Flying Jayhawks discover legends of the Nile

Posted on Mar 5, 2018 in Alumni News and News

A group of 17 Jayhawks enjoyed a history-rich trip to Egypt February 13-24, 2018. Tegan Thornberry, director of membership and business development shared her account of the trip.

Cairo

El Kheri Sabah, meaning good morning! We began our day with a trip to the Egyptian Museum. The museum is home to over 100,000 artifacts spanning over 5,000 years of antiquities. The mummy rooms were fascinating to see, with my favorite being the King Tutankhamen gallery. The ornate gold funerary mask was more vibrant in person than pictures can could show.

We visited the Step Pyramids in Sakkara and the Tomb of King Teti in the morning. On our way to lunch, we stopped at a carpet school to see how they used the giant looms to produce beautiful rugs. Lunch included a nice view of the Great Pyramids of Giza before we headed to the site. The Pyramids did not disappoint. It was truly amazing to see how they have weathered the test of time. A trip to the Solar Boat Museum and the Sphinx rounded out the day.

Islamic and Coptic Cairo

The visits included trips to the Hanging Church, Church of St. Sergius, the Ben Ezra Synagogue, the Citadel and Alabaster Mosque and the grand Al-Rifai Mosque. It was a busy morning experiencing the places of worship for different religions all living in the same communities. After lunch, we had time to explore the Khan el Khalili bazaar. The bazaar was quite the experience with the sights, sounds, and smells from the various vendor stalls. It was fun shopping and collecting treasures to bring home.

Luxor

Time for a morning flight from Cairo to Luxor, and then straight to the Temple of Luxor. A trip to the Luxor Museum and a felucca boat ride on the Nile rounded out the day. The next day was spent at the Valleys of the Kings and Queens. Highlights included King Tutanhkamen and Nefertari’s tombs. That evening a small number of us visited the Chicago House and learned about their mission to preserve Egypt’s ancient cultural heritage through document conservation and restoration.

Setting sail – Edfu, Kom Ombo, Aswan, Abu Simbel

As we cruised the Nile, we made stops in Edfu. It was quite the adventure as we rode in horse drawn carriages to visit the Temple of Horus. Next stop, Kom Ombo to see the Temple of Sobek and Haroeris. The theme of temples continued at the Abu Simbel temples. As amazing as it was to think of how they were built, it might be even more impressive to see how they moved the temples to higher ground to avoid rising water levels. After returning to Aswan, we enjoyed a farewell reception and dinner and we dressed up wearing festive galabeyas.

To see more pictures from the trip view the album on Flickr. You can download photos for personal use. For more information about Flying Jayhawks trips, including a schedule, visit our website.

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Traveling Tegs: Flying Jayhawks embark on ‘Great Journey Through Europe’

Posted on Jul 27, 2017 in Alumni News and News

A group of Jayhawks from across the U.S. took on the “Great Journey Through Europe“, an eleven-day trip from June 15-25. Included in the group was Tegan Thornberry, director of membership and business development. Here’s her account of the cross-country trip.Matterhorn

Day 1 & 2

We arrived in Geneva, Switzerland and enjoyed a scenic transfer to Zermatt. The afternoon was spent settling into the Hotel Alex and meeting everyone at our first group dinner. The next day was open for us to explore at our leisure and take the Gornergrat Bahn railway up to view the Matterhorn. We lucked out with a beautiful clear view of the peaks of the Swiss Alps and the Matterhorn. Some of our more adventurous passengers even hiked down from one of the last rail stops back to town.

Day 3

Off to Lucerne! We loaded up to Andermatt on the Glacial Express, the slowest high-speed train i’ve ever seen. A quick lunch break at the Hotel Drei Konig before loading on the buses to check into the beautiful Hotel Schweizerhof in Lucerne. For dinner, a group of KanBraska (we combined with the group from the Nebraska Alumni Association frequently) enjoyed a traditional Swiss fondue outing.

