Elderhostel Notebook #57. November 21, 1999

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

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    From the Editor's Notebook
This issue brings us up to date on reports turned in up until

We still have some reports of travel/learning experiences with non
Elderhostel programs that we will put in the next Dialogue.

    Program Reviews
These reports all 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:

           Tadoussac, Canada
           Auberge du Mont, Quebec
           American Foreign Service Association-
           Salomon Vacation Center (New York state)
           Great Alpine Crossroads: Switzerland's Railways
           Australian College for Seniors, Wollongong University
           Mohave Community College/Havasu/London Bridge
           Yavapai College/Sedona Redrock Country/Grand Canyon
           UC San Bernadino in Desert Hot Springs
           Verona - Food and Wine

Tadoussac, Canada

Tadoussac is a small village of 900 year-round residents about
120 miles NE of Quebec.The main program is whales with additional
emphasis on local history.

Facilities are limited here.  You must have a car or hitch a ride
with someone who does [not a problem]. Breakfast is very light
and lunch and dinner are in a different restaurant each time and
minimum satisfactory.

Rooms are satisfactory.   There is no place for the "elderhostel
experience" of meeting people and sharing ideas to take place
other than class time and restaurants where you must eat and
leave.  Free time doesn't bring the group together because of

The three principals putting this together are very attuned to
comments and this was their first year. The second will no doubt
bring some changes.  If you think I regret attending however you
are very mistaken. All problems were eclipsed by my time in the
giant whale aquarium in front of Tadoussac in the gulf of St.
Lawrence.  The number of whales, types of whales, closeness to
them, etc. are such that I wonder if my friends even believe me.
It was AWESOME!  We also spent about 6-8 hours in the Canadian
Marine Mammal Research Center there.

Mike Regan

Auberge du Mont, Quebec

Auberge du Mont is just north of Quebec. The program is the
history of Quebec, which is the only walled city in north
America. We had two all day trips into the old city and one
afternoon off.  We loved it so much we went back in versus other

This has been our favorite EH so far.  The big difference here
was a combination of a really exceptional group of people and
hosts.  The hosts went far beyond the normal to make this
group"click" together.  We really had fun.  Example: someone
mentioned that it would be nice if we had a piano and the next
day one showed up.  I had been around the close-in facilites and
it was not to be seen earlier. That's what I mean by the hosts
making it happen.

Meals were good and rooms were OK except for the poor beds
Another person reviewed a different program here with similar
comments a couple months ago.

Mike Regan

American Foreign Service Association-

Of our twelve EH the one we attended in October sponsored by the
American Foreign Service Association was among the best.  The
program has already received praise in the EH Notebook several
times (4/97, 5/98   4/99) regarding the excellent speakers, many
being retired ambassadors, and the special tours such as the
State Department and Foreign Service Institute. In fact, it was
the Notebook reviews which prompted us to go!

This EH is the brain child of "Petey" Mullin, a career foreign
service officer, who after attending some Elderhostels in
retirement decided one on the work and mission of the AFSA might
fly.  She continues as the efficient coordinator of these
programs which are oversubscribed, ably assisted by Ward

I understand there are similar programs now being held in Florida
and California. For our week the subjects were on The U. S.
Foreign Service (training and work of ambassadors and
counselors), Sub-Sarahan Africa (including a lovely reception
hosted by the Cameroon ambassador in his residence), and Foreign
Policy for the 21st Century (dealing with human rights, public
diplomacy, terrorism, etc.)  Each and every one of the presenters
was stimulating and often provocative with many questions
forthcoming from the 47 participants. Because our son teaches
African studies, the subject matter this week was of special
interest.  The previous week was an outstanding one on Asia I

It is evident that foreign service personnel today do a good job
representing U. S. interests in overseas consulates while also
assisting traveling Americans and issuing visas.  However, though
they are committed to interpreting our government's position in
countries where they serve, they are willing to criticize any
foreign policy they believe is headed in the wrong direction.  A
example was the forceful discussion by a former embassy officer
who served in several Arab countries concerning the continuing
private and useless war being waged in Iraq, killing many victims
and detrimental to our own national interests.  See also
www.afsa.org for an article about a conflict in Argentina some
years ago.

Sessions were mostly held in the Comfort Inn where we stayed.
Meals were adequate, served buffet style, plus an enhanced
continental breakfast.  One afternoon Petey took us on a tour of
certain Washington D.C. sites. We spent three days beforehand
touring on our own and found getting around by Metro (subway)
quite easy.  One does need to allow a few extra days because
there is so much to see.  We would be glad to pass along any
suggestions. You really need your walking shoes!

