Elderhostel Notebook #40, January 15, 1999 

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    From the Editors Notebook       

    Elderhostel News and  Reviews  
           Antipodian Train/Cruise Elderhostel - Aus./New Zealan
           Eckerd College Off Campus Elderhostel
           San Francisco Arts and Humanities Seminars
           New Orleans Peoples Program Elderhostel
           The Barnes Foundation , Philadelphia

    Editor's Notebook                  
 We are on the road again- this time in Tucson, Arizona, on some
family business and out of the elderhostel loop.

Weather is ideal here this week. If some of you are looking for
nice spot for snow-bird elderhosteling you might consider
southern Arizona in January and February and further north into
the Flagstaff or Sedona area in March or April.

On the road I use my Macintosh Powerbook 5300 and the America On
Line service since it has local calling numbers in most cities.

This combination used for issues on the road is very clunky and
inconvenient compared to my  computer situation back at home
in Eau Claire, Wisconsin; but it does work, and I can still get
mail in from any of my e-mail addresses that you might have, so
feel free to send in those reports.

While entering some of the reports in is issue, I thought a
little about money and elderhostel costs since several reviews do
touch on that aspect of elderhosteling.

It made me think that perhaps I should do a little research into
the increases in program fees over the years and comparable costs
of some elderhostel alternatives. But, of course, there are few
real alternatives in terms of the range of social and educational
values Elderhostel offers.

When we first started hosteling about 12 years ago the standard
program cost was $200 and programs ran from Sunday to Saturday.
It seems the average cost has about doubled since then - hmm. Is
that in line with general cost increases and Elderhosteler's
income  levels? Something I may look into for a future editorial.  
   Elderhostel News and Reviews    

Antipodian Train/Cruise Elderhostel - Aus./New Zealand

Program #30644-1108

vorbdysart@juno.com  (wilson d dysart)

Where does Elderhostel find such fine group leaders and hosts? We
have been on our ninth one now and find we are always well
provided for.

This month-long Elderhostel was great at the time we were there
--through Nov. into early December ( an alternate time
recommendation is Oct. ) We even experienced unusually hot
weather while WE were there and wouldn't want it much warmer than
that. We were told by the Aussies that Jan.   Feb. are HOT and
RAINY with accompanying bug populations. We had marvelous sunny
days during our stay. Temps were in higher eighties into high
ninties in Aus.--cooler in N. Zealand.

The trip started in Auckland, New Zealand , took in the thermal
area of North Island as well, and spent some time in Christchurch
with a RR trip across their alps. Then it was off to Sydney   a
hotel smack in the heart of downtown NEAR everything. You could
walk to lots of the attractions. Only minus was not having more
time there on our own! And this can be added on at the end of
your Elderhostel as some folks did.

As we traveled by RR to Adelaide, to Alice Springs   Uluru again
by RR, flew to Cairns and then went on a beautiful boat
(exclusively our party) to Townsville, and rounded by air back to
Sndney, marvelous and interesting teachers plied us with all
manner of information about where we were. Lots of short field
trips, marvelous meals throughout including their mandatory
morning "tea" breaks   only one long stretch by bus in the whole
month made time fly. We learned of the economics, history,
politics, geography and geology, folk music and lots about fauna
  other natural areas.

Two hotels (in central locations, expensive city places) were
well equipped, but VERY small rooms. Well worth the sacrifice.
Other places we had fine "diggings" even into the quite fancy
type. We were kind of shoulder season which helped--no college
dorms or basic type lodgings. Breakfasts were almost all full
including hot choices, but mainly buffet style. Many meals were
in intriguing places--out of doors under restaurants' canopies,
at parks--always lots of variety. We had huge platters of the
many fine fruits sliced ready to eat   seafood and desserts to
die for!

Quantas flight people were jocular and accommodating, but we
chose to buy an extra seat which was wise, for leg room isn't all
that good   we are tall people. That long of a flight is
something to endure. Some people choose to stop over at Figi or
the Hawaiian Islands which would be nice if you have the time.
The trip cost just over $8,000 pp not counting the extra airline
seat. ALL meals are, of course, included plus your quite
expensive train travel, multiple air flights (they are countries
with wide open spaces to cover), plus luxury cruise of 3 days and
4 nights. Our group totaled 38.