Day 4

The 14th century wooden Chapel Bridge highlighted today during our morning walking tour of Lucerne. Armed with two sets of Gondolas, we reached our next stop: the top of Mt. Pilatus. We enjoyed a three-course lunch with a view and some free time to explore before heading back down the mountain via the world’s steepest cogwheel railway.Germany

Day 5

We continued our trip to Basel to board our Rhine River cruise, but not before a scenic stop in Bern at the botanical gardens high above the city. Lunch was at the Kornhaus Keller Restaurant followed by a walking tour of Bern. It was a hot day for sure, but it was an interesting city and the number of fountains with potable water came in handy: not a given in Europe!

Day 6

This morning at breakfast, we were surprised by a ransom note. Some of our cutout Jayhawks had gone missing! They were being held captive by one of our Nebraska neighbors, but which one? We continued our day with a walking tour in Strasbourg, France. That evening we had a number of Jayhawks living aboard join us on the ship for a reception. We had three alumni who attended graduate school at KU: g’68, g’90, and g’08 graduates. The hours flew by sharing stories of our time on the Hill. I’m not sure which group enjoyed it more, the Flying Jayhawks travelers, or the Jayhawks living in Germany! We love being able to connect Jayhawks around the world.

Day 7

Today was all about a city tour of the Heidelberg and its landmark castle. The fortress is 700 years old, sits 70 meters above the Neckar river, and houses the biggest wine barrel in the world. At night, we set sail to Rudesheim. Before our day ended, we got our Jayhawks returned to us along with another note! It would take me a couple of more days to figure out who exactly was behind the capture.

Day 8

All aboard the Winzerexpress! We loaded up on two trains and went through town and through the vineyard, ending at the tasting cellar. Prost! It was an entertaining demonstration by the Vineyard owner. As fun as the vineyard was, we had to get to Koblenz for a tour. Much of the city was closed off for a charity race that day with over 7,000 runners. We still enjoyed the walking tour and took advantage of some free time before sailing to Cologne.

Cathedral

Day 9

Day 9 marked our last day on the ship. Our stops included a walking tour of Cologne, and small group visit to its famous Cathedral. This evening we gathered for the Captain’s Farewell reception and dinner. On this last day, we found out the culprit behind the hostage Jayhawks was a sweet woman from Nebraska named Nancy. She celebrated her 80th birthday on the trip and was the last person I would guess to be behind the mischief.

A number of our passengers participated in the Amsterdam extension, but it was time for me to head home and back to work. It was a great journey full of laughs with great Jayhawks. Thanks to all who came, and I hope you can join us on our next adventure!

Our Flying Jayhawks!

—Tegan Thornberry, or “Traveling Tegs” as she’s affectionately known around the office, serves as director of membership and business development and hosted the Flying Jayhawks trip “Timeless Treasures.” She also brings cookies to the office every Tuesday. For more information about the Flying Jayhawks program, including the new 2018 schedule, visit www.kualumni.org/flyingjayhawks.

Watch our slideshow below to see more pictures from this trip, or view them on Flickr.

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Shenanigans abound when former rivals travel abroad

Posted on Jun 22, 2017 in Alumni News and News

An old rivalry was renewed as Jayhawks made the “Great Journey through Europe.”

Participants on the Flying Jayhawks tour found themselves traveling with some Nebraska Cornhuskers, who pranked the KU crew by holding Jayhawk decorations hostage.

But, our friendly neighbors to the north quickly returned the beloved birds.

Do the Jayhawks have plans to play any tricks of their own? The Huskers are anxiously awaiting any good-natured retaliation, and in the meantime, the groups are no doubt trading stories about the good old days when the two schools belonged to the same conference.

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Jayhawks explore ‘Timeless Treasures’ of the Mediterranean

Posted on Jun 6, 2017 in Alumni News and News

Scenery from the Timeless Treasures cruise in the Mediterranean Sea | Flying Jayhawks
A group of 30 Jayhawks from across the U.S. explored the Mediterranean on a seven-day cruise from April 28-May 6.

