xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo Elderhostel Notebook #88 June 8, 2001 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. ################################################ Comments and Queries ################################################ From: kaycorn@HiWAAY.net We are going to the Canadian Rockies this summer for the first time. Two questions: Is it as cold as it looks in July? Should we change our money before we leave home, and if not, what is the best place/way to get $$ there? I have heard that a surcharge is placed on travelers' checks. Don and Kay Cornelius, Alabama (where our mountains are more like molehills!) ______________ Subj: EH in Malta From: email@example.com Has anyone any comments about the Elderhostel in Malta? We are considering doing this one over the Christmas/New Years holiday, Is there easy access to the countryside? Good program content? Mary Hoffman ____________ From: firstname.lastname@example.org Having just received a copy of and reviewed the latest International Elderhostel Programs Catalogs, I was amazed at how their prices have gone up in price again... Granted that Elderhostel includes all meals and excursions but in cost comparisons, we found Grand Circle to be a much better value pricewise...and it came with good recommendations from friends. When booking a trip to Greece in the Fall last year for late Spring this year, Grand Circle's Spring Tours were pretty much filled up while Elderhostel's had two bookings for their Greece trip for the same time period. While the time allotted for instructors was more than adequate, overall, it wasn't at a university level...so I don't think that is an adequate answer to the high prices. Mary B ___________ Subj: Tours of India From: email@example.com I would appreciate any information about a tour of India, especially Northern India. Thank you. Carol firstname.lastname@example.org ################################################ Program Reviews ################################################ Galena, Illinois Southern Oregon WILDLIFE SAFARI University of Taos, NM Appalachian ecology and culture Artistic Heritage of Verona and Venice SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA The Impressionist Heritage- Paris, Honfleur, Cruise Historic Natchez on the Mississippi Prague, Czech Republic/Budapest, Hungary ______________ Galena, Illinois April 29 to May 4, 2001 email@example.com SITE: Nestled in a valley between cliffs and a river on the main street, a remodeled, luxurious, very historic hotel- a national landmark (U.S.Grant, Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, Theodore Roosevelt, others slept there in the 1800's) surrounded by boutiques and mansions and many historic other buildings (the post office is a national landmark) CLASSES: Most were in the basement with no windows, no desks, poor seating arrangement, but a table with plenty of flasks with drinking water and elegant drinking glasses INSTRUCTORS: OUTSTANDING-------Daryl Watson, Steve Repp, Skip Schwerdtfeger, Tom Brusch (he even dressed in costumes of the characters he spoke about) were extremely well versed in subject matter about U.S.Grant (the idol of Galena), history of Galena (including its very active mining industry in the 1800's), the geology of the area, riverboat activities, Blackhawk War, mansions, churches-----ALL VERY WELL PRESENTED AND PLENTY OF OPPORTUNITY FOR QUESTIONS/ANSWERS.... FIELD TRIPS: Very challenging walking tours (not recommended for those with cardiac or foot problems, since the walks are taken on rough surfaces and great heights) of the architectural beauty of many buildings, of course, U.S.Grant's home (very well restored), historical museum (very well updated, even with great genealogical files of the area), churches dating back to 1830's; trolley tour (open air) of the Galena area, bus shuttle to Elizabeth, Illinois, to the Apple River Fort, a well done project of Skip Schwerdtfeger which will be in the State of Illinois custody for future generations; the co-ordinator's - Charlotte Kennedy home and Tom Busch's home--- elegantly updated old homes; a super, terraced garden walk (managed by a retired military person and partner) CO-ORDINATORS: We didn't see the chief coordinator much, but she was very accommodating when she was present; her main leader seemed to have problems on some specific details and then left 2 days earlier ACCOMMODATIONS: Very luxurious, air-conditioned (windows don't open), comfortable, quiet, accessible by elevators (4 stories) with cable TV, daily maid service(if you needed that) MEALS: Breakfast-daily buffet-same daily menu-very limited--in one of the