Finally, let me add a plea for your support of the foreign
service and the international diplomacy of the Dept. of State.
Recent budget cuts are harming our ability to adequately
represent U. S. interests in many countries. There are plans to
keep friends of AFSA informed by email about ongoing issues in
international relations.  Oh yes, here is Petey's email and also
Ward's if you have questions about this EH... lpmullin@aol.com  

Bill   Lee Longman, Springfield, MO wlongman@yahoo.com


Educational Alliance/Salomon Vacation Center (New York state)

Classes: 		Jewish Experience in America through Film, Music
				and Humor

Highlights:	The classes on the film and humor were
outstanding. We visited Hyde Park after the Elderhostel. We went
with our friends and cherished being with them.

Evaluation:	Beautiful setting on a pretty lake in upstate New
York. The food was good, once some adjustments in the fat content
was made. The accommodations were rustic. Marginal recommendation
due to the poor accommodations and that no field trips were


Great Alpine Crossroads: Switzerland's magnificent railways

This 16 day international elderhostel took place in Switzerland
September 17-October 3, 1999 and was sponsored by The Experiment
in International Living in Switzerland.  The travel arrangements
were made by Lyon Travel in Brattleboro, Vermont.  We flew
non-stop from Atlanta, Georgia to Zurich, Switzerland on Swiss

The theme of the program was the Swiss Railway system (also the
Swiss postal bus, also the aerial tramways, and etc.)

Our group leader for the entire 16 days was a very capable,
cheerful, knowledgeable and energetic Mrs. Helen Hofmann.  She is
to be commended!

Our hotels, transportation, lectures and food in Lucerne,
Locarno, St. Moritz, Zermatt and Interlaken were superb.

The 35 people in our group were always prompt and congenial.

Recommendation:  Take your "overnight" sized suitcase.  Anything
larger is a bother as you must haul the suitcase on and off the


(AARP/EH Joint Venture) Oct 27, l999

(This new offering was from a Wednesday-Monday instead of the
usual Sunday-Friday EH's.)

Hotel: Mariott (financial center) located on West St. ( 2 blocks
south of the World Trade Center) Hotel was approx. 1 mile from
the South Street Seaport Museum which hosted this EH. Classes
were at the Museum and no vans etc. were used to get us there
daily. Just our feet.

Food: Had vouchers for a continental breakfast at the hotel. Lunch
and Dinner were at various restaurants , mostly in the areal of
the Museum and financial district. Food was good and usually had
a choice of three entree's, even had a glass of wine or mixed
drink included at Diamond Jim Brady's !!

We explored all around the seaport, financial district, spent an
afternoon in Times Square, one morning in Brooklyn Heights,
walking back across the Brooklyn bridge to NYC, toured the NYSE
privately, attended classes at the American institute of Banking,
went to Ellis Island and a broadway play was included.

This trip is for very ACTIVE persons. It involved up to 7 or 8
miles of walking per day. It was 2 miles round trip to hotel and
back. There was no "wheeled transportation"---all walking or

Was a very comprehensive study of "Lower Manhattan" and the
coordinator -Jack-was very knowledgable. Only fault was he wanted
to keep a tight hold on all the participants and was not at all
helpful if you wanted to "stray" from the group. That was totally
unacceptable to him.

No one stayed at the hotel with us. Jack had a pager but no
telephone ??? He lived on a boat down at the seaport. They told
us in case of an emergency to call 911. One of the couples had to
leave early as his brother had passed away and they couldnt get
hold of anyone to tell them they were leaving---finally told one
of the other persons in group to convey message.

There were 28 of us to start with. A nice size group. Most there
had heard of this trip through internet ( AARP site) and not
through EH. I was the most "traveled" with 18 or 19 EH trips.
Usually i am the junior member of the group ! Most had never been
on an EH and some had 1-3 under their belts. They were from all
over the US., California being the farthest away. There were NO
planned activities after dinner and No suggestions offered to
first timers in NYC to do.

Would give this trip a 9 out of 10 ! It needs at least one free
afternoon for persons to either rest up or pursue some activity
chosen by them--such as a ride on the double decker bus that has
on and off privileges and takes you all over manahattan,
including little italy and china town. There was no time for any
personal pursuits at all.

We did move uptown on Monday ( It was too expensive to stay at the
Mariott)-to 49th st. for a couple of nights and took in more
plays and even attended the Rosie Tv. show and waved to everybody
from the Today Show Crowd at NBC. There is so much to do in NYC ,
it takes some careful planning to work it all in.

