THE images of Goa are many and varied: the idyllic retreat is adorned with the spires of old churches, and dressed with red-tiled villas around squares. Goa is easily reached by air from Bombay, Delhi, Bangalore and Cochin. Alternatively, rail and road links wind along the green hills of Western Ghats. The coastline on the Arabian Sea provides a stretch of 100 kilometres of golden beaches. Panaji, Goa's capital, has its own beach, Miramar. To the north of Panaji, near the town of Mapuca, are the popular twin beaches of Calangute and Baga. They stretch for more than seven kilometres. To the south of Calangute is peaceful Candolim, but further north of Baga are the rewards of many secluded beaches. Panaji is a small town, quaint and charming. There are reminders of its earlier Iberian settlers in the architecture. But in addition to the golden beaches, Goa offers spice: food lovers can enjoy Goa's seafood, which has a distinctive flavour - spicy, with a snap of chili - and its huge variety of curry. There is tingling vindaloos , cutting sorpotels and unusual cafrials. Vegetarians can enjoy the delicious Konkani cuisine. Southern Indian restaurants dot Goa's towns, and there are many tavernas, or bars. Goa also has its own brew, Feni, which is made from cashews, or the sap of palm trees. Many visitors try at least one variety before leaving. The Goans enjoy celebrating and many of their songs and dances have been transplanted in neighbouring countries, including Sri Lanka. At Goan weddings, for example, the dancing and revelry combine Catholic and Indian traditions. Goan villages also celebrate the feast day of their patron saint. Travellers who move inland can drive through the country, or take a motorcycle taxi. The village buildings have a distinct Spanish influence, with red roof tiles, and there are also Portuguese colonial influences in the architecture. In the countryside, there is much to see. Mayem Lake, Tirakol fort, and the church town of Old Goa, which was once the seat of Portuguese rule, offer a glimpse of the attractions. The exterior of churches in Old Goa, built in the 16th and 17th centuries, have a Gothic influence but, inside, are both European and Indian elements. The Se Cathedral has an 80-metre-long aisle, and its interior is ornate, crowned by a gilt altar. There are several other churches, convents and monasteries scattered around the town of Old Goa.