- From: Stephanie
- Sent: Friday, June 15, 2018
- To: 206 Tours
- Subject: The Holy Land | May 27 - June 5, 2018
- Tour 111
First and foremost, I must state this was seriously the absolute best time of my life to date. I have honestly never been happier and 206 Tours has definitely exceeded any and all expectations I had for my spiritual pilgrimage. I couldn’t give a better review!!! I’m Chaldean Catholic and have had a very strong relationship with God ever since I can remember. This trip literally meant so much to me, it’s actually quite hard to put my feelings into words. Funny part is, I’m a writer, too! I’m almost never at a loss for words! :) This trip definitely impacted my life for the better and walking the path where Jesus walked made me feel even closer to Him when I didn’t even think it was possible. The Lord has been in my heart and mind each day of my entire life, yet I still couldn’t get enough of my time in Israel and I cannot wait to go back in January 2019. I’ve been wanting to go to visit the Holy Land since I was a small child, but after I lost my dad due to a massive heart attack 4 years ago, it felt fitting that now was the right time for me. The spiritual/Christian mission trips I’ve taken aboard since his passing were to help others so this trip was more about helping myself. It has been quite a difficult road since his death given it was out of nowhere and unexpected. He was only 58-years-old and coming from a family of four daughters, we were all daddy’s little girls. I was just fine in life after his passing, but it was my heart that hurt day in and day out. It still feels like yesterday to be honest. I miss him terribly. In fact, this last fall/winter was the most difficult time for me during my mourning. It’s weird, but I think this past Christmas I was finally able to find comfort and get some closure. 2018 is the year for healing, hence my reasoning for booking this trip as a present to myself for my 33rd birthday – the age of Christ in honor of what He’s done for me. As you can notice, I was very close with my dad and loved him very much so without rambling too much further, this trip just meant so much. Without Jesus in my heart, I honestly don’t know how I would have gotten through it all. With His strength and love, I was able to continue forward and be there to support my sisters and mother during our darkest hours. No matter how hard life can be (especially in private moments), a friend once told me, it takes a strong person to get through it all, but an even stronger person to smile while doing it. That stuck with me as I never failed to smile every day since. In fact, God taught me through this sad time, and through the people He sent in my life, that no matter what life will throw at us, we'll always be okay with Him in ours hearts and we never have to feel alone again. My heart is so full that my only wish now is for everyone to have a life as lucky as mine. Where they can wake up one day and say, “I really don’t need anything more,” and actually mean it. This is exactly how I feel. Booking this spiritual journey was also meant to show my gratitude and appreciation for what the Lord has given me and to thank Him in a different way for filling me up with all the love He has given us before our even existence. Most importantly, I wanted to thank Him for mending my broken heart and never leaving my side.
I made so many long-lasting relationships on this pilgrimage, whether it was the folks on the tour or the people I met along the way. Everyone felt like family to me. Especially our tour guide, Shafik Khbeis. He was absolutely amazing! I’ve done quite a lot of traveling for such a young person and been on many tours before, but never had a guide as great as Shafik. Please continue to use him as his hard work and knowledge is the main reason why I’ll be using 206 Tours again. Folks like him deserve all the credit in the world as I listened and overheard some of the other tour guides at places we visited and they didn’t even come close to being as wonderful as Shafik. Of course, the food and amenities were nothing shy of first class, the hotels were amazing, we visited everywhere we were supposed to (and had time to do even more), but what made it perfect was having a such a strong, spiritual, knowledgable and kind tour guide like him. Father Joseph was also an amazing person. So glad he joined us. We've actually made plans to visit one another when I go to New York towards the end of July. I already made plans to visit my friend and it just so happens Father Joe is only 10 minutes away. My friend and I will be treating him to brunch after that Sunday's late morning mass. Given I went on this tour alone, I really bonded with Father Joe and Shafik and felt privileged to be at their side. I learned so much from them. I couldn’t rate their friendship and service high enough!
You made my trip an experience of a lifetime and I’ll never forget one moment of it. I wanted to write more about our day to day travels on what we did, but it’s better for someone to simply experience it all on their own. 206 Tours truly deepened my faith as you folks really know how to give a pilgrim the best understanding when traveling to the Holy Land. Even though I was far far away, I never felt closer to home. 5 stars 100% and I’ll definitely be booking more 206 Tours in the near future! May God Bless you and yours today, forever and always. Thank you so much!!!
- From: Rev. Andre Antao, PhD
- Sent: Monday, May 28, 2018
- To: 206 Tours
- Subject: Holy Land & Medjugorje | May 6 - 19, 2018
- Tour 112
We consider ourselves fortunate to have chosen 206 tours this summer, as we picked this only because we wanted to travel in May and we also wanted to go with a Catholic tour.
My wife and I went to the Holy Land and Medugorje this past May 2018 (from May 6 to May 19).
