Elderhostel Notebook #55 October 24, 1999

Welcome to Elderhostel Notebook, the e-zine where hostelers
compare notes on elderhostel programs.

EN is an independent project, appreciative of but not associated
with Elderhostel Inc.          http://www.elderhostel.org

EN has a WWW site at           http://members.aol.com/EHnotebook

To subscribe to the e-mail edition  and/or to submit reviews of
programs taken send an e-mail to the editor, Jim
Olson, at                      EHnotebook@aol.com

Please keep all correspondence in simple e-mail text format.

    From the Editor's Notebook
The interactive online index and archive of reports (the reports
only archive) is now complete from Issue #1 of March 1996 to the

This was made possible because my brother Dick
(alintucson@aol.com) donated two of his AOL screen names and
their cumulative 4 megabytes of storage space to the Notebook
project. His screen name is deceptive because while he once lived
in Tucson, he is now in Altoona, Wisconsin, only a stone's throw
from Eau Claire where I live (but then we don't throw many stones
at each other- just a few now and then as brothers do- Mom liked
him best)

He is known as Uncle Al by the people who know him from his work
at Camp Courage in Annandale, Minnesota.

We now have some 400+ reports online counting the 60+ from the
earlier project of Jerry Tyree out of the Los Angeles FreeNet.

The added space also makes it possible to add and/or restore some
of the photos on the web site photo album page although I would
still prefer that you put them on a page of your own and send me
the link.  But I do have space now for some photos if you want to
send in gif or jpg files for the page.

    Program Reviews

These reports vary in format and indicate the range of
possibilities for inclusion here to meet our dual purpose of
helping each other choose programs and to provide a vicarious
Elderhostel experience.

Because the  programs in the catalog are listed by title and
sponsoring institution, it would be helpful to include the
catalog title and the sponsoring institution whenever possible
when you e-mail the report in to EHnotebook@aol.com

Programs Reviewed:

       French Barge Trip-VanGogh Step by Step
       "Arts of the Veneto" located in Padua and Venice
       "Lake Garda" Located in Riva del Garda and Desenzano
       San Francisco Arts   Humanities
       Schooner Bowdoin, Maine Martime Academy
       Silver Penny Farm Elderhostel- California
       Sunriver Nature Center, Bend, OR
       An Historical Odyssey :  The Gta Canal, Sweden
       Tiburon, California

French Barge Trip-VanGogh Step by Step
Sept21-Oct6, 1999


We flew to Marseilles via Paris, where we were met and taken by
bus to Arles. The hotel there was wonderfully located in the
heart of the old town. The rooms were comfortable, and the meals
that were taken at the hotel were quite good. We had the
opportunity to eat in some of the local restaurants at lunchtime.
Our time in Arles was spent in morning lectures and afternoon
field trips. We had one all day trip to Avignon. We saw many of
the sights that were painted by VanGogh, and visited St. Remy
where he spent a year after his suicide attempt. Provence is
indeed a beautiful part of the world.

After four nights in Arles, we boarded the "Bullet train" to
Paris. A bus took us to our barge, The Rembrandt. Initially, some
of the group, (there were 16 of us on this trip) were
disappointed that we were to travel on a Dutch Barge. However,
this was not a problem. The Dutch cook was superb. The meals were
varied, beautifully presented, and delicious. The "cabins"-they
were more like large closets, were teeny teeny. However, there
was room to unpack and store clothes, as well as a teeny teeny
private bath. The upper part of the barge had a very comfortable
lounge where most of our indoor time was spent. While on the
barge we spent a lot of indoor time because the sunny weather of
Arles deserted us and we experienced on and off drizzle, rain and
clouds for much of the float on the Oise River.(six nights)
Nevertheless, there were trips into towns along the river, visits
to museums, and a magical day in Giverny, Monet's home and
gardens. Happily, we had a full day of sun and splendor. Haunting
was our trip to Auvers-sur-Oise, where VanGogh spent the last
weeks of his life. He is buried there, with his brother along
side him. As we peered at the church, the fields, and the other
views that came alive in his paintings, we were transported in

We ended the Elderhostel with four nights in Paris. Again, we
were in a comfortable hotel but one that was a little less roomy
than the one in Arles. There was no lounge area which made
getting together more difficult. The meals in Paris were very
so-so, except for a magnificent feast at the Louvre museum, and a
great lunch at the Musee d'Orsay. Again, we had lectures in the
morning and guided museum visits in the afternoon. There were a
few free hours, here and there.

