By SHELIA LANGBARTELS, O.D.
Ten teenaged members of the Jefferson Travel Club recently traveled to Quebec, Canada for a six-day adventure.
The trip was organized through EF Tours (Education First Tours) by Alejandra Morgan.
Mrs. Morgan started the Jefferson Travel Club three years ago to give local kids the opportunity to experience independence and discover the joy of traveling to a foreign country.
Recent high school graduate Tommy Youngblood is the treasurer of the travel club, and he was very appreciative of Mrs. Morgan’s efforts.
“I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity presented to me by Mrs. Morgan to be able to travel to Canada,” stated Youngblood. “It was an amazing trip, and without her, it wouldn’t have been possible.”
The Jefferson contingent met up with students from Louisiana and Arizona to form a tour group that visited Montreal and Quebec City. The young travelers, accompanied by 6 adults, flew out of Shreveport early on June 1.
As soon as they arrived in Montreal, they boarded a bus to the Olympic Stadium, site of the 1976 Olympic Games. They went on a guided tour of the facilities and ascended the observation tower. Jefferson Travel Club President, Elaina Langbartels, especially enjoyed the history of the stadium.
“I really love gymnastics,” said Langbartels. “It was kind of surreal to stand in the same stadium where Nadia Comaneci changed women’s gymnastics by being the first gymnast in the history of the Olympics to score a perfect 10.”
The second day began with sightseeing in Old Montreal. The tour group visited the Notre-Dame Basilica, which is famous for its rich history and stunning interior and architecture; the basilica welcomes over one million visitors per year.
The travelers then visited Pointe-a-Calliere, Montreal’s Museum of Archaeology and History. The students and adults sampled some local fare, enjoying a classic Canadian meal of poutine, French fries topped with cheese curds and brown gravy.
The Jeffersonians jokingly dubbed poutine, “Canadian Swamp Fries.” While in Montreal, the group had a little fun with some evening activities. They went on a treasure hunt in a 2 kilometer maze at the Old Port of Montreal, and they also burned away some of the poutine calories in a spirited game of laser tag.
The group traveled by bus to Quebec City on the third morning of the tour, and they immediately visited the Observatoire de la Capitale to get a bird’s eye view of the entire city. They participated in a walking tour of the town and were awed by the beauty of the area.
Youngblood and Summer Shuler appreciated the stunning architecture and both remarked that Old Quebec was their favorite part of the trip. Brandy Musick, one of the adults on the trip, said, “I loved the atmosphere of Old Quebec – the brick roads, shops, restaurants, castles, and beautiful buildings with so much history.”
Langbartels and Mrs. Morgan fell in love with the lovely landscaping, especially the tulips. “They were all over the city and in a wide variety of colors,” explained Langbartels. “It was one of the most aesthetically pleasing things throughout the whole tour.”
On the fourth day, the travelers visited the Musee de la Civilisation and the Plains of Abraham Military Workshop. They had a hearty French Canadian sugar shack dinner with traditional Quebecois folk music, and they even learned the process by which maple syrup is made.
The final day of the tour consisted of a jam-packed excursion on the Beaupre Coast. The tourists visited the Sainte Anne de Beaupre Basilica honoring Saint Anne, the mother of the Virgin Mary and the patron saint of Quebec. They were also allowed to view the relic of Saint Anne, a piece of the saint’s arm bone.
It was a humbling experience for many to view an actual bone from the grandmother of Jesus Christ. The group then toured the Albert Gilles Copper Art Museum. Mr. Gilles was a French coppersmith who created works for Walt Disney’s home and for Pope Pius XII.
The visitors were taught the basics of copper embossing and they each got to make a piece of copper art. One of the most enjoyable events of the trip was a trip to Montmorency Falls where the teens and adults traversed a bridge suspended over the massive waterfall.
Brooke Musick and Ivaline Clark both claimed the waterfall as their favorite experience of the tour. Along with all the dining, shopping, touring, and sight-seeing, the teens got to practice their foreign language skills, as Quebec is a predominantly French-speaking province.
Mrs. Morgan was pleased that her charges were exposed to such a diverse and dynamic country, and the teenagers seemed to love it, as well. “All the stories and culture around the province made me fall in love with Quebec,” stated Hayden Sachtleben.
“Even though everything was so different and beautiful, the best part was making new friends and just building bonds.”
The Travel Club members would like to thank everyone who supported their fundraising efforts to make this successful trip possible. The members will be continuing their authentic tamale sales to raise money for next year’s destination: Puerto Rico.
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