Flying Jayhawks treated to a culinary experience in Europe

Posted on Jun 9, 2016 in Alumni News and News

Flying Jayhawks- European Coastal Civilizations 2016
A group of Jayhawks embarked on a cruise that begain in Lisbon, Portugal and ended in Bordeaux, France. On board the ship we enjoyed a series of culinary presentations by Kristine Kidd, former editor of Bon Appétit magazine and author of numerous cookbooks. Her presentations included topics such as butter, salt, and chocolate; sustainable seafood; jamón; cheese; and olive oil. The tastings were my favorite part of her presentations; they inspired me to start cooking more. We made stops along the way to the Stock Exchange and the Igreja de Sao Francisco church in Oporto, Portugal before traveling to Spain.

Santiago de Compostela, or the way of Saint James, was our first stop in Spain. It was interesting to see the current restoration of the church and also watch the pilgrims with their packs making their journey along the path. Our last stop in Spain was my favorite: we visited Bilbao to tour the Guggenheim Museum and the Basque Country. The Guggenheim did not disappoint— the Frank Gehry design is credited with reviving commerce and tourism in Bilbao. I enjoyed the digital installation at the museum with the sentiments of love and hate which could be viewed from different directions, and of course the Andy Warhol display.
Flying Jayhawks- European Coastal Civilizations 2016

To end our visit, we enjoyed a culinary experience at the Restaurant Aspaldiko, which was housed in an old 16th-century farm house. We were greeted with wine and the peacocks that were living on the property and then sat down to a meal of traditional hot and cold pintxos (tapas), local desserts and Spanish wines. Our group of Jayhawks had a good time learning from the chef about the local ingredients and how the pintxos were prepared.

The last country on our trip was France. We started with a full day visiting three towns: Saint Jean de Luz, Biarritz, and Bayonne. More of the Basque region, but this time in France. Biarritz was a beautiful seaside resort. We enjoyed free time in Bayonne. I’m not much of a chocolate fan, but I experienced hot chocolate at Chocolat Cazenave that was founded in 1854. It was quite the treat!
Flying Jayhawks-European Coastal Civilizations 2016

The next day we stopped in Saint Martin de Re and then headed on to La Rochelle for the afternoon. I enjoyed lunch with the Millers at an outdoor café, and the table next to us ordered an elaborate boat of seafood (it was served in a small wooden boat and intricately decorated food presentation). We ended our trip in Bordeaux. It was a rainy day for our walking tour, but our passengers were good sports. Many took time to dry off and regroup back on the ship before venturing back out to Bordeaux for some independent exploration. It was a good trip, with a great group of Jayhawks. It was a different take on travel by experiencing it through local cuisine.

Flying Jayhawks- European Coastal Civilizations 2016I loved meeting new Jayhawks and experiencing new corners of the world. I hope to travel with our passengers again.

Until next time,
Traveling Tegs

—Tegan Thornberry, assistant director of membership and business development, hosted the Flying Jayhawks trip “European Coastal Civilizations” from April 16-24. For more information about the Flying Jayhawks program, including the 2017 schedule, visit

Watch the slideshow below to see more photos from the European Coastal Civilizations trip, or click here to view the pictures on Flickr. Photos may be downloaded for personal use only.

Flying Jayhawks 2016: European Coastal Civilization

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Traveling Tegs | Great Journey lives up to its name

Posted on Aug 26, 2015 in Alumni News and News

Flying Jayhawks, Great Journey through Europe
The Flying Jayhawks trip “Great Journey Through Europe” was truly a great journey. We had a wonderful group of passengers that enjoyed the ten-day tour of Switzerland, Germany, France and the Netherlands. Not to mention it was my first international trip!

The Swiss Alps are absolutely stunning, and pictures do not do them justice. We enjoyed taking our “flat Jayhawk” with us wherever we went and made sure to post pictures on social media, so everyone back home could see where we were. While the castles of Germany were breathtaking, the true highlight of the trip for me was Mt. Pilatus, where you feel as if you are on top of the world!