206 made our visits to the holy sites unforgettable, from the excellent tour guides, Shafiq and Dragan; the gentle guiding hand of our spiritual director Father John Cavanaugh; the able maneuvering and helpful hand of tour driver Ahmed; the 4 to 5 star accommodations at the Dan in Tel Aviv, the Leonardo in Tiberias, the Pontifical Institute of Notre Dame in Jerusalem (which was an easy walk to the church of the Holy Sepulchre), and the Grace Hotel in Medugorje (which we highly recommend not only for its food and congenial staff but also for its close proximity, just one minute’s walk to St. James Church); scrumptious and delicious food at the hotels; unforgettable taste of the local cuisine for our lunches in Israel. It was great that all three meals were taken care of there. Apart from the appetizing food, the dinners and the lunches contributed to the camaraderie among us in the tour.
We found ourselves fortunate to have holy masses held in at the sites where Jesus Christ, Mother Mary, St. Joseph, St. John the Baptist, St. Elizabeth once were. The scriptural and historical dimensions were clearly explained to us by Shafiq. We cannot say enough about Shafiq. He is outstanding. That he carefully planned our itinerary for each day, and also made sure that those who had physical disabilities could still enjoy and catch up at each site while dealing with the crowds at the Church of the Nativity or the steep climb up Ein Karem to the Church of St. John the Baptist were not lost to us. Another unique touch by Shafiq was when we were at the Israel Museum where we viewed the model of the ancient city of Jerusalem. While other tour groups were being shown the model from ground level, Shafiq had us take a flight up the steps view the 1:50 model, unhindered, while he expounded on each section (NSEW) via Whisper from below. Shafiq and Fr. Cavanaugh also arranged for us to have a dawn visit to the church of the Holy Sepulchre so that we could venerate Christ’s fragrant burial slab and the Golgotha to ourselves, culminating in a private mass inside Christ’s tomb. There were only 25 of us, so each of us were able to take turns kissing the Lord’s tomb. The same private mass in Gethsemane was accorded to us, enabling us in the tour to take our time kissing and venerating the rock of agony where Jesus spent his final hours of prayer before his arrest. The wine and cheese welcome proffered by Shafiq and Ahmed while enjoying the panoramic view of Jerusalem and the seated dinner at the top of the Notre Dame hotel were nice, heartfelt touches. Personal highlights for us: the sailing on the sea of Galilee on a calm, cool morning; visiting the house of Caiaphas where the Lord was lowered by tethers to his dungeon; the renewal of our marriage vows at Cana.
Speaking of which, we are still waiting for our marriage certificate from there because we were among those who did not get the marriage renewal certificate on our last day.
Medugorje was a peaceful, spiritually rejuvenating and filling experience. We arrived via Split and left via Dubrovnik, and took our 2 hour drive up the mountains on a rainy night on our first night. Instead of Slavenka who was tied up with an ongoing 206 group as our tour guide, we got Slava on our first half day, who gave us a brief background of Medugorje and its surrounding villages and took us to the church, the statue of the Risen Christ and the burial place of Fr. Slavko Barbaric. Our official tour guide for the rest of our stay was Dragan. On our first night, Dragan met us at 9:30 in the evening. None of the visionaries were present but one could feel the presence of Our Blessed Mother here. Of note was Grace Hotel’s close proximity to the Church of St. James, the Statue of the Risen Christ and Adoration Chapel so that we could walk there without the need for a cab daily and get there in less than two minutes. The food there was great, as well as, the staff. Request booking at the Grace Hotel instead of the Pension. Dragan was congenial and very knowledgeable about the history of the area, which tied in with the visions, the difficulties encountered by the visionaries and the town, and the eventual growth of the town. He also took us to a nearby town where we saw the most spectacular cascading waterfalls, the Mother’s Village and St. Francis Garden founded by Fr. Slavko where mothers and their children fled during the war, the Cenacolo, a must-visit, and the castle of Patrick and Nancy Latta where we listened to Patrick’s indelible testimony of conversion.
All this being said, a few minor glitches regarding our Medugorje trip: at the airport in Rome we were charged $88 by Croatian Airlines for both of our suitcases which were certainly within weight limits. We know this to be a fact because they were weighed at the airport in Tel Aviv.
- From: Fr. John Cavanaugh
- Sent: Tuesday, May 22, 2018
- To: 206 Tours
- Subject: Jordan & The Holy Land | May 2 - 15, 2018
- Tour 158
Thank you for the opportunity to go back to the Holy Land. It always fills me with awe when I walk in the land of our Lord.
First, both the guide and driver on each side of the Jordan river (Israel/Jordan) were excellent. Both drivers’ ability to navigate through very congested streets and get us safely to our destination, is itself, a minor miracle. Both of the guides knew their stuff, I was amazed at how they could explain where and what happened at various sites. Our safety passing through this trouble land was paramount to them. I never felt vulnerable, especially being there on the 70th anniversary of the state of Israel, and an unexpected military confrontation right over our heads. To me I got a deeper understanding of the arguments from both sides.
As far as accommodations, I enjoyed them all. We had two people with canes and walking issues. I would recommend a statement about the length of walking, even if it is already in the information, I would recommend the statement be posted more graphically. There were some issues with this problem, but the guides were on top of the situation and were able to get us all together for the next adventure.
