Featured Traveler: Daniel, from Portland, Oregon

If Daniel looks familiar to you, it may be because this is neither his first Zoom Vacation, nor his first time being our featured traveler. One of the most friendly, charming travelers you'll ever meet, Daniel, along with his sweetheart of a husband, Bryan are always so much fun to have on our tours. Daniel graciously took just a few moments from his trip to reflect on his experience with Zoom Vacations in India.

Zoom: What made you want to go to India? 

Daniel: Bryan and I are fans of traveling to places outside of our comfort zone. We enjoy immersing ourselves in cultures that are completely different than what we know. What better place to experience this, than in India? It has been on our list to do for a while now.

Zoom: How is India different than you expected?

Daniel: I don't think we had any certain expectations coming into this trip. I only assumed that India would be an overload of the senses, and it certainly did not disappoint!!

Zoom: Why did you decide to come with Zoom?

Daniel: We have been on several trips with Zoom now, and are 100% trusting in the type of itinerary they create. Zoom has a way of surprising its guests with special unique moments, a tourist coming on their own might not get to experience. 

Zoom: How is the group getting along?

Daniel: The group has been great! Meeting and making new friends from around the world is one of the highlights we enjoy in traveling with Zoom. 

Zoom: How would you describe the hotels to friends back home? 

Daniel: Neither words, nor photos can do justice to the Palaces we had the pleasure of staying in. The hotels in India are some of the best in the world!!

Zoom: How about the food?

Daniel: The food has been nothing short of amazing. The local delicacies are rich in color, and full of flavor. The traditional Thali presentation made each meal a memorable one. We just wanted to keep eating the Dal!!

Zoom: What has been your highlight? 

Daniel: So well known in photographs, we assumed the Taj Mahal to be another check off for tourists. We couldn't have been more wrong. It was more amazing than we thought it would be, and clearly see why it truly is, a Wonder of the world. 

Zoom: Have you had many encounters with local people?  How have those been?

Daniel: As we moved through India,  keeping up with its fast pace, we found time to playfully interact with children. They loved hearing us talk, and repeated back our words in a cute sing song manner. 

Zoom: How would you describe the experience at Varanasi, India to someone who hasn't been?

Daniel: Varanasi certainly was a sight to see. The gathering of people to worship, and the dedication to the religion displayed by them was very moving. It is certainly unlike anything we've ever experienced. Walking amongst them at sunrise, as they went about their morning bathing rituals in the Holy Ganges River, is certainly something we will never forget. 

Zoom: Thank you, Daniel!

Our Favorites List, by Zoom Owners, Bryan Herb and Joel Cabrera

Our Favorites List, by Zoom Owners, Bryan Herb and Joel Cabrera

With 30 years of combined international travel experience, Joel Cabrera and Bryan Herb, Zoom Vacations’ co-founders and Tour Leaders, have traveled to the ends of the Earth gaining invaluable travel information that they happily share with others.  Here are a few of their favorite things

Featured Travelers, Jaime and Conrado, from Mexico City.

Conrado and Jaime first heard of Zoom Vacations over ten years ago, and when they decided to go to India, they knew who to call.  It was their first Zoom Vacation, and we hope it will not be their last, because they were such wonderful travelers!  Always friendly, open to trying new experiences, appreciative of the wonderful things that happened to them on the trip, and always so courteous and respectful of local customs, people, and culture.  Plus, with all their shopping, they significantly improved the local economy!

Zoom:  It seems to us that a lot of people have misperceptions of what India really has to offer. Do you think that India is how people think it is?

Conrado:  No, we believe people only know the poverty and negative image about India but there is so much more. History, culture, religion, natural beauty are just a few things people should know more about India

Zoom:  Did anything surprise you about this trip to India?

Jaime:  The enormous gap between poverty and wealth is greater than we imagined. The orderly chaos on the streets is actually fun to experience!

Zoom:  What do you think that most people would appreciate about a trip to India?

Conrado:  Amazing food, beautiful temples and palaces. Spirituality and very kind people.

Zoom:  How were the accommodations on this trip?

Jaime:  Excellent accommodations in general but the 3 palaces in Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur were out of this world. We felt like royalty in all senses.

Zoom:  What were your top three highlights of the trip?

Conrado:  1- Staying at incredible palaces where facilities and levels of service are outstanding

   2- Guided visits to amazing temples of many religions and styles

   3- The customized events we had for our group, such as the high tea at an old palace in Varanasi where the current Maharaja still lives. 

Zoom:  Did you eat well?   Do you have a favorite meal or dish from the trip?

Jaime:  All food was amazing, and we really enjoyed trying all different cuisines and never got sick, which is a usual concern we heard before going to India.

Zoom:  On this trip, we did a lot of driving through India. How was that for you?

Conrado:  It was very comfortable in the vehicle we had. The driver was outstanding. It was interesting to witness the countryside, very different landscapes, local customs such as festivals and processions on the road and we even saw some shepherds with their herd of camels. Travel time felt shorter than expected.

Zoom:  How was it being part of a gay group in India? Did you feel comfortable?

Jaime:  Yes it was very comfortable and fun, especially when everyone went crazy shopping all the time!

Zoom:  What did you learn about India, Hinduism, Buddhism, architecture or spirituality that you didn't know before?

Conrado:  A lot of interesting facts about religions, their history and current practices.  

Zoom:  India is also known as a shopper's paradise. I know you bought some great things there, did you find this to be true?

Jaime:  Yes! it was beyond our expectations. We love art and antiques and bought several valuable pieces for very reasonable prices

Zoom:  You also took our add-on trip to Nepal. What were your impressions of Nepal?

Conrado:  We loved Nepal and its people. It is a very spiritual place and were glad to visit even if some temples were damaged by the earthquake. There were many things to see that were not affected by the earthquake and people were very thankful for our visit. Food was excellent and the hotel was amazing, its architecture is completely different, very traditional Nepalese. Would go back in a heartbeat.

Zoom:  Do you think it was worthwhile going to Nepal as well? How was it different from India?

Jaime:  It is very worthwhile to visit, climate was perfect. Nepal is like a little India but several decades back in time. People are still more innocent, nice, polite and service oriented. 

Zoom:  Is there anything else you two would like to add?

Conrado:  Zoom had many small details with us including daily surprise gifts that gave it a plus. Everything was very well planned but still we had options to adjust the schedule when the group agreed on a different alternative. Of course we would like to thank Bryan Herb for the excellent attitude, humor and service he provided as the zoom concierge with us during the trip. He did a fantastic job coordinating and arranging every little detail!!