We met other Elderhostelers returning from S. Island, NZ who
raved about THEIR trip to the fijords etc. of that area which we
did not get to see. Maybe another trip?

Vel (  Bill) Dysart	VORBdysart@juno.com


Eckerd College Off Campus Elderhostel - December 13-18, 1998

St.Petersburg, Florida


This Elderhostel has both strong positives in major areas and
strong negatives which, while occurring in the less vital areas
of the program, were nevertheless very annoying.

The Ramada Limited (located about 10-15 minutes from the Eckerd
Campus) where we were housed and where some of the classes were
held was a very acceptable, comfortable facility situated in a
somewhat questionable neighborhood where we were informed that we
should be reluctant to take exercise walks. An adequate, light
continental breakfast was available at the Ramada; lunch and
dinner were served cafeteria style in the Eckerd College
Continuing Education Cafeteria. They were nutritious and
institutional with somewhat limited variety but certainly

Problems arose primarily in the logistical area and began at
registration where we were introduced to our Coordinator who
informed us, out of the blue, that we would have to come up with
$654 in cash in order to complete our registration. We had
erroneously been sent the 1999 Eckerd College Elderhostel
informational brochure which assumed pre-payment of all fees and
were therefore blissfully unaware of their requirement that
payment be made only by cash or check  no credit cards
permitted. After scraping up the required funds (and being left
with about $5.00 between us) we became the object of the first of
what seemed an unending series of inappropriate and condescending
jokes made by this Coordinator who, in our opinion, served no
useful purpose to the program except to detract from it. Our
hosts, on the other hand, a couple of helpful and unobtrusive
individuals who could have contributed a great deal, were
prevented from maximizing their contribution by the
overly-aggressive Coordinator.

Buses were required to transport us to hands-on computer classes
on campus and to meals and the buses were far from completely
reliable  often they did not come on time and took away valuable
class time which, understandably, due to the instructor's busy
schedule, could not be made up even though the Eckerd Elderhostel
Facilitator assured us that we would not lose the wasted class

I had the opportunity to voice my concerns to the Eckerd
Elderhostel Representative and was told that the bus had only
been late once when in fact it had been late more than once. The
very next event after my conversation requiring bus
transportation back to the Ramada had a bus-driver available but
no bus for him to drive.

The courses included in this program were generally quite
informative and interesting:

Surf's Up  an Introduction to Internet Communication: The
program description indicated that the Director of the College
Information Technology Service would conduct this "hands-on"
course. She was not available or on campus for the first day.
Fortunately, her assistant gave the introductory session and
handed out material for us to read. Since there were 28
attendees, we were told that the group would be divided in two so
that we could each have a computer assigned for the remaining
four days of class time. On the second day, the Director returned
and proceeded to go over the printed material to the entire group
using slides which were previously distributed to us the day
before. This deprived us of one entire additional session of
"hands-on" computer time which we had been promised. One thing we
were not promised was to sit in her classroom where she coughed
all over the room in excess of 40 times, saying that she had been
ill and really shouldn't be there. Her Assistant, into whose
group we were fortunate to be assigned in the remaining days for
"hands-on" experience in the computer lab was outstanding,
helpful and knowledgeable.

Artificial Intelligence: Virtual Reality, Robotics in Home,
School and Office: The lecturer had a most unusual background
including specialties in 18th and 19th century literature,
Shakespeare, artificial intelligence, use of minicomputers for
investing and data base technologies. His experience seemed to be
varied and broad-ranging in practical areas connected with the
topic. All participants seemed to feel that the subject was
interesting and the presentation of value.

Mining the Moral Mazes of the Internet  Media Ownership and News
Journalism: The speaker had a broad range of relevant experience
and a fascinating presentation style. He was active in various
fields directly related to the ethics questions which he
presented in the sports, business and government arenas. He was
stimulating, entertaining and informative. He kept everyone's
attention riveted in a subject matter which would easily have
been tedious and "preachy."