- From: Guido Gockel
- Sent: Thursday, May 17, 2018
- To: 206 Tours
- Subject: El Camino - The Way of St. James - Spain
- Tour 70
Just yesterday I returned from Spain where - thanks to 206 Tours - I had a wonderful experience walking the Camino, unencumbered by material worries. 206 Tours as always had it beautifully organized. The walk of the Camino was for me a wonderful life experience and confrontation with myself in the light of the Lord “how is the Way”. I experienced his nearness and companionship in those who went with me on the Camino. The experience will surely be reflected in my ministry as I preach God’s Word.
- From: Michael and Christy Vaissade
- Sent: May 17, 2018
- To: 206 Tours
- Subject: Pilgrimage to the Holy Land
- Tour 111
- (Posted on FaceBook, while on the last day of pilgrimage to the Holy Land)
Well, we made it home safe and sound from the holiest place on earth!
We would just like to thank Milanka Lachman, the founder of 206 tours, for a truly unforgettable and awesome experience. So much goes into planning a pilgrimage..206 meticulously cared for every detail with so much professionalism, thoughtfulness and love. I normally don’t promote things very often but 206 tours has their pilgrimages dialed in on every level. All of us recognized very early on how blessed we were to be with 206. So if you’re considering making a pilgrimage to the holy land or any of the other Catholic sites, give yourself the best and go with 206 tours! Check out their upcoming pilgrimages on their link below!
- From: Lizbeth Contreras
- Sent: Wednesday, May 16, 2018
- To: 206 Tours
- Subject: Poland: In the Footsteps of St. John Paul II & St. Faustina
- Tour 168
Thanks a lot for putting together this pilgrimage. I enjoyed it a lot, and so did the group I joined. All the visits to the shrines were done on schedule, and the masses couldn't be more beautiful in those blessed shrines. The tour guide and driver in Poland are real professional people. The bus was always on time to pick up or drop us from or to the hotel. The hotels were cleaned and of good quality. All the personnel treated us well. Also, I loved the location of the hotels, always close to the main attractions. We were blessed to have in our group Msgr. Leslie Ivers and two deacons. On top of all these blessings, the weather was perfect, always sunny and warm. I would like to give a special thanks to Chris at 206 Tours, for helping me with all the changes that made it possible to join this pilgrimage.
- From: Jean Power
- Sent: Monday, May 14, 2018
- To: 206 Tours
- Subject: Rome, Assisi, Siena and Florence
- Tour 98
Dear Caterina and Staff at 206 Tours,
I would like to thank you so much for all the arrangements 206 Tours provided that made our trip to Rome, Assisi, Siena and Florence (April 8–17) such a blessed and wonderful experience. The pilgrimage was excellent. Father McBrien and Father Tom Pettei provided a very special spiritual dimension to our trip with daily Mass and additional spiritual and travel guidance in Rome, Assisi and Florence.
The hotels were excellent. All the rooms I had were a good size and well appointed. The staff every place was courteous and helpful. The Michelangelo was a perfect spot, so close to the Vatican that it made exploring that area of Rome very easy. The breakfasts at the hotel were spectacular, as were the breakfasts at all the hotels.
Dinners were very good. The bus ride the first night in Rome to dinner seemed a long trip to go for a meal, but it was an elegant and excellent dinner. At the second’s night’s dinner, the restaurant was a bit noisy and crowded, but the dinner was OK. The third night’s meal in Rome (a walk from the hotel to the Papa Rex), was an excellent meal.
The Giotto in Assisi was very nice, and convenient for sightseeing in Assisi, but the room numberings were a little crazy. Also the hotel only gave out one room key so if two were sharing a room, that presented a problem if one got back early and had to wait until the roommate returned to enter the room. The breakfasts and dinners at the Giotto were excellent, very nice feasts for both meals each day.
The Adler Cavalieri was another fine hotel. The breakfasts were excellent and they even gave us a box meal for the early morning bus ride back to the airport. The only problem there was that the internet connection was a little sketchy. The two restaurants in Florence that we walked to and ate at, were very good. It was very convenient to only have to walk right across the street for our meal that first night in Florence when we were all tired after a long day.
All the tour guides (in Rome, Assisi, Siena and Florence) were excellent. I can't believe all the spectacular sites and art I saw in each city. The guides gave fine explanations and insights every place we went. Paola also did a fine job taking care of us and keeping us on track. She was friendly and pleasant to be with, and answered all our questions.
This is the first time I have ever been on a pilgrimage or a tour. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me, and I’m so glad I was able to go, and that you provided a first class, exceptional experience all the way.
- From: Mary Condit
- Sent: Saturday, May 12, 2018
- To: 206 Tours
- Subject: Pilgrimage to Medjugorje | April 29 - May 7, 2018
- Tour 1
This was my 13th time in Medjugorje and 206 has never disappointed me in any of the pilgrimages I’ve had the blessing to go on. Ivan is a marvelous host and Ivanka is the best guide, bar none. I attended with my daughter, Sister Teresa, and she spread her message of peace and love just by being there. It seemed people were drawn to her for some reason. I’ll include a few pics.