Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

{Falling in with Good Company } {}; {Independent Traveller Di Millar Is Not a Fan of Guided Tours but Had a Change of Heart Going North to Alaska} {{lsquo}We Spent Hours Glued to Our Cameras and Were Fortunate to Capture the Birth of an Iceberg as It Separated from Its Glacial Wall' }

Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

{Falling in with Good Company } {}; {Independent Traveller Di Millar Is Not a Fan of Guided Tours but Had a Change of Heart Going North to Alaska} {{lsquo}We Spent Hours Glued to Our Cameras and Were Fortunate to Capture the Birth of an Iceberg as It Separated from Its Glacial Wall' }

Article excerpt

TRAVELLING with strangers on a package tour can be either a delightfully rewarding or an absolutely horrendous experience.

You can imagine my reluctance to try it again after having experienced the latter.

Against my better judgement, but at the behest of relatives who are often our holiday companions, we set out for an APT tour of Canada and Alaska that came highly recommended by all who had gone before us.

We arrived in Vancouver, British Columbia, a couple of days before the start of our Canadian leg of the tour, and what a great move it proved to be.

We were able to rest and spend a couple of days in Vancouver and its surrounds, travelling about and enjoying the vibrant and beautiful city that is hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The city is well advanced with its preparations and the friendly inhabitants are rising to the occasion.

A new rail link built to accommodate the expected influx of Winter Olympic visitors, the harbour ferry services and the bus links make Vancouver's attractions easy to reach.

The 33 members of our tour party first got together at a meet-and-greet night in our Vancouver hotel and, to my surprise, another two couples from the Tweed were part of the group - one of those couples I have known for 22 years.

Our group was a mix of individuals ranging in age from early 30s to mid-70s and hailed from most of the Australian states, with the exception of one young couple from Ireland.

This couple quickly assimilated into the Aussie mindset and became a much-loved part of our tour. They could sing beautifully and kept us entertained with traditional Irish tunes.

Our tour guide, Janet, knew she was in for an interesting time when instead of enjoying one or two glasses of wine and retiring for the night the group settled in for a good natter and proceeded to drink the tables dry.

What was a few hours earlier a coming together of strangers soon turned into a mob of likable and friendly travelling companions.

The first part of the tour was by bus and we set off for the ferry terminal for the connection to Vancouver Island and Victoria, the capital of British Columbia.

Back on the mainland we travelled into British Columbia's coast mountain range to the ski resort of Whistler, where preparations for the Winter Olympics were well underway.

Other highlights on the Canadian Rockies leg of the tour included Jasper National Park, Columbia Icefields, Lake Louise and Banff National Park.

By the time we arrived at Jasper National Park our small group was on excellent terms, so an Aussie picnic was shopped for and held outside our cabins, much to the amusement of the park lodge staff.

Janet wholeheartedly participated in all our "extracurricular activities".

The bus tour ended at Banff Springs where we boarded the famous Rocky Mountaineer for two days of train travel, during which we were constantly plied with food and drink by the friendly staff while enjoying superb scenery through the carriage windows and sunroof. …

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