A Day in Fontainhas
Fontainhas or the 'Fountain of Phoenix' is located in Panaji, yet far removed from the chaos and clamor of the city. Fontainhas transports me to more than 60 years ago when the Portuguese administrators resided in this area. As I walk through the old Latin Quarters of Goa, I'm surrounded by streets lined with red, green, yellow, and orange houses that cast a spell over me, beckoning me to come closer. Moving along the tiny, cramped, colorful streets, the smell of chorizo pav hangs somewhere in the distance. Further down, I come across an old gentleman, wearing a loose white striped shirt and over-sized gray pants, like straight out of a vintage poster. He casually gazes at the street from the picture-perfect balcony of his maroon-colored house. As I move on, I can't help but envy the serenity on his face. Further along, I enter an old bakery hoping to savor some yummy Goan treats. While I stuff myself with the three layered cake called bebinca, I'm amazed to learn from the owner that some of the bakeries in the area date back to over 70 years!
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A plethora of culture and heritage, Goa is often only known for it's beaches and parties. A walk through Fontainhas triggers a growing realization that Goa was ruled by the Portuguese for about 450 years. While the Hindus, fearing conversion to Christianity escaped to far-removed villages along with their temples, the Portuguese set up their headquarters in Panaji, giving birth to the Latin quarters. History comes alive here in Fontainhas, waiting for you to listen to the untold stories it has hidden within itself. Walk the lanes of this magical, often unsung place and revel in it's history.
The Urban Cafe, also known as the Bombay Coffee Roasters, is a hostel and cafe serving a selection of teas and coffees. On the outside it has a colorful tiled wall, giving off a hipster feel. Inside, the seating is over two floors. While the bottom floor has a simple, minimalist white decor, the top floor has dim gray walls, comfortable couches, a wooden bench and a stand-out lighting arrangement. Although food is not served here (except some sandwiches), it is a great place to relax, utilize the WiFi to finish off your work and start the day with a refreshing cup of coffee.
Gitanjali Art Gallery
A stone's throw away from the Urban Cafe is Gitanjali Art Galley, located next to Panjim Inn. Painted in contrasting maroon and white, the Gallery showcases the work of local artists and a substantial collection of Scandinavian lithographs, lino prints and etchings from the 1950s and 1960s. As a matter of fact, the gallery functions as a cultural space, hosting events such as poetry readings, courses on film appreciation and art discussions. The gallery is a part of the Panjim Inn Hotel. Drop-by here to soak in the stories told by the local artists though pictures.
Walk Around and Take Pictures
My favorite thing to do in Fontainhas is to capture the beauty all around and to try and appear in some of the photographs. Because the streets are lined with numerous colored walls, they offer excellent photo-taking opportunities. After you're done squealing with joy looking at the walls, do remember to click a picture with them as well. Wear bright colored clothes to give the walls some competition and make your pictures pop!
Fontainhas and the nearby Mala have some alluring staircases, hidden within the labyrinth of the many tiny streets. The light poles and the foliage around the quiet, empty staircase give off the impression of a quaint European town. You might even find a stay cat watching you suspiciously in the background. Walk around Fontainhas to discover some of these staircases. Most of the time, you will find them empty. It's a great place to sit down and pen down your thoughts while being inspired by the beauty around you. Bonus points if you can find the peacock pattered one!
Lunch at Barrels and Bones
Panjim has some of the most excellent restaurants in Goa. While some offer delectable food, some of those restaurants are made famous for their ambiance. Fortunately, Barrels and Bones offers both. This restaurant creates a simulating atmosphere with it's textured white walls dotted with vintage posters and the scrumptious American and Continental dishes. It's one of the best steak houses in Goa, if not the best. Their cocktails served here are as stellar as the food. It is the perfect spot to grab lunch while in Fontainhas. Read about my favorite restaurants in Panaji. You can read my review of Barrels and Bones by clicking the Zomato link below.