xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo Elderhostel Notebook #38, Dec 1, 1988 oxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox Elderhostel Notebook provides a place for elderhostlers to share information about Elderhosteling and other learning experiences related to travel. It has a world wide web site at http://discover-net.net/~jimo/eldnote/eldnote.html It is an independent project, appreciative of but not associated with Elderhostel Inc. which has a web site at http://www.elderhostel.org To subscribe to the e-mail edition send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org ********************************************** Contents From the Editors Notebook Elderhostel News and Reviews RICHMOND, VA ETHNIC NEW YORK ELDERHOSTEL West Texas and Northern Mexico (Copper Canyon) Institute Of World Affairs, Salisbury, CT Service Program to Xi'an China Personals ######################################## Editor's Notebook ######################################## Thanks to those who have sent in material regarding elderhosteling for people with various disabilities. I plan to develop that story for a future issue as I learn more about the many complex issues involved . The "Personals" this issue contain continued discussion of the new fee collection policy. My main concern about it has to do with the apparent lack of input from elderhostelers in the formation of the policy. Perhaps one partial solution to the problem of communication between Boston and Hostelers would be a discussion forum on the elderhostel Inc. web site. There are many options as several varieties of online forum software are available and more such forums go online as more and more people get on the net and feel comfortable with using them. For example, AARP has set up an interactive bulletin board on its site and one of the boards deals with travel (but not elderhosteling). With this issue I am experimenting with a large print edition on the web site. It may not work with all broswers (Netscape seems to handle it) and all printers. If you print it from the web page, printing with an Epson printer (Stylus color 600) from the website seems to work. There is no way I can do a large print e-mail edition that would be handled by all of the various mail readers used by my subscribers. I would appreciate any reaction to this feature regarding whether it either works or seems to be needed. ######################################### Elderhostel News and Reviews ######################################### RICHMOND, VA - Virginia Commonwealth University sponsor. This was the best of ten EH's we have attended. If you like history you'll LOVE this one. We studied the eight Virginia-born presidents (Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Harrison, Tyler, Taylor and Wilson). Course taught by Mark Greenough and Dick Cheatham who were marvelous instructors who wore costumes of the periods they were lecturing on. Mark is the best teacher either of us has ever had anywhere in our lives! Al Neale played and sang music from Jamestown to the Civil War on instruments he had made (banjo, flute, pipe, etc.) and ranked right up there with Mark as a teacher. He taught us to play the bones and do a rythmic dance. Another course was on plantation life; the teacher used slides to illustrate clothing and manners of the Colonial period. A talented black actor portrayed an old slave, telling stories full of pathos, grief, and also humor. We took two field trips, one a guided tour of downtown Richmond including: Capitol Square with the building by Jefferson and the statue of Washington in the rotunda made from a life study by Boudin; the Tredegar IronWorks where Confederate cannon were cast; the sites of Libby Prison and Belle Isle, Civil War prison camps; Monument Drive; historic homes of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and John Marshall; and the historic Jefferson House Hotel.. The other bus trip visited two plantations on the James River, Shirley, home to the very rich Carter family and Sherwood Forest, John Tyler's 301'-long house and outbuildings. We had two free afternoons. Everyone went to the Museum of the Confederacy and/or through the Davis home (side-by-side), and there was a wide variety of choices for the other free time. We were housed at the Mid-Town Conference Center while the regular EH hotel is being renovated (will be ready 12/98). Facilities were older but very nice and food was excellent. The coordinator really put together a wonderful week for history lovers, and Richmond has lots of talent and things to see! Don and Marty Scearce, Syracuse,IN (email@example.com) ____________ ETHNIC NEW YORK ELDERHOSTEL, November 8 - 13, 1998 Keplinger firstname.lastname@example.org We have just returned from this great program, our fourth Elderhostel and our first not "out in the wilds" somewhere. We seek out the active programs, and this was certainly that. Housing is at the YMCA on West 63rd Street, just across from Lincoln Center. You couldn't have a better location in the city. Many meals were provided in the cafeteria on the premises, and the food was good. One night we even had delicious salmon! Rooms are clean, but a bit