Mary draws inspiration from the beauty of the world around her whether it’s in a cosmopolitan city like St. Petersburg, London or Cape Town, remote hiking on the Inca trail, or in the Swiss Alps or simply visiting with a fellow traveller over local cuisine.  She has travelled extensively, enjoyed hiking and has explored many UNESCO sites. She has co-led many international learning tours over the years with her husband. Mary is an educator and currently a Special Education Consultant for the Waterloo Board of Education. She chairs the Board of Directors for the organization, House of Friendship that “walks with” some of the most vulnerable in our community. Mary was married to Leonard Friesen in 1977 and has called Waterloo their home for the last 20 years.  Together, they have 3 adult children, two in-laws and 5 grandchildren.

A Tour of Two Capitals: Moscow & St. Petersburg

Discover the history and culture of Russia as you explore Moscow and St. Petersburg during four days in each city. St. Petersburg was the imperial capital for two centuries and is still considered the premier cultural centre of Russia. Moscow became the political capital in 1918 at the dawn of the Soviet era.  Learn about Lenin, Stalin, and the tsars. See many famous sights including the Winter Palace—once home to the Russian tsars, Peterhof Palace and Gardens, the Kremlin, Red Square, wartime cemeteries, and stunning cathedrals. Tour storyteller Len Friesen is a Professor of History at Wilfrid Laurier University. He teaches Russian history and speaks Russian fluently. Mary and Len lived in Russia during Gorbachev’s time and have many stories to share.

Germany & Switzerland: An Alpine Adventure


Fill your lungs with fresh mountain air and your eyes with incredible views as you ascend peaks by cable car, hike mountain-top paths and wander valley trails. Also take a walking tour in Zurich and have a free day of shopping and sightseeing in the historic town of Lindau, Germany which is located on a small island connected with the mainland by bridge.