xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo EH Notebook #104 June 16, 2002 oxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox Welcome to EH Notebook, the e-zine where e-friends who have attended Elderhostel programs can compare notes. There is an independent but cooperatively maintained index to old issues at http://members.aol.com/ehindex To subscribe to the e-mail publication and/or to submit reviews of programs taken send an e-mail to the editor, Bob McAllester, at EHnotebook@earthlink.net Please keep all correspondence in simple e-mail text format. ################################################ From the Editor's Notebook ################################################ This issue grew very suddenly when I inserted my China report. I think I left out some interesting things, but it got huge anyway. So I am going to go ahead and send out this issue before Grace I leave for our loop through California and Oregon, visiting children and grandchildren. If all of you faithful Elderhostelers send in your reviews, I will probably get another one out in early July. There have been several people who have found out that their EH Notebook hasn't been reaching them like it should. I consulted with my EarthLink support person and it seems that the batches that I have been sending out were way too large. Now, I will reduce my batch size and hope that everyone on my list will get his or her copy. If you receive this one but suspect that you have missed some, I suggest that you go to http://members.aol.com/ehindex to view the missing issues. If you can't or don't want to access the Internet, send me an e-mail to request the missing copies. I received a letter, which is neither a query nor a review but it is special so I will include it in my editor's section. It was addressed to another Elderhosteler, but I was sent a copy. Dorothy has granted me permission to share it with you. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dorothy Daughtrey firstname.lastname@example.org I'm so glad your e-mail address is included in your Elderhostel adventures. I think I've done as many as you have and loved each and every one--some were extremely rustic--not everyone's cup of tea--but the programs were worth every and any inconvenience. It's getting now that most programs offer very sophisticated accommodation, but a mixture of a little hardship and a lot of comfort is good for the soul. Travel as often as you can--I finally had to stop, am now 86 and the memories I have of Australia, NZ, Assisi, Turkey, Greece with visits to the homes of folks in Panorama, homestays in Mexico and France, college accommodation in the UK, seeing the salmon spawn in Alberta, Shakespeare in California, and most recently great courses in Computers at Vermont Technical college and three in Quebec. There were no digital cameras in those days, but I took fantastic pictures with a throwaway on my 4-week Elderhostel to the Ukraine at the time of Glasnost and Peristroika. The programs in which I enrolled both in Australia and Russia were the initial Elderhostel adventures of those particular years. I am so thankful that I can now travel this easy way and still with Elderhostel, sharing all the wonderful times being had by all the so very interested, enthusiastic and friendly people who know that Elderhostel is the very best way to travel and learn and meet people all over the world. Even being without a partner I was always welcomed the minute I arrived on any program--even having barbs thrown at me within 15 minutes as though we were all old friends already! Such fun I have always had and enjoyed, kept in touch with quite a number. I guess I could say that Elderhostel is definitely on a par with the excitement and friendships I experienced while serving overseas during WW II with the Canadian Red Cross. And one day soon you may be able to see and hear about the Canadians' war experiences on Canadian Letters and Images Project--but that's another story, isn't it? Best wishes, Dorothy Daughtrey ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Bob McAllester - editor EHnotebook@earthlink.net ################################################ Comments and Queries ################################################ From: "Leff, Susan" Hello: I am the Director of EH programs in FL at Barry University. I am always looking for "Elderhostel Regulars" interested in hosting and or coordinating our So. FL sites in the fall winter and spring months. Please contact me email@example.com ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A friend and I will be attending the Northern Capitols in Spain in September. Has anyone been there that could give us a review? Thanks. Ethel Quant firstname.lastname@example.org ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I have been on 15 Elderhostels and enjoyed everyone. I am looking forward to my next in September at St. Simon Island, Ga. Especially noteworthy ones have been at Eckert College in St. Petersburg, and Stetson in Deland, Fl. I would like to hear from other Elderhostelers recommendations. Dorothy Hedin, Deltona, FL Djhedin@aol.com ################################################ Program Reviews ################################################ Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks, PA Bishop's Ranch / Sonoma County, CA Aurora University, George Williams College, WI Yangtze River: Waterways Landmarks of China ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks, PA #38690 Joyce S. Cohrs email@example.com This is one of a number of combinations offered which include the Barnes Foundation, one of the greatest private collections of Impressionist art in the country. Our program was May 5-10, 2002 and was coordinated by Ina Morrow who ran a tight ship leading to a very successful experience. Because of the extreme restrictions on the Barnes Foundation, the program begins at noon on Sunday and continues until noon Friday. The first visit is Sunday and the last on Friday morning (so plan to be there well ahead of time and do not plan to leave