spartan, with many more singles than anything else. Bathroom and shower facilities are shared by others on the floor, and are kept very clean. Because of the location and price, we may very well stay at this YMCA when we next go to New York on our own. The program was super, taking us to many places we would probably never have gone to by ourselves. All transportation was done by public bus and subway; this in itself helped give us the flavor of the "real" New York, and in many cases some of us ended up in friendly conversation with other passengers. We did sometimes cause a bit of a stir when forty of us piled on to a bus or subway car! We spent Monday at the Statue of Liberty and at Ellis Island, with plenty of time to explore at our own individual paces. This was a great introduction to the ethnic theme of the week. On Tuesday we went to the Lower East Side, visiting Chinatown, Little Italy, and the old Jewish immigrant area, including the oldest Orthodox synagogue in the city. Lunch was at Katz's famous deli. We had time on Tuesday evening to take in a concert by the New York Philharmonic. It was easy to get same-day concert tickets. Wednesday was a free day; we spent it at museums. That evening we dined at an Indian restaurant in Queens. On Thursday we spent the day in Harlem, visiting museums, having an excellent lunch, and walking the streets. Friday included a visit to the New York Historical Society; because of short time we opted to tour Lincoln Center instead (we saw La Traviata in rehearsal!). We were fortunate to have an especially congenial group, where everyone mixed, shared, and enjoyed being together. We made new friends with whom we plan to stay in touch. Our leaders, Robert and Terry, did a wonderful job of planning and shepherding us from place to place. They also gave us plenty of free rein, and most took advantage of this to strike out on our own from time to time. We certainly visited and walked by ourselves in places that, according to our preconceived ideas, we would have not thought safe or desirable, and we loved it. In fact, many of our not-so-good stereotypes of New York City were dispelled. New York is a vibrant, friendly, fascinating, and wonderfully diverse city! All in all, we give this one high marks! Bill and Jean Keplinger Fairport, New York email@example.com _____________ West Texas and Northern Mexico (Copper Canyon): Lands of Contrast Davis Mountains Environmental Education Center October 25 - November 4, l998 - Jack and Anne Schlaefli, Fort Worth, Texas firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: We were assigned a site host, Bill Quintana, and the other DMEEC staff Kathy Nesbitt and Patty Moorland supported him. Bill was our continuous host during our Fort Davis stay. For the Mexico portion of our trip we were assigned a guide, Alfredo, who was from Chihuahua City and Pancho was our competent bus driver. Alfredo met us in Fort Davis and escorted us continuously until our return. Classes: Classes were held in the DMEEC facility and during the field trips to the Fort, McDonald Observatory and local walking/bus tours. In Mexico we were kept well informed on the history of the area during our walking, bus and train tours. This is an active Elderhostel with long bus and train trips in Mexico. Lodging: In Fort Davis all 37 participants were housed in the facilities of the Hotel Limpia. Though we were somewhat spread out, the accommodations were very adequate. Bus transportation was provided for all activities, however, we could walk (10 minutes) to the DMEEC office. In Mexico we stayed in a first class hotel in Chihuahua City and at the Rancho Posada Barrancas in Copper Canyon. The Copper Canyon hotel was more austere and we encountered some problems with the kerosene heaters. Again, we could walk to the Posada Mirador for our meals. Buses were also used for activities. Meals: The food was good at the variety of restaurants that were used in Fort Davis. A simple breakfast was provided at the DMEEC office. In Mexico, the food was very good and was provided by the hotels and other village restaurants. Highlights: This was our second Elderhostel and overall it was outstanding. We would recommend it to our friends. In particular, the following items impressed us most. Bill Quintana was a former cowboy and had a smooth and pleasing way of expressing himself. His knowledge of the Fort Davis area and Mexican history allowed him to hold our attention and provide a wonderful educational experience. We appreciated how well he took care of us. Bill Leftwich, an artist and "shade tree" philosopher, shared his broad experience of the cowboy culture of the area. We were invited to his adobe hacienda where we met his wife and saw his home and art work. McDonald Observatory proved to be a highlight due to the competence and presentation provided by the observatory staff. We attended a star party and had a chance to talk with young astronomers who were working on their research. * Our Mexican guide, Alfredo, was outstanding. His manner made everyone feel comfortable in the Mexican culture and it was clear that he was a leader among the other guides in Copper Canyon. His understanding and relationship