This half-day tour is an introduction to the captivating wonders of Cochin, a picturesque city of peninsulas and islands originally built by the Portuguese, and capital of the southern Indian state, Kerala. Cochin has one of the finest natural harbors in the world and for centuries was the center of the spice trade. Ancient mariners from the Middle East, China and Europe all left their mark on this beautiful island city, and its diverse past is reflected in its steep-roofed bungalows and colonial residences, its spice and antique shops, and its cathedral, palaces and synagogue. Driving along the narrow passageway at the water's edge, see the first visual symbol of ancient trade and the age-old shared influences of Cochin: the Chinese Fishing Nets. These fixed and cantilevered fishing nets are the icon of Cochin sea trade, and cannot be found anywhere else in India. It is believed Chinese traders brought these huge fishing nets to Cochin from the court of Kublai Khan. Leaving the waterfront, stop at St. Francis Church, the oldest European church in India, built in 1503 by Portuguese friars. Vasco da Gama was buried here in 1524 until 1538 when his remains were taken to Lisbon. His sepulcher can still be seen at the church. A short stop will be made at the engaging Indo-Portuguese Museum, currently housing outstanding examples of the art and architecture of the region. Pass through the district of Mattancherry, noted for the medieval-style Mattancherry Palace (Dutch Palace). A large but modest-looking building with sloping roofs, the palace was built by the Portuguese in 1555 and given to the Raja of Kochi (Cochin). It is now a museum with exhibits recording the history, traditions and culture of the area. The last stop will be the ancient neighborhood known as Jew Town, once a thriving Jewish enclave in the late 1500s. The community has dwindled in numbers, but the synagogue, built in 1568, is beautifully preserved. After strolling the narrow streets of Jew Town, passing the synagogue and an assortment of shops, return to the ship.