We took a gondola ride up to the top (and I only turned ghostly white once from my fear of heights) and rode the Cog Train down the mountain back to Lucerne, Switzerland, which sits at the base of the mountain. Both the trip up and down provided different, yet gorgeous views. This was a once-in-a-lifetime trip and I am so thankful I was able to experience it with fellow Jayhawks!

See more pictures from this trip on Flickr.

—Kelsey Hill, coordinator of alumni programs, co-hosted the Flying Jayhawks trip “Great Journey through Europe” with Tegan Thornberry, assistant director of membership, in July. For more information about the Flying Jayhawks program, including the 2016 schedule, visit

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Symphony on the Danube provides musical experience for alumni

Posted on Oct 9, 2014 in Alumni News and News

Brad Eland, b’09, g’11, is director of academic programs for the KU Alumni Association. In September, he hosted a Flying Jayhawks excursion in Europe and provided this summary of the trip. We hope you enjoy it.

In early September, 17 Flying Jayhawks set out for a trip to remember through central and Eastern Europe. The group came together from their homes in Topeka, Kansas City, San Antonio, Dallas, Colorado Springs, Miami, and Burke, Virginia, and rendezvoused in Krakow, Poland, to begin the trip. While only two couples knew each other before the trip, each traveler left with a new group of friends who were wonderful travel companions on a trip that featured endless history, great music and bonding over shared KU experiences.

Symphony on the Danube, Flying Jayhawks |

The first stop on the trip featured three days in Krakow, Poland which is the only major Polish city to have emerged from World War II relatively undamaged. Highlights of our time in Krakow included two UNESCO World Heritage sites: the Old Town with its famous market square and St. Mary’s Church and the Wieliczka Salt Mine with its underground salt cathedral carved entirely from rock salt. The group was also able to tour the Polish Royal Castle that was home to their monarch for over 500 years. We also took a short drive to Auschwitz and witnessed firsthand the horrifying conditions of the infamous Nazi concentration camp. Our stay in Krakow was highlighted by a private concert for our group in the beautiful Florianka Hall of the famous Polish composer Frederic Chopin. A major draw for the travelers on this trip was the musical experiences, and this first performance set the bar very high.

From Krakow, we took a scenic drive through the Polish and Czech countryside on our way to Prague, Czech Republic. Prague was a unanimous hit among our Flying Jayhawks because of the combination of fascinating history, good food, abundant shopping and perfect weather. Three days in Prague were still not enough to take in all the historical and cultural offerings the city has to offer. Prague is also a UNESCO World Heritage site and is home to some of Europe’s most famous Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture.

One of Prague’s most famous landmarks is the Charles Bridge, which is open only to foot traffic. This famous bridge is lined with sandstone statues of 17th and 18th century saints that have famously turned black over the years because of the composition of the materials and the aging process. However, one famous spot has maintained its original color as a spot for visitors touch to make a wish. Legend also holds that making a wish in this spot will cause the city to have a permanent pull on the wisher and bring them back to Prague in the future. All of the Flying Jayhawks agreed that they hope this is one legend that turns out to be true. From there, we were also lucky enough to receive a private tour of the Estates Theater and a performance of some of Mozart’s music in the building where his opera, Don Giovanni, premiered in 1787.

Prague, Symphony on the Danube, Flying Jayhawks |

Prague also featured a visit to the Hradcany complex of castles, churches and museums which is the former residence of Bohemian royalty. Here we were lucky enough to view original Beethoven manuscripts in the family-owned Lobkowicz Palace in the Prague Castle complex and hear a private string performance of some of Beethoven’s most famous and recognizable works. The massive St. Vitus Cathedral, which took over 600 years to construct, showcased some of the most extravagant architecture of the entire trip. The cathedral even features a golden mosaic that glistened in the afternoon sun. Needless to say, Prague was certainly a highlight of the trip for all of our Flying Jayhawks.