Any other questions about this trip, just e-mail me and i will
respond. It would be a great first trip for someone to
NYC--realizing that it only covers Lower Manahatten and you would
need extra time or another trip to see the rest of the city.

editors note- this was a program unlisted in regular catalog and
available through AARP. We don't know if there will be other
AARP/Elderhostel programs in the future.


"Nature   Heritage of Australia"
Program #30688-0915
(Sponsor: Australian College for Seniors, Wollongong University)

G'Dye!  My husband and I recently returned from a 4-week
Elderhostel in Australia.  This was our 8th EH but our first one

Although 4 weeks is not enough time to really "do" the huge
island-continent-country of Australia, the program was very
inclusive and gave us excellent insights into the many areas we
did visit.  I'll try not to go on at TOO much length in this
report, and am ready to answer specific questions if people want
to e-mail me.

The pre-trip material, including suggested readings, was very
informative and helpful.  We received additional useful hand-outs
while there. The location of our hotel accommodations was
excellent and the quality was also high (with only one exception,
in Canberra, where the hotel was so-so).  The generous meals,
almost all buffet style, were mostly very good "hotel food."  We
traveled by comfortable long distance 'coach' except for flights
from Adelaide to Alice Springs, and Ayers Rock to Cairns.  I
believe the 'extra' time taken to go some rather long distances
by land was definitely well spent, because it allowed us to
better comprehend the geography and geology of this vast, DRY

Our group of 32 (all married couples except for 5 single women
and 2 single men) all seemed to flow effortlessly in and out of
occasional smaller groups (such as at meals, or on tours of
nature centers, or daily informal re-seating in the bus) without
much regard to prior friendships or 'coupleness.'  I think nobody
felt 'frozen out.'

We visited Sydney (5 nights), Canberra (2), Melbourne (2),
several small towns (Marysville, Swan Hill, Mildura, 1 or 2 each)
on the way to Melbourne or Adelaide (4), Alice Springs (3), Ayers
Rock/Uluru (1) and Cairns (5).  Our "Group Leader" accompanied us
all the way and in each major spot we also had the services of a
knowledgeable local "site coordinator.".  Our group leader's
personality occasionally caused minor problems and/or
unhappiness, but he was a trained botanist and added much to our
natural history instruction.  The site coordinators really knew
their areas and had put a lot of time and effort into planning
how to show us the best features and most authoritative
information in the relatively short times allotted.  Besides
which, they were really nice people!

We did a great many of the "tourist things" you read about in the
commercial tour offerings (such as the Parade of the Fairy
Penguins south of Melbourne, champagne while we waited for the
sun to set at Ayers Rock, and an all-day snorkeling trip on the
Great Barrier Reef) as well as the more in-depth learning we all
expect from Elderhostels (like a lecture on the history and
future of the Australian Constitution from a university scholar
who was formerly the Premier of the State of Victoria, a guided
visit around the grounds and buildings of a winery that is
gaining an international reputation for specializing in
environmentally friendly land management practices, dinner
followed by astronomer-guided stargazing -- at a fabulous sky
that  most of us had forgotten can be so brilliant, with untold
stars PLUS the gleaming Milky Way -- on an Outback cattle station
where the owner discussed details of their ranching methods, and
in-person discussions with an Aboriginal artist).  I could give
many more examples; these are a just few highlights.

We highly recommend this program.  I do not think that less than
4 weeks would give an adequate picture of the country, so I
suggest taking a commercial add-on tour of New Zealand as we did
if you want to see both while already so far "down under."  The
Elderhostel programs that combine both countries had 2 strikes
against them for us: (1) We were not permitted under EH's
policies to provide our own cross-Pacific transportation and just
buy the "program" for any joint Aus-NZ EH's, and (2) While NZ is
a super place, it is not co-equal with Australia in size or
complexity and yet all the EH's devoted 2 weeks -- equal time --
to each.  Instead, after our 4 weeks in Australia we flew on our
own to NZ and took an excellent 12-night unescorted but fully
planned tour with Newman's South Pacific Vacations.  We learned a
lot on that, too, from the various guides and drivers!  If you do
combine the two nations, when you are considering which to do
first remember that the seasons are reversed in the Southern
Hemisphere and because NZ is closer to the South Pole it is
cooler than Australia.

