European holiday markets delight Jayhawk travelers

Posted on Jan 21, 2016 in Alumni News and News

Holiday Markets Flying Jayhawks trip 2015
I recently had the opportunity to host twelve Jayhawks on a Flying Jayhawks trip that featured the Holiday Markets in Germany and Paris. It was a trip of a lifetime for me!

Our group flew into Frankfurt, Germany, and took a bus tour of the city before boarding our cruise ship. We spent a week aboard the Amadeus Silver II, which is a brand new ship. We boarded the ship in Bernkastel, Germany, a quaint little town on the Mosel River.

From that port, we took a day trip via bus to Trier, Germany, and Luxembourg. Trier is one of the oldest towns in Germany with some things built as early as 17 AD. We saw a Roman Bath, castles and cathedrals, along with the holiday market. Luxembourg was much more modern and is a banking capital. The holiday market in Luxembourg was very festive and had a big Ferris Wheel! After returning from our excursions, we sailed overnight to Cochem, Germany. At Cochem, we enjoyed a tour of the Cochem Castle, situated atop a hill with a beautiful view, along with a smaller holiday market in the valley. Later that day, we set sail to Koblenz, Germany.

Holiday Markets Flying Jayhawks trip 2015

In Koblenz, we took a walking tour of the city which had an unforgettable memorial statue. We also saw a gorgeous cathedral and shopped at a large holiday market. After the walking tour, the ship set sail again, and it was a beautiful day to be sailing. Our Jayhawk flag flew on the front of the ship as we cruised down the Mosel and Rhine rivers. While cruising, we passed castles, vineyards and lovely towns. We also enjoyed a lecture entitled “Castles and Legends of the Rhine,” so we learned about the sights we saw. We ended up in Rudesheim that evening. Our evenings on the ship included amazing five-course meals served by an outstanding international staff.

After docking in Rudesheim for the night, we set sail for Mainz the next morning. In Mainz, we took a bus to Heidelburg—they call it “Romantic Heidelburg” for a reason. It is a magical place. We went to the castle atop the hill overlooking the city, where we visited another holiday market, and then another one down in the wonderful town. When the sun went down, the holiday views of Heidelburg were truly magical—like no other.

Holiday Markets Flying Jayhawks trip 2015

After our tour of Heidelburg we set sail for Worms, Germany, where we were treated to a rainy walking tour featuring more beautiful cathedrals along with another festive holiday market. After Worms, we set sail for Kehl, Germany, where we docked overnight. From Kehl, we took a bus into Strasbourg, France. What a lovely town, along a river. The holiday market in Strasbourg was huge! This concluded our time on the ship, and the next morning we took a train traveling up to 200 mph to Paris.

In Paris, we had quite a bit of time to explore on our own, but a few things were planned for the entire group. Our particular group of Jayhawk travelers had a special treat the first night in Paris: we held a reception at our hotel and invited a group of KU alumni who live in Paris. The Jayhawk connections we all made that night were very special.

Holiday Markets Flying Jayhawks trip 2015

Other planned adventures included an optional excursion to the Palace at Versailles, which was amazing, and a cruise on the Seine River which featured the main attractions of Paris. Although it was a bit rainy, the Eiffel Tower was gorgeous all lit up. Paris was wonderful to see, and the entire trip was a truly amazing experience.

Our Jayhawk group was a special bunch. We all thoroughly enjoyed each other and plan to stay in touch. I would highly recommend a Holiday Markets trip in your future!

Paige Hofer, coordinator of student programs, hosted the Flying Jayhawks trip to Germany and France in December. For more information about the Flying Jayhawks program, including the 2016 schedule, or to sign up to receive emails or brochures about future adventures, visit

See more pictures from this trip on Flickr.

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Jayhawks bond over trip through Normandy

Posted on Oct 28, 2014 in Alumni News and News

A group of twenty Jayhawks are currently traveling throughout France as part of a Flying Jayhawks trip commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

The travelers left the United States on Oct. 21 for an exclusive journey through Normandy, with excursions to the D-Day landing beaches, including poignant Omaha Beach, the American Military Cemetery, the Peace Memorial at Caen and the German cemetery at La Cambe. The group also traveled to Monet’s home and studio in Giverny and the majestic Mont-Saint-Michel, and they enjoyed a special tasting of Normandy’s famous Calvados brandy.

Flying Jayhawks trips not only provide travelers an opportunity to see beautiful and historic sites around the world and learn about their history, but it’s also a bonding experience for alumni and friends.

Several members of our Board of Directors are participating in this adventure: Greg Ek, b’76, and his wife, Debby; John Ballard III, b’73 and his wife, Cindy; and former board chairman Jeff Briley, d’74, and his wife, Jean, d’75.

Debby Ek sent us this picture of the KU contingent in front of the commune of Sainte Mére-Église, one of the first towns liberated on D-Day. The trip concludes on Wednesday, Oct. 29.

Flying Jayhawks on trip to Normandy, France

Travel the world with fellow Jayhawks! Visit for more information about upcoming trips and to sign up for emails about the Flying Jayhawks program.

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A magical adventure in France

Posted on Oct 18, 2013 in Alumni News and News

Betsy Winetroub, c’05, assistant director of Kansas City programs, recently hosted a Flying Jayhawks trip to France. For more information about the Flying Jayhawks alumni travel program, visit

They say that Paris is a magical city, and I believe there is no more wonderful city from which to start an adventure with fellow Jayhawks.

Our trip began with two beautiful days in Paris and included a bus tour of the most iconic landmarks in the city. From Paris, we traveled on a high-speed train to Lyon, where we jumped aboard the Amadeus Symphony, which took us on an exclusive river cruise through the Rhone River Valley. Our group explored the famous French wine regions of Burgundy, Beaujolais and Provence, walked along the historic Pont du Gard, watched a performance in the ancient Roman Orange Theatre, visited the Papal Palace in Avignon and imagined the human and bull fighting spectacles in the legendary Roman Amphitheater in Arles.

This unique experience was shared by ten faithful Jayhawks, and by the end of the trip, all 140 passengers on the cruise were chanting “Rock Chalk Jayhawk!”

Watch the slideshow below to see pictures from the trip, or click here to view the photos on Flickr.

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