while you can. When planning a holiday, there’s a lot to consider, and when you likely only have limited time and money, you want to make sure it was worth paying for! Not everyone follows the same lifestyle, so planning holidays can come out in a variety of prices and destinations, and finding the right one for you can take time; it should!

 

Going with family?

 

When you travel with family, you can naturally expect it to turn out more difficult than advertised. In a lot of cases, the idea of a family holiday can look like a nightmare, especially for the parents. So how can you make sure your holiday is an escape, rather than it ending up stressful? First of all, as the holiday planner, you need to make sure you consider everyone who’s going. You don’t want to spend extra on people coming on holiday, for them to not want to be there; so make sure you’re covering everyone’s interests. Family holidays can be a generally great way to get closer as a family, as it’s the prime time for bonding; so make sure it doesn’t turn into the nightmare that many families fear!

 

Traveling alone

 

Many people might find the idea of traveling alone frightening. It is! But there are ways to dodge a lot of the fears you might face. Firstly, you have no one to rely on, and no one to do activities. This is when keeping yourself booked up becomes much more important, as relaxing alone can become easily boring. Are you going somewhere that speak another language? If so, it could be worth learning a few phrases in case of emergency, or maybe for just simple conveniences. Knowing how to ask for directions can save you a lot of trouble if you end up getting lost.

Moving Abroad

 

Moving is a scary enough experience as it is, except with this step you’re not only saying goodbye to your home but your country too. Exciting! It’s important that you consider almost everything when you want to move away, as there’s so much preparation to be done and costs to be covered. With that in mind, moving abroad can actually work out cheaper in the long run, depending on the economy of the country you’re going to. It could be that you’re looking for the luxury life in the sun, most people do this after they’ve retired; there’s no need to look for work this way, and you have plenty of time to pick on and adapt to the language. Take a look at some Malaysia property for some idea of what you could be missing out on. A lot of the time when people move abroad, it’s to get away from the weather and surroundings that they’re so bored of, so make sure you don’t head into more of the same is a must!

 

Expect to spend!

 

There’s a lot more to consider than just the fixed costs of going on a trip, so just preparing for your travel, food and a place to stay isn’t going to cut it. You’re going away to enjoy it, so make sure that money won’t be your downfall when you get there! A lot of the time when traveling, there can be unexpected costs, and if you’re not prepared to pay with them, it may well ruin your plans, so make sure you plan right and avoid any kind of surprises that you’ll be out of pocket for. You never know how you’ll feel or what you’ll see when you’re abroad, maybe you’ll learn of new activities that you want to take part in or find something that you’d like to buy as a souvenir.

 

Don’t plan too much!

 

It’s easy to turn your holiday into a stressful nightmare, you need to make sure you have time to relax in between activities. When looking online at all the things you can be a part of, it’s easy to be tempted into all of them, along with the pressure of getting the most out of your holiday. Just remember the holiday will be a lot less enjoyable if you change your mind at some point, and just need some time to chill out and take in the environment. It’s best to make sure there are things you can do without booking them, should you change your mind once you get over there.

(Source: Pexels)

 

Keeping holiday security

 

It’s quite scary to consider that when you’re on holiday, you can’t rely on the protection of police too much. Depending on where you go, you may end up having to deal with stolen or lost possessions, and the less aware of these crimes, the easier the target you are. That’s not to say that all locations are thriving with pick-pockets and criminals, but it’s best to take the extra measures to ensure that your belongings remain with you. Maybe you’ll only lose a small amount of money, maybe your phone! So it’s important to make sure you can protect yourself without expecting the help of others, due to the communication barriers, and the lack of evidence and witnesses there would be within a crowd.

 

Bring your own supplies

 

A lot of people find it hard to trust strangers, which isn’t a bad thing! Anywhere you are in the world, it’s best to rely on yourself than others, especially when buying drinks. Bringing your own alcohol and food can help you prevent yourself from getting sick while you’re away, as you know what you’re eating and drinking, and can ensure you don’t regret receiving from strangers. Again, I’m not saying everyone is out to get you, but when you’re on holiday it can become even more difficult to trust strangers, because you likely don’t speak their language, or know anything about them.

 

 

Palm Springs, California- Perfect hideout to unwind!

California is a place that turns your dreamland into a reality, so much so that in front of the natural beauty of redwood Californian forests and classy beaches, this enchanted city puts even Disneyland to shame.

Whether places of amusement or food & drinks, California gives you a perfect mix of everything. Just for start, do you know California produces over 90% of the country’s wine- making grapes and has twice as many breweries as any other state in the US. This golden state also produces most of the country’s fresh produce and sets the trends for the entire nation to follow.