with the Tarahumara Indians provided us with a close look at their culture. He was not only a guide, but he entertained us in the evening with his guitar and lovely Mexican songs. On the last night in Fort Davis we were treated to an authentic chuck wagon dinner prepared by Glenn Patty Moreland. Following dinner the entertainment was provided by Glenn and Washtub Jerry who sang the old cowboy songs. And we all sang along! This was an outstanding conclusion to our trip. -editor's note The program the following week was marred by a bus accident in Mexico. Fortunately. there appear to have been no serious injuries as the bus overturned when the driver swerved to avoid an oncoming 18 wheeler that was attempting to pass a car. (based on AP, NY Times, Dallas, and San Antonio newspapers). __________________ Institute Of World Affairs, Salisbury, CT Topic: Current World Affairs Date: November 1, 1998 The Institute is located in the scenic Twin Lakes section of Salisbury in the Northwest corner of CT. Located in a rural area it is within walking distance of the Lakes. Housing, classes and meals are all in one two story building. Bedrooms are standard dorm type rooms with shared baths. Meals were served buffet style and were adequate. A car is necessary as there really are no activities to do at the site and there are a lot of tourist spots in the Stockbridge, Kent, Cornwall areas which just short drives away. We had two - three hours of free time every afternoon. The Institute building has the look of a place that has passed its peak. There are many books and periodicals available, but the newest magazines are from the early 90's. They had a couple of rusty bikes available, but no one used them. Each day featured a different lecture and speaker. I thought that four of the lecturers were fascinating and that one of them was a waste of time. Summarized some of the things we learned. The course began with definitions of the world as we know it today. States are created to contain violence and nations are defined as groups of people with similar languages and history. Most successful combination is when states = nations, mismatches often cause wars. States as we know them today are fairly recent creations. Italy, USA, Germany were formed in the mid to late 1800s, China in 1949, France in 1789 and Japan in the early 1800s. System of nation states is no longer able to combat many problems of today's world. World wide terrorism, Mafia and new multinational companies and the Internet have escaped national boundaries and controls. We also learned more about the new European Union of 15 European Countries which is becoming the United States of Europe. The new Eurodollar is just one of the new changes that will have a major effect on world trade. Also learned about Africa and how it is divided into thousands of tribes and clans. About 30% of Africans were slaves and that tribal chiefs sold the slaves that were brought to the Americas. It was a big business and a major source on income for the tribes. A problem with modern Africa is that the Europeans divided it up into nations without any regard to the tribes. Nations and tribes don't match and there is constant fighting over areas. The Union of South Africa, under European control for 300 years, is the most developed African State. Lack of population control is another major problem as it had 100 million people in 1900 and now has 700 million. AIDS is also a major problem in Africa. China was covered in great detail and like Russia it is also changing from the commune type system to capitalism and the free market. Mostly farmers, the Chinese are starting to move to urbane areas. It has a ready supply of cheap labor and can easily produce labor intensive goods. The UN was also covered and we learned about its many functions and how it will become more important. The International Air Control Agency controlling all flights, Food and Agriculture Agency which save 20-30 million from starvation, the World Health Agency which inoculates for small pox, etc., UNICEF, World Health H.q., and the International Criminal Court were just some of the functions that were explained to us. Recommend this Elderhostel to those who are looking for mental stimulation rather than pure entertainment. _________________ Service Program to Xi'an China -email@example.com There were 18 of us. We all taught conversational English to first year university students, except one participant taught English to hotel personnel. The classes were one and one-half hours, and we taught two classes a day. We were furnished some teaching materials, but were on our own as far as lesson plans went. One helpful thing was that former volunteers all wrote a synopsis of their experiences and what worked and what didn't work for them. Once you got in the groove, things generally went pretty smoothly. The students were wonderful. Very attentive, eager and polite. But they were not used to volunteering, so you had to call on them to get things going. We stayed at the Orient Hotel which was a couple of miles from downtown Xi'an. Cabs were plentiful and cheap, so getting back and forth was not a problem. The food at the hotel was fine, and we all became