In 8 days we return to our “happy place” after an enforced gap of nearly 3 years….. It was in Patnem, our idyllic village in South Goa where we first heard whispers of a massive outbreak of a flu-like illness in China. The rumours just kept spreading through January of 2020 but we weren’t overly concerned…. I remarked that we’d probably get it before the year was over but that we were pretty healthy and needn’t worry too much….. Well… you know how that turned out! Who could have foreseen the world shutting down for over 18 months and India for somewhat longer? Look back on my blog for the Goa 2020 trip to read our thoughts at that point. We left in late February to join our daughter for a tour of Jordan and then return with her to her home in Dubai. I got really ill in Jordan with what we now believe was probably covid but there was no means of testing, so we’ll never know. We got to Dubai but instead of cruising home on March 13th, (cancelled), we flew home on the 18th March, the only 2 people on the flight wearing masks. The UK went into lockdown a week later and life as we knew it stopped for quite a while. In retrospect, we were lucky to get out of India when we did. Some of our friends got stuck there and had to be repatriated after a very long wait.
India remained closed in 2021 and in winter 2022 so we couldn’t visit but tourism opened again later in 2022 although the UK was on the naughty step for some reason, along with Canada and e-visas were not allowed and existing ones remained cancelled. This was really annoying because we’d bought a 5 year one at the end of 2019 and had only used it once…. No matter we booked flights in June and waited in hope that things would change. By October it was apparent that things wouldn’t change and in fact the visa situation became horrendously worse in the UK. Without an evisa you had to make a physical appointment and they were very hard to arrange, the systems for booking were overwhelmed and crashed daily. We dutifully applied for our appointment amid considerable stress – I made the appointment in the baggage hall of Ercan airport in Cyprus on our way to Villa Rockheart – read about all this in our Istanbul and Cyprus blogs…..
We were in Cyprus until December 7th, with our visa appointment on December 8th in London, the morning after we arrived home. Lo and behold, on the 6th, the Indian High Commissioner made a suddent statement that India was once again re-instating e-visas for UK citizens!!! It was an enormous piece of luck for us as it saved us £300 minimum in visa fees and also the ghastly experiences reported by our friends who’d already had their appointments. We felt really guilty and very lucky because frankly if we hadn’t been in Cyprus till December 7th, we’d have gone along earlier and got them…….
So we are tremendously excited to be returning. We stay at the most lovely guest house , Eve Resort, in Patnem. The owners, Clive and Marylyn, have become dear friends over the years, and they were blessed with the arrival of a daughter, Candace, in March 2020. We cannot wait to meet her – can’t believe we never got to see her as a baby!!! Our friends from the UK and elsewhere are all rolling up to winter there – it will be a congenial time, just as it used to be…. we sometimes feared it never would be again…… Patnem is far south in Goa, still an idyllic beachside village and long may it remain so.
We fly direct from London with Air India on 9th January. Booking early was a good idea – our fares were a tad over £500 return each. They are almost double that now. So, read along with us this winter to hear about our adventures in Goa.
Cannot wait for our first dinner under the stars on the beach……