xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo Elderhostel Notebook #57. November 21, 1999 oxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox 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 ################################################ This issue brings us up to date on reports turned in up until now. 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 NEW YORK CITY: A SLICE OF THE BIG APPLE-- 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 email@example.com 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 facilities. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 choices. 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- email@example.com 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 Thompson. 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 understand. 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... firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com. Bill Lee Longman, Springfield, MO firstname.lastname@example.org ______________ Educational Alliance/Salomon Vacation Center (New York state) May96 email@example.com 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 included. _____________ Great Alpine Crossroads: Switzerland's magnificent railways firstname.lastname@example.org 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 Air. 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 train. ___________ NEW YORK CITY: A SLICE OF THE BIG APPLE-- (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 subways. 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) email@example.com G'Dye! My husband and I recently returned from a 4-week Elderhostel in Australia. This was our 8th EH but our first one overseas. 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 land. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org ___________ Mohave Community College/Havasu/London Bridge email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 GRANPABOBS@prodigy.net 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 email@example.com 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.