The Only Olive is a nearly 100-year-old Portuguese-style villa in the village of Aldona in northwest Goa, close to the Khorjuem River. Family heirlooms and antique furniture fill the large airy rooms. Its old tiles made me want to potter around barefoot. The ancient light fixtures, the delightful nooks and crannies, and profusion of fresh flowers invite dedicated lingering.
Relaxation and rejuvenation come easy, whether it’s sitting in the balcao (balcony) or exploring the picturesque village, filled with colonial-era homes. I enjoyed waking up early to tuck into a hearty Goan breakfast and then lazing the morning away in a hammock before heading out. The village is full of old houses that are fine examples of Goan architecture. Visitors can light a candle at St. Thomas Church and then head to St. Anthony’s, the village bakery, to sample delicious mutton patties and chicken/egg rolls. The fishing bridge serves as the village square with opportunities to socialise. The villa provides free fishing equipment and visitors can join local anglers on the bridge to scoop up shrimp, red snapper, and mullet, and then lunch by the riverside. Afternoons are siesta time. In the evening, one can stop at the village bar for feni, or fire up the barbecue. The in-house Honesty Bar allows you to mix your own drinks. Adrian Pinto, the genial host, will introduce you to neighbours who make and sell delicious Goa sausages.
Apart from the olive tree that lends the property its name, there are sweet scented frangipani, cashew, mango, jackfruit, breadfruit, and drumstick trees in the humongous garden. The peace and quiet is perfect for creative inspiration. The Only Olive also runs a programme of Artists in Residence, and there are usually one or two artists staying here at any given time.
Appeared in the July 2013 issue as “Beyond the Beach”. This story has been updated in March 2016.
Getting There The Only Olive is located in Aldona, North Goa about 21 km/25 min from Panjim. Dabolim airport is 43 km/1 hr away, while the distance to Thivim railway station is 10 km/20 min and to Mapusa, about 8 km. The Baga-Calangute stretch is a 15 km/25 min drive.
Accommodation The homestay offers a choice of three bedrooms: The Master (₹3,499) is the largest and is dominated by antiques, the Heritage Room (₹2,999) has a mammoth four-poster bed, and the Olive (₹2,999) is designed around an olive green colour scheme. A hearty breakfast is included. Simple home-cooked lunches and dinners can be arranged at an additional charge(₹150-200 per head). The villa is very secluded and the rooms have no TVs and restricted Internet access. There are tea-making facilities. Around the corner, the tinto (local market) has a few bakeries, bars, restaurants, and a supermarket. Try the freshly fried fish, patties or egg rolls. For a sweet treat sample bebinca. Chakris and other snacks from Gokuldas Naik’s kiosk are a delight. (239 Ranoi, Aldona; 99670 24680; since there are only 3 rooms, book at least a couple of weeks in advance.)
Teja Lele Desai
is an army brat who trained as an architect but worked as a journalist for over 15 years. She has written for Indian and foreign publications, including South China Morning Post and The Miami Herald.
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