Melting Into Morocco
Immersed in the languages, customs and cultures of Morocco, nearly two dozen Northwestern alumni travelers discovered the delights of life in the African, Arabian and European melting pot in North Africa.
Arriving in Rabat, travelers on the Northwestern Alumni Association’s Treasures of Morocco tour in October discovered the bustling markets and mazelike streets of the capital’s medina, the old, walled section of town, before an NAA welcome reception where they were joined by alumnae Myriam Chemaou (GJ08) and Adnane Hessissen (KSM04).
The following day the group visited the citadel Chellah. The once-thriving port was abandoned in the 1100s and is now home to countless storks and egrets. Later the travelers, led by a local political science professor, engaged in a dynamic discussion on Morocco’s constitutional monarchy at the Center for Cross Cultural Learning.
The tour of Meknes, the next stop, included Dar el Kabira, the sprawling complex of Moulay Ismail and site of the Heri es-Souani granaries, built to hold enough feed to sustain the sultan’s 12,000 horses for 20 years.
After a stop in Volubilis, the group journeyed to Fez, a 1,200-year-old medieval Islamic city. During a walking tour of the old section of town, with its 16,000 narrow, winding streets, travelers watched artisans at work and learned about the creation of Moroccan crafts, including pottery, cloth and leather goods.
The following day in Marrakech the group visited Jardin Majorelle, an oasis-like garden that is home to a memorial to designer Yves Saint Laurent. After attending a demonstration of Moroccan and Berber rug-making techniques, the travelers lingered in the carnival-like Djemaa el Fna, a square where snake charmers, acrobats and musicians entertain.
In rainy Casablanca, the tour’s last stop, the group visited the Hassan II Mosque. One of the world’s largest mosques, it has a 690-foot-tall minaret and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean.
Grand Journey Through China
China’s imperial palaces, acrobatic exhibitions and a cruise along the Yangtze River gave 21 Northwestern alumni travelers a sampling of one of the world’s oldest civilizations. The nearly two-week Grand Journey China began in Beijing with stops at Tiananmen Square, the world’s largest public space, and the “Bird’s Nest,” one of the major venues of the 2008 Olympic Games. NU Club of Beijing president Casey Rubinoff (WCAS09) and member Liz Voeller (McC09) joined the travelers for a reception at the Hilton Beijing. The tour included a walk along the Great Wall and a viewing of the famed terra cotta warriors in Xi’an. The travelers learned about China’s silk, pearl and jade markets. At night they enjoyed entertaining, acrobatic shows and indulged in China’s famous Peking duck. The tour also provided glimpses into everyday life as the alumni travelers visited a traditional farm village outside Xi’an, where the residents welcomed the travelers into their homes and performed an interactive lion dance. In Chongqing, the group stopped at the zoo to see its famous residents, the endangered giant pandas. After a cruise along the Yangtze River, the trip concluded with a visit to cosmopolitan Shanghai, pictured below.
The Mouthwatering Mediterranean
In nine days on the luxury cruise liner M.S. Le Boreal, 14 Northwestern alumni travelers delighted in the sites, sounds and — most of all — tastes of the Mediterranean. Setting sail from Venice, the Crossroads of the Classical Mediterranean tour visited Split and Dubrovnik, Croatia, before stops in Sicily and Naples, Italy. During the cruise travelers sampled local cuisine at onboard culinary demonstrations by Bon Appétit contributing editor Dede Wilson, who offered her expertise on Croatian cuisine; pizza and pastries; and the cheeses, chestnuts and other specialties of Corsica. In Konavle, the southernmost part of Dubrovnik, the travelers peeled potatoes and milled flour that later was baked into bread for their meal — a traditional dish called peka. On a walking tour of Naples, the tourists learned all about the famed pizza margherita before making their own at Ciro a Medina. After a visit to Corsica, the travelers disembarked in Nice.