Our one and only person was Catherine Chamoux. She was an
excellent, efficient knowledgeable, and most charming guide to
France. This was the first time however, that we had one person
responsible for all aspects of our learning. As I think back on
the trip, I believe that we would have had a broader experience
if, as in other foreign programs, we had been exposed to
different lecturers. The trip as a whole, felt a little more like
a commercial tour than any other International Elderhostel we
have been in. This last is more a wondering about programming,
and not a criticism of Catherine Chamoux. Edith and Bill Levine


"Arts of the Veneto" located in Padua and Venice

I'd rate this Elderhostel as excellent, both as far as program
content and lodgings.  The hotels in both cities were small
Italian hotels, well located, and quite comfortable and nice.  I
especially liked the location of the hotel in Venice.  It was
across the Grand Canal from San Marcos, near the Peggy Guggenheim
museum.  It was quiet and quite adequate for the needs of the
program.  Only drawback was clearly announced in the catalog,
rooms were very small and they did not have singles.  In Venice
the lecturers took us on field trips and talked at the site.  In
Padua, we had a classroom.

  The hotel in Padua was across the street from the Basilica.  We
were able to walk to all the places of interest in both
locations, with the Vaporetto very nearby in Venice.  The field
trips for this Elderhostel were outstanding.  In Venice we were
taken to three of the islands in the Lagoon, Torcello, Burano and
Murano.  And they gave us a ride on a gondola, which was fun.
Padua, as a location, was almost as interesting as Venice (but
how can you beat Venice)?  I enjoyed the city of Padua with its
Ancient University, lovely streets and beautiful central park
where families walked each evening.

Lake Garda Located in Riva del Garda and Desenzano

Michael Campo, the man who designed all the Elderhostel programs
for Trinity College in Boston, led this Elderhostel.  He knows
Italy like the back of his hand, as well as the history and the
art.  It would be difficult to find someone as knowledgeable as
he.  At this time of his life, he is partially retired and comes
back to do one or two Elderhostels each year.  The location for
the first week was at Riva del Garda on the northern end of Lake
Garda.  This small town is built up against the mountains as a
backdrop and the Lake in the foreground.  Beautiful place with
wind surfers cutting through the waters at a high speed each day.
  This location was primarily used as a jumping off place for
cities and towns further north.

Among other places, we went to Trent, Bolzano, and the beautiful
Dolomitic Alps. In Desenanzo at the southern end of Lago del
Garda, we went to Parma, Cremona, and Sirmione.  All of these
places were fascinating and the only criticism is that we did not
have enough time to explore them in depth.

Hotels in both Riva and Desenazo were fine, food good but not
outstanding.  However, in each of the Italian Elderhostel, there
are always trips to good restaurants to break the monotony of
hotel food.

Ruth McCormick

San Francisco Arts   Humanities

I have just returned from a San Francisco Elderhostel. It was one
of the best! The presenters were all of top quality. Many of them
are professors at local colleges and Universities. Several
walking trips of the city areas provided close up and personal
views of the leaders. Most of them lifelong residents of the
city. We dined and walked through Chinatown, North Beach
(Italian) and The Barbary Coast Trail. The History of Jazz
segment took us back to our youth. It was presented by a
professor from SFU who was getting ready to attend the
International Jazz Festival in Beijing.

We learned more about the history and development of SF than I
ever hoped to know. We attended a theatre showing of Shear
Madness one night. We had wonderful meals at the same hotel where
our classes were held, but we were housed at another about three
blocks away. A shuttle was provided one way only. The weather was
exceptionally warm for SF at this time of year but there was no
rain so walking was not a problem. Of course we enjoyed the cable
cars, Ghirardelli Square   Fisherman's Wharf on our own.

It was a great Elderhostel with 50 participants. It is offered
frequently during the year and always well attended we were told.
It is a great way to see a major city. Four of us, ex teachers,
attend one Elderhostel each year so we can keep in touch in
retirement. This one was our 14th. We take turns choosing which
one to attend and do all the arranging. The last two have been in
big cities, San Antonio   San Francisco so we don't have to rent
a car. All of our EHs have been excellent. We're looking forward
to 2000 now. Jean Bartoo, N.Olmsted, Ohio


Schooner Bowdoin, Maine Martime Academy

Excellent program.  Sailing on 88-foot schooner in Penobscot Bay.
  Sail from 1 PM to 4 PM on the first day and from 9 am until 4 PM
on four days.  Most classes on board ship while sailing.  Class
are interesting and understood by beginners as well as the more
experienced.  Everyone participates as much as they want in any
activity from sailing the schooner to helping lower the sails and
coiling lines.  Captain Rappaport and crew are outstanding.
Everyone is friendly and helpful especially the program director.

