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It’s Who You Meet Along the Way

It’s said that it’s not the journey but who you meet along the way that is important in life. Well, as Tour Directors, we are fortunate to be able to do both: travel and meet interesting people along the way!

Sometimes we meet people at our various stops and attractions, but most often it’s right on our tour bus.  After I introduce myself, and before I get into the details of the trip, I will ask if there are any veterans aboard the bus.  Sometimes I’ll get a few gentlemen to raise their hands and I thank them for their service… often the rest of the tour guests will applaud.  On occasion, a woman will raise her hand and she will not only get applause, but many times tour guests will take time during the trip to ask her about her service.  On a 4-day bus trip to Vermont last year, I had two women who were traveling together and still in active duty in the Air Force.  The gentleman sitting across the aisle from them suddenly perked up and said he just retired after 20 years in the Air Force… and the three of them then became a fun trio during the bus trip!

St. John’s, Newfoundland

On a bus trip I recently escorted to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York City, I had a family group from Philadelphia aboard, taking their Canadian cousins to the Big Apple.  Talking to Lisa, one of the Canadians, I found out that they were from St John’s, Newfoundland.  I had seen a program on the Food Network from Newfoundland and asked about it. She told me about the filming of that show and how everyone in town was involved in it. Then she said that they were going to see a Broadway show the next week: taking the train into NY. It would be her first ride on a train! And the show they would see was “Come From Away,” the hit show about all the flights that had to land in Newfoundland on 9/11.  Yes, she was involved in that too, although she didn’t take anyone into her home, they were cooking for and helping all the unplanned visitors to their town.

On the 9/11 Museum trips, I talk about the early history of New York and about the many first settlers who came in 1624 who were Walloons: French speaking Belgians who were fleeing persecution and went to Holland. They petitioned the government and were allowed to come on the first ship that sailed to the New Netherlands’ colony of New Amsterdam.  As they were getting off the bus in New York City, one tour guest said to me: “I was surprised and very moved, to hear you talk about the Walloons because I’m a Walloon… well, my ancestors were and I never really understood their place in American history!” She was quite happy the rest of the trip.

And last, but not least, on another trip into New York City, I talked about the early explorers and the dangers of exploration back then. Henry Hudson was put adrift by his crew in the Hudson Bay in the winter, and Giovani Verrazzano met a horrible end on a Caribbean Island. I mentioned that today’s explorers also experience danger, such as in the space program. On that trip I had an astronaut/payload specialist from the Space Shuttle Columbia, onboard. (A rather poignant example of the dangers of space travel – the Space Shuttle Columbia completed 27 missions from 1981-2003 before disintegrating upon re-entry on the completion of its 28th mission. All seven members of the crew were killed.) He concurred that space exploration was just as dangerous as exploring was in the 15th and 16th  centuries, but the dangers are different as there are no cannibals in space, as far as we know anyway.

 

I can’t wait to meet more interesting people on my bus trips this year!

Hope to see YOU soon!

Bette Barr
Starr Tour Director

 

P.S. Travel with me to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in May, August, October, and November, the Hudson Valley in June, Boston in July or September, an overnight in New York City in August, the Tall Ship Festival in Erie, PA in August, the Poconos in October, and more!

 

Get Ready For An Overnight in The City That Never Sleeps!

Get Ready For An Overnight in The City That Never Sleeps!

This summer, for the first time, Starr is offering a weekend bus trip to NYC!  I will be the tour director/tour guide for this 2-day getaway so let me tell you a few things about it and why it is a really cool trip… even if it is August in New York!

In addition to being a Tour Director for Starr, I am also a licensed NYC tour guide and I will be using my in-depth knowledge of NYC to give you an introductory riding tour of the city before you go off on your own.  As a native New Yorker, I love sharing “my” city with you.

Included in the cost of the bus trip is your transportation to and from Manhattan and an overnight at a wonderful hotel located at the northern end of Times Square, convenient to all the Broadway theaters and restaurants.  It’s also an easy walk to Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), and Central Park (and their delightful zoo).

If you don’t want to visit those places, you’re also near the American Museum of Natural History/Hayden Planetarium on the west side, or the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim as well as all the other museums on New York’s Museum Mile, on the east side.

The 9/11 Museum and Memorial is just a subway ride away, but I would suggest that you take our Starr bus trip there, separately, since I do a great narration on that trip!

How will you get to those places that are not as close? Well, I will give you a comprehensive tutorial on using the subways on our bus ride into the city. I’ll also be available to give you directions to specific destinations.  The subways are the best way to get around and, unlike when I lived in Queens and worked in the city, they are AIR CONDITIONED AND ANNOUNCE THE NEXT STATION.  And, if you are over 65, you can get a senior discount (50%) on the subways. (You’ll need a photo ID)

Another great thing about this trip is that you can catch a Broadway show! Starr offers a chance to get discount tickets in advance, with great seats, or you can visit TKTS in Times Square, and sometimes, at the box office just before the show (but the seats might not be as good). When the show is over you can relax and have a late dinner and then see Times Square at its best, at night, as you casually walk back to the hotel.  No rushing to catch a bus home or bail out your car from an outrageously priced parking lot!  You could even see a matinee on Saturday afternoon and another show that night!