elegant hotel dining rooms in basement level next to classroom; Lunch-3 different sites outside of the hotel with no choice menus; Dinner at 6:00pm at 5 different sites outside the hotel with no choice menus-----Lunch dinner were all with waitstaff personnel, usually very courteous young people, one dinner include wine tasting before food ENTERTAINMENT: One evening after dinner in a local cafe, we had a local folk singer with guitar for a presentation OVERALL EVALUATION: If you are a history buff person this is a must, but you must be in rather good physical (lots of rough walking) shape and very disciplined on accepting whatever food is offered (breakfast was balanced but little choice, other meals--Italian, Chinese, American (steak, fish) were satisfying to some (although there was lots of waste), but some did break away from group to eat elsewhere; the boutiques had a great deal for sale, many were VERY PRICEY; the rural scenery in the area is spectacular Your Elderhostel Junkie---Leonard Rogus e mail firstname.lastname@example.org communications welcome ______________ Southern Oregon WILDLIFE SAFARI 37910-0401-01/2001 ZOOS AND THE MILLENNIA: SAFARI FOR SURVIVAL LarsonCA@efdsw.navfac.navy.mil Nestled on 600 acres in the rolling hills of Southern Oregon, the Wildlife Safari Park offers an opportunity to get up close and personal with a wide variety of animals. Whether walking though the Cheetah compound, hand feeding giraffes and elephants, or holding an alligator on your lap, your appreciation of the wildlife, especially the endangered species, is greatly enhanced. Through escorted and self-driving tours you are able to observe the more than 100 species roaming freely through the three areas of the park, Africa, Asia and North America. Behind the scenes activities included the feeding, veterinary care, training, conservation, and cultivation of the some 120 varieties of well manicured trees and shrubs in the village area. During our visit a number of volunteer docents, trainers and other staff were available to answer the many questions posed by the fascinated group of seniors. One of the highlights of the program was an invitation to the home of the park's founder, Frank Hart, for a slide presentation featuring mountain gorillas, taken on one of his 47 trips to Africa. We stayed at a nice motel just outside the park and daily transportation was provided to and from the park. Meals at the park's restaurant, the White Rhino, were varied and seemed to satisfy all. The Coordinator, Trudy Kitzmiller, orchestrated a lively and interesting program and I would recommend it to anyone interested in wildlife. Carl Larson Ou8j@aol.com _______________ University of Taos, NM email@example.com I have recently enjoyed an excellent program sponsored by the University of Taos, NM. Under the capable leadership of coordinator, Kathleen Burg, we were immersed in New Mexico history which is totally neglected in typical US History studies. All of our instructors were authors who looked at the area's development from archeological, anthropological, and economic perspectives. We also enjoyed local musicians and a delightful native American dancer and artist's model who has chosen to reside in her tribe's pueblo village. Our accommodations and food were more than satisfactory, and the local scenery was beautiful despite being windy and cold in March. _________________ Southwest Virginia 4-H Educational Center Appalachian ecology and culture firstname.lastname@example.org I attended an excellent Elderhostel program in Abingdon Virginia. This was a six night program hosted by the Southwest Virginia 4-H Educational Center. The subjects were associated with the Appalachian ecology and culture, inlcluding: analysis of episodes and characters of "The Andy Griffith Show"; a "sampler" of Appalachian life; a daily walking history of the Virginia Creeper Trail-a "Rails to Trails" project; and discussions on railroading, forestry and farming in the area. We were housed in motel-like accommodations in a 75 acre rural setting; had abundant home-made meals; and enjoyed the ambiance of rural life, yet were near small and medium size communities on the Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee border. The coordinators were attentive and available on a full time basis (one lived on site). This one rates excellent on all counts and is truly a bargain at the price - $370 (motel) and $320 (RV) for the week. I highly recommend it. _______________ Artistic Heritage of Verona and Venice email@example.com This April I took my second Elderhostel to Italy in two years and I am planning another for the fall. If you have concluded