We are told that starting some time in early 1999, all classes
will be housed and held on the Eckerd College Campus in the new
Elderhostel "dormitories" which are being constructed for that
purposes. From what we were told, this presents both positives
and negatives since the Ramada provided maid service, daily towel
changes and in-room TV -- amenities which may be lacking in the
on-campus housing. On the other hand, buses will no longer be
required for transporation and it will be easier to use on-campus
facilities such as gym, pool, computer labs, etc., provided they
are made available to Elderhostelers during their stays.


San Francisco Arts and Humanities Seminars, San Francisco,

December 22 1988


This program was held at the Sheehan Hotel on Sutter Street. The
hotel is well-located two blocks from Union Square, within
walking distance to theaters and shopping. Old hotel, small rooms
with private bath, clean and quiet with a large meeting room.
Private dining room just for Elderhostelers, food was excellent
and served buffet style, with homemade bread and desserts, and a
set menu. Open seating made it easier to get acquainted with
everyone in the program.

Our three programs centered on the law, music, and theater. John
Curtin, Professor of Law was an excellent, animated speaker and
very knowledgeable about all aspects of the law, we reviewed
three cases, including Miranda v. Arizona. Professor Ricard
evaluated plays currently showing in San Francisco and gave a
brief history of the art. She reviewed the play "Call me Madam,"
which we attended as part of the program. The day after seeing
the play the co-producer came to the site and gave us some up
close and personal information. We saw three plays during the
week, "A Christmas Carol," "Christmas Cavalcade," and "Call me
Madam." Professor Frohmader gave a musical presentation on jazz
and popular music, he used videos, tapes, CD's, and his own
keyboard to present the history of music from the early 1900s to
the present.

This program was presented close to the holiday season and there
were many noontime free concerts, decorations, and store displays
in keeping with the season.

I would highly recommend this program as the subject matter was
diverse enough to hold the interest of all attendees. The
speakers were in the excellent category. We have signed up for
Professor Curtin's May class. The program was well-managed by the
site coordinator. All of our out-of-seminar needs were well-taken
care of and the overall operation of the program was beyond

Mary Ellen Hull


New Orleans Peoples Program Elderhostel


My wife and I attended the New Orleans Elderhostels, Part 1 and
Part 2, offered by Peoples Program from November 29 to December
11. Several of those attending Part 1 attended Part 2 immediately
after Part 1. Although about 250 people attended Part 1, they
were broken up into groups of about 40 each. Graduation night
dinner was the only time all 250 were together. Seldom were we
aware of the other groups.

New Orleans Part 1 was one of the best Elderhostels we have ever
attended. We've attended eleven. The lecturers were entertaining
and knowledgeable. The subjects were history (state   city),
Cajuns, Black history, architecture, and music. We stayed at the
Landmark Motel where we ate all of our breakfasts, buffet style.
Lunches and dinners were at various restaurants in New Orleans.
All the food was top notch. We highly recommend Part 1. We didn't
hear on negative comment from the other attendees.

The Landmark Motel was seventeen stories high, and our classes
were held on the sixteenth floor. The motel was about five miles
from downtown New Orleans. We were bussed in comfortable busses
to all our destinations most of which were downtown. We had ample
free time to explore downtown New Orleans and transportation to
and from the downtown area was not a problem. Elderhostel and the
motel provided transportation.

Part 2 is another matter. Only forty people attended Part 2. We
recommended Peoples Program discontinue Part 2. It covers the
same subject matter except specializes more, e.g., Part 2 covered
two writers while Part 1 gave an overview of many. Some of the
same restaurants were used. We stayed at Quality Inn which was a
few blocks from the Landmark and was of equal quality.except for
the one buffet dinner we ate there. It was terrible -- non tasty
and limited selections. Part 2 would be OK as a refresher a few
years after attending Part 1. However, we would rather repeat
Part 1 if we wanted a refresher. We recommend Part 2 be avoided.
It's not worth the money. The Peoples Program leader was
defensive when we tried to explain this to her. Many in our group
expressed opinions similar to ours. 