early) with all sorts of great lectures and other places to visit in between. Wednesday afternoon and evening were free so that you could plan something special yourself or two optional tours (at additional fee) were offered to the Wyeth Museum and Longwood Gardens or to Winterthur Museum. Our particular schedule offered a visit to the Wharton Esherick studio (he was a sculptor in wood) which was particularly interesting. We also went to the Museum of Fine Arts and the Rodin Museum as well as General Anthony Wayne's House and Chanticleer Garden. There are other variations depending on the exact program but Philadelphia has so many interesting sights. The Best Western Center City Hotel is only a couple of blocks from the Philadelphia Museum of Fine Arts and is next to the Rodin Museum. Two different public busses are nearby and seniors can ride free at all but rush hours. The hotel is average but it is clean and rooms are good size. It has had a number of remodeling. The location is perfect. Most meals are in the hotel and are okay but not great and are served buffet but with few choices except at breakfast. Depending on the time of year and the weather, the historic district offers the Lights of Liberty, a nighttime outdoor sound and light show that is spectacular. It is easy to get there on the bus or by taxi. Check around for two for one tickets. All in all, this is a wonderful program for art lovers and you can also enjoy all the patriotic themes as well. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Bishop's Ranch / Sonoma County, CA Bob and Callie Stewart firstname.lastname@example.org This supplements the note in #102 I'd promised to write something on the Bishop's Ranch, Healdsburg, California EH which we attended and enjoyed the first week in April. However, we returned with Bob in a wheelchair and would advise anyone considering the excellent EH to have a car available. It's a short, easy walk to each and every class and meal at different sites but unless you a "walker" and the weather is with you, driving is much easier. We were only twenty in number but a lovely group. We shared meals (all buffets and delicious - bordering on gourmet)with another EH group on the premises who were hikers. The Ranch itself is lovely. The lecturers were all top notch - especially the "wine man", who took us (via bus) on a field trip visiting wineries, etc. - and the California Writers lecturer. We even had several published writers in the EH group. This EH has been recommended to us more than once, because of the beauty of the location and the quality of the lecturers and we found this to be so. It is primarily a "church camp" with no service (you even make up your own bed upon arrival) but private, comfortable quarters. It must be difficult to get help out there but everyone we met was most pleasant. The EH coordinators, a neat couple on their first assignment, were wonderful - "with" us all the way. Callie and Bob ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Aurora University, George Williams College Lake Geneva, Wisconsin May 19 to May 24, 2002 Leonard Rogus email@example.com This was my second visit to this site; my first visit was four years ago and it was interesting to see the changes Site: Still very hilly, with many sloping (some narrow) paths; beautiful panoramic view of lake Geneva Accommodations: A beautiful new two story lodge with in-room bath/toilets; individual thermostats with very convenient/close proximity to the classes in the Education Building, but a long hilly walk to the Dining Area (some used their cars/golf carts - extra charge for golf carts to get to dining room) Food: All meals were buffet starting with coffee/tea at 6:30am; hot/cold (some to order) breakfast at 7:30am; lunch with salads and limited entrees starting at 12:45pm (some meals had students (grade/high school) with us; evening meal (meat/veggies/salads) starting at 5:30pm. All Dining room personnel provided super service. Classes: Humor/magic was presented by very talented - experienced Ginnie and Jack Jones with plenty of hands-on exercises. Subject matter was how to create simple magic things to present to young people. Magic in music was presented by Larry Axelrod (he used classical music selections) Humorcise presented by June McClellan, a clever combination of humor and exercises (some indoors and some, somewhat strenuous, outdoors). Several of the group opted for basic computer training presented by a very patient, knowledgeable Sue Weiger. Classrooms: Two were conveniently located in the Lodge. One was exceptionally well-equipped with audio-visual and desks. Two rooms were located in the Education Building. One had somewhat poor acoustics, but the other (with desks) lent itself well to hands-on activities. The computer lab (in the Education Building) was very well equipped and Convenient. Extra-curricular and entertainment: Eleanor's Ensemble, a group of very talented individuals, providing us with music with trombone, violin, piano, and one exceptionally talented young lady with a beautiful operatic voice. Pontoon boat rides on the lake (optional). 6:45AM birdwalks (some terrain along the lake was rugged walking) with very knowledgeable Jane Jegerski and Wayne Director: Diana Woss, a very well organized, conscientious, 10 year veteran director. Really took excellent care of us. Cost: Double--about $100.00 a day. Single--about $120.00 a day. Overall evaluation: This is a good over-all program, but handicapped Elderhostelers will need extra help, particularly when outdoors, since the area is quite hilly. The 91 years young senior who was with me did need help going to the dining hall, and did have to nap instead of being involved in either exercises or computer activities. I, on the other hand, intend to return to this site to do more computer learning (the instructor is tops) and I love the rugged beauty of the Lake Geneva area. