Elderhostel Notebook #18

Elderhostel Notebook  is a production of The Senior Group, an
informal group of older netizens.

It provides a place for elderhostlers to share information about
Elderhosteling and other learning experiences related to travel.

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    From the Editors Notebook

    Travel the Net with Victor

    Elderhostel Reviews


    Editor's Notebook

This issue of the notebook has two new features in the web
edition, a list of outstanding elderhostels, and the inclusion of
the two most current issues at the web site. (rather than only

There will not be a photopage for this issue as I am yet not
recovered enough from my knee replacement surgery to negogiate
the college computer lab at UWEC where I use the scanner.

There will be new photos with the next issue.

   Travel the Net with Victor

Center for Global Eudcation

         -Victor A. Schlich  vschlich@ime.net

Earlier columns mentioned a couple of college-sponsored
travel-study programs focusing on what could be called normal
travel experiences. Now, let's talk a bit about one which is
different. You might call it travel-study with a conscience.

It's sponsored by the Center for Global Education at Augsburg
College in Minneapolis MN 55454. You'll find it on the Net at
 on the net, or you can contact Patty
Park by email at: globaled@augsburg.edu. The snail mail address
is Center for Global Education, Augsburg College, 2211 Riverside
Avenue, Minneapolis MN 55454.

There's also a toll-free number at (800) 299-8889.

Global program offers one to three-week seminars "that will
challenge and inspire you." The trips are aimed at those who seek
an in-depth learning experience. Here's an example of one:

"Change and Challenge in South Africa (Feb. 4-18, 1998)

"Visit with a diverse range of South African people and explore
the many faces of the new South Africa. Meet with grassroots
community organizers, members of various political parties,
government representatives, church advocates, women's groups, and
people involved in post-elections development work, educational
training, health care, job creation, environmental concerns and
lan issues."

The cost is $3,875 which includes room and board, all program
expenses, and round-trip airfare from New York.

This is but one of several countries which you can visit and
enjoy a totally different sort of travel-learning experience.
They include such nations as Mexico, Nicaragua, El Salvador,
Guatemala, Honduras, Cuba, Ecuador, South Africa, China and Hong

One day you might visit a group of peasant farmers in the
countryside or residents of a refugee camp, and later meet with
government officials or hear the views of the opposition
political party.

Another day you might visit a school and talk to students and
teachers about the educational system, or visit with doctors or
community health care workers at a local clinic.

Each seminar group is accompanied by staff who reside in the
region, and, at times, an additional Global Center staff person
from the U.S. Translators, if needed, are provided to help you
fully participate in the breadth of experiences provided. You
need not have any special experience or language skills.

What is a Center for Global Education Travel Seminar? Here's what
Global's newsletter says:

"The style of a travel seminar is intensive -- stimulating for
383 the seasoned traveler, yet accessible to those who have never
experienced life in the "Two-Thirds World". Our seminars are
designed to acquaint you with the realities at work in another
society, connect you with real people and learn about the issues
they face, so that you begin to see the world through another's
eyes. "

In order to make this type of column as useful and helpful as
possible I would like to get your feedback. What sort of unusual
travel learning experiences have you enjoyed? Can someone learn
something about them from the internet or through e-mail?

Please share your experiences with others. I know we all will
appreciate hearing from you.

   Elderhostel Reviews

Elderhostel in China Tibet and the Border Kingdoms
            - Bill McCallum 

Tibet  -  If Tibet is your primary goal and interest, it is our
opinion that this is the wrong trip.  Our advice is find another
travel agency, do not use Elderhostel for Tibet..

   ed note- see Victor's column in this issue for a possible

Border Kingdoms  -  This portion of the trip was wonderful and we
very highly recommend it.  In spite of less than desirable
weather we, and everyone else it appeared, had a great time.

Other Locations  -  Mixed experiences, see individual locations

General Comments Our main guide was good but was quite sick for a
significant portion of the trip, thus somethings were poorly
handled.   Almost everyone on the trip was later a recipient of
his illness which was some sort of a bronchial problem with very
bad flu type symptoms (cough, headache, dizziness, nauseous).  A
couple of people finally had to go to the doctor during the trip
and received antibiotic medication for the guides shared
illness. This was not altitude sickness as the symptoms were
different and it started before going up, although the altitude
did make it worse.

