Posted on Nov 7, 2017 in Alumni News and News
The Flying Jayhawks’ latest group of travelers took a cruise to experience the history of the Mediterranean. From October 7 to October 17, the 10-day adventure across Italy, France and Spain brought the Flying Jayhawks to 11 historical cities to experience their sights, sounds and culture. Danny Woods, assistant director of legacy and alumni programs, hosted the trip and shared his story of the trip.
We arrived in Rome to the best good news-bad news situation that could have possibly happened. The bad news: The ship wasn’t ready. The good news: The ship wasn’t ready. This could only mean one thing: a guided bus and walking tour of one of the most historically prominent cities in the world. The first stop was the elegant St. Paul’s Basilica. As we walked through the hallowed halls, we were transported into the pages of a Dan Brown novel. We spent the afternoon with a full drive around The Colosseum.
As we arrived at the ship it looked like a line to enter Allen Fieldhouse because of all the crimson and blue. However, no one in this line was entering the famed cathedral of basketball. Instead, this line of 44 Jayhawk faithful was geared up to board Oceania’s MS Riviera. The night was capped with a welcome reception where everyone officially met.
We arrived in the Port of Livorno and guests had the option to tour Florence, Pisa or Tuscany. Many of the guests traveled to the the picturesque landscapes of Cinque Terre. The excursion included views of the terraced cliffside homes that overlook the sea. We were able to explore three of the five villages.
Adventures in Italy continued as we arrived in Portofino. Upon entering this fishing village, you are greeted with views of vibrant colors that adorn the buildings lining the port. We were welcomed by local waiters offering an assortment of wines. An evening happy hour provided the Flying Jayhawks an opportunity to relax and get to know our fellow travelers.
The favored vacation spot of celebrities like Jay-z and Beyonce, Saint-Tropez, France, welcomed the flying Jayhawks with its very best! Jayhawks were able to chose between many day trips, including the walking tour Highlights of Saint-Tropez and the Peninsula of Hilltop villages. After the excursions Jayhawks had ample free time to explore the city that used to be a military stronghold.
Our first stop in Spain felt like we were walking through the set of Game of Thrones. Palamos felt like a town that has not changed in centuries. As you looked down you saw cobble stone streets, buildings covered with vinery and flags hanging over the streets strung between buildings.
Barcelona, or as it pronounced, “Barthelona”, did not disappoint. Most of the excursions included some aspect of the notable architecture that is seen throughout the city. This city epitomized the culture and energy of the Catalonian region of Spain. The buildings looked like something out of Alice in Wonderland. The pictures that the Flying Jayhawks took don’t even do the city justice. When the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família came into view jaws dropped. Although construction of Sagrada Família started in 1882, the massive structure will not be completed until 2026. When we arrived back on the ship, a private reception was waiting for the KU travelers.
The Flying Jayhawks indulged in some of the best food the planet has to offer, paella. The traditional rice dish was created and perfected in Valencia. After fighting off the food coma we were able to zag our way through the streets and markets of Valencia, the third largest in Spain. The city was truly the intersection of urban contemporary and historic rustic.
Although short, our trip to Palma de Mallorca was incredible. Many of the Jayhawks took this day as a day of leisure while others took time to explore nearby underground caves. We may or may not have gotten in a little trouble for yelling Rock Chalk just to hear it echo in the cave.
Our last full on the trip. We arrived in Marseille, one of the largest ports in all of France. Many Jayhawks decided to take a journey to the home of Vincent van Gogh. (Now when I say home, I actually mean the mental institution he lived in!) As we returned to the ship it was group photo time!
The cruise director told us “You don’t gotta go home, but you sure can’t stay here.” As I disembarked and reminisced on the the trip I realized that over the last 10 days I met and got to spend time with so many great Jayhawks! I heard a thousand stories of KU past and present, ate some of the best food of my life and got to see locations that I couldn’t believe were real. Here’s to the next one!
Watch the slideshow below to see more pictures from the trip, or view the photos on Flickr. You can download photos for personal use. For more information about Flying Jayhawks trips, including a schedule, visit our website.