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Yangtze River: Waterways Landmarks of China Adventures Afloat Catalog Grace Bob McAllester firstname.lastname@example.org On Saturday May 4, most of us caught connecting flights to Los Angeles, San Francisco or Vancouver. Then between midnight and 1 AM on Sunday morning we boarded our flights to Hong Kong. It is a long flight across the Pacific, about 14 hours, flying as if in a timeless zone, it was dark almost until we reached Hong Kong. Then, having crossed the International Date Line, it was Monday morning May 6. The group really began to come together as we worked to find our way around the Hong Kong airport and gathered as a group at the loading gate for our next flight, Dragon Air flight 900 to Beijing. While we waited to load, we started introducing ourselves to each other, finding out where we were from, etc. As we came out of the immigration / customs area at Beijing, there was a smiling man holding up an ELDERHOSTEL sign. He directed us to gather as a group in a nearby area. A quick count determined that we had all arrived, so he led us out of the terminal, showed us where to stack our larger luggage and then led us to a bus. On the bus, our coordinator introduced himself. We should call him Tony because that would be easier for us than trying to use his Chinese name, Zhang Hongyan. The total size of our group was 30 people. Our schedule for the remainder of the day included hotel check-in, lunch, a little time to get settled, orientation with brief introductions and then off to Tiananmen Square. Then back to the hotel for a 7 PM dinner. Then finally to bed. This busy schedule was forcing us to adapt to the Chinese time zone, which was 9 to 12 hours different from the time zones we had come from. The next morning we had to be through breakfast by 8:45 and ready to go to a university for a lecture on Chinese History. After lunch we went to the Forbidden City, the ancient seat of government for the Chinese emperors. You don't realize how large the Forbidden City is until you have walked across a very large courtyard to a large building and then discover that there is another large courtyard beyond that and on and on. You also discover that if you only brought six or eight rolls of film, you had better start conserving it because this is only your first full day in China and you have already almost finished one roll. The next day we were off bright and early to Badaling to visit the Great Wall. We were given an hour free time at the wall to walk as far and as steep as we thought we were capable of. Lunch at Badaling and then back to Beijing for a visit to the Summer Palace, another long walk, though we rode back across the lake on a boat. That evening we had a special Welcome Banquet. The next day, Thursday, we traveled from Beijing to Xian. Tony arranged it very neatly. We put our large bags out in front of our hotel room doors the night before, traveled with our carry-on bags. Our bus transported us to the airport. We waited briefly while Tony got our boarding passes and we proceeded to the plane as a group. By 3:30 that afternoon our new hotel rooms had been assigned and we were on our way to the Moslem district to see the residential area, street markets and the Great Mosque. Friday, May 10: In the morning we went to Xian Foreign Languages University for a lecture on Chinese Cultural History. Then while we were having lunch at the university, we met a group of Americans who were living in Xian and teaching English at the University. They tried actively to recruit some more teachers from our group. It would be interesting if anyone from our group would return. In the afternoon we visited the Shaanxi History Museum. In the evening we attended a very special Tang Dynasty music and dance performance. The big event on Saturday was our visit to the Terra Cotta Warriors, a massive army of life-like soldiers fashioned out of terra cotta clay. They were created during the Qin Dynasty, before 220 BC. All knowledge of this army was lost until the early 1970's when a farmer was drilling a well. This archaeological discovery rivals the Pyramids of Egypt in drama and importance. On Sunday we made another smooth move from Xian to Chongqing. Chongqing is very different than the other Chinese cities we visited. In the other cities, the predominant mode of transportation is the bicycle, though the bicyclists must compete with a steadily increasing flow of automobiles. Chongqing is a very mountainous city. Bicycle travel would consist of a perilous down hill ride followed by pushing your bike back up the hill. People would rather walk or take advantage of one of the micro taxis that have proliferated. These are three wheeled, motorcycle chassis vehicles that can carry one or two passengers in a small, enclosed cab. It was raining when we arrived in Chongqing but we went up one of the mountains to visit a museum at the World War II headquarters of General Stillwell. The museum was closed but we walked the grounds in the rain. Our hotel in Chongqing was the Holiday Inn. We have never seen such a fancy Holiday Inn in the US. It is the premier hotel of Chongqing. On Monday we visited the Old Section and then heard a lecture on the Yangtze River Dam Project. Our lecturer was an engineer who spoke to us through an interpreter. His enthusiasm and determination were very apparent. Tuesday, May14 we boarded our ship for our Yangtze River Cruise. Our ship had four decks available to passengers. Our staterooms were larger than we have had on a Columbia River Cruise or on an Alaska Ferry but not as spacious as an Alaska Cruise ship. They were comfortable with full windows. We spent three nights on the ship. One of those nights the ship remained docked so that there were no sounds of the engine, foghorns, etc to lull you to sleep or to keep you awake, depending on your view. As we proceeded down stream toward the dam site we could see signs posted on the slopes above us marking 145 meters and 175 meters. These marked the low and high water levels that would be maintained in the waters behind the dam. As we traveled down the river, these signs rose higher and higher above us. The first