Elderhostel Notebook #41, Feb 15, 1999 

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    From the Editors Notebook       

    Elderhostel News and  Reviews 
       Volcano Art Center Elderhostel  
       Montgomery Presbyterian Center, Starke, Florida
       Epworth by the Sea
       Fairhope,AL - Faulkner Community College
       Malta at Christmas

    Editor's Notebook                  

 This will be the last notebook sent out through my AOL service
as we will be returning to Wisconsin next month and have access
to more appropriate technical mailing facilities.

I may not have been able to acknowledge all correspondence this
last month or so as it is hard to move from incoming mail on one
server to outgoing on another.  But I do appreciate your reports
and queries.

Those who know me well know I am not one to avoid controversy in
almost any form, but as we sometimes discuss various issues
concerning elderhostel, I hope we can all keep our cool even if
we feel strongly about a particular issue like the change in fee
payments and the apparent increases in fees for various programs
that seems to many of us to go beyond cost of living increases
and certainly beyond the means of many on fixed incomes.

Elderhostel is still a travel/education bargain but for many of
the fixed income elderhostelers it may be becoming an
inaccessible bargain, and it may be time to explore some less
expensive alternatives in future issues and particularly on my
other travel web site "Going to Learn" 


   Elderhostel News and Reviews    

Volcano Art Center Elderhostel - 11629 and Lyman Museum
Elderhostel -

We just completed a combination of these two Elderhostels on the
same island, the Big Island of Hawaii.  They are both excellent
programs run by excellent staff.  We were concerned that there
would be an overlap and repeat information.  We did have a few
visits to the same sites but the presenters and information were
enough different that it was good to have a second view and  the
material gave a better understand with two visits.

The first program by Lyman Museum had one week in Hilo at a very
nice hotel with an excellent location.  The evening meals at the
hotel left something to be desired but they hired a new food
manager while we were there and I expect this minor item has been
corrected.  The second week we  moved to Hilo where the Royal
Kona hotel was excellent in all respects.  We would like to have
facilities like this at every Elderhostel but realize that is not

The second program by the Volcano Art  Center had one week at the
Military Camp located at the Volcano.  They had told us to bring
hiking equipment and be ready for rain.  Be sure and do both.  It
is cool at 4,000 feet and rains a lot.  The facilities are what
you would expect at a Military Camp.  Mess hall for meals and
barracks that are set up for family vacations.  This is a way to
really see and appreciate a Volcano. You hike down into the old
crater where you are 300 feet above the molten lava that is
coming out further down the side of the island.  The second week
was back in Kona at Uncle Billie's Kona Bay Inn.  Uncle Billie
has forgot about maintenance of his property.  This facility
leaves a lot to be desired.  Lyman Museum had been there but has
move to the Royal Kona and I hope the Volcano Art Center does the
same.  This was the only bad part of the entire month.

The programs give you an excellent way to enjoy Hawaii for a
month.   The class sessions covered the history of the island and
the people.  The teachers were all excellent and gave a good
understanding of the island, the people, the problems and
advantages of Hawaii.  The tours covered the historical places
and the many things to see and locations to visit so that you
have a better understanding of the islands.  A rental car after
the first week in Hilo which was  driven to Kona and then
returned to Hilo was a good solution to the problem of getting
from one ending location to the other beginning location.

We would recommend either or both Elderhostels as an excellent
way to visit and learn about the Big Island of Hawaii from some
of the best Elderhostel staff that we have had the opportunity to


Montgomery Presbyterian Center, Starke, Florida January 10-15,
1999 Roman Stanley and Joy Rising jrising@citcom.net

We approached this Elderhostel program with some trepidation as
it was in the middle of nowhere in northern Florida. Worse, it's
in the same town, Starke, as the State Prison. We had chosen it
because it was on the way to our eventual vacation destination,
and the classes sounded interesting.

It turned out to be one of the best we've attended. On a scale of
1-10, it was a 9. The Center has excellent basics: a super chef
who provided homemade breads, pastries and a choice of entrees,
duplex cabins with private baths on a gentle slope overlooking a
lake, and a conference center with pleasant classroom, everything
in easy walking distance, and some extras such as boats, bikes,
and hiking trails.