The next phase of our journey included another drive south through more picturesque Czech countryside to the border town of Passau, Germany. In Passau, we were able to see and actually hear the largest cathedral organ in the world with its 18,000 pipes in the Cathedral of St. Stephan. After our short concert in the cathedral, we boarded the M.S. Amadeus Diamond, which was to be our new home on the Danube River for the rest of the trip. Once on board, we were treated to the Captain’s Welcome Reception, dinner and a performance of Haydn’s and Schumann’s compositions.

M.S. Amadeus Diamond, Flying Jayhawks |

Our sailing time on the river was extremely comfortable. Unlike an ocean cruise, there were no waves, just smooth sailing down the picturesque Danube River. While the “blue” part of the “Blue Danube” may be a stretch at times, we were treated to views of beautiful rolling hills, vineyards and charming towns along the riverbanks. Every room had large windows to take in the view and the sun deck was a very popular spot to take pictures, especially with the Jayhawk flag flying proudly from the front of the ship.

Our cruise down the Danube also featured short stops for excursions in the Austrian towns of Melk and Durnstein. Melk is home to the magnificent Benedictine Abbey featuring stunning frescoes, architecture and gardens. It is also home to over 100,000 medieval manuscripts in their library that are still used by scholars today. Durnstein is home to the blue chapel of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Abbey Church and the hilltop ruins of Castle Kuenringer where Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned after the Third Crusade.

Vienna, Symphony on the Danube, Flying Jayhawks |

From there, we sailed into the beautiful Austrian capital city of Vienna. Our day and a half in Vienna featured a lot of history in a short amount of time as a driving tour of the city in the morning to see the most famous landmarks from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The fantastic string of music on the trip was continued in Vienna by a private performance of Mozart’s music in the master composer’s former residence. The string quartet even dressed in traditional garb from Mozart’s time to set the mood even further beyond the beautifully painted performance space. Our last stop in Vienna was to the Schobrunn Palace, which served as the summer residence of the Habsburgs where a six-year-old musical prodigy named Mozart performed for the Empress Maria Theresa and her daughter, the future French queen Marie Antionette.

Vienna will always be remembered by this group of Flying Jayhawks more for its people than its landmarks. We were lucky enough to be joined on board our ship by seven Jayhawks living in Vienna for a reception and dinner. Our group of travelers had been looking forward to this evening the entire trip and it certainly did not disappoint. The local Jayhawks shared their fascinating stories of both how they made it to Lawrence and to Vienna, Austria. Among the seven were multiple Fulbright Scholars, a law professor who spent time as a guest lecturer at KU, and even two women who work at the same Viennese company and were unaware of their shared KU ties. While the locals informed us that the schnitzel we ate on the ship was not as authentic as possible, everyone ended the night with new friends and pen pals to keep in touch with from across the pond.

Budapest, Flying Jayhawks |

Our final stop along the Danube featured a scenic arrival into Budapest, Hungary, known as the “Pearl of the Danube.” Built to rival Vienna as a crown city of the Austro-Hungarian empire, the city is actually the union of the previously separate cities of Buda and Pest on each side of the river. We started our morning on the Pest side that features a flatter landscape and the famous neo-gothic limestone Parliament Building, Heroes’ Square with monuments of great Hungarians dating back to 896 A.D., and the Hungarian State Opera House where we were treated to a short performance. The afternoon featured a trip to the Buda side and its rolling hills. Castle Hill was certainly the highlight of Buda with its breathtaking panoramic views of the entire city.

From Budapest, our Flying Jayhawks were forced to say goodbye to their new friends. This tight-knit group of Jayhawks got along so well, there was talk of reuniting around a future Flying Jayhawks trip and everyone had fun discussing potential destinations. A trip that featured thousands of miles traveled between 11 cities in six countries over 13 days can all be boiled down to 17 proud members of the KU Alumni Association and the new bonds they formed along the way.

Watch the slideshow below to see Brad’s pictures from the Symphony on the Danube trip, or click here to see the photos on Flickr. Participants on this trip are welcome to download the photos for personal use.

