(Chris Spedding) – Garage Café Baga, Goa

On my second solo trip to Calangute I vowed to spread my wings a little. Where last year I wandered from my hotel, this time I’d decided to be more proactive, and venture further afield.

Which is how I found myself at the Royal Enfield Café, Baga – the local equivalent of London’s Ace Café – which has opened since my last trip.

My driver advised me that it used to be an Italian restaurant and that it had rebranded at the turn of the year.

It looks really impressive from the street, I guess it’s indicative of the trend up-market in Calangute/Baga, The café describes itself as “ a place that appeals to motorcyclists, explorers, and foodies alike.

There’s a café/bar, a small museum, a merchandise/accessories shop, and motorcycle workshop.

An interesting mix, but a workshop is something even the Ace Café hasn’t considered.

I had some friends back home that I figured would appreciate Royal Enfield gifts, so hit the merchandise store.

For a T Shirt and some enamel mugs. I wanted three mugs but there were only two on display. It took the assistant a full twenty minutes to locate the third which was either the last they had, or they’re no longer displaying them as he only brought the one back.

From there, and I wish I was exaggerating, it took a further ten minutes to get the transaction logged into the till and make payment. There’s no shortage of staff, but the place seems to be set up for their comfort rather than helping customers, but I guess I wasn’t buying a bike.

From the merchandise store I wandered over to the bar for a beer, a Mango Wheat Beer from the Susegado Microbrewery, coincidentally just a stones throw from my hotel. A fine brew, but at 195 Rupees for 330ml a tad on the pricey side. That said, the bar service was considerably faster that the merchandise store.

And while two wheels have never really appealed to me (I drive a convertible Mini to feel the wind in what’s left of my hair), I confess that the bikes did look really appealing.

But, as a good friend cautioned me, “You already have enough toys, dear boy.” I left with the gifts for my friends back home, but no bike.

Rating: ★★★★½

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