that the trips are great, you are right! In conjunction with Trinity College, the trips have a wonderful balance of class and free time in what has become my second favorite country, Italy. ARTISTIC HERITAGE of VERONA AND VENICE was 8 days in Verona, a charming and comfortable little city, and 7 in Venice, a magical place. The classroom learning took place in a hotel adjacent to the hotel Milano where the group stayed. We ate breakfast there and lunch and dinner at the nearby Liston restaurant, which was excellent. Lectures and slide shows informed us about art and architecture, Italian history and contemporary Italian life. Walking trips took us to many of the attractions of Verona and there was enough free time to wander on our own unless we chose to take a table at the nearby Piazza Bra to watch the world go by, which was my favorite option. Field trips were made to Mantua and Vincenza. The classes were enlightening, enhancing the whole experience. In Venice we stayed in the Messner Hotel in the Dorsoduro, across from fabled St. Mark's. Our classes took the form of on site lectures as we explored the city. Elderhostel provided passes for the Vaporetto, which enabled us to travel at will on the Grand Canal and the Lagoon. We attended two concerts, Baroque music in a magnificent building and operatic arias in a Palazzo on the Grand Canal. There was plenty of free time for shopping or museum going. As stated in the description of the program, there was "strenuous and frequent walking through narrow streets, over bridges, up and down many stairs", but experiencing the beauty of Italy made the effort worthwhile. Our "leader", Bianca, had a warm personality, was knowledgeable and facilitated the trip with ease. Based on two positive experiences, I recommend Trinity's programs in Italy! Barbara Kaden firstname.lastname@example.org ____________ CAL POLY STATE UNIVERSITY AT SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA APRIL 29, 2001, CAMBRIA, CA. "Robert H Stewart"
This is definitely one of our best of more than 25 elderhostel programs. You're located at the Cambria Pines Lodge in Cambria in what most of the class felt was our best elderhostel accommodation. Large rooms, including a fireplace and a fairsized private bath up among the pine trees. Walking to the main lodge for classes, meals, etc. thru a truly lovely garden is a great way to start your day. Or we could drive the short distance to the lodge. Our program coordinator, Mary Esther, is a born nuturer. She was with us all the way. As we all know, this does make a difference. Our food and service was plentiful and delicious. I noticed that our buffet - in our own eh. room - provided the same dishes presented to the full-paying hotel guests. The three classes were: the beginning harmonica class (and the main purpose of our visit) taught by a terrific retired biology teacher from Cal Tech having a ball in his retirement with his music. Every day he provides something new and interesting in his own manner - and costume. The second class was on the California missions, conducted by again a Cal Tech retiree, this time an archaelogist who presents the missions from a different and compelling perspective. The third class concerned classic american films, all of which were shown but we'd seen more than once. The real enthusiasts had a jolly time discussing each film before and after the showings. We didn't take the optional Hearst castle tour, having done there before and instead went to see the elephant seals (at this time molting on the beach) right off the highway about four miles north of the hearst castle entrance. This was definitely not a disappointment and we hope to be able to return in Dec. or Jan. when these monsters are mating, birthing and establishing, etc. Their harems. Remember they weigh between one and two tons and this colony is huge. Anyway, I do go on. But if you're interested and/or have any questions, WE'RE GRANDPABOBS@prodigy.net __________________ Elderhostel #80314-0518 'The Impressionist Heritage' May 11 to 25, 2001 Thomas and Jean Foran email@example.com Flight from JFK on Air France #007 left on time, food was good and flight attendants were very competent. Arrival at CDG in Paris was well handled. The staff meeting the plane was cheerful if a little disorganized. There were 92 participants which were divided into three groups. Each group had their own group leader. Ours was Catherine. Transportation to the site was well handled with a lunch stop along the highway at l'Arche restaurant. It is about two and a half hours out of Paris. Honfleur was absolutely charming. The hotel for our group was Le Cheval Blanc, a