xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo Elderhostel Notebook #58, December 12,1999 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 will probably be the last notebook of the century (I know some of you disagree about when the new century begins- your flames will be honored in their absence). I wasn't able to get all of the reports in, but for those of you in the "reserve" folder you will have the honor of being the first reporters of the year 2000. I suppose the adage "If it ain't broke don't fix it" applies to the notebook as things seem to be going well with the combination of the notebook and the Going To Learn Dialogue. I did experiment a little with the mailing lists on a free internet list/chat supplier, eGroup.com, but decided against setting up an Elderhostel interactive mailing list after subscribing to some of the existing lists on various topics to see how it went. One that dealt with such an obscure topic of using Epson printers on a Mac had 65 messages a day and I know not many of you want an additional 50-65 messages per day in your mail with some of them being more junk e-mail. Meanwhile for th^¿ose wanting interactive and more immediate responses there are Elderhostel forums, on AOL and internet AARP, on SeniorNet (AOL and Internet versions), and Thirdage. ################################################ 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: Craftsbury Outdoor Center,Vermont ANTIPODEAN WORLD HERITAGE (Program 30714) Salem State College Miami Book Fair Jewish Community Center, San Antonio Hudson River Valley Maritime Museum Nogales, AZ/Nogales, Mexico Warwick, New York _________ Craftsbury Outdoor Center,Vermont Sept. 26-Oct 1, l999 Sid Kessler, firstname.lastname@example.org Autumn in Vermont is like a painting in progress, as the colors green, orange, red, yellow are more and more intense as the days are shorter and the nights are cooler. This Elderhostel was sponsored by Sterling College, a small institution in the "Northeast Kingdom" of Vermont, squeezed between New Hampshire and Canada. It was my second time here, for which I received a prize of a bottle of maple syrup by the ever-attentive coordinator, Vivian Davis. Vivian was accompanied this year by her lovely daughter Katherina. This was my fourth Elderhostel in Vermont; the other times were in White River Junction. Each one is highly recommended. In all, this was my 49th EH experience, so there were some standards by which to judge the Craftsbury Outdoor Center. To those kind people who commented on my previous experiences this summer of l999 at Colby-Sawyer College, N.H. where the indifferent coordinator was sub-standard, and Ferry Beach, Maine, where the facilities were barely better than camping, the Vermont adventure almost made up for these previous disappointments. I will never look at a description of Colby-Sawyer College, N.H. as I believe it is a misleading "rip-off." I have not hesitated to tell that to Elderhostel in Boston. I felt cheated. Coordinators should be monitored!! Coordinators should be interested in Elderhostelers!! The program at Craftsbury Outdoor Center included International Folk Dancing, led by the friendly couple, Cy and Lynn Levine, who have collected music and dances from such disparate places as the Balkans and Israel. Cy led early morning nature walks, which were very pleasant and invigorating. Cy is a retired pharmacist who served four years in the US Army as a combat medic. He was very generous with stories and medical and personal advice. . The course on Vermont Villages was led by Dave Linck. Dave taught a number of courses at Sterling College, and knew all the local roads, villages and personalities. He was my canoe instructor last year, and was very friendly and knowledgeable about area lore Evenings saw presentations by local personalities in film and in person. They included a logging expert, a dairy farmer, a local historian, and Fred Tuttle, the farmer who ran for the U. S. Senate in the Republican primary, and upset a millionaire out -of state-party candidate, only to lose to Senator Leahy. For the five days of classes, there were four days of field trips, including an extensive tour of an unusual Vermont dairy farm. An extra was an evening with a roving Russian circus, which was very exciting. The facilities were dormitory style, or "down the hall" There were only 22 people in the group, and there were no particular problems with this arrangement The food was prepared with good sensitivity to nutrition and fresh vegetables. It doesn't hurt to know the name of the lovely chef in charge of the lovely cooking. Her name is Meredith. If you do not mind dormitory living, this is one Elderhostel I would heartily recommend. The good Lord willing, maybe I will see you there next year!!! Oh, an example of Vermont humor: If you happen to ask how to get to Burlington, Vermont, which is at the other end of the State, the classic answer might be:: "Well, if I were you would not start out from here!!!" With best wishes for Happy Elderhosteling, Sid Kessler __________________ ANTIPODEAN WORLD HERITAGE (Program 30714): Australian College for Seniors (ACFS): 3 Nov-5 Dec 1999 email@example.com This was a good program that nicely balanced visits to world heritage sites with some of the more expected tourist destinations. I would have preferred more time at the heritage