Jeff Wendorf '82, WAA’s vice president of programs and outreach, along with his wife, Cathy '82, and three dozen University of Wisconsin-Madison alumni travelers, spent nearly two weeks cruising and exploring some of the world’s most spectacular sights and cities in Norway and the United Kingdom this July.
Here, Jeff recounts his favorite memories from this journey.
Vikings, Kings and Castles
I was pretty excited about this trip. There’s so much I wanted to see in England and Scotland, and having been to Norway several times, I was excited to go back. Cathy has Irish ancestry and we’ve always talked about going to Ireland.
I think that the intriguing part of this trip for a lot of our travelers was to be able to take in so many different ports of call. There was plenty to do on your own and lots of opportunities to stay active both on and off the ship. Some people elected to stay with the group, while others had adventures on their own or with friends.
The Geiranger fjord is absolutely beautiful and sailing through it is phenomenal. The scenery gets more and more spectacular the farther you get into the fjord. It is one of Norway's most visited tourist sites and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are majestic mountains on either side and waterfalls all around. Here we are on this big cruise ship, and it doesn’t seem like there’s going to be room enough in the fjord to accommodate its size, but you’re able to meander through because it is just so deep.
At the end of the fjord is the town of Geiranger where we took part in an excursion to the summit of Mount Dalsnibba . It was great to see all the different angles and altitudes on the way up and to see how people in this part of the world subsist and make their homes here. At the top we were treated to some spectacular lookout opportunities.
Dublin is definitely one of my most favorite cities in Europe. It is both the historical and contemporary cultural center of Ireland. It has a wealth of tradition, historic buildings and great architecture. Nearly half of the residents are under the age of 25, so it’s a really vibrant city as well with a variety of upscale shops, clubs and restaurants.
It’s a great city to explore on your own with a bustling city centre, grand buildings, picturesque parks, a riverwalk and wonderful pubs, shops and galleries. The city was bustling with people, but it was very manageable to navigate. Dublin is designed to appeal to pedestrians, so it’s a great city to walk in, with miles of pedestrian malls. You can walk from one end of the city to the other and back again pretty easily in a few hours.
We took time to go out on our own with some of the travelers to a couple of the pubs, get a pint, do some shopping and explore. We went to some of the U2 sites because we’re big fans. We saw their old recording studio, a couple of properties they now own and some places where they performed.
Fowey is a quaint, historic seaport village where many citizens come to vacation over the summer. From a distance, it gives you the impression of someplace like Venice or one of those Mediterranean ports of call, but it has a distinct nautical flavor like Door County. The town has an excellent selection of quality shops and galleries, many exhibiting local works.
Just south of town near the medieval-era St. Catherine’s Castle is an area that belongs to the National Trust with miles and miles of hiking trails. The trails offer stunning views of the coast as well as some rigorous and invigorating walks. We spent the majority of our time there just wandering and exploring through the mix of cliff-top paths, woodland walks and verdant fields.
The Benefits of Cruising
The Regatta was an absolutely magnificent ship. The things that are most appealing about cruising are that you only have to unpack once, you get to a lot of different destinations, every day is different and everything is inclusive. You don’t have to worry about a thing.
The ship and the people aboard are really integral. Many devoted cruisers actually prefer their days at sea because they love everything the ship has to offer.
Traveling with Badgers
As with every alumni trip we’ve been on, the people make all the difference in the world. Most people know about six degrees of separation, but with Wisconsin folks, there seems to be about two degrees of separation. So many coincidences, same home towns, mutual acquaintances, that type of thing.
We had an outstanding group of travelers and met people who are going to be friends for a long time.