It was the journey of a lifetime.
Twenty-eight individuals, most from the Vernon area, left Sept. 18 to begin a two-week European journey that included stops at Frankenburg, Austria and Tavullia, Italy, both sister cities to Vernon.
“We were overwhelmed by the reception we received by both sister cities and the experience reinforced to us how important the role of the sister cities committee is to our community,” said Barbara Keith, president of the Vernon Sister Cities Committee.
In Frankenburg, there was a grand celebration by the townspeople and a tour of the community.
There was also a visit to the Swarovski Crystal factory, near Innsbruck. Group participants then travelled to Italy and Tavullia where they met up with two members of the B.C. Dragoons, Kevin Cmolik and Jonathan Balfour.
“It was an emotional day starting with a visit to the cemetery which marked the graves of many Canadian soldiers that lost their lives during the Italian campaign in 1944,” said Keith, who laid a wreath in their memory.
Tour members also laid poppies on the graves of fallen members of the B.C. Dragoons.
“The people of Tavullia honoured the tour and our soldiers at the local war memorial in the afternoon with words of welcome from the mayor, Francesca Paolucci and a blessing from the local priests,” said Keith.
The final leg of the tour ended with stops in Florence, Assissi and Rome. In Rome the tour was honoured to see the Pope in St. Peter’s Square.
The committee is a volunteer group and all members paid their own travel expenses.