We began our journey in Athens, Greece– embarking on the ship headed to two of the Cyclades group of islands. First stop, Mykonos.

Travelers selected from a number of excursions this day. More than half the group explored the ruins on the small island of Delos, just off the island of Mykonos. The lions of Apollo guard this island, and a number of intricate mosaics are still intact.

The rest of the group explored Mykonos, famous for white homes with blue shutters and the iconic windmills. The maze-like streets, originally designed to ward of pirate attacks, offered a variety of shops and restaurants.

Mosaic in Delos, from the Timeless Treasures Flying Jayhawks cruise in the Mediterranean

Our next port of call was the island of Santorini, which offered picturesque views of the white cave homes and blue domes. We visited the quieter town of Oia before heading to the more well-known capital of Fira. Cobblestone streets wind between shops and cafes with stunning views.

After cruising a day at sea, we made it to our next destination. Malta is a small island nestled to the south of Sicily and north of Africa. The Dingli cliffs provided breath-taking views. Tours included visiting catacombs and the village of Rabat, and we spent our free time in the capital of Valletta, accessible by elevator from the harbor.

Sicily means “Land of the Godfather.” The largest island in Mediterranean is notable serving as the backdrop of a number of scenes in the “Godfather” movies. Sicily was its own country for centuries before the Italian unification in 1860. It is still home to a proud culture, and residents identify more strongly as Sicilian rather than Italian.

Scenery from the Timeless Treasures cruise in the Mediterranean | Flying Jayhawks

Our last stop was Sorrento, Italy. My high school Latin teacher, Mr. Wilson, would be so proud and excited I was able to visit Pompeii! It was fascinating to walk around a town that has been uncovered after being preserved by the volcanic ash from Mount Vesuvius. I found it so interesting to see how Roman life was frozen in time.

We disembarked in Rome. A number of our passengers stayed on in Rome, but it was time for me to travel home. It was a fantastic week with some amazing people. Some I have traveled with in the past, and others I hope travel with us again in the future.

Until next time, arrivederci!

—Tegan Thornberry, or “Traveling Tegs” as she’s affectionately known around the office, serves as director of membership and business development and hosted the Flying Jayhawks trip “Timeless Treasures.” She also brings cookies to the office every Tuesday. For more information about the Flying Jayhawks program, including the new 2018 schedule, visit www.kualumni.org/flyingjayhawks.

PHOTOS:
Watch the slideshow below to see photos from the trip, or click here to view the pictures on Flickr. Photos may be downloaded for personal use.

Flying Jayhawks 2017: Timeless Treasures

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Flying Jayhawks not the only birds in Antarctica

Posted on Apr 5, 2017 in Alumni News and News

Flying Jayhawks in AntarcticaA group of seven Jayhawks traveled to Antarctica for the trip of a lifetime Feb. 9-22, 2017.

The seventh continent is truly the most remarkable of all. Every view is magnificent and no two are similar. Since the Jayhawk flock traveled during the Antarctic summer, it was not as cold as one might think, and thanks to the suggestions of the tour company, they were well prepared.

If you have forgotten what serenity means in this world of constant communication, you will find it in Antarctica. With no telephone, television, or internet connection available, the group took time to watch seals float by on ice patches and see 2000-pound “adolescent” seals yawn in the sunshine. They meet another kind of bird—the famous penguins— and saw birds fishing and gliding during sunrise and sunset. Whales helped guide the ship through narrow passages.

According to Kay Brada, c’61, it was the trip of a lifetime. “But if you are into museums, churches, coffee shops and gift shops, this isn’t the trip for you,” she said, adding that travelers should put this trip at the top of the bucket list.