day on the river, we stopped at Fengdu. Here we walked up a long set of stairs to where we could board a bus, which took us to a chair lift. At the top of the chair lift, there were still many more stairs up to the "City of Ghosts" which had many weird statues. There was also a magnificent view of the city of Fengdu below us being torn down to make way for the rising waters and the new city being built on high ground across the river. The next day we passed through two of the three gorges that will be turned into lake passages by the Three Gorges Dam. We also took a side trip on motorized sampans up the Daning River through an area called the Three Lesser Gorges. The sights on this tributary were utterly remarkable. There were bands of wild monkeys visible on the precipitous canyon walls. When this tributary is flooded, instead of being a fast flowing river, I think it will resemble the fiords of Norway, Alaska or New Zealand, navigable by the cruise ships. The third day, we passed through the third gorge and visited the dam construction site. It was all shrouded in fog, but we could see enough to get an idea of the immensity. They have a visitor center with a large model of the completed dam. We could see the shipping locks being constructed, with two sets of five tiered locks, so that they can maintain traffic in both directions continuously. After the construction site we continued downstream through the ship lock at the existing Gezhouba Dam and then continued over night to Wuhan. From Wuhan, we experienced another smooth air transfer to Shanghai. If you don't count Hong Kong, I think that Shanghai is the most modern and most cosmopolitan city in China. All over China there is new construction, new highways and more automobiles, but it is even more evident in Shanghai. We spent two nights in Shanghai. During our one full day, we visited Yu Garden in the old section, the Children's Palace and the Bund. That evening we attended the Shanghai Acrobatics performance where we all held our breath as the acrobats performed many high wire, and trapeze stunts. The next morning we attended a beautifully organized museum where we could wander at will and use an English language hand set to describe the individual displays. At 1:30 we departed for the city of Suzhou for a three-night stay. Suzhou is about one hour away by bus and is considered a small city (only 1 million). It has many old canals. It also has modern aspects. There are two business parks that are attracting many foreign investors, both American and European. We visited a senior center where we intermingled with the seniors who were studying English. We were able to visit with them with a varied degree of success, depending on their grasp of English. Some pictures of grandchildren etc. We also went to a school musical recital and after the recital we talked to the children about their instruments and their school. Suzhou is an ancient silk center. We attended a Silk Museum to see the history of silk and the life cycle of the silk worm in action. We also couldn't help but notice a nursery school that was visiting the museum. The children were a varied mixture of European and Chinese. Their jabbering was mostly French with some Chinese thrown in. It did demonstrate the international aspects that exist in the city, though that aspect was not usually visible on the streets. We also took a boat tour of the canals. We could see the ancient bridges. We could also see the canals being used as source of wash water and a place to dump the wastewater. On Wednesday, May 22, we transferred via the Shanghai airport to Guilin, for the last two nights in Mainland China. Guilin is another of the tourist Meccas of China. The attraction is the beautiful Li River, which winds its way among some uniquely shaped mountains. They are high, beehive shaped mountains. The kind that you really have a hard time believing when you see them pictured in Chinese art. On Friday afternoon we departed for Hong Kong, which is still considered an international flight. We stayed overnight in a hotel at the Hong Kong airport, and then on Saturday after another LONG flight across the international dateline, we were back in the US, exhausted and disoriented to the time of day. COMMENT: This trip packs a very full schedule with many, many varied activities. Believe the catalogue, it does involve a lot of walking, though some of the highest steps can be avoided if you wish. The food, with the exception of breakfast, is consistently Chinese. In Chongqing several people revolted and took advantage of the American style café that was available in the Holiday Inn. The Chinese food is good and varied but still seems repetitive. There is too much of it at each meal. There is no way you can really do justice to all of those courses. The last course is almost always sliced watermelon. When you see it coming you know that is the end. You almost cheer because you couldn't face any more. You don't drink the water anywhere, not even in the fancy hotels where you are staying. A lot of bottled water is provided, you hoard it and use it wisely. The food contains a lot of MSG. Your fingers and ankles swell. We hope you don't worry about that. The hotels were all rated as four-star hotels. The one that caused the most objection from the ladies was in Suzhou. Its lobby and dining areas were up to the four star ratings, but the rooms that were assigned to had a shabby appearance. Wallpaper was peeling in places. I think that they had been meticulously cleaned, but some of the ladies still complained that they were dirty. When traveling as group in a foreign country where the water is not potable, it is inevitable that someone will get sick, no matter how careful everyone is. In our group there were about six who came down with an intestinal bug. As one of those six, I can report that it is very uncomfortable, but we still have very fond memories of the trip. If you can find the resources and have the fortitude for it, this is a trip that you will remember the rest of your life.