And within this enchanted state if you looking for a laid back kind of vacation, head straight to Palm Springs. The place has a historical evidence of being a favorite, even with the biggest of Hollywood Celebrities. The entire city has a very retro kind of charm to it even to this date and it doesn’t seem to fade away. Though it’s a small place, but it still has so much to offer.

Palm Springs has a hot desert climate, with over 300 days of sunshine and around 4.83 inches (122.7 mm) of rain annually.The winter months are warm, with a majority of days reaching 70 °F (21 °C) and in January and February days often see temperatures of 80 °F (27 °C) and on occasion reach over 90 °F (32 °C), while, on average, there are 17 nights annually dipping to or below 40 °F (4 °C); freezing temperatures occur in less than half of years.

The most traffic comes in to Palm Springs from LA and there are a lot of ways that one can travel from LA to Palm Springs.

By Air- Palm Springs does have an airport but its necessarily not the most convenient way to travel as the flights are less and often expensive. The lay over at San Francisco makes the flight durations longer than usual. Depending on where the person is flying from, the Ontario airport, which is 70 miles from Palm Springs serves as a better options, as it has more number of flight options and better connectivity to Palm Springs.

By Train- You can take Amtrak’s Sunset Limited train directly from LA’s Union Station to Palm Springs, but do remember to check as it doesn’t run on all days, and has a selected few days operation. The Texas Eagle also makes the trip a few days a week. Both of those trains run late at night, arriving in Palm Springs after midnight. Using any of those trains will take about 2.5 hours.

By Bus- There are no regular buses making the trip from LA to Palm Springs, but you will have a couple of options for commercial bus services. The bus trip from LA to Palm Springs takes about 3.5 hours. They Greyhound buses travel to Thousand Palms which is 12 miles from Palm Springs and from where one can get some local buses to get to Palm Springs.

By Car- Traveling to Palm Springs is not just the most common but also the most convenient and inexpensive way to travel. Even by road, there are two options, one is through various freeways and other is the road, which is more scenic and beautiful and often called as Palms to Pines highway.

Once you reach Palm Springs, the first thing you think of is a place to stay, now given the fact that we all make our bookings in advance, you can pre-book your stay, so that all you need to do after reaching the city is checking in and retiring to the comfort of your room.

In terms of stay options, from luxe hotels to budget options and villas, the place has plenty to offer for all kind of travelers. Tourism is a major factor in the city’s economy with 1.6 million visitors on an average. The city has over 130 hotels and resorts, numerous bed and breakfasts and over 100 restaurants and dining spots. Palm Spring Homes for Rent can really come in handy for you to explore all possible options.

Things to do in Palm Springs

Visit the Palm Springs Art Museum– The Palm Springs Art Museum, which was founded in the year 1938, is an epitome of art and culture. Regular exhibitions keep taking place in the museum and also the permanent collection of the museum is worth taking a look at.

Image Source- Google

Joshua Tree National Park– This place is the perfect example of being an oasis in the dessert. Whether you wanna hike, walk on the foot or drive through, its one experience you should not miss.

Image Source-Pixabay

Springs Aerial Tramway– The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway operates every day between 8 or 10 a.m. and 9:45 p.m., though exact hours may vary by season. Facilities found at the top of Mount San Jacinto include two restaurants, multiple observation decks, a natural history museum and a gift shop. The view of the mountains from the tramway is spectacular and breathtakingly beautiful.

Image Source- Google

The Living Dessert– From October 1 to May 31, The Living Desert is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. In the summer (from June 1 to September 30) the place is open every day between 8 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. It’s a part zoo and part botanical garden where the flora and fauna co-exist. The gardens in the living dessert boast of more than 1400 species of plants and animals like mountain lions, bighorn sheep and meerkats are easily seen.

Image Source- Google

Indian Canyons– Travelers often describe these canyons as breathtakingly beautiful and peaceful, in fact no words are appropriate to describe these beauties. Some places are better seen and experiences rather than to be spoken off and these canyons belong to that category. The Indian Canyons are open every day from October 1 through July 4, but visitors are only permitted on Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday from July 5 to September 30. On all opening days, visiting hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m

Image Source-Google

 

 

Exploring Goa in a different way with Goa Unlimited..!!

Goa has always been my most favourite place on this planet and it always will be. I have been to Goa so many times and yet I am always ready for my next visit. There is so much to Goa that however times you may visit, there is always something new to discover about it, and thats the best part. You cannot get tired of exploring Goa, and when you have experts who can guide you through the most unexplored parts of Goa, you simply can’t ask for more.

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