Madeleine and Fred Johnson, the Elderhostel Coordinator and
Center Director, respectively, were wonderful, had everything
well-planned, and well-done with the help of their staff and
volunteers. The Center offers 9 Elderhostel programs this year
and 13 next year with many variation of the same classes. What
was unusual about this program, for us, is that it relied mostly
on field trips for the classes. We spent one whole day in St.
Augustine with a very good teacher from the Historical Society.
Another day was spent at Florida's Silver Springs, a park. The
Springs, the world's largest artesian springs, pour out 750,000
gallons of 99% pure water every day. We had a glass-bottom boat
tour emphasizing the springs and fish, another boat tour viewing
22 species of jungle animals, and a nature boat tour down the
river where we saw many different kinds of birds and stopped at
an animal rehabilitation area. Several employees lectured as we
toured the park. The third course was on Marjorie Kinnan
Rawlings, a Pulitzer prize winner for her book, "The Yearling" as
well as authoring other books including "Cross Creek" about her
life in northern Florida in the 1930s. The teacher, J.T. Glisson,
was a 6 year old boy when Rawlings moved to Cross Creek in 1928,
and he grew up next door to her. He is a Southern storyteller,
fascinating, and could talk all day. We went to Rawlings house
too, but the size of the group, about 48, precluded a tour of the
house so many of us went back for that on our free afternoon.

We enjoyed the field trip as class concept so much - crucial to
that was a comfortable bus with rest room - that in the future we
will search out such courses. We found that being in the middle
of nowhere makes no difference in the quality of the program!

Epworth by the Sea - Jan. 24th - 29th - The Golden Isle. 

This was a great Elderhostel, and I can't recomment it too
highly. It was well organized, Cyndi Doeling (I am not sure of
the spelling, can't find the sheet with the names) was the
coordinator, and she knew exactly what needed to be done. There
was a good balance of lectures about the barrier islands, and
field trips, including one to Savannah. She did a great job. The
lecturers, Ned, Dottie, and Ann, were all very knowledgeable and
enthusiastic. I learned a great deal and realize how fascinating
the history of the barrier islands really is.

The setting is beautiful, Epworth is a lovely spot, and the whole
island is gorgeous. It is covered with live oak trees, and many
other kinds of trees and flowering plants of all kinds. Food was
plain, but adequate and basically very healthful - soup and
salads, two entrees to choose from, a couple of vegtables, rolls,
and a dessert, either cookies at noon or cake or pie at night.
The portions might not have been quite enough for a man who was
used to large portions, but for most people it was fine. The
rooms were clean, had tv and very clean baths. If anything was
wrong with the room the staff were quick to have it fixed.

The trip to Savannah was wonderful. It is a beautiful city, we
had a bus tour, did some walking along the river, toured one of
the houses, and had lunch at a great restaurant specializing in
good Southern cooking, followed by a little free time to give the
credit cards some exercise in the gift and antique stores.

My previous Elderhostel had been at UC/Berkeley campus, run by
the California Shakespeare Festival, and it was a disaster in
most ways, --it was one where the coordinators went off and you
were left to wander around, as best you could ,given the hilly
terrain, between lectures, and of course you were put up in the
dorms - bare of everything but a bed and chair (we were advised
before the Elderhostel to bring lamps and fans, but I think most
people found moving "furniture" along with their clothes just too
much to do.)

By all means try an Epworth EH, and do one that the Methodist
Center runs itself - the other organizations that run them are
probably all right, but Epworth really knows how to run an EH.

L. Harrigan
Fairhope,AL sponsored by Faulkner Community College

I've just returned from my eighth Elderhostel and it was one of
the best (possibly the best) I've ever attended.  It was the
program in Fairhope, AL sponsored by Faulkner Community College. 
Everything came together to make this a wonderful week.

