Updated: Nov 17, 2020
What an absolutely awesome trip this was!
We started out at the crack of dawn (almost) on Monday, Nov. 27, 2017 with 45 excited “young-at-heart” explorers boarding the bus at Tsung Tsin. Our commander-in-chief, Clive YapSam, asked Celina Chung to say a prayer for a safe trip, and then we were off....... to sleep, after getting up at a really ungodly hour.
Our first stop was for breakfast at Timmy’s, then the Duty Free shop, before crossing the border in Kingston, ON. It was a very enjoyable ride the whole day, punctuated with karaoke singing (of course), jokes, and a Quiz. Now this latter caused some headache because we were not planning on having to “think too hard.” But you know what was a great surprise? The bus had wi-fi... OMG, I haven’t taken a bus trip in a long while, so I didn’t know that we had come such a long way. I think I will sign up for the next bus trip right away.
Our stop that night was at a Mall in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ for a bit of shopping; then we had dinner at the Olive Gardens Restaurant and bedded down at the nearby Holiday Inn. Next day we toured NY city. Man, that was one jam-packed day, and it more than fulfilled my earnest wish to be in NY at Christmas time.
Did a drive-thru tour of the city, visited the 9-11 Memorial site; had lunch at Grand Central Station, visited the awesome St. Patrick’s Cathedral, 5th Ave. & Rockefeller Centre with all the Christmas lights and decorations that NYC is famous for. Enjoyed the famous Radio City Rockettes show and then toured Times Square. Just being there with all the flashing mega neon signs was impressive, but realizing that soon (NY eve) there would be over one million people in that area made me a tad nervous.
To top off the night, some of us headed to the award-winning Broadway show “Come from away” - the story of Newfoundlanders’ warm hospitality to stranded air passengers on 9-11. The sold-out audience responded with rousing enthusiasm, but for us the night would have been incomplete without some NY cheesecake at a nearby cafe. We sincerely apologize to our friends who had to wait for us (hee hee).
Next day we drove to Pennsylvania and first stop was lunch at the Reading Terminal Market where Clive and Sandro HAD to get their shoes shined - not sure who they were trying to impress. Meanwhile some, of the female persuasion, ventured to nearby stores and one intrepid shopper went even farther and managed to buy TWO winter coats.
Later we toured Philadelphia, saw the Liberty Bell at the Nat’l Museum of American Jewish History; also the biggest and widest TV at the Comstock Bldg., and stopped at the famous Rocky steps - where the Sly Stallone movie was filmed. Even the least physically fit had to try to run up the steps so I could get into the “Kodak moment”. After dinner at the Cracker Barrel, where surprisingly, everyone found more bargains, we rested for the night at Comfort Suites in Amish Country.
Next day, our itinerary showed a trip to Hershey Chocolate factory with a 1.5 hour tour???? We all wondered if we would earn a diploma in chocolate making at the end. But wouldn’t you know it, this was one of the best tours we’ve ever been on. You have to visit and hear the story of Mr. Hershey yourself!
Laden down with pocketfuls of sweet samples, we left for our tour of an Amish village. Very enlightening, even though they spurn the use of electricity. The gift shop had a great deal of interesting items, including impressive hand-made quilts. That night we had dinner at Miller’s Smorgasbord, and yet another highlight - The Miracle of Christmas Show at the Sight & Sound Theatre - a state-of-the-art theatre with a massive 300 foot panoramic stage that wrapped around the audience. This was a magnificent production and totally enjoyed by all.
Next day, we visited the Corning Glass Museum where we had a chance to... what else...shop!!! Very interesting tours, and lucky Betty Chung won a lovely Glass Fruit Bowl as the most enthusiastic in the audience. Great fitting finale for her and Charley as they had just celebrated their 46th Wedding Anniversary by being at Radio City, the same place they went to on their first date. After lunch, we departed for Toronto and were entranced by some exquisite sunset scenes on the way.
This was a trip for the books. The camaraderie, the jokes and singing, not to mention the unending snacking - cookies, coconut drops, chips, wine, cake, panettone, aperitif... Even the weather was fabulous. We had all taken our biggest, thickest coats, but the weather all five days was mild and glorious. We could not have asked for a nicer Christmas Gift!
Thank you to Clive & Denise our organizers, to Sandro & Stefanie, our tour guides and Jason, our driver. Most of all, thank you to each and every one of our fellow passengers. You all made it a great experience!
Author: Loraine Lee
Photos: Betty & Charley Chung & Mandison & Yvonne Chin