The next day you can sleep in a bit, if you wish,  and then do some more sightseeing.  You’ll have the better part of the day to see the things you didn’t see on Saturday and maybe do some shopping.  Although breakfast is not included, you can get the best breakfasts within a short walk of the hotel: there are dozens of places to choose from. Again, I’ll give you suggestions and I’ll tell you this: New York bagels are the best in the world… bar none! (Sorry, Philly.)

So, if you’d like a weekend getaway that’s not too far but a world of difference, come on a bus trip to New York with me August 2-3, 2019!  I’m looking forward to it and trying to decide where I want to go and what I want to see. There is just so much to do!

 

See you on the bus!
Bette Barr
Tour Director

Why New York Means the (World) To Me

Why New York Means the (World) To Me

When people hear that I am a Tour Director for Starr, one of the most common questions I get asked is what are my favorite trips.  To paraphrase an old song: “If I’m not on the trip that I love, I love the trip I’m on!”

There are so many trips that I like for different reasons and here are some examples and why: Williamsburg/Jamestown/Yorktown* or Civil War Trails* for the historical aspects, the beautiful mountain state of West Virginia* or southern charm of Savannah* for the scenery, and some are just plain fun, like Brooklyn Christmas Lights, Villa Roma Resort in the Catskills*, or the Atlantic City Overnight Getaway!

9/11 Memorial, Photo by Rebecca Wilson

But the trip I get the most satisfaction from is the day trip to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.  Why is this one a top favorite for me??  Aside from being able to pay my respects to friends, and others, who perished that day, it’s also because it gives me a renewed sense of hope that the city has been rebuilt and can move on.

I’m a New Yorker, born and raised in the outer boroughs. Going back to the city provides a connection to my home, my early years, and my family, but it also gives me a connection to our country’s beginnings.

Downtown isn’t just a commercial area that evolved over time, to become a center of world trade and commerce.  It was founded in the early 17th century, as a place from which commerce would emanate.  In 1609, when Henry Hudson sailed into the harbor that Giovanni da Verrazzano first discovered in 1524, it was for the Dutch East India Company, looking for that elusive passage to the east.  Unlike Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore, which were founded on religious freedom, New York, or New Amsterdam as it was called then, was founded for commerce – freedom of trade.

I love to tell my passengers stories such as the one about the early Dutch settlers who were merchants, not soldiers, so when the British came in to take over the colony for the King and England, they went along with it, much to “Peg-leg” Peter Stuyvesant’s chagrin.  Now, 400 years later, we still have the effects of the original Dutch settlers in NY, in town and street names as well as many Dutch words.

Did you ever wonder why we eat cookies here but in England they eat biscuits? On this trip, I’ll tell you why.

St. Paul’s Chapel/Trinity Church, Photo by Stacy Cashman at RamblingTraveler.com

Another place I always visit when I’m downtown is St Paul’s Chapel, which miraculously suffered no damage in the 9/11 attacks and served as an area of refuge for the rescue workers during the trying and difficult weeks that followed.  It’s also where George Washington prayed before he was sworn in as our first president.  He took his oath of office on the second floor balcony of Federal Hall, at Wall and Broad Streets, just a short walk from there.

The early history of our country is pretty well wrapped up in that small, downtown area of Manhattan, now larger than when the Dutch and English settled there.  Years of landfill from the tunnels and subway have changed the area around the battery and Castle Clinton, which, when it was the Southwest battery, was actually out in the river.  One other tidbit, Manhattan is from the Lenape word, Mannahatta, meaning hilly island. Those are some of the of the many reasons I am so drawn to it and love to share that information with my passengers.

Come join me on the 9/11 Memorial and Museum tour on July 15th, August 8, September 23, October 14, or October 22!

Bette Barr
Starr Tour Director and licensed New York City tour guide
*I am not directing these tours this year.

Here’s a list of the other tours I am Tour Directing this year:
May 27 – Central Park & Carmine’s, NYC
June 8-11 – Vermont Favorites Spring Special
June 23-25 – Boston, Massachusetts Getaway
July 9 – Assateague Island Boat Cruise
August 4-6 – Washington, DC: Our Nation’s Capital
August 12 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
August 19 – Assateague Island Boat Cruise
September 8-10 – Boston, Massachusetts Getaway
September 17-19 – Long Island, NY Featuring the Hamptons and Sag Harbor
October 1-3 – Long Island, NY Featuring the Hamptons and Sag Harbor
October 29-30 – Atlantic City Overnight
December 3 – Brooklyn Christmas Lights
December 16 – Manhattan Holiday Splendor

The Featured Image for this post was taken by Julienne Schaer © NYC and Company