In September of 2003 Rick and I ventured to Europe with Trafalgar Tours. It was one of those “if it is Tuesday this must be Belgium, or is it Switzerland? or Italy?” – a 21 day ten country tour on a coach complete with our excellent Latvian driver Ivar and our experienced and very knowledgeable guide Jeff. Ivar spoke very little English and Jeff spoke very little, if any Latvian, although he was fluent in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Austrian, Dutch and was learning a couple of others.

I think when we go on guided trips or cruises where we are with people you don’t know, you wonder what the dynamics of the group will be like. Will there be those that are chronically late and holding up the rest of the group while others have been waiting anxiously twenty minutes ahead of time? Will personalities clash or will it be enjoyable for everyone? This trip was our first experience on a guided tour and it was absolutely the best group we could have ever imagined.

We were very fortunate to have a small group of only fifteen on a fifty passenger bus. Other than two teachers from Texas who were taking the trip to celebrate their retirement, our other eleven travelers were from down under and mostly much younger (yes Maria I put you in with the younger crowd!). We were an interesting group ranging from 20 to 60, quiet, reserved and from different walks of life, but we seemed to immediately start looking out for each other and building a bond that remains today.

This past weekend two of those friends came to visit us from the Lone Star state of Texas. Salt Spring was their appetizer before their cruise on the Sapphire Princess to Alaska! I didn’t remember the Texas Twang from our trip, maybe it was lost with the Australian lingo, which I think we all unintentionally mimicked after twent-one days. We managed to converse without difficulty, and we did have fun with the pronunciation of several words between the four of us. We toured the island, visited a few galleries and shops in Ganges, lunched by the water at Auntie Pesto’s and had dinner at the Seaside Restaurant in Vesuvius, then headed back to watch the sunset. A great day catching up with friends.

They wanted to know why we were a four and a half star Canada Select property so we explained the standards and told them we why were happy with our rating. Before they left we were presented with another star. They said in their minds we are a five and a half star. Great fun!

We wish they could have stayed longer but we were so happy they could come by for a short visit.

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