Few are aware of the incredible treasures India holds for Christians. Who knew that the Apostle Thomas arrived in Southern India in 50 A.D. starting his missionary efforts and that it was here that he was martyred in 78 A.D.? The Cathedral in Madras holds his relics, one of our main destinations on our spiritual journey through India. Who knew that St. Francis Xavier arrived in a town called Goa, established by the Portuguese in 1542 and that it is here that he is buried? His body can be viewed in the Cathedral of Bom Jesus. This and much more is in store for us as we depart on our fantastic journey to unknown lands.
Pre-departure planning is important.
Here are certain things you should watch for and plan for.
Check with the appropriate consulate or embassy in your country to find out if you will need a visa to visit the country of your destination, especially for an extended period of time. Some countries have extremely detailed and complicated entry/departure laws, and treat visits of a week or two very differently from longer stays.
If you’re traveling to one area, check the cost of living there. If it’s high you’ll probably want to budget more carefully and save some money before leaving. The lower the cost of living the less you’ll have to save, but be sure to have a back up reserve in emergency cases.
Talk to other people who have done a similar trip.
If you don’t know anyone personally, try any of the dozens of online travel web sites full of first-person travel stories covering every possible type of trip.
Plan big and loose. Read everything you can about the area.
There may be sights and attractions you didn’t know about. A rough outline of your trip might have three or four target points and a variety of ways to get between them.
You don’t want to find out that the weather isn’t what you thought, or the guide book was incorrect, after committing to 6 weeks in a specific spot.
Some trips will allow you more leeway than others. Travel plans in Asia can often be made day-by-day while summer travel in Europe should be organized at least a few weeks ahead, unless you’re prepared to hunt around for hotel rooms and train seats.
Set up a pre-trip time-line so you don’t end up with a full todo list your last week of work or school.
Things to consider are doctor’s visits for a check up, inoculations, and prescription refills; purchasing plane tickets; renewing passports and obtaining visas and other documents.
Check your insurance coverage abroad and purchasing additional travel insurance if needed. Don’t forget visiting friends and family members!
The longer the trip, the lighter you should pack. This might seem strange, but it’s true you can afford to lug a heavy bag around for a week or two, but do you want to have anything extra for a year?
Stick to the absolute basics and know what you can and cannot buy at your destination(s). There’s no point in bringing 6 months of toothpaste to Europe or buying a sarong at home to take to the tropics. If you are visiting several climates, try to arrange it so you visit the warmer places first and coldest last. That way you can purchase sweaters and long pants and not have to carry them any more than needed. Alternately, visit cold climates first and then ship unneeded layers home — or sell them off.
A good rule of thumb is to bring one outfit for the hottest day you’re likely to encounter, one for an average day, and one for the coldest.
Make sure everything goes with everything else (if that’s important to you), and remember that layers are always best.
Be prepared for uncomfortable trips. You will often find yourself in a busy, cramped, economy class environment and it could be for many hours – especially long plane trips.
If you want to arrive at your destination refreshed and able to enjoy the sights, then try a good quality travel pillow to support your head, some ear plugs to block out the screaming babies, and an eye cover to block out the sun or cabin lights.
Just avoid those cheap U-shaped pillows from airport shops – your head drops forward and you wake up with a stiff neck.
Make contact with the locals before you go.
Maybe you have a friend-of-a-friend or a foreign exchange student from high school you remember, or just found a friend through a travel web site; almost everyone is happy to welcome a foreign visitor to their home town. This might be as elaborate as a home-stay for a few weeks, or just coffee in their home town or dinner at a locals restaurant.
Travel planning is about more than just knowing where you’re going. Prepares to navigate, take control and be ready for anything. This section helps you steer clear of disaster and stay open enjoy the unexpected.
- Banks – Open Monday to Friday 9am to 2pm. Some banks are closed for lunch.
- Emergencies – For police, dial a local phone number; for ambulance call a hospital.
- Internet Access – Wifi is standard in most hotels and free in many coffee shops.
- Mail – Buy stamps at the Post Office. Convenient post offices are located all cities. Most are open Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.
- Safety – Pickpocketing can be a common problem. It is suggested for men to keep wallets in their front pocket. Purse snatching also occurs at times.
This site contains information with a very personal and friendly structure. It also has great links to other related sites online.
Information, internet access, maps, and train passes are available at local Tourist Information terminals. These are located at various sites around the city. Expect a wait if you arrive late in the afternoon or during lunch time. Local travel agencies are also helpful for quick information and finding hotels. There is no service charge for these services. Hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, and Saturday 10am to 2pm.
Getting in from the airport and other arrival locations. Travel planning is about more than just knowing where you’re going. Prepares to navigate, take control and be ready for anything. This section helps you steer clear of disaster and stay open enjoy the unexpected.
- Plane – Flights arrive at the main airport near city center. If flying from European cities, you might land at a connecting airport. There is a tourist information office at the Terminal E, international arrivals, open 8am to 6pm.
