People & Stories

'It is going to be an experience I will never forget' –Trafalgar Unlocked Award winner Dolores's story

Recently updated on July 11th, 2023 at 12:57 pm

Our Trafalgar Unlocked Awards has now closed and after combing through over 10,000 incredible entries, the lucky winners have been announced. Each of these winners will be joining us with their travel companion on a 12-day trip to the Balkans this June. Trafalgar Unlocked Award winner Dolores, shared this in her entry:

“A photo of me with my parents in 1959 at the Trevi Fountain and a photo of me and my husband at the same place in 2018…special moments during our trip to Italy with Trafalgar. Forever memories for sure.”

We sat down with Dolores to find out more about her story and how it feels to be a Trafalgar Unlocked Award winner. She also shares her most special travel moments and why she loves traveling with Trafalgar. 

GET INSPIRED BY: Balkan Delight

Dolores and Jay at Trevi Fountain with family photo Trafalgar Unlocked Award winner

How did it feel to be a lucky Trafalgar Unlocked Award winner?

If you were ever to meet me in person, you will quickly realize I am rarely short on words. But, when I saw the email saying I was a Trafalgar Unlocked Award winner, I was truly speechless. I still look over at my husband and shake my head in disbelief. We were actually on a Trafalgar tour in Israel/Jordan when the notification came through. Though I hoped to win, I really never expected to win. I am so excited to go on the trip and meet the other winners. It is going to be an experience I will never forget. I still cannot believe I won!

RELATED CONTENT: Beyond Dubrovnik and Sarajevo: 10 off-the-radar Balkan towns to explore with Trafalgar

Dolores and Jay on a boat

Have you ever been to the Balkans?

We have been to Croatia and Montenegro on a cruise and had a few hours at each port. We heard how beautiful Croatia was and it’s been on our list of places to visit in more depth one day. We’ve never been to Bosnia

Dolores and Jay in Jordan

Who will you take with you on your Trafalgar trip to the Balkans?

Long answer to a simple question. Jay, my husband, and I always travel together on all of our trips. When I shared the news with family and friends that I won, I got several emails back congratulating me on the win but my daughter Rica replied with a question asking if I was taking her.

Since Rica and I share a birthday, Jay thought it would be nice if I took Rica with me this time. He offered Rica the option to go but after several emails and text messages back and forth, she decided not to go. I really understand how she feels about him missing this particular trip as he has been with me on all of our trips and this is certainly an extra special one. I promised Rica a trip in the near future but Jay will be coming with me on this trip.

GET INSPIRED BY: Balkan Adventure

Dolores and Jay in the Netherlands

What are you most excited to see and do during the 12-day Balkans Trafalgar trip?

I’m really looking forward to visiting all the sites equally and going to the Be My Guest event. It’s so interesting to be welcomed into someone’s home to share a meal with them and learn their craft and way of living. I still remember our meal during the tour to Italy and meeting the lovely Giada. I actually communicated with her after the trip and she sent us more wine for her vineyards that we used as Christmas gifts one year!  I’m especially excited about meeting the other winners and their travel mates so we can compare notes about our good fortune in winning this trip!

RELATED CONTENT: Experts tells us why the Balkans should be on your list of places to visit

Dolores with Giada in Italy

Your Trafalgar Unlocked Award winner entry was about your experience on the Italian Holiday Trafalgar trip. Why did you choose this trip?

The itinerary for the Italian Holiday Trafalgar trip was perfect. Not only would it take me back to the exact spot where my parents and I stood 59 years ago, but the trip also included places that my husband and I wanted to see, such as Verona. I have personally seen all 37 Shakespeare plays and I wanted to visit Juliet’s Balcony in Verona. It was a great choice for our first Trafalgar trip. Our tour director Heidi was wonderful. 

Dolores and Jay in Italy

Why was it so special for you to take this trip with your husband?

I know I can be sentimental at times but I really wanted to go back to a special place in my heart with a special person in my life. I hope that one day my daughters would go to the exact same spot and hold the photo below, of me holding the photo with my parents and start a tradition that their grandchildren would continue.

Dolores as a child with her parents at the Trevi Fountain in Italy

What was it like to recreate the same photo as your parents at the Trevi Fountain?

I somehow remember a lot of details about the day the photo was taken; a carriage ride after church, breakfast, and then to the Trevi Fountain. But, the one thing I could never remember was what was I looking at? If you look at the original photo, you will see I am looking to the right.

When we went back during our Trafalgar trip, I made sure to look to the right and guess what was there? A GELATO shop! I wonder if it was there 59 years ago? I did not think to ask or look at the dates when the current gelato shop was established but I will the next time we are there! We’ve been back to Italy a couple times since our first trip with Trafalgar. 

Dolores and Jay in Italy

Going back brought bittersweet memories. I remembered this day as a very fun day with my parents but it was the last fun day that I remember with them together. Soon after they separated and my mother and I moved to the Philippines where I grew up. 

RELATED CONTENT: Have you taken our most popular Italy tour? Let’s dive into 8 epic highlight

Dolores and husband Jay sharing a kiss

How many Trafalgar trips have you taken?

Officially 8 but I call it 8.5! 

Italy our first trip 
The Netherlands with Luxembourg and Belgium 
Israel and Jordan ( we had to switch buses and tour directors for this one so I call it 1.5!)

Dolores with an alpaca in Morocco - Trafalgar Unlocked Award winner

What is your all-time favourite travel destination or Trafalgar trip?

I have a friend named Kathryn that says “you should ask Jay how the trip was because Dolores loves everything” which is pretty accurate! Our Trafalgar trip to Italy will always be one of my favorites. In fact, we’ve been back twice since our trip in 2018. 

Our Trafalgar trip to Turkey was specifically to see Istanbul but I must say I left my heart in Cappadocia. Something about that place was just magical. I think it was the first time I got teary eyed seeing such a beautiful place. I also loved Budapest in Hungary. The beautiful and kind people in Thailand and China are unforgettable. I have been fortunate to travel to many beautiful places in this world and each one comes with special moments and memories.

Another favorite place we visited last year, though not with Trafalgar, was England. We went INSIDE John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s house! Growing up I was a huge fan of the Beatles. 

RELATED CONTENT: Inspire the kids with the real-life history behind these fairytale settings

Dolores and Jay in Cappadocia Trafalgar Unlocked Award winner

What is your favourite thing about traveling with Trafalgar?

We have done many ocean cruises over the years along with a couple of river cruises.  While talking with people we meet along the way, the topic of traveling by bus always came up, and the pros and cons of bus vs ship. With that said, we decided to give it a try. We quickly discovered that while we meet many people on a cruise, we developed friendships on the Trafalgar tour.

Our Trafalgar tours are always full of wonders and hidden treasures.  We have seen places we never knew existed and places that simply take your breath away. The cave house in Cappadocia, Turkey, was one of those places for me. 

RELATED CONTENT: 10 off-the-beaten track destinations you should add to your bucket list in 2023

Dolores and Jay with Trafalgar crew Trafalgar Unlocked Award winner

Where else is on your bucket list (besides the Balkans)?

As far as my bucket list, believe it or not, Croatia was on it!  Though we’ve been to Vietnam and Cambodia, we would like to go again on a Trafalgar tour or river cruise. This will also take us to Angkor Wat. We would also like to go to Switzerland and more of Latin America. The two years with no travel due to COVID-19 really slowed down our travel but we stayed healthy and safe.  

Congratulations to Dolores on being a lucky Trafalgar Unlocked Award winner and thank you for sharing your story. You can read more stories from our Trafalgar Unlocked Awards winners on our blog.

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