The trip was hosted by Tegan Thornberry, assistant director of membership and business development. Watch the slideshow below to see photos of Antarctica’s breathtaking beauty, or click here to view the pictures on Flickr. Travelers are welcome to download photos for personal use.

Flying Jayhawks 2017: Antarctica

Travel the world with fellow Jayhawks! For more information about the Flying Jayhawks program visit www.kualumni.org/flyingjayhawks. The 2018 travel schedule will be available soon.

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Traveling Tegs takes on the Grand Danube Passage

Posted on Nov 2, 2016 in Alumni News and News

The two-week “Grand Danube Passage” journey featured eight countries and 13 towns, with a mix of land and river travel. Tegan Thormberry, assistant director of membership and business development, shares more about the trip in our latest Flying Jayhawks post.
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When building the Flying Jayhawks schedule, there is usually a Danube River cruise on it. The trips offer interesting itineraries and get rave reviews. This year, I was fortunate to be able to experience it myself, and it did not disappoint: eight countries in 14 days with a mix of land travel and cruising the Danube River.

Czech Republic: We spent the first three nights in Prague, and our time in the city included visits to the Prague Castle, the Old Town Square, Clock Tower, Charles Bridge, and the Jewish Quarter, along with plenty of time for independent exploration. One day we made our way to the Dancing House designed by Frank Gehry. A fun dessert we saw on every block is called a trdelnik: it consists of dough roasted over hot coals, then covered in sugar. Eat it plain or fill it with a choice of toppings; I enjoyed it with gelato.

Germany: During the bus ride from Prague to Passau, we listened to an interesting talk given by one of our AHI travel directors. She grew up in Germany and gave a detailed account of her experience, the impact of communism and the economy afterward. Passau is a picturesque town with cobblestones painted in Jayhawk colors leading to local shops. We visited St. Stephen’s Cathedral, where we could see some of the mason’s marks on the stonework of the church.

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Austria: Cities on our itinerary included Melk, Durnstein and Vienna. We were some of the first visitors of the day to the Melk’s Benedictine abbey. The baroque design and artifacts inside were impressive. We spent the afternoon on a walking tour of Durnstein with a stop at the magnificent Stiftskirche. We visited Vienna on a beautiful sunny day and enjoyed a walking tour in the morning and free time in the afternoon. A few of us went to the Sacher hotel for a lunch of goulash and the famous Sacher-torte for dessert! In the evening we had a nice get-together with the group and the ship captain stopped by to say hello.

Slovakia: In Bratislava, passengers had a choice of excursions. We learned about the Velvet Revolution and the end of communism in Czechoslovakia that lead to the split into two countries. A walking tour ended at a local café to sample local beers along with a delicious biscuit that is a cross between a biscuit and pretzel roll filled with bacon. It was the perfect pairing to go along with the beer.
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Hungary: We toured Budapest, Pecs and Paprika. In Budapest the majority of our group chose the Living Local excursion, which began with a guided tour of the Great Market hall and ended with a sampling of strudel and palinka. The market was filled with cured meats, goose liver, palinka, and paprika! Before our strudel sampling, market staff demonstrated how the dough is stretched over a table and then rolled to get all the amazing layers. We primarily toured the Pest side of the city. I went out in the afternoon to see Buda up on the hill with amazing views of the Parliament building.

Serbia: The group enjoyed a tour of Belgrade and visited the fortress in Karadordev Park and the massive St. Sava cathedral. That evening we were treated to a local folk show on the ship.

Romania: We cruised through the Iron Gate Gorge and saw the rock sculpture of Decebalus. After a scenic drive to Orsova, we took in a live organ concert at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. John Lennon and Nadia Comaneci are depicted in scenes of the Stations of the Cross by the artist Gabriel Popa.
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Bulgaria: In Vidin we disembarked the ship and took a quick rainy tour before transferring to Sofia. Along the way we stopped and had lunch at the Rocks restaurant and enjoyed the stunning views of the Belogradchik Rocks. As we continued on to Sofia, we drove past fields of sunflowers that reminded me of home. Our last full day in Sofia was spent checking out ancient ruins, St. George Rotunda, and the Cathedral of St. Alexander of Neva. The farewell dinner was held at a local restaurant high on the hill with traditional Bulgarian food and a folk show.

