If I were to make a souvenir T-shirt for our Amalfi Coast trip, it would say “Mangia bene, ridi spesso, ama molto.” Translated, that means “Eat well, laugh often, love much.”
The love part was easy.
Well, to be clear, it was easy after 20 hours of traveling. The Hotel Raito is built into the hillside above the charming village of Vietri sul Mare. From my balcony I sat and stared at the village below with its red tile roofs and terraced groves of lemon trees. The Tyrrhenian Sea faded into the horizon while the Apennine Mountains loomed in the distance. I could have sat on that balcony for hours, but there was too much to see.
By day two, we were ready to travel by boat to Positano. Seeing the Amalfi Coast by boat is a must. There is no better way to take in the sweeping views of the villages cut into the cliffs above the sea. It’s hard to imagine the first settlers arriving and deciding it would be a great place to build. Seeing it now, it’s hard to imagine a more beautiful place to live.
Stepping off the boat in Positano was like stepping back in time. The cobblestone streets lead into the heart of the vertical city, painted in vibrant colors. Outdoor cafes line the coast and small shops selling linen clothing, handmade leather sandals, pottery and all things lemon, line the walkways. Trellises of wisteria cover the paths up the hill to provide a little shade for hiking up into the village.
The next day, we went to a farm that produces mozzarella di bufala. Yes, that is mozzarella cheese made with the milk from water buffalo. According to our travel director, it’s the only real mozzarella. The buffalo on the farm are pampered after milking-they actually line up waiting for their turn! After seeing the whole process, we sampled the final product. There’s no doubt it’s the freshest mozzarella di bufala I will ever have!
Down the road, we explored the ancient city of Paestum. It was built by the Greeks more than 2,500 years ago. The city has has three temples that are still very well preserved, as well as an amphitheater and many of the surrounding walls. We were also able to see many of the artifacts from the site in the accompanying museum.
Naples & Pompeii
After spending a day in the countryside, it was time to head into the city. We got a nickel tour of Naples and stopped to visit the Museo Archeologico Nazionale. The museum houses hundreds of marble statues and thousands of artifacts from Herculaneum and Pompeii. The mosaics preserved from Pompeii were some of the most impressive pieces.
Pre-trip, I was most excited to visit Pompeii and it did not disappoint. Pompeii is such an amazing archeological site. We strolled up and down the cobblestone streets, toured the homes and the Forum, learned so much of the history from our guide and saw the plaster casts of those who didn’t escape the eruption. It was such an unbelievably unique opportunity.
There was so much beauty among the ruins. From the well preserved paintings to the poppies that thrive in the volcanic soil. If I ever make it back, it will definitely be on my list to revisit.
Although Pompeii was fantastic, I think I enjoyed Herculaneum more. Although it’s a fraction of the size of Pompeii, it is better preserved due to the fact that it was destroyed more by pyroclastic flows than by falling ash. Standing in the streets of Herculaneum with Mount Vesuvius towering in the distance behind us made me feel as though I could see the Romans from 2000 years ago, going about their day with no idea of the fate that was about to befall them.
There isn’t much that can compare to the beauty of Capri. Yes, you can find the designer shops in Anacapri or sit at a café and people watch all day. But, if it were up to me, I would spend all my time in the water surrounding Capri. The crystal-clear blue green water juxtaposed against the sheer white cliffs is a sight to behold. The many grottoes, arches and at the time, hundreds, if not thousands, of migrating jellyfish, kept me entertained all day.
We spent our last full day in Italy visiting the mountain town of Ravello. It is an inspiration to all kinds of artists, writers and musicians and it’s easy to see why. It’s a great place to sit and get lost in your thoughts, with its sweeping views of the coast and mountainside, ornate gardens and a charming town square.
I’m sure you can imagine how easy it was to “eat well.”