sites but others in the group would not agree. Lodging and meals were, with minor exceptions, well above Elderhostel standards. This was an activity rich program but there was still plenty of time to shop LODGING: Accommodations ranged from adequate to luxurious. There were locations where we were housed in rather small rooms. Other than that our accommodations were usually well above Elderhostel norms. I went single and was paired with another tall fellow but others also commented about the small rooms - most strongly about our hotel in Sydney. For the most part we were in good locations and the small rooms were likely dictated by cost considerations. Of course there were occurrences of malfunctioning air conditioners, TVs, etc. Problems that were fixed as quickly as reported to management. In most locations coin operated laundry facilities were available on site (and almost all took advantage of that). Access to shopping and/or optional activities was usually easy. Other than one in-transit overnighter in Brisbane, lodgings were in locations that made it safe to take an after dinner walk. MEALS: I did not have an unacceptable meal on the entire trip altho one came close. That said, most meals were in hotel or motel dinning rooms and after a while a certain sameness was evident. That's probably inevitable. Serving was generally buffet. Occasionally warming provisions were inadequate and those in the back of the line ate lukewarm food Fruit - usually fresh melon, sometimes canned fruit, sometimes both - was available at almost every meal. Vegetables less so but still enough to permit a good diet if you were so inclined. This was an active program and a full, hot breakfast started every day. Important point! On the whole, dinning on this program met a high standard. ACTIVITIES: We visited two of the three world heritage sites in New Zealand - specifically Tongariro National Park and the fiordland of southwest NZ. There was only one day spent in Tongariro (not enough for me besides which it was a very rainy, overcast day). We had one day each cruises on both Milford and Doubtful Sounds which was reasonable but again we were plagued by rain (made for spectacular waterfalls however). Day hikes on the world famous trails in that area would have been a nice addition. The rest of the twelve days in NZ was spent in Auckland, Turangi, Queenstown, and Rotorua. There was a decent introductory exposure to Maori history and culture, a visit to a trout farm (still trying to figure out what that has to do with world heritage), stops at electrical power generating facilities (again I question the relevance to world heritage), a sheep shearing demonstration (I thought it was neat - not sure about the sheep's thoughts). In short, we were kept busy on mostly interesting activities but Id gladly trade some of them for more time at the heritage sites. Actually, the program might be better if the time in NZ were reduced and the time in Australia increased. Australia included the world heritage sites of Fraser Island, the tropical rainforest of Queensland, the great barrier reef, Kakadu, and Ayers Rock. All well worth the time spent but I would not have objected to a few days more - especially at the reef. As you will note this program focused on the world heritage sites of the east and north; and, of course, Ayers Rock in the interior. There is just not enough time to do the south and west. For those who wear glasses, the tour provider had vision correcting goggles for snorkeling on the reef. We also had a couple of nights in Alice Springs and four nights in Sydney. Alice Springs is almost mandatory but I'm less sure of the time in Sydney. Its a lovely, dynamic city well deserving of the 2000 Olympics ... but some of that time would be better spent at heritage sites. I was displeased with some of the lectures and with a shortage of evening programs. Several speakers, while entertaining, ignored the planned subject and took off on their own agenda. Others, however, addressed program related specifics that prepared us well for field trips. There were also occasions - Kakadu comes to mind - where evening talks by the park staff might have added a lot to the program but where we were left to our on devices. I do not consider shopping an acceptable alternative to a good evening program. On balance, the speaker/evening program gets only a mediocre rating. The lectures by our site coordinators while on field trips were more timely and informative than the outsides lectures. The site coordinators were almost uniformly excellent; and our Group Leader, who was with us for the duration, handled administrative details with dispatch. GENERAL OBSERVATIONS: This is a long trip with lots of in-country flying. It adds up to about eighteen hours over the thirty day program. Plan for it! There are some scheduling inefficiencies in this program that result in your sitting in airports or shopping malls for what seems like forever. That is probably caused by flight schedules, but I hope ACFS will address the movement logistics to reduce downtime. The single supplement adds almost $2K to the basic cost. Singles can certainly find better ways to rid themselves of $2K. I took my allergy medication (Allegra) with me ... and used it. But I noticed the same product being sold over-the-counter (not sure if it was the same strength as the US prescription