It was such an educational trip and an amazing way to see and experience different cultures with a group of Jayhawks. I couldn’t have asked for better company.  I can’t wait for my next Traveling Tegs adventure!

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Tegan Thornberry, or “Traveling Tegs” as she’s affectionately known around the office, serves as assistant director of membership and co-hosted the Flying Jayhawks trip to the Grand Danube Passage in August. She also brings cookies every Tuesday. For more information about the Flying Jayhawks program, including the 2017 schedule, visit www.kualumni.org/flyingjayhawks.

Watch our slideshow below to see more pictures from this trip, or view them on Flickr.

Flying Jayhawks 2016: Danube

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Hallowed beaches, historic castles captivate Flying Jayhawks

Posted on Jul 5, 2016 in Alumni News and News

The eight-night “Celtic Lands” Flying Jayhawks voyage took passengers to historic sites in France, Ireland and Scotland. Dwight David Eisenhower II, grandson of General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower hosted several educational talks aboard the ship. Heather Hawkins kept this diary of the journey.
Flying Jayhawks on the Celtic Lands trip, 2016

The Celtic Lands trip was such a wonderful time with some amazing Jayhawks! I love seeing Jayhawks from all over the U.S. become instant friends—that Jayhawk connection is pretty fantastic.

Day 1
We landed in Paris and took a short bus ride to Honfleur, France. What a beautiful little city! There was a gorgeous wooden church with so much character. We were able to explore a bit and even found time to stop for our first macaroons of the trip (there would be plenty more of the next ten days!) After an afternoon of exploring we were off to the beautiful Le Boreal.

We enjoyed a welcome dinner that evening with all our Flying Jayhawks. It was clear from that very first dinner that we were going to have an amazing time!

Day 2
Day 2 brought us to Caen, France. To say I wasn’t prepared for the intensity and emotion that would come from being on the beaches of Normandy would be a huge understatement. It was so powerful to see the indentations in the ground from the bombs, the bunkers where German soldiers were posted and the incredible steepness of the cliff right off the beach. We were able to walk on the beach. What hallowed ground!

After we left the beaches of Normandy, we headed for the American Cemetery. The cemetery is maintained by the American government and it was pretty breathtaking. David Eisenhower read testimonies from our fellow passengers about their loved ones that fought in World War II during an incredibly moving ceremony.

The captain’s welcome reception capped off a very emotional day.

Normandy, Flying Jayhawks Celtic Lands trip, 2016

Day 3
This was our lone day at sea. David Eisenhower gave a few wonderful talks. It was the perfect day to rest up before our next stop!

Day 4
Dublin, Ireland, was all kinds of wonderful! The morning started with a bus tour of Ireland and then off to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. Trinity College was gorgeous! We toured their spectacular library, which looked as though it was taken out of the movie Beauty and the Beast. The reader in me could have sat in there for hours and hours!

We had a free afternoon to explore Dublin. The energy of the city was so contagious! Live music around every corner, fun and interesting shops and tons and tons of pubs— it’d be a crime not to have a proper pint of Guinness when in Dublin so we made sure check that off our to-do list.

Day 5
Our Sunday was spent in Holyhead, Wales, at the Bodnant Gardens. The Gardens were huge and so peaceful. Lots of photo opportunities at this place.

That afternoon we visited Caernarfon Castle. We climbed to the very top and snapped a few selfies—pretty fitting to have the Jayhawk at the peak of a castle! Interesting fact we learned about the steep spiral staircases of towers: they were built so that those guarding the tower could easily swing their swords downward. Anyone trying to storm the castle and come up the stairs would swing their sword right into solid stone!

