Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sand and seafood

Last weekend I fell in love … not, unfortunately, with a man but with a seaside town called Gopalpur. A three hour train ride from Bhubaneswar, it reminded me of a 1950s seaside town – Filey springs to mind – which in reality it is. A strategic port for the British from the mid-18th century, it was abandoned after the World War II when trade with Burma dried up and now depends on fishing and tourism. It’s long “pristine” beach has started to draw in the tourists but it remains a sleepy little place – well in low season at any rate. We stayed in a hotel that had balconies with a sea view – strangely the more modern and expensive Western hotels don't include a sea view - and in the evening we sat sipping beer bought from the bottle-shop next door and watching the spectacular electrical storm taking place out at sea. During the day we wandered up and down the beach, paddled in the sea and tried to catch the numerous little crabs scuttling in and out of their holes. We also climbed the lighthouse whose owners had clearly worked out that tourists equal money – Rs250 to get in, you have to go barefoot but there’s Rs4 charge to leave your shoes outside, Rs40 to take a picture etc but somehow all the niggles didn’t in any way affect my enjoyment of the place. Another big highlight was the food. At the Krisha Restaurant I had the best meal I’ve eaten in nearly a year – garlic prawns and chips with not a chilli or a grain of rice in sight - and in the evening I feasted on a delicious grilled fish in a small restaurant lit only by the flashes of lightening that had caused the inevitable power cut. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the fishermen pulling in their catches as there was a fisherman’s puja (festival) but, although it will take me 16 hours to get there from Bhawanipatna, I’ll definitely be going back and may even take my swimming costume next time so I can for a dip. Click here to see where Gopalpur is. Click here to see photos.

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