The accommodations were as good as or better than expected, some
of the rooms in fact were luxurious.  All accommodations had a
thermos of hot drinking water in the room and very good western
type bathrooms.  Away from the big cities and the hotels the
facilities were mostly primitive.

The food in most cases was quite good and more than ample in
quantity.  The beverages with meals, except for tea, were in
short supply for most of the first two (2) weeks, so you had to
be quick.  There was allocated only two (2) bottles
(approximately 16 oz per bottle) of beer and two (2) smaller
bottles of water per table of 10 people, so if you were among the
last you often had to purchase it if you wanted any.  Sanitary
conditions left a lot to be desired but we didnt hear of anyone
having a diarrhea problem.

Travel by air in China was a pleasant experience with clean
modern Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft.  Flights were on time and
service was very good.  The busses used were primarily the 24
passenger type and adequate for the most part.  They didnt like
to use the air-conditioning or even a fan for air flow in the
busses.  But would turn on air for a little while when asked or
threatened by a motion sick passenger.

Chinese conversation classes were only held twice so not much was

Again in summary, two (2) marvelous weeks and one (1) week highly
deficient.  If you are a resourceful person and dont need guides
and the other items you paid for, you could mitigate some of the
problems with the Tibet portion of the trip by doing your own

Border Kingdoms Our local guides here were extraordinary, they
couldnt have been better. They were pleasant, delightful people
that seemed to enjoy very much their work and the interaction
with the participants.  They were very knowledgeable about the
area and worked hard at being on time and seeing to it that
nothing was missed.  All questions and special requests received
a response.  Even the loners listened and cooperated with them
making the days good for everyone.

The lectures and demonstrations were very interesting, well
prepared and delivered.  Even though the minorities were the
focus of this trip, much was learned about the majority also
through contrasts with the minorities and just general
conversations and observations.  The learning experiences with
Elderhostel certainly make a trip much more interesting than a
tour just going to the local tourist attractions would be.

The all day ride up the Burma Road is not to be missed.  It is a
fascinating kaleidoscope of people, villages, houses, vehicles,
pedestrians and agriculture on a winding, narrow, tree lined,
rough and mountainous road.  You see ancient opposite modern
everywhere.  A new divided highway to open soon is being built
paralleling the old Burma Road, hopefully this part of the trip
will not be bypassed in the future.  It may sound long and tiring
but this is a trip not to be missed.  In fact if time would
permit, more stops along the way should be made, and the trip
split into two parts. We could bore you for long periods talking
about this ride.

Dali and Lijiang were towns where you could feel the pulse of the
people. We visited peoples homes, markets and a school as well
as agricultural and fishing villages.  The Chinese people are
very warm, friendly and seem to be very happy with their lives in
general.  The children are beautiful, delightful and so much fun
as they try to communicate with the tourists. We spent every free
moment walking about enjoying the sights and greeting the people.

Tibet We arrived at Gongar airport which is about two (2) hours
from Lhasa where we were staying.  Two bus loads of participants
with one local guide that spoke English, the other English
speaking guide got lost, so we were told. Suspect explanation, as
the guide we later found out had been born and raised in Lhasa.
And you couldnt lose us in Lhasa after only six (6) days, it
isnt that large.  But it probably didnt matter anyway, as only
one of the noisy busses had a working microphone/sound system.
Look out the windows and dont ask questions.

The guides were very pleasant and seemed to be lovely human
beings but they didnt run a timely or informative tour.  These
guides were the antithesis of those we had in the two (2) prior
weeks.  Little information about Tibet and her peoples was
volunteered, only the continuos schedule changes. Nothing started
on time, even after moving schedules to later time, it was always
an additional 10 to 20 minutes sitting on the bus, waiting.  For
example the scheduled said to leave for the Portola Palace at
9:00am, they changed it to 9:30 and left at a timely 9:50. Guess
which group was the last through the Palace and by 2:00pm nobody
cared if we were now going to lunch.  There were several tourist
groups staying at our hotel with many busses to transport them
and our busses always left well after all the others and were
often the first to return.