Flying Jayhawks Celtic Lands trip, 2016

Day 6
The Isle of Iona in Scotland was our next stop. We spent the morning on a tour of the Iona Abbey. The four iconic high crosses were striking. The “road to the dead” was a path that lead us to the burial spot of many ancient kings and clan chiefs. Every spot of the island seemed to have a calming peace.

Day 7
Tuesday was the day of castles. We visited both Dunvegan Castle and the Eilean Donon Castle. The amount of stone it took to build these majestic castles is pretty mindblowing!

The evening we hosted our Jayhawk reception before dinner. I’ve got to be honest, it was pretty clear during that reception that our group was most fun group on the ship – without question! We took the opoprtunity to sing the alma mater and do the Rock Chalk chant on the deck of the ship!

Day 8
The last day of our trip started with some excitement. Shortly after we departed the Le Boreal via the tender boat a heavy fog enveloped us. The tender driver did a great job guiding us to land, but it was a pretty exhilarating way to start the morning.

The Jacobite steam train (Hogwarts Express) took us to Fort Williams. We were able to snap some great photos of the famous bridge in the Harry Potter movies. The scenic train ride had ample opportunities for great photo opportunities! No chance to snooze on that trek!

We ended the day with short excursions to Oban and Glencoe. Both cities had a lot of characgter and were wonderful spots to wonder around and pop from shop to shop! The Captain’s Farewell Reception was the perfect way to end our adventures in the Celtic lands. Glasses of champagne and loads of laughs wrapped up this journey with the best Jayhawks around!

Tegan Thornberry and Heather Hawkins, Flying Jayhawks Celtic Lands trip 2016

—Heather Hawkins, executive assistant to the president and donor relations coordinator, hosted the Flying Jayhawks trip “Celtic Lands” from May 16-25, along with Tegan Thornberry, assistant director of membership and business development. For more information about the Flying Jayhawks program, including the 2017 schedule, visit www.kualumni.org/flyingjayhawks.

Watch our slideshow below to see more pictures from this trip, or view them on Flickr.

Flying Jayhawks 2016: Celtic Lands

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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 www.kualumni.org/flyingjayhawks.

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: Flying Jayhawks marvel at scenic wildlife and impressive engineering in Central America

Posted on Mar 11, 2016 in Alumni News and News

Flying Jayhawks | Panama and Costa Rica
The new year began with another Flying Jayhawks adventure. I was excited to host a group of 27 Jayhawks as we explored all that Costa Rica and Panama has to offer. We cruised with stops at national parks, islands, and a trip through the engineering marvel that is the Panama Canal.

Before boarding the Star Breeze ship, we toured the city of San Jose on our first day, and capped off visits to the National Theater and National Museum and butterfly garden with a Costa Rican lunch at the Hacienda Villa Hermosa.

We spent the next two days in Costa Rica. The early wakeup call at the in Quepos was well worth it, as we were the first groups to enter the Manuel Antonio National Park. With the help of our fantastic guide, we spotted white-faced capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, two and three-toed sloths, bats and a red-eyed leaf frog as we walked along the trails that led down to the beach. The next day we visited Curu National Wildlife Refuge. It was a wet landing, and we took the zodiac boats up to the beach and walked in from there.

Flying Jayhawks | Panama and Costa Rica

Another wonderful guide walked us through the refuge, where we saw more wildlife including monkeys, iguana, deer, raccoons and a variety of birds. It was extra special to see the red macaws—they flew in pairs, and our guide said it was rare to see the spectacular birds. The best part was that the beach was empty except for our group, which was very relaxing because we didn’t feel rushed and were able to take in the experience and ask plenty of questions. At the end, our guide opened up a fresh coconut for us to eat.

