Day 1 of Experiencing India. From Orlando to Mumbai Travel Experience. This was the start of an amazing adventure to India. Chris and I had the most amazing trip to India last month.
One of the great privileges of being travel agents is that we get opportunities to go on FAM trips. Fam trips are “familiarization trips.”
These are educational trips for travel agents to explore hotels, tours, cruise lines, and more worldwide. The goal is to discover and recommend captivating destinations and attractions to our clients for their vacations.
I’m not sure where to begin, but let’s start and talk about our exciting trip to the beautiful country of India– Day 1.
Luckily, we had an evening flight from Orlando, giving us the entire morning to pack last-minute essentials. We hopped on the plane to Heathrow and settled in quickly. On this trip, we had premium economy seats on the first leg and business class on the second.
Chris and I had a very pleasant flight over to Heathrow and we were ready for a good night’s sleep. We were eager to stretch our legs, especially Chris, who had his knees cramped against the seat in front of him. The struggles of being 6’3″ when you are traveling!
The plane landed and we headed straight to our Aerotel after clearing customs and Immigration. The Aerotel in Heathrow is situated within Terminal 3 and provides a 24-hour help desk along with up to 82 rooms. This was such a convenient option for a long layover.
The check-in process was seamless, finally arriving at our well-kept room with a spacious king-sized bed and a refreshing warm shower to cleanse away the plane germs. Once we both washed up, we practically fell into bed and slept for the next 5 hours.
After our amazing rest in Terminal 3, we had to be up early and rush over to catch our next flight. We went directly to the Virgin Lounge at Heathrow to have a quick snack before boarding as we were unsure about the meal options during the flight. The lounge was clean, high-class, and very modern. They served tasty food and offered fast Wi-Fi, allowing Chris and I to quickly check our work emails before boarding.
This flight to Mumbai was more smooth sailing like a fancy boat ride than our previous flight. There were two seats together instead of the three on each side on the last leg. Our chairs were quite comfortable and could turn into beds as well. The only thing we didn’t like is that we need to ask a flight attendant and stand up whenever we wanted to switch between sitting and lying down.
When booking the flights, we had agreed to try something new and order an Asian Vegetarian meal instead of a Vegan option. We filled up on light bites at Heathrow Airport, so we were not overly hungry.
I particularly enjoyed how comfortable and soft the blankets they gave us were. We are accustomed to the low-quality, thin blankets airlines usually provide, so this was a pleasant surprise. That blanket came home with me!
A Greaves representative welcomed us at our gate in Mumbai and guided us through a long, empty terminal. Chris and I were both excited to see that we got to ride on the golf cart back and we felt like VIPs all the way to customs and immigration!
The Greaves representative assisted us in retrieving our luggage. Afterward, we went outside the airport to purchase sim cards and exchange currency. We would not say sim cards were a must for our trip because we both are on T-Mobile.
If your cellphone plan doesn’t work internationally, it’s a good idea to spend $10 on a sim card. While changing money we learned that $1 U.S. dollar is equivalent to 82 Rupees!
After exchanging our currency, we met our guide from then on named Wilson. Wilson greeted us and we all hopped into the transfer car and drove an hour through Mumbai. The traffic was very light being that we landed on a Saturday morning for our Day 1.
It’s best to arrive in Mumbai, India on a weekend to avoid the flurry of a typical weekday. Cars honking, people talking, tuk-tuk everywhere, and kids playing. Chris and I both found ourselves staring out the window at this beautiful chaos.
Chris tracked our route all the way to the hotel using “Waze”. Who would have thought that India also had a “Waze” app?
Stepping out of the car we were both overjoyed that the weather was phenomenal. It was much cooler than back home in Sebastian, FL. When we left Sebastian, it was 91 degrees Fahrenheit and humid. In Mumbai, it was 83 degrees Fahrenheit and dry since monsoon season had just ended.
We stepped out at The Oberoi Mumbai, and it was breathtaking. It sits right at Nariman Point, at the very end of Marina Drive. It even had a boardwalk out on the water with a nearby park equipped with exercise equipment overlooking the water.
The General Manager told us that many people come over from Saudi Arabia and from other Gulf Countries. They travel to India specifically during the monsoon season to enjoy the rain because they get so little back home. Our Floridian brains had a hard time wrapping our heads around that one!
The smiling staff greeted us both with cold washcloths and the most refreshing cup of tea. Chris loved it so much that he ordered another cup after going up to the room. Once we finished weaving through the hotel’s exquisite halls, our luggage was already waiting for us in the room. The room had a living and sleeping area that was separated making it feel like a large luxurious suite!
After refreshing ourselves upstairs, we descended to the lobby to join the other participants for lunch. The staff excitedly shared that a Michelin-star chef from Australia was preparing our meals, instantly piquing our appetite.
He absolutely did not disappoint; the food was spectacular! A nice meal to start on Day 1. I think it would be great to sign up for a cooking class with him!
I had lunch with Lisa and Jennifer, who were fellow members. They invited me to visit the local shops, and I gladly accepted! We did not strike gold this time. We went to a shop called The Bombay Store and it seemed a little too touristy for us.
Chris went with the tailor to get fitted for some beautifully made Indian shirts and trousers. After hitting a few stores, we headed back to the Oberoi and found out that the basement was attached to the sister hotel called The Trident. This floor had a shopping arcade with beautiful shops, and I found some gorgeous shawls to bring home with me.
We were both tired from shopping during the day. Chris and I met back at the hotel and headed to have some cocktails and more delicious local cuisine. During our meal, the general manager, sales director, and another representative joined us.
They shared the rich history of The Oberoi Hotels and shared some of the gems that made each location special. They also recommended to go visit national parks as October was the most popular time to go.
One thing we did learn was that their mission is to stay committed to growing and developing the welfare of the people whom they rely on to make memorable experiences at their hotels happen. They want to become a leading hotel company by genuinely understanding their guests. The Oberoi Hotels strive to make sure their customers are taken care of and ask for what they need before they get it.
After saying our goodbyes to the other participants and new friends, we headed upstairs for a full night’s rest. We were already getting excited for Day 2 Experiencing India and seeing the iconic Taj Mahal and Hawa Mahal… Stay tuned!
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