The smallest of the Indian states, Goa was for centuries a thriving Portuguese trading colony on the west coast. Indeed the name of its largest city remains Vasco da Gama, even after independence, and an important tourist site is the Basilica containing the tomb of St Francis Xavier (confusingly, another handsome church in Old Goa is ‘St Francis of Assisi’). Although the city is surrounded by prolific agricultural land, including vast acres of rice paddy fields, the main industry is probably tourism, notably providing winter sun to Europeans. The beaches are long and varied - from beach-party lively to watersports and even (relatively) quiet. As a seaport and fishing centre, Goan cuisine is distinctly different to others regions and is especially famous for its rich variety of fish dishes cooked to exotic recipes, often featuring local coconut and coconut oil. It is hot climate food, with plentiful use of chili and spices. A widely featured alcoholic drink is ‘feni’, fermented from either cashews or coconuts - by all means try it once.
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