(We were eating gelato nearly every day…twice on one day. But, I stuck with the fruit flavors so it was basically a health food.) We went to an amazing pizza restaurant in Naples called Mammina. We sat and talked while the wine flowed (and the pizza did, too). I don’t ever order a traditional Neapolitan pizza at home and I’m not sure that I ever can now.
We spent hours laughing around Italy.
Limoneto is another great restaurant in Vietri sul Mare. I had fresh fish, pasta, bread and wonderful company. A great part about traveling with the Flying Jayhawks is all of the people you meet-alumni who have a passion for traveling and a love for KU.
We had a wonderful travel director and a great group of Jayhawks. Visiting beautiful places and sharing so many good meals bonds people together.
I leave you with a quote from an Italian writer, Francesco Guicciardini, “Poiché non c’è null ache vale così tanto la pena di avere come gli amici, non perdere mai l’occasione di farne di nuovi.” It means, “Since there is nothing so well worth having as friends, never lose a chance to make them.” That is exactly what you do on a Flying Jayhawks trip, make friends, and I’m ready for my next opportunity.
The Flying Jayhawks trip “Amalfi Coast” took place April 17-25, 2018. The trip was hosted by Michelle Lang, director of alumni programs. View more photos from the trip; pictures may be downloaded for personal use. Find more information about Flying Jayhawks trips, including a schedule, or sign up for travel emails.
If you have been on the fence about taking a trip with the Flying Jayhawks, get off that fence and book a trip today. I recently had the opportunity to take my first trip with the Flying Jayhawks and it was unforgettable. On this nine-day trip to Cuba, everything was taken care of—all I had to do was have fun! We had a knowledgeable local guide, tons of terrific Cuban food, an itinerary packed with amazing experiences that an average tourist wouldn’t get and a great tour director from our tour operator, Gohagan.
Since Cuba is sort of a mystery to most Americans, I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived. Some things were just as you would expect: lots of old American cars and lots of cigars and rum. The most surprising thing to most of us was how many tourists were in Cuba. There were a number of other American tour groups and many tourists from other countries. Despite currently accommodating a lot of tourists, I don’t think they are quite ready for the rush of Americans who will visit once the borders open. It was nice to visit before all of these changes take place, and it will be interesting to see how things change.
This particular trip to Cuba focused on people-to-people interactions, engaging Cuban individuals and U.S. travelers with one another. We met with scholars, artists, architects, farmers, musicians, school children and others who were able to provide a unique glimpse into what life is like in Cuba. We toured the city of Havana, saw the resort area of Varadero and traveled through the Cuban countryside. It was a great mix of people and places and definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity.
—Michelle Lang, director of Kansas programs, hosted the Flying Jayhawks excursion to Cuba from April 19-27, 2015. The group is pictured below in the top photo; the bottom photo includes travelers from Texas Tech who were adopted as honorary Jayhawks. In 2013, another group of Flying Jayhawks travelers experienced Cuba; read more about their trip. For more information about the Flying Jayhawks program, including the 2016 schedule, visit www.kualumni.org/flyingjayhawks.
We’ve enjoyed reading KU fans’ memories of the 1988 NCAA championship game. Many of our future staff members were at the game or the celebrations that took place afterward, and they shared their memories also.
Lynn Loveland, assistant director of Kansas programs:
I went to the games and had a great seat on the floor. Very exciting–after the games we went to the Plaza to celebrate. I thought Kemper Arena was a great place to hold the game. Though the revenue wouldn’t come close to what they make now, everyone could actually see the game from their seats with no big screen needed.
David Johnston, director of internet services and marketing:
We got tickets to the championship at Kemper from disgruntled Duke fans. My seat ended up being right next to the junior high basketball coach who cut me during tryouts the previous year, effectively ending my basketball career! He was incredibly knowledgeable about the game, and we had a great time. At halftime with the score tied 50-50, he turned to me and said “that was the greatest half of basketball I’ve ever seen in my life.” Unforgettable experience.