dose) Charlie cdolson@ipa ____________________ Salem State College Salem, Massachusetts Classes: Four New England Seaports Dates: August 1-6, 1999 jean sterling firstname.lastname@example.org Accommodations were on the Salem State College campus and were very nice. We shared a suite with one other couple, and we each had our own bathroom. There was a common living area complete with small kitchen and refrigerator ("A place to put my beer", exulted my husband). The downside was that the campus was split, and classes and the dining facilities were both about a mile down the road. The food was regular cafeteria fare, and there was transportation between the two campuses. The people teaching the classes were very knowledgeable, but the field trips could have been better. There were several field trips - to Boston, Glouchester, Newport, and the Peabody Museum in downtown Salem. However, we spent a good part of the time on a bus, and for the three trips out of town we ate the same boxed lunch each day. I would have enjoyed seeing one of the Newport mansions "up close and personal" rather than seeing all of them from the window of a bus. The Peabody Museum was quite something to see. The collection of Asian art had come from places like China and India when Salem was a leading seaport The craftsmanship in hand-carved jade, ivory, and wood was were really something to see. Due to the split campus, it didn't seem like elderhostelers "hung out" together as much as they do at some elderhostels. Also, we weren't encouraged to use the campus facilities, which is one of the reasons for attending on a college campus. I had chosen this hostel because there was a 25 meter swimming pool, but the coordinator (who ran the whole show himself) flat out told me that I wouldn't have time to use it anyway. When I informed him that I intended to make time because I was to swim in a national event in a couple of months, he told me the hours that the pool was open. However, I never learned where the library was or whether there were computers available for e-mailing the kids. Jean Sterling ___________ Miami Book Fair WhoisSylvia@aol.com I attended the first Elderhostel at the Miami International BookFair, sponsored by Barry University, the week before Thanksgiving. Report card: AAA++++ Highest marks for program -- five exciting days, with one ongoing problem: which sessions to select amongst the vast choice of lectures, readings, discussions by over 200 authors, all of whom have had a book published this year. Last on the program was a stimulating, standing-room-only, dual presentation by Alan Dershowitz and Roy Black which was almost as exciting as the entertainment that night -- Dave Barry's Band, "The Rock Bottom Remainders" all authors, which lit up Saturday night with an hour and a half outdoor concert on the Bay, with special guest Nestor Torres. Where else could you hear a renowned classical flutist playing jazz and rock, with Carl Hiaasen on lead guitar and Scott Turow singing "Wild Man?" Wild, indeed! A plus for hotel: very comfortable, just steps from the Fair and across the street from Bayside, a shopping and entertainment center on Biscayne Bay B plus for staff. Well versed in the layout of the three buildings of Miami-Dade Community College where most sessions were held; the blocks and blocks of book displays and vendors; how to get from one venue to another; when to go to get good seats; where to line up for author signings. They were very attentive, tried very hard and, as it was their first BookFair Elderhostel, seemed really interested in suggestions for improvement. C for socialization. Group too large (60) but great people, each anxious to share their favorite author and book. Too bad there was no place to get together and just hang out and chat. C minus for food; mostly in hotel. We got cash for some lunches on our own. Would have been better if we had received cash and bought our own dinners also, in any of the many eating places in Bayside, across the street. Breakfasts were fine. D for bus tour of the city. Didn't show us any of the great Miami sights: ocean, port, mansions, gardens, theaters, South Beach! A real disappointment especially for land-locked Elderhostelers and annoying to those of us Floridians who knew what they were missing. Staff promised to correct the city tour next year -- but there doesn't seem to be much they can do about the (apparently) low amount budgeted for food as the hotel is very costly - what a location! - and they are limited by Elderhostel as to what they can charge. However, despite the negatives the superb program - and the very willing staff - made it one of the best of the eleven Elderhostels I've attended. Almost everyone said they intended to come back next year and I hope to be among them. WhoisSylvia, Pompano Beach, FL _________ Jewish Community Center, San Antonio email@example.com We have just returned from one of the best of the 16 Elderhostels that we have attended. We went to the Jewish Community Center in San Antonio, Texas from Nov. 7-12, studying about San Antonio. The one person who was responsible for this wonderful experience, was Joanne Wells, our site coordinator. If you would consider giving an award to the "Site Coordinator of the Year," we would like to nominate Joanne. Her devotion to our group was truly remarkable. She was so well organized and