Weathered cities and old buildings have always captivated me. So last month, while in Goa I was delighted to come across one such city. Just out of a grueling overnight bus journey from Bangalore, I was hungry and in search of a good café. Panjim Bus Stop was overflowing with touts peddling rooms, bikes, cars, everything on rent!
I needed a short break to refuel myself. And, headed away from the crowd towards the Blue Tokai Café, in the nearby Fontainhas area. A stroll led me to a lovely toy-town bridge. The low, curving bridge had pretty yellow trimmings and artistic arches.
A sign elaborated its history: The Patto Bridge is a historic monument built by the Portuguese between the years 1632 – 34. The bridge with its Roman-style arches is built of laterite stone. The bridge is the extension of the causeway known as ‘Ponte de Linhares’ that links Ribandar to Panaji and it is about 3.2 km long.
Across it, I glimpsed a whole different world – like a time travel of sorts. Walking along the narrow lanes flanked by old houses, I stopped frequently to admire their elegant doors, windows, and balconies. This area is the Old Latin Quarter, built during the Portuguese settlement. Clearly, it was home to the cream of society. The centuries-old buildings still retain glimpses of past grandeur. Pastel yellows, greens, and blues are quite common with the trademark red-tiled roofs. I heard from a friend, it was mandatory to whitewash houses after every monsoon during the Portuguese rule. The habit seems to have lingered on. There’s a lot of colors to admire here.
I reached the coffee stop elated. The Blue Tokai Café is a newer construction (that merges quite well with the feel of the place). It was located in the backyard of a well-known local shop, the OMO Boutique. I had a nice rest. And, even managed to sketch their beautiful courtyard.
View this post on Instagram
Sketching at the Blue Tokai cafe in the old city of Panjim. #urbansketchers #usk #goa #travelsketches #oldbuildings #cafe #watercolor_daily #watercolorjournaling #artoftravel #lonelycanopy #travelart #travelartists #goatourism #panjim @bluetokaicoffee @onmyownindia #uskindia #architecturedrawing #architecturelovers
Blue Tokai Café was in the heart of Old Latin Quarters (also called Fontainhas). As a result, I could explore the crisscrossing roads nearby. I went for a short walk around the area, leaving my heavy backpack in the café. Everything was sketch-worthy. Picking a building was nearly impossible.
However, I had just half an hour before my pickup from the Loja where I was put up. Finally, my heart settled on the striking white and red office of the Postmaster General of Goa. Later on, online research revealed that it was once used as a tobacco storehouse. Probably earning the junction its name ‘Tobacco Square.’
This sketch had whet my appetite. I decided I’ll return for a few days to just wander around Panjim soaking in the old world charm.