On to Panama! Isla Coiba National Park was a prison from 1919 to 2004, where the most dangerous criminals were housed. It is now a treasured marine park and abundant ecosystem. We took a quick hike and then enjoyed our time on the beach, playing in the ocean, or snorkeling. We spent the next day in Panama City. We took in a quick video at the Panama Canal museum located at the Mira Flores set of locks, and then we had time to explore the museum exhibits before enjoying a private lunch on the third floor.

It was fun to watch two ships side by side in the locks go up and then down as they moved along; it was a good perspective to see the view from land before we made the journey ourselves the next day. After lunch, we headed to the Biodiversity museum to learn more about what the land has to offer with the different species of wildlife. Next, we went to the old town for a quick tour and shopping at a local marketplace. It was interesting to see the contrast between the old town and its close proximity to the new modern city with towering skyscrapers.

Flying Jayhawks  |  Panama and Costa Rica

That evening we had a wonderful reception on board the ship, inviting our local KU alumni living in Panama to join us on the ship for dinner with our travelers. It was exciting to connect Jayhawks together around the world. The ten Jayhawks living in Panama who were able to join us were able to make connections not only with the traveling Jayhawks, but with other locals, as many of them were meeting each other for the first time. They have already made plans to get together and cheer on the basketball team this season!

Then, it was transit day: our turn to go through the Panama Canal. We had a morning time slot. The morning transfers flow from the Pacific to the Atlantic, and in the afternoon it changes directions. The pilot boat came up to our ship so the Panama Canal Authority pilot could come aboard to steer the ship. As we approached the first set of locks at Mira Flores, where we toured the day before, two men rowed out to throw the lines to our ship. One rows and the other stands—yes, he stands, he doesn’t sit. Once they connect the ropes forward and aft to both the starboard and port sides, they connect them to the “mules” or the locomotives that help center and guide the ship through the locks. It took all day, but we navigated through the three sets of locks locations (each location also has three locks). At the last set, the Gatun locks, we got a good view of the Canal expansion, viewing area, and museum that we visited at the end of our trip.

Flying Jayhawks | Panama and Costa Rica

We enjoyed one more relaxing beach day at the San Blas islands at the end of our trip. Water activities were available, including stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, a paddle boat and snorkeling. The water was clear with an abundance of coral. People leisurely went exploring on coconut walks around the small island where we met the indigenous Kuna people of Panama. They were selling beautiful hand stitched molas, and beaded jewelry they made.

This was another fantastic experience hosting a Flying Jayhawks adventure. I enjoyed all of our passengers and had fun getting to know them and learning about their life experiences.

Until my next travels, Rock Chalk!

Tegan Thornberry, or “Traveling Tegs” as she’s affectionately known around the office, serves as assistant director of membership and co-hosted the Flying Jayhawks trip to Costa Rica and the Panama Canal in January. She also brings cookies every Tuesday. For more information about the Flying Jayhawks program, including the 2016 schedule, visit www.kualumni.org/flyingjayhawks.

Watch our slideshow below to see more pictures from this trip, or view them on Flickr.


 

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Jayhawks experience island life in Greece and Turkey

Posted on Nov 4, 2015 in Alumni News and News

Flying Jayhawks: Island Life in Greece and Turkey, 2015
Ancient ruins, turquoise water, and iconic whitewashed buildings. I couldn’t have asked for anything more on my first adventure to Greece and Tukey. The tour company, Gohagan, chartered the beautiful brand new Ponant ship, Le Lyrial. After settling in and participating in the life boat safety drill, KU contingent met for dinner in the main dining room, where I was able to meet fellow Jayhawk travelers. They were easy to spot: our repeat travelers Stan and Suzi Suchman came prepared with a stand-up Jayhawk as the table centerpiece!

