Category Archives: India

Look at them now – How iconic hippie hangouts have changed

The sixties and seventies were arguably the golden age of travel for backpacking vagabonds, hippies and soul searchers. I can remember stories about the overland trail to Kathmandu that fascinated me with their richness and mystery. Istanbul was spoken of in hushed tones by the knowledgeable and the Magic Bus seemed truly ……well magic.

As a teenager I thumbed through an old travel agents guide, ABC I think it was called, that resembled the CIA fact book that we see online now. I had planned my round the world trip several times over and was already, in my imagination, sipping tea in some far flung destination watching the day unfold over my copy of Le Monde.

The Far East was truly the ends of the Earth; India, as a Brit, seemed more accessible but remained undeniably enticing. I was still too young to travel and soon the world would move to make some of these romantically ideal places off limits and change the game and the innocence we once had.
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My Top Five Beaches In The World

Now this is obviously very subjective and, of course, I haven’t been everywhere however I love beaches and prefer sand over shingle or rocks and I have been very fortunate to have seen quite a few great ones in my travels. The list below are my favourites so far although by the time you read this I may have found an even better one, I am always looking!

What makes a great beach?

The first thing I think of is clean sand, nothing is worse than rubbish piled up on a terrific beach. Fine sand is, for me, the best with powder white coming right at the top but soft golden sand will work just as well.

Next is the water; clean, clear water with at most a little surf is ideal. Being able to laze in the water and relax is much more preferable than being pounded by surf and churned up like a washing machine, surfers would of course disagree. I don’t surf!

What about beach facilities? Well it’s nice to be able to get a cold beer and a bite to eat but apart from that I am not too worried. A nice sunset bar is a plus though and beach chairs with shade can sometimes come in handy.

Location is awkward, too close to town and the beach can get busy but if the beach is far away transportation can become an issue. Some beaches are really remote and that can be great as well but getting back to your room or hotel after being in the sun all day can be a bit of a slog.

Okay, I have outlined my main preferences so let’s get to the contentious issue of the beaches themselves, in reverse order of course!

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Tandoori Nights in Palolem, Goa, India

Palolem, Goa

I had been trying to get to India for ages, if fact I already had an unused and expired visa in my passport, this time I would actually make it.

With India being so huge I had decided to be conservative in my travel plans and to keep to the west coast. I arrived in Mumbai on an overnight British Airways flight and was booked onto a Kingfisher plane to Goa later in the morning.

The chaos of the terminals in Mumbai is amazing with hundreds of people shouting and running around, bags disappearing off into the distance and perplexed travellers stuck in the middle. I managed to find the correct bus to transfer to the domestic terminal and we meandered for miles around the perimeter road before finally arriving at our destination.

palolem beach

Here is a big, no HUGE, tip. If you make a reservation by debit or credit card for a flight or hotel in India you must show the card that you made the reservation with. Now if that card was replaced for some reason you will still need to show it, regardless. This is always on the small print on nearly every flight I have booked all over the world but I have never, ever been asked for the original card, until India.

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