Travel the world with fellow Jayhawks! Visit for more information about upcoming trips and to sign up for emails about the Flying Jayhawks program. Or, contact Tegan Thornberry at or 785.864.4765 for more information.

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Flying Jayhawks cruise western Europe, explore wine country

Posted on Aug 14, 2014 in Alumni News and News

Debbi Johanning, c’98, and her husband David, f’94, served as hosts of the Flying Jayhawks trip “European Tapestry” from June 23-July 1, 2014. Debbi is the digital media content manager for the KU Alumni Association. David is a former member of the KU men’s basketball team.

The Flying Jayhawks trip “European Tapestry,” offered by long-time travel partner Go Next, was billed as an intricate tapestry of colors, cultures and world-class architecture in western Europe, but many travelers agreed that it should also be touted as a wine lover’s dream trip.

Oceania Cruises’ M.S. Nautica set sail from Lisbon, Portugal, on June 23 and docked in Porto, Portugal, where port wine received its name in the later half of the 17th century; the cities of La Coruña and Bilbao in Spain; and spent a luxurious two-day, overnight stay in Bordeaux, France, the home of the world-famous Bordeaux wines.

Each day, except for the final day spent sailing the Bay of Biscay and the English Channel, included a choice of several guided excursions. We traveled the ancient narrow and winding streets of Porto in a trolley; visited Europe’s oldest working lighthouse, the Tower of Hercules, in La Coruña; and toured the beaming titanium-tiled Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, an iconic symbol of the city’s economic and cultural revival.

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao |

After sailing for hours down the Garonne River, Nautica docked in the port city of Bordeaux, mere feet from the concrete promenade that lines the river. Our travelers were delighted to discover that the Bordeaux Wine Festival, a biennial international wine tourism attraction, was taking place on the promenade—literally steps away from the ship. It was a tough choice to decide between taking preplanned excursions, exploring Bordeaux on our own or experiencing the wine festival! Some of us attempted all three options.

The perfect weather in Bordeaux was interrupted by a brief rain shower that dampened the wine festival but produced the most complete, brilliant rainbow I’ve ever seen—we enjoyed the view while dining in Nautica’s Polo Grill steakhouse, on my birthday no less.

Bordeaux Wine Festival |

Our Flying Jayhawks group included 42 alumni, friends and future Jayhawks. We quickly discovered many small-world connections among the group, and something unique about this particular Flying Jayhawks trip is that half of the group was made up of a blended family coming together for a reunion.

We bumped into KU fans and alumni everywhere we went. Our flight to Europe included a connection in the Toronto airport, where we spotted a couple hurriedly pulling carry-on bags decked out with KU bag tags. We assumed they might be on our trip, but alas they rushed off to make a connection to Barcelona.

Upon arrival in Lisbon, we noticed a couple who had been at our gate in the Kansas City airport. “They must be part of our trip,” I said, “if we’ve traveled all this way on the same flights.” My husband ventured off to ask them; sure enough, they were sailing with us, though not on the official trip through the Alumni Association.

And then at the Guggenheim in Bilbao, a man saw our Jayhawk gear and approached us. He and his wife attended KU, spent many years in Nebraska and later retired to Arizona. They were serving as chaperones for Semester at Sea, a shipboard program for global study abroad, and excitedly shared that a current KU student was part of the program. Of course we tracked her down in the museum—it was so much fun meeting Jayhawks 4,500 miles from home!

Our European adventure proved something we already knew: no matter how far from the Hill we may travel, we’ll always feel at home in the company of fellow Jayhawks.

European Tapestry group, Flying Jayhawks |

Watch the slideshow below to see more pictures from the European Tapestry cruise in western Europe, or click here to view the photos on Flickr. Trip participants are welcome to download photos for personal use.

Travel the world with fellow Jayhawks! Visit for more information about upcoming trips and to sign up for emails about the Flying Jayhawks program. Or, contact Tegan Thornberry at or 785.864.4765 for more information.

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