Our first stop was a morning walking tour of the archaeological site of Delos, Greece. It was amazing to see this windswept island with so many of the ruins intact. Intricate mosaic tile floors, marble column entryways, and sophisticated water systems of cisterns, sewage, and plumbing covered the city. Highlights of Delos included the Lions guarding a temple of Apollo and the archaeological museum that houses many of the relics, mosaics, and sculptures discovered on the island. That afternoon we sailed the short distance to another of the Cyclades islands of Mykonos. We were greeted by whitewashed houses, colorful doors, and windmills on the island, where we spent the afternoon exploring the winding marble streets and local shops.
Flying Jayhawks: Island Life in Greece and Turkey 2015

Santorini was the next stop on our trip. We arrived on the lagoon side of the island and rode buses to the top of the island to visit the Museum of Prehistoric Thera. During our drive, we saw the different striations of sediment from historic volcanic activity that make up the island. After the museum tour, we headed to the excavations of Akrotiri. A building was constructed over the ruins that have been excavated. The ancient ruins cover miles surrounding the main dig site, dubbed the ‘Minoan Pompeii,” and the town was preserved by volcanic ash. We enjoyed a local Greek lunch and walked around the iconic city of Fira high on top of the island. Note: I did not ride the donkeys, I took the cable car down to the dock even though they use the donkeys in the movies, right?

On to Rhodes in the Dodecanese islands and a visit to Old Town. The city was first built in 408 BC, and when the Knights of St. John arrived in 1309, they built the citadel and the Palace of the Grand Masters. We walked the Street of Knights and shopped Sokratus Street, which was a bazaar-like main street full of local shops and gypsies. The Palace of Grand Masters houses mosaics, art work, and carvings. It survived an earthquake and siege and was accidentally blown up in 1856. The Italians restored it in 1930 for Mussolini and King Victor Emmanuel.

Flying Jayhawks: Island Life in Greece and Turkey 2015

Patmos was a stop of religious history. We visited the fortress that is the Monastery of St. John the Divine. The walls are thick and over 15 meters high, built to stave off the attacking pirates. The monastery is adorned with marble floors and beautifully crafted wood-carved icons. The Cave of the Apocalypse is said to be where St. John the Divine made his home when he was exiled to the island by the Roman Emperor in 95 AD. It is here where he was believed to have received the words of God through a dream, and he instructed his disciple Prohoros to write down the Revelations which eventually became the Book of the Apocalypse.

Today, the cave is enclosed within a sanctuary where a convent is built. After a morning of history, we spent the afternoon in town relaxing on a beach and swimming in the Aegean Sea. Good bye beautiful Greek Isles, hello Turkey.

Kusadasi, Turkey is a resort town on the Aegean coast. We loaded the buses and headed to Ephesus. Highlighted by the Temple of Hadrian, the Library of Celsus, and the Great Theater, the Terrace Houses were the most interesting to me. With their mosaic floors and plaster reliefs, it is amazing to me the amount of excavation and restoration that was involved.

Flying Jayhawks: Island Life In Greece and Turkey 2015

Near the port we saw a demonstration on how Turkish rugs are made and explored the streets and shops on our own. Canakkale, Turkey, is another seaport town with a short trip to the ancient ruins of Troy. Excavations have revealed nine ancient cities built on top of each other at Troy dating back to 3000 BC. It was interesting to see, and there are areas where you can see the grooves in the chariot ramp into the city. A visit to Istanbul rounded out the trip, with trips to the Blue Mosque, Saint Sophia’s, and the underground cisterns.

It was a historic and beautiful trip, and I had a wonderful time with our Jayhawk travelers. Elaine and I coincidentally bought the same ring with a Greek keys design. Suzi always had good ideas and input and had some great recommendations on gifts for my mom. Thank you to Suzi, Phyllis, Elaine, and Larry for indulging me and climbing up the Trojan horse for a few great photos. I can’t wait to see where my next Flying Jayhawks adventure takes me.

—Tegan Thornberry, assistant director of membership, co-hosted the Flying Jayhawks trip to Greece and Turkey in October. For more information about the Flying Jayhawks program, including the 2016 schedule, visit www.kualumni.org/flyingjayhawks.

See more pictures from this trip on Flickr.

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