Alumni Travelers Wine and Dine on the Rhine

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Jennifer Doak-Mathewson

3 min read

Castles, stunning scenery—and a rousing game of shuffleboard with the Auriemmas: This summer, alumni travelers had the experience of a lifetime cruising down the Rhine River. The seven-day cruise was hosted by Geno and Kathy Auriemma and featured wine tastings, excursions in Heidelberg, Cologne and Amsterdam, and meals at local restaurants.

Sounds amazing, right? But you don’t have to take our word for it. Alumni travelers Fran and Bob DelBoca, Ray and Marilyn Peracchio, and Deborah Faucette gave us first-hand accounts of their trip.

Was this your first trip with UConn Alumni?

Fran and Bob DelBoca: This was our first trip. We’d been meaning to travel on the Rhine so when we found out about this trip, there was no hesitation! Other guests had known each other from previous trips, but they went out of their way to be friendly to us.

Ray and Marilyn Peracchio: Our first trip was to Puglia and Sicily. It’s wonderful to go on a trip with fellow alumni because we have a lot in common and it’s a great time.

Deborah Faucette: My first trip was a cruise from Cannes down to Sorrento, Positano, and the beautiful isles of Ischia and Capri. I’d been told about the trip by a colleague on the pharmacy advisory board—and UConn Board of Trustees member—Rick Carbray.

Tell us about the trip. Any highlights?

Rhine Castle in Germany
Rhine Castle

FBD: It was family, instant camaraderie. You got to see a lot of different sites—not just the usual tourist destinations. At Rüdesheim we went to a musical instrument museum, which was really neat. Geno and Kathy are very gracious, warm, welcoming hosts, very inclusive.

RMP: We visited three fantastic towns on the Rhine and spent the day sightseeing. Everything was just perfect—the boat, the people, the tour guides. The food was magnificent!

DF: One of my favorite days was the cruising day of our itinerary, where most of us were on the top deck of the ship—the weather was in the seventies and there was not a cloud in the brilliant blue sky. An impromptu shuffleboard tournament broke out—none of us had every played before—and fellow travelers cheered on as teams of two attempted to defeat Kathy Auriemma. We’d call out for a break any time a castle would appear on the cliffs of the riverside. I never would have thought I’d learn the game of shuffleboard on the top deck of a ship on the Rhine. You can’t plan that!

Geno and Kathy Auriemma are gracious hosts who make a point to get to know every co-traveler. They set a tone of travelling as a family, which is so warm and welcoming.

Say I’m an alum who’s on the fence about UConn Alumni travel opportunities—maybe I’m not sure what the cost entails, or I’m worried that I won’t know anyone. What advice would you give me?

FBD: It was instant family, instant camaraderie. And it was a good value—you could choose different levels of state rooms, you didn’t have to worry about the details, and everything was high-quality. The boat we were on was brand-new and well-appointed. Our tour guides were very knowledgeable. It was overall a Grade-A travel trip—and we travel a lot, so we have a basis for comparison. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend these trips to anyone.

RMP: We’ve gone on many, many trips, both with alumni and by ourselves. And on alumni travel trips, you never have to worry about making friends. We all have something in common because we’re all UConn alumni. It’s amazing how quickly you become friends on a tour. You could be complete strangers and by the time it’s over, you’re all brothers and sisters, just about.

DF: I’ve been on at least six trips with UConn Alumni and we’ve had nothing but the best: five-star hotels, air-conditioned buses for excursions, local travel guides, and special UConn activities, such as private tours and special dinners. UConn takes care of all of the hassles and removes the headaches of planning. I basically show up with my suitcase. My most taxing decisions are what to eat, what to drink, or what to buy. Isn’t that what vacation is all about? Although I’ve traveled extensively on my own, I find myself going to the alumni travel page first to plan future trips.

Another benefit of traveling on an alumni trip is that even if you don’t know anyone, you are still connected through UConn. And sometimes you get to reconnect. On one of my trips, an alum recognized me as a former waitress at Huskies back in the ’70s—and he and his wife are now two of my closest friends! There’s always something to be gained when you put yourself out there, just beyond your comfort zone.

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