Lectures with one exception were poorly executed.  During the
first lecture some of those not sleeping rudely walked out on the
instructor who used no written materials, dealt in minutiae and
used obscure or foreign words in an unfamiliar English dialect.
Substantially less than half the participants showed up for his
second lecture (those that did must have been sleeping during the
first one).  At a Tibetan music talk and demonstration, the
scheduled speaker didnt show up as it was a Chinese holiday so,
an unprepared assistant spoke about music history with the aid of
a translator but he was unwilling to do the demonstrations.  The
one lecture at the Tibet Traditional Medicine Hospital was
excellent and all stayed wide awake and interested.

There was much free time to fill on your own and we took
advantage of it to learn as much as possible about Tibet.  The
problem was that the available time was broken up into one (1) to
two (2) hour pieces because they didnt have enough things to do
to fill up the days.  Each day had one (1) thing to do in the
middle of the morning and (1) thing in the middle of the
afternoon with free time before and after. One scheduled, all day
trip was canceled because the road was too rough.  This trip to
Ganden Monastery and the countryside was the only time to be
spent outside the city of Lhasa. Lhasa isnt that exciting that 6
days are needed in the city.  But the road was too rough.  The
visit to the Norbulingka Summer Palace a main attraction in Tibet
which is two (2) blocks from the hotel was canceled because the
local guides didnt know it was not going to be open on the
scheduled afternoon!  There was lots of other time available to
visit here. Several people got very irritated with so little of
value being received and strongly vented their feelings to the
leaders.  To tranquilize the irate participants they added a trip
out to the countryside to a geyser field about two (2) hours west
of Lhasa.  Most participants agreed that the trip was the most
interesting time and by far best day in Tibet.  For that day
only, they even stopped the busses along the road to see things
that interested the participants!  A long way to travel and a lot
of money to receive such shabby treatment in return.  Those that
had been on other Elderhostel trips kept reassuring that no other
Elderhostel trip came even remotely close to the low quality of a
week of this trip.

Shanghai One day here was probably just right, well organized and
enjoyable. Peoples square and the especially the new museum could
have stood a little more time for the visit.

Chengdu The visit to the Panda Cultivation Institute was canceled
much to the chagrin of some.  The guide said it was on the
schedule but he didnt know anything about it so we should just
have a good dinner and go to bed early as we had an early flight
the next day.

Beijing Beijing was an interesting stop, including visits to the
Great Wall and Tiananmem square.  Again however, sloppy
planning, our visit to the Forbidden City was cut short with the
best parts totally cut out.  The guides  thought it would be open
later so arrived too late.  Doesnt anyone ever check these
things?  After all, supposedly it is their profession and they
could maybe take a little pride in doing their job in a proper
professional manner.


Vesterheim elderhostel (2 versions)

Howard and Elsie Ayer 


	The Norwegian Immigrant Experience
	Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum
	Decorah IA

This was a 6 day program, from Sunday evening to Friday
afternoon.  About 2/3 of the attendees were of Norwegian
ancestry; the balance were Norwegian by marriage or interested in
the experience of other ethnic groups.  The sponsoring
institution is an 8500 member organization to preserve the
artifacts of the group of Norwegian immigrants that came to the
U.S. from about 1865 to 1920 - a number roughly equivalent to the
population of Norway at the end of that period.  They settled
primarily in the Upper Midwest States, Wisconsin, Minnesota,
Iowa, and the Dakotas.  Decorah IA was the home of the Decorah
Posten, the largest Norwegian language newspaper, and is still
the home of Luther College, founded to train Lutheran ministers
for the immigrants.