- Train – A train station is on the lower level of the airport. To get into the city, follow the marked signs.
- Taxi – From the airport there is a flat-rate for the 1-hour trip, depending on traffic. Hotels charge up to $80 for shuttle service.
- Train & Bus – Trains and buses arrive a city center. This is the transportation hub for the city and is surrounded hotels.
A perfect place for exploring on foot, with local shops around every corner. You will eventually walk somewhere, it’s just going to happen. If you don’t like crowds, uneven cobblestones, heavy traffic or narrow sidewalks, take a taxi or rent a scooter.
DAY 1: DEPARTURE DAY
Our incredible journey begins as we board our trans-atlantic flight to Mumbai, previously known as Bombay.
DAY 2: MUMBAI
Upon arrival at the Mumbai airport you will be greeted by your local tour guide who will be at your disposal at all times. After a brief orientation drive through Mumbai, also known as the “Hollywood of India” you will be transferred to your hotel for check-in. Tonight you`ll enjoy a special dinner to get acquainted.
DAY 3: MUMBAI
We start our sightseeing with the famous Gateway of India commemorating the visit of King George and Queen Mary in 1911. In the Fort area we visit St. Thomas Cathedral and Town Hall. In the afternoon we take a boat ride to Elephant Island exposing monumental rock carvings, the most spectacular of which the triple-headed Shiva. Back for dinner and overnight.
DAY 4: MUMBAI – GOA
Transfer to airport for our flight to Goa ,upon arrival in Goa you will be transferred to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
DAY 5: GOA
Our sightseeing this morning includes one of the highlights of our tour, the Basilica of Bom Jesus, where we view the body of St. Francis Xavier. Born in Spain in 1506, Francisco Xavier met Ignatius Loyola in Paris, took a vow to convert infidels, and joined the Society of Jesus. The Portuguese King dom Joao lll sent Xavier to the new colony Goa. He arrived in 1542 and made Goa his base for five voyages to the Far East. After his death in 1552 on Sancian Island, his body was returned to Goa . St. Francis was canonized in 1662. Across the square we visit the grand Cathedral of St. Catherine and the Church of St. Francis of Assisi. We finish our day with a stop at Our Lady of Rosary Church. Here St. Francis preached at evening mass. We continue to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
DAY 6: GOA
Today we visit some of Goa’s most famous temples, precious to Hindus. We start with Sri Mangesh Temple displaying an elephant on wheels; next we stop at Sri Lakshmi Narashimha Devashtan Temple, probably Goa’s most beautiful and finish with Sri Shantadurga Temple, Goa’s most popular , always crowded with people buying flowers. After lunch we motor to Margao where we visit the splendid Menezes Mansion, some parts of which dating back three centuries. You can admire the antique furniture and the spectacular ballroom. We end our day with a stop at Margao’s famous spice market. Time for shopping. Dinner and overnight at our resort.
DAY 7: GOA – COCHIN
Free morning to relax at our beautiful beach front resort. Late afternoon transfer to airport for flight to Cochin.
DAY 8: COCHIN
Today after breakfast your visits include St. Francis Church, dedicated to the memorial to Vasco da Gama who died here on Christmas Day in 1524, the Dutch Palace, and Pardesi Synagogue. Dinner and overnight.
DAY 9: KERALA – HOUSEBOAT
Today we enjoy a boat ride down the Kerala backwaters. You can watch the locals going about their lives as they have been doing for centuries. Overnight on board.
DAY 10: COCHIN – CHENNAI
Afternoon transfer to the airport for our flight to Chennai, formerly Madras. Upon arrival transfer to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
DAY 11: CHENNAI
We start our sightseeing of this fascinating city with a visit of St. Thomas Cathedral where his relics are kept. It is believed that he came to India in 52 A.D. and was killed in 78 A.D. The site is equal in importance to St. Peter’s in Rome and St. James in Santiago de Compostella. Next we proceed to St. Thomas Mount, believed to be the site where the Apostle was stoned to death. You can view the stone cross carved by St. Thomas himself and the painting of Madonna and Child by St. Luke. We continue north to fort St. George and St. Mary`s Church, Chennai’s oldest. The remainder of the afternoon free for shopping.
DAY 12: CHENNAI – CALCUTTA
Transfer to the airport for our flight to Calcutta. Upon arrival transfer to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
DAY 13: CALCUTTA
Mother Teresa made Calcutta famous when she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1979. Born in Albania, she joined the Sisters of Loreto and was sent to Darjeeling where she took her vows in 1931. Trying to help the poor and dying in Calcutta, she founded the Missionaries of Charity. We visit the Mother house of the Sisters of Loreto where she started out and enjoy a tour conducted by the principal. Later we visit St. Paul`s Cathedral dating back to the British Empire’s days and end our day with a visit to Victoria`s Memorial. Time for shopping around new Market.
DAY 14: RETURN FLIGHT
Time to say Good-bye for our return flight home