First of all, in this "off" season, the weather was perfect. 
Nights were cool, while the days were cool and sunny. We probably
have El Nino to thank for that.  Secondly, our accommodations
were at the Grand Hotel.  For those of you who may not know, the
Grand Hotel was established in 1847 in Point Clear, Al and has
always been a luxury hotel.  I've never stayed in such a large
hotel room in my life, and we had all the amenities...coffee pot
with gourmet coffees and teas, big fluffy towels, hair dryer, USA
Today at my door every morning... Thirdly, and to top it all off,
our lectures and field trips were outstanding.

The food was average, except for 3 or 4 times when we ate in
restaurants in the town of Fairhope.  Those meals were great. The
town of Fairhope is lovely - made for walking around.

Needless to say, I highly recommend this program.  You may want
to wait until next year's "off season" however.  I noticed in the
catalog that this same program in the spring costs quite a bit
more than the $415 I paid for it in January.

Malta at Christmas  
Dec 19, 1998-Jan 2, 1999

The choices for Elderhostel are like a box of chocolates. So many
pieces. So little time.

My list includes my first, which was an Intergenerational trip to
Corning, New York with a grandson. My last was International to
Malta at Christmas. There was a service program to the Navajo
School in Arizona in the middle. So far I^Âve had about 6 chances
to grow with Elderhostel.

Two weeks in Malta at Christmas was the best of a good box of
chocolates. The program lasted from 19 December when I left
Baltimore and ended in London on 2 January 1999. That last date
was the only hang-up since we barely got space on our return
flight from Malta due to problems with the Lyons Travel and Air
Malta. Each blames the other.

None of this takes away from a marvelous outing. Malta is so full
of history one would imagine it impossible to get it all - from
4000 BC to World War II and today^Âs political outlook. However,
the country has the distinct advantage of being only about 125
sq. miles and that makes it possible to do it all. Field trips
were never long journeys because everything was so close. The
lecturers were, for the most part, passionate about their
subjects. Even though it was winter, we could do all of the field
trips easily. The countryside is beautiful and dramatic, although
trash removal is a big problem. One guide, Teresa Cachia-Zammit
was herself a Maltese treasure. The program was well-prepared and
effectively organized in spite of holiday closings. Being there
at holiday time enabled us to experience the Christmas Pantomime
and the New Year^Âs Eve celebrations.

We were in touch with lots of Maltese people. The lecturers made
themselves available to us on field trips. We experienced a fine
Folk Museum on Gozo, a visit to a home decorated for the season,
dinner with the University of the Third Age members, even
Midnight Mass in Maltese. One sunny Sunday afternoon we went to
the market at a fishing village where all the boats really ARE
those beautiful colors and the fish are the same. What a
wonderful country!

We were all initiated into the Order of the Inland Sea as Knights
and Dames at the New Year^Âs dinner in an ancient palazzo. Isn^Ât
this tempting?

Our sponsoring institution was University of Malta with OTS as
the provider of the program. The Hotel Plevna in Sliema was a
good location because it was in a fairly modern area of the
central district, so access to many service was possible. The
hotel is family run, a combination of two smaller hotels. It was
comfortable and I found the food good and the service very good.
Ginny Thayer, Solomons, MD gintha@erols.com


From: MSteinbrug@aol.com

Subject: Cruise:South America

Los Angles Times Sunday, February 7, 1999 


Beverly Shaver, a free lance writer from El Cerrito, CA, wrote
about 40 days at sea on a Russian Research Ship. This was about
the Elderhostel trip called "Pathways of the Conquistadors". It
gives a description about the boat, food, excursions, etc.
Interesting write up especially for anyone interested in making
the trip.

>From :Dora Palmer - 
Subject: Unacceptable requirments

Hi all you Elderhostelers: We have just canceled our Elderhostel
in San Antonio. The Jewish Community Center required us to sign a
form that would release them from any responsibility for injury
,disability, or even death due to negligence on their part. Our
Attorney informed us that this was absolutely illegal and we
should under no circumstances sign this form. We sent the forms
back unsigned and were informed we had to sign or look for
another Elderhostel. So, needless to say, we cancelled,losing
$40.00 in the process. We believe we should be informed of all
requirments before we sign up for a program. We also found
out,after all fees were paid, that we would be required to pay
$8.00 a day for parking. We sent a letter to Elderhostel along
with our cancella tion, explaining all this. Do any of you have
any similiar stories or comments? This is the first time in all
our years of Elderhosteling that we have had a problem like this.

editor's note: Subsequent to this post Elderhostel did remit all
of the fees paid. This may be an advantage of the new fee system
where the fees are handled centrally. Evidently the release from
liability form is not done by Elderhostel but is used on occasion
by some of the sponsors or sub-contractors particularly if some
high risk activity  is involved and the sponsor wishes the
participant to assume all of the legal  risk. It should be noted,
however, that as noted above, the sponsor cannot legally avoid
responsibilty for negligence by use of such a release.