Susan Younger, creative director:
The night of the win, we headed to campus and were stuck in our car for hours on Oread Avenue. Our kids sat on the window sills of our car and slapped thousands of hands. Everyone had their hands out the window and a steady stream of students ran by slapping them. My palms hurt for a couple of days. For the parade on campus, I took my sons out of school. We were on the boulevard in front of Snow Hall. My 8-year old Garrett said, “I wish someone would throw ME in the air.” A guy next to me grabbed him and before we could do anything, he was being tossed in the air. He was small, so he was being thrown up high and made it all the way down the mob to the front of Strong Hall, then they started to throw him back my way. The boy who grabbed him in the first place grabbed him back and said to me, “I’m so sorry ma’am, I should have asked if that was okay.” My son was a little scared but also excited.
About four guys came down the road carrying a yellow VW beetle and put it in the garden in front of Hoch. Trees in front of Wescoe were so overloaded, you could hear the trunks splinter and see them cracking in half. We were drenched in beer showers. People were shaking cans and spraying beer over the crowd. It was amazing!
Marcia Wilson, office assistant:
I was at the game and then at the team’s hotel after the game for the celebration in the street. The Oklahoma fans were watching from their hotel across the street. It was awesome!
Julie Lowrance, records specialist and license plate administrator:
I was a junior in high school in 1988. I remember watching the championship game at home with my parents and was so excited when KU won. There was a parade on Massachusetts Street a few days later. They let us out of school for the afternoon and we got to go and see it. It was so awesome! A great memory to have from my youth! I also remember my parents buying me a “Danny and the Miracles” t-shirt after KU won. Wish I still had that shirt!
Michelle Lang, assistant director of Kansas programs:
I was nine years old at the time of the 1988 championship game but I have some pretty clear memories of the night. My family watched the game at my aunt and uncle’s house near downtown Lawrence and I remember right after KU won we went outside and could hear people shooting off fireworks. Then we hopped in the car and drove through campus…that was the thing to do then instead of going to Mass Street.
Tim Brandt, director of the Adams Alumni Center
I was alive and in my prime at 37. We were suited up in the bar in the Marriott, where the team was staying. We had just completed a full day of drinking beer at the opening day of Royals baseball and were settled in. Oklahoma, a one seed and KU a one seed — both big 8 schools — not sure the rest of the basketball world cared much. After the game there was a solid mob assembly inside and outside the hotel. The rest was just a blur — the next day was not quite so much fun as we had to drive back to Wichita.
Today marks Heath Peterson’s twelfth year of service at the KU Alumni Association, and we’d like to celebrate with a walk down memory lane.
Heath currently serves as our assistant vice president for alumni programs, a position he’s held for the past three years. But you may not know that Heath actually started working here while he was still a student at KU. He began his illustrious career at the Adams Alumni Center as a facilities associate–affectionately known around the office as “blue shirts” because of the blue staff shirts the student employees wear– and was promoted to director of the building in 2004.
In 2005, Heath became the director of Kansas programs and was promoted to assistant vice president in 2009. He has truly risen through the ranks at the KU Alumni Association!
Michelle Lang, b’01, assistant director of Kansas programs, says “sitting outside Heath’s office for the past five years has given me plenty of stories to share, but one that most exemplifies Heath is his love of Pledge.” She adds that he has a compulsive habit of cleaning his desk with Pledge every day before he goes home, so when she hears the spray of the cleaner, she knows he’s about to leave.
Coworker Emily Ellison, c’12, alumni programs coordinator of operations, has only been here for a few months, but she learned quickly that Heath is the ultimate prankster. “I was told to always check my phone before picking up a call just in case salsa or something else was waiting to attack my ear,” she says. If you start a prank war with Heath, you just might end up with your name plastered on flyers all over town promoting a made-up company. Yes, it’s happened.
Congratulations, Heath, on twelve years with the KU Alumni Association!