The lecture portion of the program dealt with life in Norway
during the immigrant period, a little about the travel
experience, and the life of the Norwegian immigrant farmers in
the early years.  The speakers were primarily museum staff or
Luther college faculty.  The talks were exceptionally well done,
and interesting even to those, like me, who had no Scandinavian
blood. The lectures totaled 18 hours.  Some of the lectures were
in classroom settings, others in either the indoor, outdoor or
outbuilding portions of the museum.  In addition there was about
9 hours of hands-on work with Norwegian cooking (lefse and
krumkake), rosemaling, wood carving and genealogy.  Evening
programs included a mini-concert by a men's chorus (the Luren
Singers) with a 100 year history, a Bunad (Norwegian festive folk
costume) style show, and a Norwegian- American-country music

Part of the program was also the food of Norway. For lunch and
dinner we were treated to all the best food of the Norwegian
immigrants, climaxing with a Norwegian Christmas dinner (on
October 31).  Those elder hostelers who choose programs based on
the reputation of the cooking will not be disappointed with this

The facilities were superior for an elder hostel.  Quarters were
at a Super 8 motel, with their usual continental breakfast
supplemented by fruit and cereal.  Many of the classroom
lectures, the style show and the folk dance music program were in
a country Norwegian church that had been moved from North Dakota.
 Other classes were held in the museum building (originally built
as an 1860's luxury hotel); a comparably-sized annex building
that had a number of classrooms, administrative offices and a
gift shop; and a number of immigrant living quarters and shop
buildings moved from various parts of the Midwest.

If there is any interest in immigrant experience, particularly
that of the late 1800's - early 1900's, this elder hostel is
highly recommended.


Elerhostel: Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, Decorah, IA

We just completed six days at Vesterheim Museum  immersed in the
immigrant experience.

It was just wonderful from our short Norwegian lesson to the
evening Bunad style show.  My husband mastered hands on krumkake
baking as well as turning out a lovely lefse. We were spoiled
with beautiful Norwegian meals and entertained one evening with
musicians such as I have not heard since my teen years in
Minneapolis dancing at the Sons of Norway parties.

Classes in antiques, textiles, rosemaling, early outdoor
buildings, immigrant history, Norwegian folk art and more ended
with a Christmas dinner.  Lovely, warm people gave us a memorable


Queen of Gems: Idaho Opals program  Ricks College, Rexburg Idaho.
    -  ross@ruraltel.net (Ross Reeves Trustee)

First of all the College was beautiful in its own right, well
planned with very easy access.  Meals were in the college
cafeteria, great food as with most programs with lots of variety.
 The hostelers were treated as royalty, no waiting in line and
special attention to all needs.  The college went all out to make
out stay the best.

Housing was on campus but in what one could accept as a small
apartment, four rooms with an additional small kitchenette.  No
smoking or drinks which was no inconvenience. The class subject
included going to the opal mine, finding the raw product, then
during the remaining days actually making it into a piece
jewelry.  Even the ladies who had never seemingly been exposed to
machinery of any type, did take part in the entire procedure:
finding the gem and transforming it into the finished jewelry.

Every person seemed to be very proud of their accomplishment.
The week was completely filled with a special Organ recital,
special music, one class at the Observatory learning something of
the beauty of the heavens, and the usual periods of visiting with
the wonderful group of hostelers who always seem to become
friends and really make each program something to remember.

We have had three different programs offered by Ricks' and have
enjoyed each one.  Their programs are well organized with very
capable instructors and an oversupply of extra attention from
both the college staff and its attending students.  We will
probably add more of their programs to our list of those attended
in future years.

Ross   Margaret.

Johnson and Wales Univ. in N. Miami, Fl

 - Had a wonderful time; met wonderful people; learned to cook
wonderful food; ate wonderful food; had wonderful weather in
October!! You are missing something if you don't try one of
Johnson and Wales' cooking schools (5 campuses in diff. cities)
Even if you don't or don't like to cook, you will love to eat
what you learn and do there.

 We had a tour of Miami area one morning, learned napkin folding
another, talked with a distinguished Master Chef on nutrition
another, tried Grand Manger (ice sculpting and veggie
decorations) and every afternoon we met in the kitchen with our
chef/instructor, received the recipes of our international
cuisine and the 20 of us prepared our own dinner which we ate at
around 5:30.  Then we went to bed!