Sailing aboard the deluxe MS Le Boreal, 17 travelers embarked upon the Northwestern Alumni Association’s Ancient Greece and Turkey cruise on the Aegean Sea last September.
On arrival in Istanbul the group transferred to the ship for an evening departure along with 210 alumni from other schools. Everyone enjoyed the views of Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque as the ship sailed toward Çanakkale, Turkey, the first port of call and gateway to the fabled city of Troy.
After exploring excavations of Trojan civilizations, the travelers returned to the ship for an afternoon of cruising that included passing by Gallipoli, Turkey, where more than 130,000 Allied and Turkish soldiers died during World War I.
At Kuşadası, Turkey, the next port of call, the passengers traveled by bus to Ephesus, a vast archaeological site of Greek, Roman and Byzantine ruins.
Then the MS Le Boreal began Greek island hopping to Pátmos, Rhodes, Santorini, Delos and Mykonos. On Santorini, the “Black Pearl of the Aegean,” the travelers were awestruck at the sight of the island’s signature blue-domed churches, windmills and black-sand beaches. Following a tasting lunch of local foods and wines, the ship departed for Delos, the mythical birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, where the group visited the Sanctuary of Apollo and other excavated ruins.
One of the highlights of the trip was the MS Le Boreal itself, a brand-new cruise ship launched in early 2010 that features a state-of-the-art design that minimizes environmental impact on seabeds. NAA travelers enjoyed the ship’s international and local cuisine, sun deck and swimming pool and nightly entertainment in the ship’s theater. Throughout the cruise the passengers also attended lectures given by faculty hosts on such topics as “Turkish Food and Culture” and “Greece in the Second World War.”
The beauty of the Danube River enchanted Northwestern alumni on the NAA’s Romance of the Blue Danube trip this past September. Travelers enjoyed leisurely days cruising the river and taking in the scenery and historic monuments of five countries: Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic. The group began its journey in Budapest, exploring broad tree-lined boulevards, before journeying to art, music and cuisine hubs. After travelers embarked on the MS Amadeus Diamond, the ship set sail for Bratislava in Slovakia, Vienna and the German city of Passau, making day stops in small towns along the river. Apart from Vienna, these destinations were “places you wouldn’t usually go to,” trip host Lacy Schneider Henry (GC09), assistant director of alumni education, said of the mix of small villages with larger cities. In Vienna, participants experienced the imperial ambience of the Schönbrunn Palace. The third leg of the trip was a visit to the Czech Republic, where alumni spent three days in Prague, staying in a well-situated hotel with easy access to the city. Travelers visited the castle district, were awed by the Astronomical Clock on the Old Town Hall and walked across the Charles Bridge. Henry and a few guests attended a “Folklore Night,” comprising a hearty family-style dinner — with an assortment of “quintessential Czech food,” such as fried meats, good pastries and beer.
Traveling by plane, train, ship, motor coach and cable car, alumni on the Great Journey Through Europe tour saw Switzerland, France, Germany and Holland from every which way. Upon arrival in Lucerne, Switzerland, travelers were charmed by the beautiful, clean city surrounded by snow-capped mountains. After a gondola ride to the top of Mount Pilatus, alumni were ready to tackle the High Alps. In Andermatt they boarded the Glacier Express, “the fastest slow train in the world,” for a lovely ride to Zermatt, enjoying breathtaking views of steep cliffs and magnificent mountain vistas along the way. Seeing the craggy pinnacle of the Matterhorn throughout the day — in the clear morning, in the afternoon, with a cloud ring around the top and then at night — was one of the highlights of the journey. Next, the group traveled to Montreux and on to Gruyères, which lends its name to the famous cheese and where “everyone has a cow equipped with a bell,” according to trip host Carolyn Sparks, NAA director of alumni recognition and events. In Basel the alumni travelers boarded the MS Amadeus Diamond for a cruise up the Rhine River that included stops in Strasbourg, France, and in Heidelberg, Rüdesheim and Cologne, Germany. The journey’s final port of call was Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
For information on upcoming NAA trips, call 1-800-NU-ALUMS or visit the NAA Travel webpage.