Cancio’s House: Slowing down in Goa + Finding ‘Home’ at this Goa Homestay not near a beach
A 500 year old Portuguese house in a quaint little village in Goa was all that I needed to discover a new side of Goa
I am a nomad at heart. The kind that are never satisfied with the status quo. The kind that like to move, the kind that are always plotting the next destination. The kind who feel at home even when away from it. I love to come home after being away to sleep in my own bed & yet have no problems in staking my claim to foreign places, eating unfamiliar food, sleeping deeply in new beds or talking to strangers. This makes traveling easy. I have noticed that this leads me to have life experiences that go beyond a comfortable vacation, the kind that cannot be listed in guide books exactly, this also makes me a curious traveler.
So, when I planned to spend my birthday in Goa this year for the first time I looked at a list of homestays in Goa . I was sure that I wanted to change my notions of a typical goan holiday spent drinking on the beach, falling asleep to a book, having a late lunch & dancing the night away. Don’t get me wrong , I loved doing this when I felt like escaping but I was not looking to, not this time. Vivek and I celebrated our birthdays at the uber luxurious five star resort , Leela Goa (which by the way has become one of my favourite 5 star Hotels in Goa & I would recommend it you want to near a Goa beach ,but without the busyness of north goa beaches like Anjuna) If you want to just rest in luxury, well rested with complimentary birthday champagne, rooms with views of lagoons filled with pink lillies & walks at the resort’s private beach & eat at the amazing leela goa restaurants then this is the place to choose. After this Vivek went back to Bangalore & I picked up my backpack to explore an offbeat Goa. Vaidehi, my childhood friend joined me from Bombay.
I had never been to this version of Goa until I stayed at this Aldona homestay. Cancio’s House is a 500 year old home owned by the Amaral family for many generations and opened up to guests as a homestay more than a decade ago. If you want to rest your head & know what the real Goa looks like away from the beaches & the hustle bustle of uber touristy Goa beaches then you should choose this. To me this is one of the hidden secrets of Goa.
After driving through green paddy fields, quite streets, several old houses and a foliage of trees , past a pretty chapel; the road leading to the house is easy to miss. We were greeted warmly by Roberto Amaral who lives in this house, often mistaken as being a Portuguese home but was actually built much before the portuguese rule. Roberto lives here with his wife Raquel, his mother Maria, three young sons and three adorable dogs . He & his wife Raquel manage this Goa homestay.
The house itself is 500 years old surrounded by several acres of trees & green foliage making it a little oasis in a already quite village filled with old world charm. The house is cavernous and filled with treasures that are centuries old. I am in antiques heaven as Roberto talks about the history of each piece of furniture,cutlery, old photographs, and other relics. I am filled with respect for the family which has preserved its history so well. The house itself has gone through several renovations over the years and yet each piece of change has been done to keep the vintage beauty intact. The house is a great example for sustainable practices as the family uses the well in their compound for daily use and all waste water is recycled to use in the garden. My favourite part of the house was the kitchen, big enough to hold a Bombay studio apartment, big red countertops and a creatively designed blue tile backsplash over the stove and oven which could bake pies for a 100 people, as Raquel often does. Our meal times are spent on the home designed marble table with Jackfruit tree barks as legs , conversing with the three adults in the house ,helped by several cups of coffee, poi; Goan bread and home made wine depending on the time of the day. If quality conversations leave you feeling rich then I can say that I collected enough to last a lifetime of amazing travel memories at this budget homestay in Goa.
We stayed for two nights and I wish we had spent more. Our room was located a few metres from the main bunglow in a outhouse/cottage with Mangalore tiled roof with two rooms and bathrooms. I fell in love with the room with a window that opened up to the garden, a verandah with a sit out , a huge four poster bed and antique lamps. I immediately decided to come back here when I decide to write a book. Getting up every morning to the sound of several birds chirping and falling asleep to the sound of crickets at night were a few of the highlights of living here. This was one of the places that you keep going back to again and again, when you need to rest; when you need time for yourself, when you want to discover the joys of slow traveling & to become a curious traveler.
