Saturday night shopping and a shocking pink bar
There are two big markets in North Goa that are absolutely amazing to visit. One is the Anjuna Flea market, which is open every Wednesday during the tourist season, and the other is the Arpora Saturday night market.
I make sure that I visit the Anjuna market every Wednesday when I’m in Goa, but for some reason I had never been to the Saturday night market in Arpora. It was definitely time to remedy that this year.
Abu, my obliging and funny Goan taxi driver, dropped me off in a small square a few minutes walk away from the market. It was already busy and traffic was filling the narrow streets and overflowing into any available spaces between the buildings. Not too much of an issue if you’re on the ubiquitous Goan scooter, but there was no way a car was going to get any closer to the market without being stuck there for a good long while. Even from the square where Abu dropped me off, I could already hear the music and feel a small buzz of excitement coming from the market. As I drew closer I could feel a smile blossoming on my face as the infectious atmosphere drew me in.
The first stalls closest to the entrance of the market were very much what I had come to expect in Goa: local clothes, knick-knacks, tea and spices. I managed to pick up some delicious peach tea to replenish my larder within minutes of arriving at the market. Choosing a flavour involved a great deal of breathing in the aromas of handfuls of tea leaves. Each was lifted to my face by the staff holder with a long description of how rare and wonderful it was, until I finally made my choice.
As I continued to wander along the narrow paths, through the brightly coloured stalls, I realised that the market was spreading up over a meandering hill. In the upper section of the market the stalls were less densely packed and wide views over the market were slowly revealed as I rose higher. The items being sold at the stalls were also changing. Craft-people from all over the world were offering hand made jewellery in a myriad of designs and wonderfully soft silk clothing, both new and vintage, mixed in with edgy modern designs.
Looking out over the market, I realised that the centre was a large open space with clusters of people dancing and eating. At one end of the space were food stalls and a large bar, set out behind a stage area which was the source of the music filling the night air. The amazing scent of food soon drew me back down the hillside. But choosing what to eat was far easier said than done. There were so many choices on offer. From organic salad to Greek kebabs… from local curries and thalis to Italian wood-fired pizza… Mexican, Israeli… even German bierwurst. I finally settled down with a cold beer and a plate of Turkish food, then ate whilst watching fire jugglers and chatting to three slightly overwhelmed guys from New Zealand, who had only arrived in Goa that morning.
As I left the market, feeling invigorate yet very relaxed from my visit, I realised that there was still almost an hour until Abu would be back to pick me up. I knew that more food was going to be an impossibility, but a drink would be very welcome. My eyes were drawn to a shocking pink sign over a cafe called the Pink Chilli - definitely a place I needed to try!
The interior of the cafe was as fabulous as the sign. I wandered through the cafe with a huge grin as I took in the bright colours, the sparkly accessories and the mad mix of seating options. I decided to give the mirrored tuk-tuk table a miss and opted for a gloriously comfortable chaise at the back near the kitchen. It turns out that the Pink Chilli is run by a English lady, Louise, and her Goan husband. It’s wonderfully friendly place and was the perfect way to waste an hour until my life arrived. I can’t tell you what the food there is like - although it looked really good - but the cocktails and ice-cream are definitely recommended.