We had a sparkling Diwali at GOA this year. It is a perfect weekend getaway for eternally busy Mumbaikars. Goa being the favourite holiday spot for foreigners and Indians alike innumerable hotels/ resorts/ home of our reviewers recommend us stays have come up in the recent years. But in order to enjoy your short vacation one needs to plan in advance especially if you are planning to visit during peak season/ festive time. GOA is seen at its best during christmas and is the peak season for them. The best way to gift your family a tension free holiday is to approach the GTDC or Goa Tourism Devlopment Corporation Ltd. GTDC plays an active role in all commercial aspects of tourism, right from providing accommodation to organizing sightseeing tours, cruises and other attractive packages. The closest railhead for Mumbaikars would be Madgaon and the airport would be Dabolim in GOA. There are a couple of trains which run from Mumbai to GOA and vice versa daily and their schedules can be checked with the Indian railway website. We took the mangalore express which departs around 10.15pm from CST, Mumbai and reaches Madgaon next morning around 7AM. Konkankanya is another good train which leaves CSTM, MUmbai around 11PM but it reaches late the next day so busy travellers who have a few days to enjoy GOA would definitely want to save that extra time. GTDC has several hotels/ properties spread across GOA but MIRAMAR residency at PANJIm is one of the best they possess. Like all govt. accommodations it boasts of being located at the heart of the city adjacent to their main bus stop and the adjoining beach is always calm and less crowded. There are different grades of rooms varying from an AC deluxe to cottages and suites. All are well equipped with modern amenities and toiletries. Room tariffs range between 1550 to 4000 depending on the season. Rooms are spik n span surrounded by lush green meadows which overlooks the sea. It is a magnificient view. Our room faced a quaint little swimming pool which was daily cleaned by the hotel staff. The people here are very helpful and are always at your beck and call in case of minor issues/ problems. The restaurant at MIRAMAR serves all types of dishes ranging from authentic goan cuisine to chinese that suits all taste buds. MIRAMAR organises daily tours to North and South Goa which are complimentary for the hotel guests. The sunset cruise is a special attraction which is complimentary again. It has live music, dance and family participation on the deck. So there is fun galore for all age groups. These complimentary tours are a big gain on your pockets as private transport is very expensive in GOA. Of course there are bikes available on hire which are the cheapest mode of transport in GOA besides the public buses which charge a minimum of five rupees per head. A few must see spots in GOA would be Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa, about 10kms from Panjim--here you find the preserved body of St. Francis Xavier; Dona Paula Bay which is where two of Goas famous rivers meet the Arabian sea. Named after Dona Paula de Menezes, its also called the Lovers Paradise; Fort Aguada and its lighthouse is a well-preserved seventeenth-century Portuguese fort standing in Goa, India, on Sinquerim beach, overlooking the vast expanses of Arabian Sea. Friday market at Mapusa is something that all the shopaholics will love. Do not miss the sea beaches for which GOA is famous. Calangute is the busiest of all beaches here. GTDC has another property located centrally overlooking the sea beach called the CALANGUTE residency. This is not as good as MIRAMAR and wears a dusty look. We had a terrifying experience of our reviewers recommend us here with a dysfunctional AC, dirty linen and insects crawling all over the place. The restaurant serves tasteless food with umpteen flying insects having a feast with you. During power failure their generators would hardly work leaving us in complete darkness giving us a feel of a typical spooky film. Overall experience at CALANGUTE is atrocious and not recommended. The rooms are high priced and ill maintained. Ours was a short trip but a memorable one.