The food deserves a whole blog post on its own.The first night I had told them that we would have dinner and we are so glad that we did. Raquel had made a veritable Goan cuisine feast with several vegetarian and vegan dishes. There were traditional Goan favourites like Chicken Xacuti; made with coconut, Chicken Roast , Red beans Xacuti, a cottage cheese dish and my favourite discovery ; Amboda curry, where this locally grown vegetable called Amboda (sour in taste) is slow cooked with coconut milk and several spices lending a delicate taste that is hard to forget. To eat local is one of my biggest mottos as a curious traveler & this meal fulfilled this more than I expected. For dessert there was a freshly baked , golden apple pie. It was one of the best meals I have ever had in Goa. For breakfast the next day we have fresh pois , several home made jams including jackfruit, green grapes & black grapes and fresh chicken puff pastries from a neighbourhood bakery. Raquel is a wonderful cook & her love for food is apparent in the expertise & invention her dishes showcase. I took down several recipes to try & I would totally come back here just to learn from her.
If a homestay to you means a house in a location that is far from the popular tourist spots & the Goa beaches, a house with history, is in the midst of nature, is tucked away in a village; then Cancio’s house is the perfect choice.
A homestay to me is all about the people. And here is what differentiates Cancio’s house from any other homestay that I have ever been to. The warmth is apparent with every interaction with the Amarals. Roberto is extremely passionate about his home & while conversing with him, it is clear that the most important objective of starting this homestay is to preserve the house & the history it has; he happily takes us through every little item in the house, his music room, making sure we leave with stories. Raquel is always ready with a cake or home made jams & coffee to just converse about life. And Maria is sure to leave you in awe of their family history. The last night that we were there it was my birthday and Raquel made a special Oats cake , late at night , since we had been out most of the day and Roberto sang the birthday song accompanied by his guitar. I want to thank the Amarals who have created a very special place & they make sure that you are left with the feeling to keep coming back and they are are the main reason for you to visit Cancio’s house. They along with the beautiful house,the 3 dogs and the chance to see a different Goa are priceless trinkets that you can add to the box of the travel memories.
Reason to Go: It is definitely worth a mention in the list of unique places to stay in Goa. If you want to see the ‘real’ Goa, away from the beaches, be a slow traveler & want to experience living with a Goan family & have authentic Goan home food that is nothing like what you get at the best beach shacks in Goa
Special mentions: Great for slow travelers, curious travelers without itineraries , perfect for resting
Accommodation: Cancio’s House has 4 rooms in total, 2 in a outhouse cottage, a few metres away from the main house but in the family compound with en suite bathrooms. These rooms guarantee privacy & can comfortably accommodate 2 people & extra bed can be made available on request. I would recommend to stay here as it allows privacy & is worth it for the beautiful antique furnishing & the sit out. The other two rooms are located in the main house and have a shared bathroom.
Meals: Breakfast is complimentary & other meals can be made on request. Cost per meal/per person is 400-500 & higher if seafood is served. You should not skip this, it’s part of the experience. If you are looking for local goan food in Goa then the spread here rivals the best restaurants in North Goa.
Cost: Rs. 2500/- for a room off season, for high season the costs increase a bit, check here
How to reach: Aldona is in North Goa, 17 km/25 minutes from the nearest railway station, Thivim and 45 kms, 1 hour from the Goa International Airport at Dabolim
Places to visit in & near Aldona, Goa: Roberto will point out the best places to go which is mostly roaming around this picture perfect village, a fort , an ancient church & a waterfall .
If you want to know what more you can do in Aldona & know some of my favourite unusual things to do in Goa see this Lébu curious traveler guides; Finding a different Goa
LÉBU TRAVEL GUIDES FOR THE CURIOUS TRAVELLER
LÉBU TRAVEL STORIES FOR INSPIRING TO TRAVEL DEEPER
LÉBU RECIPES FOR THE CURIOUS COOK
LÉBU FOOD STORIES TO DISCOVER FOOD THROUGH A NEW LENS
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