We  would strongly urge Elderhostel to inform potential
participants of  the existence of such requirements for a program
and any additional unanticipated fees.

These are not the kinds of things you want to find out the day
you arrive at the program.


From: Harlan Hague  hhhague@softadventure.net  
Subject: Elderhostel discussion group?


I have enjoyed your elderhostel for a long time. Now I'm trying
to get some specific information that I can't find on the
internet, so I turn naturally to you. Is there an elderhostel
discussion group, or a forum somewhere where one can ask
questions about particular elderhostels, a la discussion groups
or chat forums? If not, there should be. I posted the following
question on rec.travel.usa-canada yesterday:

Can you recommend the best elderhostel to see Charleston if I
can't get into the one at College of Charleston? Similarly, can
you recommend the best elderhostel in or around Savannah that
focuses on and gives quick access to Savannah? I want to book an
elderhostel at either Charleston or Savannah--or both--in the
second half of May or early June 1999. I would appreciate an
email response in addition to a posting here.

I'm hopeful that there will be helpful responses, but nothing
yet. There must be many people who are online who could give
informed responses to the question. Any advice? Have you--or
anyone else--thought of engineering an elderhostel discussion


editor's note: 
There are a number of forums on the net where people can exchange
information about elderhosteling.

One is at the
forum site dealing with travel

One is at the  Seniornet Roundtables forums (travel section)
which can be accessed by links in

The most active one is at the seniornet forum site on
elderhosteling in the Seniornet (keyword seniornet) section of
America On Line under Arts and Leisure.

Unfortunately one must be an AOL (but not Seniornet) member to
access this one. I maintain an AOL account as I have mentioned
earlier to use when on the road as it does have a number of local
phone accesses around the country. (as do some other internet
connection  services)

There are other general travel related forums at the AARP site
(both on AOL and the web) and the various newsgroups in Usenet.

I regularly monitor and post to the two Seniornet forums. One
does not have to be a Seniornet member to do this. 


Karen Roseth  

London Classical Music 

I have just returned from this trip and highly recommend it. We
saw 7 concerts and 2 operas. There was a lot of free time and I
went to 4 plays, the Ingres exhibit, and other site seeing. Had
some good meals away from the group, as well. I am adding to my
travel list the Palaces trip and the Art Gallery trip. For next
year. Karen 


I am interested in hearing about various golf packages people
have been on.  Particularly Arizona and the Southeast.  Did you
take instruction or just play?  Where the accompanying
courses/instruction worthwhile.  How were the accommodations. 
Thanks for any information you can pass along.   Respond to


I would love to hear from anyone who has taken the Peru
archaeology trip, how stressful it was at the high, Machu Picchu
elevation, what the weather was like, what season(s) were best. 
I'm thinking of going in early October or mid-November of '99.

Linda Bowman  (617) 253-7742From: The Singletarys  gsfarm@lcc.net 
Subject: South Seaport Museum Elderhostel 

Would like to hear from anyone who has attended any of the
Elderhostels at South Seaport Museum in New York City.

Grady and Virginia Singletary
gsfarm@lcc.net (that's a small L not a number 1)
10-500, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Mass Ave, Cambridge  MA  02139



From: "Fritz"  joy@shore.intercom.net 
Subject: re the review on People's Program part 2 

Am scheduled for part 1   2 "back to back" and the review on part
two shared in this issue concerns me. Could others that have
attended part 2 please comment? thank you.


From: Rjjnana@aol.com

Am considering EH in Egypt next year. Has anyone been on one -
would like any comments. Thanks.