The Western Canada chapter met for our third time in Vancouver at the well-positioned River Rock Casino Resort, where we enjoyed cocktails and a light lunch at the “Curve” atrium lobby bar.
We welcomed members Mahmood Poonja and Carole Henderson to their first meeting and we retold our stories of what got us started on our travel odysseys. Mahmood’s travels have slowed in recent times as he runs the very successful Bestway Tours, which has been responsible for allowing TCC members to see the obscure, unusual and less traveled parts of the world. He shared many stories of his own personal travels, too. Carole started very early with her travels when she lived on the Arabian peninsula, and seeing the Taj Mahal still resonates as the highlight of her travel resume.
Our conversations jumped around the table as we shared the similar conversations, “You’re going there? I’ve been there… I’ll email you.” and the same in reverse. It could almost be likened to an adult version of young boys trading baseball cards, except we were trading travel experiences and pushing each other to achieve their next travel dream. It is fair to say that the group has a lot of homework for each other!
Following a short tabletop quiz focused on South America, Western Canada Coordinator Tim Skeet and his wife Lana offered a visual presentation on their most recent trip to Romania, Moldova, Trans-Dniester and the Ukraine. “Fall is a great time to see Romania!” Visiting Transylvania during Halloween added a spooky effect, but the fall colours amplified the beauty of this region and the unique castles that dot it. Moldova lent its own special unique interest with a visit to Cricova Cellars, the second largest wine cave cellars in the world (the largest located on the opposite side of Chisinau). There are over 120 kilometers of streets in this underground city where they make and store the wine. In true TCC approach, no trip to Moldova is complete without a day trip into Trans-Dniester. Finally, on a recommendation from fellow coordinator Rick Shaver, Lana and Tim jumped over to Kiev, explored the old city and took a day trip to Chernobyl, where they saw the “Russian Woodpecker” (Google it), and were able to get within 250 meters of Reactor 4 and see the devastated and deserted ghost towns. They both emphasize to “Go now!” Reactor 4 will be permanently entombed with a 1 billion Euro sarcophagus, planned for early 2017, and many of the sites appear to be deteriorating rapidly and pose a safety risk to tourists. Great trip!
Dates proposed for 2016 are:
- January 24 – Calgary
- May 8 – Vancouver (will poll interest on having it in Victoria)
- August 21 – Calgary
- October 16 – Vancouver