In addition to the President's Reception, classes and sailing,
there are evening activities such as a visit to a Planetarium,
the Academy's Ship Simulator and a Historical Nautical Film

Rooms in conference center are dorm style - two beds, desk and
dresser and private bath.  There are two heads (bathrooms) on
board the schooner.  Food is in the dining hall:  all you can
eat, large variety every meal, huge salad bar and dessert bar.
There is a room set aside just for the Elderhostelers, but it is
more fun to eat in the large dining room.  Box lunch aboard the
schooner is picked up after breakfast.  It often contained a
sandwich, carrot/celery sticks, chips, a candy bar and a can of
juice or soda.

We went the end of August,  The weather was warm and beautiful.
Contact Miriam at Jmernay@aol.com if you have any questions.


Silver Penny Farm Elderhostel- California


Wow! How can you beat it?

An unforgettable program, a rural setting, excellent food, great
accommodations, private bath, and located in the heart of
California where the free afternoons can be spent in San
Francisco, the Wine Country, the ocean or one of the other local

We were there and can hardly believe our good fortune. The
location was Silver Penny Farm and the program was entitled "Is
the Bible True?" While the answer often tended to be "Yes and
No", the program was fast paced and contained far more
information than I would have thought possible. The program was
led by a young married couple, both Presbyterian ministers, from
Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. There was no
denominational flavor to the sessions and the focus was strictly
on the conveying and sharing of information. The time literally
flew in every session and we were most reluctant to leave when
Friday arrived.

There are several comfortable rooms in the old farmhouse, and the
Magnolia cottage accommodates one couple. The old water tower
also houses a couple but does require some step climbing  for us,
this inconvenience was easily cancelled out by the great deck
which is constructed in the branches of a large tree. Finally
there is "The Cottage" which housed three couples, each with
private bath, in very generous space.

This was our second elderhostel at Silver Penny Farm and both
have been superb. The farm can accommodate only 21 (or maybe 23)
people so the class is always small which affords an opportunity
to know everyone and to get the most out of the programs. No
field trips but plenty of suggestions for things to do and see in
the near area.

We will return to this great spot where programs are skillfully
and meaningfully guided by Father Ray. While Silver Penny farm is
a Catholic Retreat Center, it is my firm conviction that people
of any religious persuasion (or no persuasion at all) would feel
comfortable here.

We look forward to seeing you there! But, remember to get your
reservation in early since only a small number can be


Sunriver Nature Center, Bend, OR


This has to have been one of the best Elderhostels we have ever
attended, and for anyone interested in the environment I would
strongly recommend it. Our subjects were:  Views of the Columbia
River Plateau Tribes:  Past, Present, and Future (LeRoy Steece),
Newberry Volcano and the High Lava Plains (David Nissen), and The
Realm of the Universe at the End of the Millennium (Bob
Grossfield), which is just a fancy way of saying Astronomy 101.

The instructors were all extremely knowledgeable in their
subjects and presented them in an entertaining, interesting way,
with plenty of illustrations, humor and multiple field trips.  We
were driven in a commuter bus all week except for the day we
toured the Warm Springs Reservation, when we had a regular
Greyhound bus.  This was definitely luxurious, since there were
only 14 of us in the group, plus directors and instructors.

The visit to the Warm Springs Reservation included a tour of the
Warm Springs Heritage Museum with our own private demonstration
of Native American Dances and customs as well as a complete tour
of a sawmill built, owned and managed by the Warm Springs Tribes.
  Other trips included a ride to the top of Lava Butte, a day at
the Newberry Volcanic Monument with a tour of the Big Obsidian
Flow and a hair-raising ride to the top of Paulina Peak, as well
as a morning at the High Desert Museum plus a picnic and hike to
Benham Falls on the Deschutes River.

At night we had stargazing, using both binoculars and several
telescopes, including the newly-installed 22-inch model which is
the cornerstone of the new observatory being built at Sunriver.
The stargazing was particularly good in this location because
Sunriver is a private, managed resort area which enforces the
rule that all lights must be shielded downwards.  This results in
no light pollution for the telescopes and because of the high,
clear air in the desert region of central Oregon, stars which are
normally too faint for viewing can be seen clearly.

Our accommodations were nothing short of luxurious.  We were
housed in condos, capable of taking care of six people easily,
but because of the small group, there were only three or four in
each condo.  The condos are actually separate cottages with each
condo having its own hot tub, barbecue, fireplace and patio,
opening on to a common area landscaped with trees, flowers, and a
swimming pool in the center.  Everyone had a private bath and
bedroom, along with a shared full kitchen, dining and living area
complete with library and entertainment center, and separate en
suite laundry facilities.  We had the loft bedroom, which
included our own entertainment center, private bath, queen size
bed, two closets and a private desk with phone and dataport.