very very proficient with chopsticks. On the weekends we took several fieldtrips, the most interesting being the terracotta warriors. One thing we all missed was US news: hotel TV only carried one English channel, Murdoch's Star TV which is really lousy. Oh, for some good old CNN!! Global Volunteers is the sponsor of the program Their coordinator, Maria, was good and kept morale high. One interesting thing we did was take turns writing a daily group journal and thought for the day, which will be typed up and sent to all of us. Our Chinese liaisons were excellent. They were terrific people and were very open and frank when talking about and answering our questions about China. Overall, a very interesting and rewarding experience. No better way to see China and meet the Chinese people. firstname.lastname@example.org ######################################### Personals ######################################### From: Gayle Falgoust email@example.com Subject: Eastern Europe Folk School I have a friend doing her first Elderhostel next spring. It's a European Folk School program in Czech Republic/Austria/Hungary. They'll be staying one week each in Prague, St. Polten, and Budapest. We would appreciate hearing from any of you out there who have done this or any similar program. What will the weather be like? (They'll be there in May) The plane travel? The accommodations? The programs? Any "must sees"? Thanks for any information any of you out there can forward to me. firstname.lastname@example.org _____________ From: email@example.com Subject: Inland Passage Alaska Cruises Would like to see some responses to Alaskan cruises (inland passage) that you may have from Spring etc. .- 1998. Do enjoy your Elderhostel Email! Many thanks, Dr. B firstname.lastname@example.org ______________ From: jacquie vanhaelst email@example.com I am planning to participate in 2 Elderhostels in the near future the first one is in Plam Desert, CA (Pg. 18 of the Winter '98 Elderhostel Catalog) from Jan 3-Jan 8, '99 and the other one is on Page 138 in the International Catalog Winter 1999 going to Discover Provence from March 5-March 27, 1999. If there is anyone who has participated in these interesting trips, I would so appreciate some of your impressions and experiences of these trips including opinions and advices. Thank you in advance. Jacquie van Haelst e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. ___________ Joy Rising jrising@CITCOM.NET Subject: EH Fee Collection Glad to see that you are encouraging debate about the changes in EH. One problem is that EH National must seek 'one rule fits all' solutions to the varied problems of coordinators who are not employees of EH, but of the institutions sponsoring the program, each of which has its own rules. As a former Coordinator working at three institutions, I know that some of the problems are real. For example, two of those institutions owned the housing, but the third rented housing in a state park. There a large sum was required as down payment when the housing was secured, at least 1.5 years ahead. If one EH week were to be cancelled, the state park kept $600 as a cancellation fee! The first day of an EH program has many opportunities for confusion for hostelers, especially new attendees. When registration includes the handling of fees, this increases the possibility of problems. Two of the institutions would not accept credit cards which was mentioned in the mailed information, but there were always some people who did not recall that. Just the handling of fees slowed registration to a crawl, and, of course, all hostelers seem to arrive early! That resulted in long lines even when three people were handling registration. It also meant that much of the staff's time was spent in collecting fees when the other questions and rooming concerns of hostelers could use that time. . . . . . . In the end, if EH's income goes up, the Board of Directors can only increase the expenses or give it back to hostelers through lower prices. There are no stockholders who will take all the profits; that's why I like doing business with a cost-conscious non-profit institution which EH has been. Joy Rising For Personals Subject: Montgomery Presbyterian Conference Center, Starke, FL We will be attending an EH program there in January. Would appreciate comments. From: Roman Stanley email@example.com ___________ From: TERRYBEE@aol.com Date: Sun, 22 Nov 1998 22:30:32 EST Dear Jim: As always, your Elderhostel Notebook (#37) is a gem - lots of info which I'll save. Interesting comments about the advance pay policy. I don't know - change is always upsetting. But Elderhostel is such a good "buy"...lots of value for your money. I have just signed up for a Grand Circle trip to Italy leaving March 29th. They want ALL of my $2517 or thereabouts by Jan. 7th - - and will give me a grand total discount of $35.00 if I pay in full WITHOUT a credit card and I think my "goodies" from Discover are probably worth more than $35.00. It certainly can be a problem for those who sign up for 3 or 4 EH's at a time. Generally, I usually attend two at most three per year - also not back-to-back, so perhaps I am not qualified to opine on the subject.