I just returned, Aug. 24, from a four day trip to Quebec City with the Naugatuck Senior Center and Getaway Tours and Cruises of Terryville. As a seasoned French teacher, and the veteran of 12 student tours to Montreal and Quebec City, I would like to share my perspective of the trip’s value.
Given our inflated economy, the peak tourist time we were traveling, the strength of the Canadian dollar and their double tax, I never expected to get as much as I got. We had comfortable hotel accommodations, full course breakfasts and delicious, ample dinners, an exceptional city tour, a side trip to the Beaupre coast to see Montmorency Falls, St. Anne’s Shrine, Marie’s Country Bread, the Changing of the Guard at the Citadel and the spectacular Quebec City military marching band extravaganza — a once-in-a-lifetime event.
The true measure of a trip, however, is in the people that made it all happen. The itinerary, masterminded by Blair Soucy, of the tour company, reflected an authentic French Canadian cultural and international immersion experience. Harvey Frydman of the senior center bid us farewell with individually packed travel bags filled with goodies for our long journey. Bonnie Kelly, our tour director, was personable with a great sense of humor. The local tour guide in Quebec City, Marie Cote, shared not just her knowledge but also her unique perspective of Quebec’s history, politics, daily life, and her personal insights, rarely found in tourist travel guides.
The real hero of our trip was our bus driver, Kevin Saunders, of Post Road Stages Bus Company, South Windsor. His skill, patience, demeanor and magnanimous spirit made the trip serene, secure and without stress. At rest stops, he was the consummate gentleman when travelers lingered and made us later than we should have been. He carefully drove our bus through challenging detours. One night he agreed to take us to an unscheduled sound and light show, even though it meant he would curtail his leisure time. He ate dinner long after our group so he could stay with the bus and ensure he remained legally parked. He sacrificed his comfort for all of us. Based on my years of travel with many bus drivers, Kevin Saunders deserves the bus driver of the year award. His professionalism was outstanding and without equal.
I thank the Naugatuck Senior Center and Getaway Tours for arranging this wonderful excursion. I urge more people to take advantage of other trips in the future. Not only will you get great value for your money, you also will experience travel tourism par excellence.