Our breakfast supplies were waiting in our units when we checked
in.  We had just about anything one could wish for to eat, and
because of being able to schedule our own breakfasts, didnt have
to race to make the deadline for food in the morning.  Lunches
were either home-cooked or packed for us by the Womens Club of
Sunriver, who are gourmet cooks in their own right. Dinners were
at a different area restaurant each evening, and because Sunriver
is an upscale resort, the food was unfailingly delicious.  We had
a choice of four or five entrees to choose from each evening and
everyone agreed they were all delicious.

We were told this area has 260 days a year of sunshine, and I can
well believe it.  It was glorious the entire week we were there,
with fall colors to match.  One would almost have to be a
troglodyte not to enjoy this one!

Laurie in the Emerald City


An Historical Odyssey :  The Gta Canal, Sweden

We just returned from this wonderful program which we attended
September 5 20.  The first six days were spent at Wendelsberg
Folk School near Gteborg .  The setting is rural and lovely with
trails and lakes and a town within walking distance.  Our
accommodations were modest but comfortable in a dormitory with
private baths.  Food, which was very good, included several
Swedish selections and was served cafeteria style.  The site
coordinator, Birgitta, was delightful and knowledgeable, was with
us on all of the tours, and served as a second tour leader on
many excursions.  She even took us to her summer home on the
North Sea for coffee and swimming one afternoon following a field
trip.  Additionally, she accompanied us on the Gta Canal segment.
  Lectures were well presented by well-informed Swedes all of whom
had a good command of English with very few charming errors.

The second four days of the trip were spent aboard the Wilhelm
Tham, which took us through the Gta Canal from Gteborg to
Stockholm.  The trip was fascinating, passing through 65 locks
and rising a total of 91 meters above sea level.  In several of
the locks there were literally only inches to spare on either
side of the boat.  Accommodations were very tight with bunk beds
in rooms that were perhaps 6 x 8 which made getting all our
luggage stowed rather interesting.

Bathrooms and showers were down the deck which meant excursions
were outside.  We had always avoided programs with shared
bathrooms, but this program sounded too good to miss and we found
it wasnt really all that bad. Luckily the weather cooperated.
The service was outstanding, as was the food, and we did pretty
much follow their custom of dressing for dinner.  We had a very
good tour guide on the boat along with the site coordinator from
the first folk school. Several stops were made along the way to
museums, old churches, and other points of interest.  Also, a
local church group sang hymns from the shore on Sunday morning
and a fiddler met us at another location and played for us.  Only
one night was spent tied up in a harbour, otherwise we were

On the fourth day we docked in Stockholm and went by bus to
Tollare Folk School just a few minutes outside the city.  This
location was also very nice with rooms similar to the first site.
  The food was not as good, however, but passable.  We found the
lecturers and site coordinator, Eva, here also very knowledgeable
and caring.  We toured Stockholm and visited museums, palaces and
old churches as we had in Gteborg.

Our group leader was a first timer at the job but performed his
duties superbly.  One had only to ask a question and Seth either
had the answer or found it promptly.

All in all, this was a wonderful program, well planned and well
executed. We highly recommend it.

Susie and Nils Hokansson


Tiburon, California

Programs:Shakespeare, Music From Broadway Musicals, and the US

The location for this Elderhostel was the Tiburon Lodge, just a
block from the ocean with views of Angel Island, San Francisco,
and the Golden Gate Bridge across the bay.  It was conveniently
located in the small town of Tiburon with shops close by.  Our
room was large, nicely decorated, and contained all the amenities
one hopes for.  The food, served buffet style, was adequate.

The programs and the teachers were of the highest caliber.  Each
teacher had a style which included humor, a vast knowledge of
their subject matter, and instant rapport with their audience.
Lionel Ashcroft was born in Stratford-on-Avon (Shakespeare's
place of birth) and presented a history of Shakespeare and his
plays that left the audience spellbound.  Michael Graham's
knowledge of the US Constitution and the way he presented it to
the audience was exciting and made us realize, once again, what a
powerful document our founding fathers put together to govern
this country.  Jerry Fromader, shared his knowledge of composers
with us, among them George and Ira Gershwin and Cole Porter.  He
used his portable keyboard, CD's and videotapes as aids in his
presentation.  We all felt fortunate to have these learned
professors share their knowledge with us.

Most afternoons were free, with a night class after dinner.  A
bus tour of the area was included, and an optional trip to Angel
Island was offered for a fee.  We enjoyed the short ferry ride
and the narrated tram ride around the island.

I would recommend this program to everyone, as it has everything
one looks for in an Elderhostel experience, great lodging,
wonderful location, good weather, and best of all the excellent