Thirty years ago, Olga Placeres, CFO/Agency Manager at Preferred Travel of Naples, began her career as a travel specialist. She recently had a profound opportunity to travel to Dubai and India with her daughter, Kristina Gear, an IC (Independent Contractor) Team Manager at Preferred Travel.
We sat down with these two lively women as they filled us in on the details of their exciting journey into the East.
Olga and Kristina flew to New York to board their flight on Emirates Airlines with a direct route to Dubai, which was a luxurious experience in and of its self. Once they arrived in Dubai, they checked into their opulent hotel, The Oberoi Dubai. The five-star hotel is the epitome of contemporary indulgence. Looking up into the sky, with a rooftop view of the Burj Khalifa (world’s tallest building), their senses were immediately overwhelmed with sophisticated glamour, as they took in the sights of the city lights and the vast scale of the buildings and structures.
The next day, they got to experience the Burj Khalifa up close, as the speedy elevator soared to the 148th floor at the rooftop of the Burj Khalifa, which offered yet another breathtaking view of nearly all of Dubai.
During their stay, Olga and Kristina experienced this very modern and innovative city. Even though it’s one of the most lavish, newer places for tourist to visit, it’s a deep melting pot of cultures. You will experience people, restaurants, and services from all over the world. The influences of Indian, Middle Eastern, European, Filipino, Turkish and Lebanese cultures will delight your palate along with your emotions, as you take in the entire experience.
English is the primary language spoken there, so there are no communication barriers to fear. And along with the idea of nothing to fear, it’s a common misconception that Dubai is a risky destination to visit. Nothing could be further from the truth. The people in Dubai are welcoming, kind, and love that you are there in their land experiencing their unique world and way of life.
Olga and Kristina walked the city limits even in the evening and never once felt unsafe. Contrary to popular belief, Dubai is not just for the rich and famous. There are different levels of pricing and opportunities for lodging, along with dining. You can have anything from pizza to kabobs, to caviar. Many open-air cafes offer reasonable costs for their patrons, and hotel chains like the Hilton or local motels provide more cost-effective places to stay.
Olga and Kristina took a Jeep adventure into the desert, which included the 45-minute drive, to high-
reaching dune bashing rides (very much like dune buggies), to watching the sunset in its fullest, flaming, glory of reds and oranges, to a delightful, peaceful dinner under the stars in the Dubai Desert.
They also had time to visit the beach and explained that the water is so calm and the bluest of blues. Many people were sunbathing and enjoying the peaceful Gulf amongst the skyscraper backdrop of the city.
A few days later, the ladies were off to Delhi. Olga describes it as the most colorful, old-world imaginable, and abroad contrast to the modern society they just left hours before. Delhi is highly populated with a lot of traffic and people. There are even sacred cows blocking streets and walkways in some areas, as the people patiently wait for their hallowed animals to cross.
The colorful city is from not only the flowers of marigolds but also the brilliant reds, purples, pinks, yellows and orange colored fabrics that the woman and girls are dressed in. Their saris and Salwar Kameezes (tunics) are not only gorgeous but also handmade with the highest quality. Olga and Kristina got to see some of this intricate clothing up close in the market where the local people and visitors are able to purchase authentic pieces from India.
The food is organic, fresh and full of color and spices that ignite your senses. Kristina explained that she enjoys experiencing cultural food everywhere that she’s been able to travel, but with India, the spices were so local and different that the preparation and taste of each individual course was the unique experience of a lifetime. The two women both agreed that the bouquet of colors and the aroma of the spices in Delhi are something that they will savor and admire forever.
Because the population has such strong beliefs in Karma, they are some of the happiest individuals in the world, and offer their services with joy; it is their delight to honor you during your stay. Due to their karma-centric way of life, the crime rate is extremely low.
In addition to the busy city, architectural palaces pepper the land. These fortresses are a striking contrast to the nearby villages. Many of the locals work and thrive in the palaces. Olga and Kristina enjoyed one special evening with a private dinner in one such place. The overly compassionate service of the locals was intensified by a parade of colorful costumes and traditional dancing by men, women, and children.
In Delhi, mass transit is available, but even though there are numerous ways to get around the town, Olga and Kristina hopped aboard a rickshaw, which is one of the quickest modes of transportation to avoid traffic in the city.
At sunrise, the mother and daughter duo had an iconic experience at the renowned Taj Mahal. For many people, the pilgrimage to the Taj Mahal is the one trip they make in their entire lifetime. For Olga and Kristina, they were able to avoid the large crowds by getting there early in the morning and described the experience as almost transcendent, allowing them to feel the mystical aspects of the ornate mausoleum.
The ladies had countless adventures in Delhi including visiting an elephant sanctuary, a game of Polo on camels (yes-camels), and to top off the list, a memorable trip to a local school.
Most travel companies that go to poverty-stricken lands like India offer a charity for the local children. With A&K (Abercrombie & Kent), Olga and Kristina donated funds for local school supply boxes, which they helped assemble. These boxes were delivered directly to the little children. The two women boarded a bus, which drove them deep into India to a rugged road that the bus was unable to continue to navigate. So they gathered their boxes and walked the dirt path to the school.
The school building was dilapidated and rustic, but the children’s beautiful smiles lit the dingy building up like beaming light from heaven. Ironically, the children were on holiday on the day of the visit, but every single child made the 2 to 3-mile trek to the school on their day off to accept these coveted boxes of pencils and paper.
Kristina explained, “They loved that we were there for them. They sang songs for us with the most joyful little faces. Their bright teeth were glistening from ear to ear, and to see their delight was the most impactful experience of the entire trip.”
To sum up their trip, we asked them what three ways best describe these two distinct places. Olga responded, “Dubai is exquisitely modern, luxurious and culturally adventurous.” Kristina answered, “India is color, stimulation for the senses and full of peaceful, beautiful people.
If you’d like to learn more about your opportunity to visit either of these places or anywhere in the world, Preferred Travel of Naples is the best place to start. With the highly traveled and experienced staff to guide you, rest assured that you will be in the best hands.
To find out more about Dubai, India, or other fascinating destinations, please contact Preferred Travel of Naples at 239-261-1177 or visit preferrednaples.com.