The Barnes Foundation , Philadelphia


Oct 4-10-98 We were informed in advance that we would not be able
to view the Barnes Museum because of a law suit by neighbors that
limited museum attendance. We were given the option of canceling
without penalty. Fortunately for us, we decided to attend. It was
indeed an excellent elderhostel. They substituted a "Nicholas and
Alexandra" exhibit in Delaware, for the Barnes. We also got to
the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The lecturers were very
knowledgeable, and provided slide programs in the evening to
prepare us and supplement the field trips.

During the day we were bussed to numerous sights on the Main
Line. The lecturer giving the history of the Main Line was
outstanding. Our highlight was a trip to " The Wharton Esherick's
House and Studio". It was a site we would never have know about
on our own. Esherick was a sculptor and furniture designer who
was important the '50s. We were also taken to interesting

The accommodations were adequate, in a motel where the staff was
attentive to our needs. The food was outstanding. No other
elderhostel ever fed us like this. Our leaders were very
knowledgeable. I would recommend this and other elderhostels
given by this group, The Philadelphia Society for the
Preservation of Landmarks.

Joan and Mel Serisky jomelser@aol.com


St. Nicholas Ranch and Retreat Center, Dunlap, California


The Elderhostel at St. Nicholas Ranch and Retreat Center, Dunlap,
California, January 3-8, 1999, was the best of the five
U.S./Canada programs I've attended. Most of the credit for this
belongs to Eleni Tsagaris, director, her husband, George, and
their fine staff. Eleni's efficient planning, sparkling
personality, boundless energy, and aplomb in handling the few
inevitable glitches resulted in an outstanding program.

The "Tour of Greece" portion of the program included
participatory cooking demonstrations, simple Greek dances,
language, customs, and traditions. The lectures on Greek
philosophers and Homer's epic poems were ably delivered by
professors from CalState Fresno. On two evenings, we enjoyed
videos and popcorn. We were given an optional opportunity to
visit a small Greek Orthodox monastery for vespers and talk with
an apple-cheeked sister who served us delicious Greek coffee and

On our free half-day, some Elderhostlers went to Kings Canyon to
see the giant Sequoias; others drove to Reedley to visit a
Mennonite quilt center. Dunlap is situated at 2,000 feet
elevation; I was somewhat winded on our walks. The weather was
clear and sunny, the air was chilly. On the drive there, we
encountered dense fog. A van is provided to transport those who
fly into Fresno. The ranch is about 40 miles east of Fresno; be
prepared to "retreat" for a few days. It was such a lovely spot
that I was content to relax and enjoy the atmosphere and the
company of congenial Elderhostlers.

Accommodations were plain, motel style with three single beds to
a room and private baths. No TV in room, but there is one
available for addicts. The food was served buffet style. It was
very good and included one or two Greek dishes at dinner. The
last night featured a "glendi" with wine and appetizers; a lamb
dinner, dancing, and a talent show. I recommend this Elderhostel
without reservation. OPA!

Pat Nestor PNestor@aol.com


We will be going to the Calvin Center in GA in two weeks.  What
can we expect? Good teachers?  Housing?  Food?  Field Trips? 
Personnel?  Sure would be grateful for any incite.  Thank you.


From: JoMelSer@aol.com

We have just enrolled in the following elderhostels:

1) 20th Century Turning Point:Battle of Normandy, Sept 26-Oct
8-99 2) Center for Studies of the Future/Pasadena: Museums:Arts
Science and Heritage, Mar 28-Apr 3-99

I would appreciate any information from people who have attended
either of these.

Thank you,
Joan and Mel Serisky


From: William Usim  bill_usim@csi.com 


We are interested in learning about the University of Maryland
Eastern Shore/Ocean City/East facility. It is a hotel in Ocean
City on the Chesapeake Peninsula. Any information you have
regarding the site would be appreciated.

Thanks, Bill Usim

From: "Nils and Susie Hokansson" hoke@coastalnet.com

Do you have any info on the Gota Canal program in Sweden?


Susie Hokansson