Brian has been on a number of Zoom Vacations tours. In fact, there is a good chance that some of the photos you've seen on Zoom Vacations' site and print materials came from Brian's wonderful collection of photos taken on our tours! In addition to being a talented photographer, he is a really fun guy who is always ready for a great time and a new adventure!
Zoom: What attracted you to the India trip?
Brian: The rich culture, history and variety of experiences to be enjoyed made this a very appealing trip — and it excelled on each measure. In addition, the people of India were so wonderful. Their beautiful smiles and gracious hospitality made the trip so enjoyable and memorable. Then there was the authentic Indian food to be had — so different and so much better than the Indian restaurants in the US or the UK.
Zoom: What keeps you coming back on Zoom trips?
Brian: Two things. First, the quality of every aspect of the trips. The guides, the hotels, the restaurants, the itineraries, and the wonderful signature events (and surprises) are always the best available. And everything runs like a well-oiled machine, smoothly and without any hitches. Plus Zoom really cares about its guests — I was nicely surprised when Zoom attentively swapped out an undesired cucumber soup for a great tomato one automatically. Second, the people I’ve met on Zoom trips. So many wonderful, kind, funny and caring people. I’ve formed lasting friendships with people on every Zoom trip I’ve taken. Traveling with such people adds so much enjoyment to the trips!
Zoom: What were your favorite highlights of the trip?
Brian: Oh, there were so many! Each day brought new ones! Varanasi stands out because it felt as though I had been transported back in time to see human civilization as it existed a thousand years ago. Jodhpur is unforgettable because of the trumpets and drums heralding our arrival at a real palace — followed by a regal dinner with fireworks at a marble columned outdoor pavilion. But perhaps it was the smiles, the gentle nature, and the happiness of the people of India that I will always recall so fondly.
Zoom: What surprised you about India?
Brian: India abounded with many wonderful surprises. I’d heard negative claims about India before going but was surprised to find that they weren’t true. It’s a surprisingly beautiful country. Yes, it is a land of many contrasts and a very different culture, but that’s what makes it so appealing.
Zoom: India has many outstanding hotels, some of the best in the world. Which were your favorite hotels?
Brian: Clearly, my all time favorite is Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur. The service, food, accommodations and ambiance are extraordinary. Little wonder why TripAdvisor travelers voted it the best hotel in the world last year. The Oberoi Udaivilas Udaipur Hotel was breathtakingly beautiful and regal. And the Oberoi Amarvilas Hotel in Agra, with its views of the Taj Mahal from the balcony of my room was truly exceptional. India clearly has some of the finest hotels in the world.
Zoom: Did you have any issues with the food in India?
Brian: None! Friends had said to expect problems but that’s an unfair and an uninformed or misinformed view. The only issue I had is that I ate far too much of it!! Oh, and Indian wines are terrific! The Sula Chenin Blanc is an outstanding wine — and that’s after tasting perhaps a case of it! For red wine, the Grover Cabernet Shiraz was like drinking velvety black cherries. Simply wonderful and pairs with Indian food so well.
Zoom: How did Zoom India compare with other Zoom trips you’ve taken?
Brian: That’s sort of like asking which Rolls-Royce model is the best, isn’t it? It’s so hard to compare because each was terrific in its own way. But the India trip will stand out because of the wonderful culture, the beauty, the history and the charming people. It’s so much better than many imagine it would be. It’s an extraordinary, unforgettable experience.
Zoom: Would you like to go back to India?
Brian: YES!! There is so much to see and experience. It’s a captivating country and so enjoyable. I’d look forward to a return visit eagerly.
Zoom: Did you make new friends? How did the group get along?
Brian: Yes! I made several new friends, as I have on every Zoom trip. And the group made the trip so enjoyable. We had so much fun together it felt as though we had been great friends for years. But that’s typical for Zoom trips.
Zoom: Was there a good mix of planned activities and free time?
Brian: Yes. There’s a lot to see in India, and Zoom made it possible to see as much as possible while still providing time for the gym, pool, shopping or just quiet down time.
Zoom: How was the shopping in India?
Brian: Great! Especially in Jodhpur. Bought some great items, including a bedspread, a great wool comforter and a lot of silver jewelry all at great prices. Oh, and two regal turbans!
Zoom: Is there anything you’d like to add?
Brian: It’s apparent that Zoom put a lot of thought into the India trip, and carefully considers every detail so that we can have the best experience possible. Zoom never simply settles on a trip — it always looks for ways to improve and come up with even more stunning signature events. It constantly builds on its experience to make our experience more enjoyable and memorable. That will keep me coming back for even more Zoom trips!