Cherry Carnell

Mohave Community College/Havasu/London Bridge

The accommodations were excellent at the Lake Havasu Holliday
Inn. The meals were also excellent and included prime rib, a wide
selection of breakfast items, and salads for lunch. They were
very accommodating , and a friend of ours,  who is a vegetarian,
was always given some special dish, including grilled trout.

One of the courses was "dancing", and the instructor was
excellent. People who were sure that they would not participate (
including someone with Parkinson's Disease and balance problems )
were soon doing the simple dances that she presented, and feeling
better than they had in years. For those of us who were more
accomplished dancers, she presented a few new challenging steps.
But, best of all, we all had a lot of fun in the dance class.

Another class was presented by an author of western books, Gary
McCarthy. He held us mesmerized with his stories of the old west,
and how he researched material for his books.

The third class was about the Colorado River, its history,
geology, and geography, and some information about Lake Havasu
City and the London Bridge. It was also interesting.

What was so special about this elderhostel was the warmth and
helpfulness of the leaders and the instructors. We did see the
London Bridge and were impressed more by the newness of the city
that sprung up within the last few decades. We thoroughly enjoyed
the five days we spent there.

Yavapai College/Sedona Redrock Country/Grand Canyon

The accommodations were at the Camp Verde Comfort Inn for 4 days
and at the beautiful new Hualapai Lodge in Peach Springs for 3
days. Both accommodations were excellent. The meals, on the other
hand, I would rate as acceptable. The leader was very
businesslike and efficient.

The few classroom sessions were very good and prepared us well
for the spectacular field trips that made this elderhostel so
exciting. We went by bus to the red rock country around Sedona,
and were driven through Oak Creek Canyon. On another day we took
a train ride through the Verde River Canyon.

Those of us who had cars drove between Camp Verde and Peach
Springs. Those without cars were taken by van with the leader. We
all stopped at Historic Prescott, where we had a meal ticket for
lunch at a choice of  fine Prescott restaurants. We also stopped
on route 66 for ice cream. Peach Springs is on the Hualapai
Indian reservation, and the Indians there were our hosts.

The two full days there were spent on field trips. The first trip
took us down, by van, on a Hualapai road, to the bottom of the
Grand Canyon, to enjoy our bag lunch along the Colorado River.
The trip was very, very, bumpy, as we drove down through
remarkable canyon country. Most of us hiked the last mile along
the road.  The second trip took us to Grand Canyon West, where we
had a view of the canyon from the rim. This area is owned by the
Hualapais. En route we stopped at a Joshua Tree Forest. Both
trips will be remembered for years to come.

UC San Bernadino in Desert Hot Springs

The EH thru UC San Bernadino in Desert Hot Springs concerning
learning computer skills was great!!  We're returning next week
and there were people there who signed on again from the week
before.  The coordinator-lecturer-head honcho, Rita, is
terrific!!  Knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and with a great sense
of humor.  We only had sixteen in the class - with 25 computers
available.  The accommodations and food are good and the service
is enthusiastic. When the group is largely than 20, a second
"helper" is hired.  We met her, also top notch.  Highly recommend
this one to those attempting to learn this blanketyblank machine.

Callie and Bob


Verona - Food and Wine

A fantastic adventure.

The trip is run by Trinity College and cover the food, wine and
culture of the Veneto area of northern italy. We visited Verona,
Mantova, Bologna, Modena and on our free day a large group went
to Bolzano where we visited the Iceman Museum, the body found in
the nearby Alps which is 5,400 years old. An excellent experience
as the museum is first class and the exhibit very well done with
a good English tape available.

The local staff, Lisa Calevi and Sabrina Berent are both art
history majors and love the area so do a terrific job of
connecting all the dots. The group were experienced EH'rs and
mixed well together.

While the food is not what we normally consider Italian (no red
sauce) and it is not what I personally would go out of the way
for, was first class and well prepared. It is not spicy or highly
seasoned. But because of the history of the area with all the
cities even though 50 miles apart or so, each city has it own
flavors and food preferences so you always have a varied taste
sensation in each city.

We did visit an olive oil factory and saw oil being produced, a
rice plantation with a mill, a honest balsamic vinegar factory
and a number of wineries where we tasted a few. We also had a
number of meals prepared by local chefs who demonstrated their
craft and gave out recipes.

The city of Verona is charming, with "everyone" out strolling in
the evening to "see and be seen".  The stores are first class and
we got to see a concert the symphony hall, a building in
continuous use from the 1700's. we also saw the music hall where
Mozart performed the opening concert.  Quite a historical area.

The hotel was one of the cleanest we have stayed at.

Cannot recommend this trip highly enough.