everything was timely. She was with us for all of our trips, gave a great lecture and organized the program in such a meaningful way that all of us marveled at what she could provide for us. She was concerned about the welfare of all of us. Our fun filled week began with registration and introductions at the Emily Morgan Hotel, which is located across the street from the Alamo. The accommodations were excellent and the buffet style food at the hotel was good. We all ate a Mexican dinner, especially prepared for us before we had our first lecture about the Alamo. On Monday we visited the Alamo, where a film and a tour was arranged for us. We had four other excellent lectures about San Antonio. They included the history of the city starting when it was first established, the military influence on the growth, the politics and the Jewish community. Some of the trips included: Mission San Jose, King William Historic District, the Mexican market, a tour of the city, the San Antonio Museum of Art, the Institute of Texas Culture, to mention just a few of the highlights. On Thursday we had an excursion to the Hill country and toured the LBJ Ranch and the town of Fredricksburg. We attended lectures at the book fair at the Jewish Community Center and saw the play 'Rumors' by Neil Simon. We usually ate two meals at the hotel and experienced the varied cuisine of the city for the third meal at different restaurants. One night we ate on the Riverwalk and another at the Tower built for the Hemisphere. Since we were only 2 blocks from the Riverwalk, we could enjoy that as well. Walking is required to fully enjoy this experience, but provisions were made for those who were more limited, physically. This was truly a great Elderhostel experience. Hilda and Bernie Edwards ____ Hudson River Valley Maritime Museum EH BHall55@aol.com This was one of the best Elderhostels we have attended. The EH was held at a resort near Kingston, NY. The rooms were adequate, the food was outstanding. Breakfast was a buffet, but lunch and dinner was always served. We were taken to the Culinary Institute of America for a tour and an unforgettable lunch. The resort had a large area of hiking trails and was very enjoyable to visit. The people in the group were very friendly and the host/hostesses were very hospitable. The courses included the Huegenot settlers of the area, the food and wines of the area and the Maritime museum. We took field trips each day and generally had a great time. They included a trip to a light house on the river, the restored Huegenot village, a trip to a couple of mansions in the area and the trip to the CIA. There is so much to see and do in the Hudson River valley that we spent several days after the EH "seeing the sights". Bud Hall BHALL55@AOL.COM __________ Nogales, AZ/Nogales, Mexico University of Arizona Donhelfer@aol.com My wife and I attended this Elderhostel from November 7 to November 13, 1999. The group of fifteen people spent three days on each side of the border. Transportation between the locations was provided by the University of Arizona. We would recommend this Elderhostel to anyone who had an interest in Mexico. All the lecturers were knowledgeable. Because of their unique personal experiences, they were able to provide insight into Mexico. This was a well-run Elderhostel. The field trips included listening to an outstanding Mariachi band in a local high school, a visit to the Tumacacori National Monument (mission), a shopping trip to the Tubac Presidio State Park and art/craft shopping center, a tour of a maquiladora manufacturing plant, and shopping trip to Nogales, Mexico. We ate two excellent meals on the field trips. We stayed in a Days Inn in Nogales, AZ and the Nogales Plaza in Nogales, Mexico. Classes were held next door to the Days Inn and at the Nogales Plaza. The Days Inn had just been remodeled. The living quarters were standard motel accommodations, but the meals were better than expected for a motel. The Nogales Plaza was ten years old and beginning to show lack of maintenance, but the accommodation were better than average. The grounds were attractive with a large irregularly shaped pool between the buildings which were located on a hillside. The food was excellent. If anyone has any questions, don't hesitate to ask. Myrle Don Helfer firstname.lastname@example.org __________ Warwick, New York KarinP1372@aol.com The Elderhostel at Warwick Conference Center in Warwick, New York, took place on November 7th to 12th. The Conference center is atop a big hill, and the views of the surrounding area are fantastic.Accommodations were good, everything was clean, and kept clean. The food was ample , buffet style, with snacks in between. In spite of the fact that there were not enough Elderhostelers, Warwick ran the elderhostel, and for those of us that were so looking forward to the experience, it was a special time. Every evening we had fine entertainment, one night a professional magician, the others an amateur Shakesperean theatrical group. The subjects fot the courses were :Women in Revolutionary times, taught by a very knowledgeable and personable young lady, A different look at Shakespeare, and best of all Crossword Puzzles, which got so interesting that we forgot the time! Trips were to Washington's Headquarters at Newburgh, that was okay, and West Point, that was very good. KarinP1372@aol.com.