Where the hell am I?
I’m wondering if I have made a huge mistake. We are following rudimentary directions from the church in Siolim. I have no idea if we have made the right turn, no phone to make a call, and the instructions I was given suggest that if I merely utter the name of the owner, then someone will magically be able to point us in the right direction, such is his notoriety.
Assuming we haven’t gone wrong, then we are in roughly the vicinity of the property, but we are heading down a potted, dusty road which is getting narrower by the minute, and I’m starting to wonder if this can really be the location of the boutique, chic looking property I saw in the pictures.
Thankfully Vivek, Director of Operations of Shunyachi is on the ball, and spots our stray car, ushering us back down the track to a large, bright red house with a dusty courtyard out front, off garbage piles and tin shacks around back. Cockerels are strutting around and a dog greets us loudly as we wander through the gate.
My first impression is a little worried if I am honest, but then I have to remind myself that I am in India, and garbage strewn villages are the norm here (even if it takes some getting used to for Westerners, accustomed to regular garbage collection).
A Warm Welcome
We recieve a warm welcome from Vivek and his colleague Avram, who lead us through an unceremonious white door, up a narrow, marble staircase, to reveal an hidden gem. Phew, what a relief!
Nal Varo is perfect for a couple in search of a night in a traditional Goan village, or someone looking for a longer term base, away from the bright lights and big city.
Shunyachi owns a number of luxury villas and boutique hotels throughout Goa, to which this is the latest addition, their ‘budget’ property. It is certainly rustic in places with a basic kitchen, gas fuelled stove and simple bathroom with views overlooking the surrounding palm tree forest (but definitely not my idea of budget…he clearly has not stayed in some of the flea infested backpackers I have in my time!).
It has a great indoor lounge with plush green lounging cushions (although you will need to keep the fan on!) and a vivid bright orange, outdoor seating area on a large balcony decorated with fabulous photos, great lighting, and bamboo decorations. It’s big enough that we even manage to fit in two yoga mats for a morning yoga session to start the next day off with a bang!
The Jewel in the Crown
The piece de resistance however is the master bedroom, adjoining another bedroom suitable for a child (again you will need to leave the fan on!). It is like a treehouse, in such that it has panoramic windows overlooking the palm trees to the river and the paddy fields beyond. There are no drapes currently so you may wish to bring an eye mask, but frankly I can think of no better way to wake, than to a view such as this.
As morning dawns, I lay fascinated watching squirrels scampering up and down trees, whilst birds coo and caw as they whizz by intent on some particular task. Oh and that damn cockerel is determined to remind us he is there!
The room is furnished in whites with dark wood flooring and almost perfectly matches the bedroom of my dreams (although mine would need a walk in wardrobe to house my dress collection!). Green cushions add a touch of colour, and artwork in more shades of green gaze over the bed.
There’s a collection of magazines and books to keep you amused, should you wish to spend a quiet night in, although I suspect they are really more for artistic effect. It works anyway, as the room looks like it has jumped out of the pages of a magazine!
Don’t Forget Your Earplugs
For those unfamiliar with India, the two must have items in your bag are an eye mask and ear plugs. India is noisy! I don’t mean London on a summer’s night with sirens occasionally breaking the peace. I mean NOISY!
First the local temple congregation have me wanting to gatecrash as they chant ancient hindu deities. The effect is calming and I find myself trying to sing along (badly!) but thankfully they are worn out by 10.30 (by which time the effect is wearing thin on me!).
Did I mention the dogs?
I am convinced that India is a nation of mad dogs (no, I don’t mean that popular drink from the nineties!). I mean the canine variety. They terrify me! I give all dogs in India a wide berth, ever since I went for a jog along Mandrem beach and found myself having to hurl sticks, stones and insults at aggressive dogs chasing me. I don’t think they were trying to help me achieve a PB!
In the village, there are more stray dogs (I’m not certain they are homeless as you see many Indian families walking dogs) who growl at me as we pass to pick up supplies from the supermarket (don’t expect Tesco. Think more corner shop/greengrocer/hardware/B&Q all rolled into one!). By night, they obviously like to join in a chorus of endless barking, so bad in fact that I started to find myself thinking violent thoughts after a few hours.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not trying to deter you from visiting Nal Varo (seriously anyone who has visited India knows that wherever you stay, it is noisy!) but a gentle reminder to make sure you either drink so much you will pass out, or pack the earplugs. In fact, pack a few sets as one always gets miraculously lost in the bed.
There are a few local bars and restaurants on the road back to Siolim, or you can ask Avram to organise a local driver for you to take you out to some local eateries. We ate at a restaurant in Siolim which offered excellent food, and was about ten minutes drive away.
Nal Varo is ideal for a single person, couple or small family looking for a reasonably priced place to stay for longer term lets. It is hidden away in a traditional Goan village, and you will be greeted warmly by Shunyachi and the family downstairs.
If you plan to stay for a while, be sure to hire a bicycle or other transportation, as you will likely soon get tired of the walk to the shops (about 1.5 km) and bars (2 – 3km). This will give you more freedom to explore as you are not far from the beaches or the river inlets here.
All year (excluding Christmas): INR 20,000 for the week ( 1 Week Minimum), INR 30,000 for two weeks
Dec 20th – Jan 5th :INR 1,000,000 for 2 weeks during Xmas/New Years (2 Week Minimum).
For Stays for a month and more, price is negotiable.
If you are curious about travel costs in Goa generally, check out this post which gives you the lowdown on what you can expect to pay travelling in Goa.
Where have you stayed which was an unexpected surprise? Please share below in the comments box.
We stayed courtesy of Shunyachi but all views are my own, and unedited.
You can book with Shunyachi and save 5% by quoting TravelTheGlobe4Less.