small family-run hotel. The accommodations were very good. Our room had a double bed and shuttered windows that overlooked the harbor with a superb view. The bathroom had recently been remodeled and was sparkling. Breakfast was served in the breakfast room. There was a choice of coffee, tea or hot chocolate, a basket of croissant, French bread, sweet rolls, juice. On the buffet table there was extra bread, cereal, cold milk, yogurt, fresh fruit. We were in Honfleur for three nights. There was a meeting room on-site for lectures. Our lecturers were Fanny and Ute. Both were of the highest quality. The two other groups stayed at the Hotel Mercure which is a chain hotel. We used three different restaurants for lunches and dinners: Le Chat qui Peche, Les Cascades and Les Deux Ponts. All three were of a very high quality with seafood specialties since this is a coastal town. There was a set menu at each with the exception of Les Cascades which had five choices for starter and five choices for main course. There was always one group at each of the restaurants so you ate with your group of 30 for each meal. We had one lecture there in Honfleur: History and Art in Normandy. We took field trips to: Walking Tour of Honfleur, Boudin Museum in Honfleur, Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery and to Trouville on our way back to Paris. Since the Seine River had been flooded for the past month or so, we had to change our itinerary. This caused a problem with many of the participants. They could not understand why the ship could not come to Honfleur as originally scheduled but that we must now go back to Paris by bus. We then boarded the ship in Paris. It was the M.S. Renoir, a fitting name for our tour. It was a two story river cruiser built in 1998 and was the most stunning ship on the river. Our cabin on the main deck was small but new and well-planned. The meals on the ship were super. Breakfast was buffet and similar to that in the hotel in Honfleur. The dining room holds 150 but there were only our group on board. The lunches and dinners were all of several courses. The wait staff and the crew were all young and energetic. Lectures were held for the entire group in the lounge of the ship which was used in the evening for dancing, socializing and cultural programs. The DJ presented two Russian shows on different evenings. There was also a program of Impressionist music by a pianist and vocalist on another. Lectures there covered: Intro to History of the 19th Century and Van Gogh, Art Dealers and Collectors, French Society and Literature, Monet at Giverny and Japanism, the Orsay Collections. The field trips were to: Guided visit to Auvers sur Oise and the American Museum, Giverny and Monet's House, Baudy Tavern [where we had a Calvados tasting], Guided visit to Fine Arts Museum in Rouen, and the Bayeaux Tapestry. So as the ship went up the river we visited each little town and saw its importance to the Impressionist era. We ended up in Honfleur. Then we went back to Paris by coach. It was a long ride but most slept on the way. We had lunch at the Maya Restaurant before being given a city tour which included just about every neighborhood in Paris. Our group had been assigned to the Pierre Vacances hotel in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont area. This was quite far from the city center and the bus could not get very close to the hotel due to the narrow streets. The Pierre, however, did have its advantages. It was brand new and it is an apartment hotel. We all had studio apartments with a bedroom, living/dining room and galley kitchen with microwave, dishwasher and refrigerator. There were no lectures in Paris just field trips: Montmartre and Sacre Coeur, Marmottan Museum, Orsay Museum, Picasso Museum and the Palais Garnier Opera House. There was a concert at UNESCO one evening with guitar and flute music of the Impressionist era. Lunches were held in different restaurants throughout Paris near the field trip destination of the day: Cafe de Montmartre, Jardins Notre Dame, Oh Poivrier. The final dinner for the three groups was held at the restaurant Le Grand Louvre. Yes, we ate at the Louvre - right under the glass pyramid. What a way to end a great Paris adventure. All in all, it was the most successful Elderhostel International trip we have taken. ____________ Historic Natchez on the Mississippi and Natchez Opera Festival May 1 - 6, 2001 firstname.lastname@example.org We just returned from a wonderful EH sponsored by Copiah-Lincoln Community College, Natchez, MS. It was headquartered at the Radisson Natchez Eola Hotel, a very historic old hotel in downtown Natchez. The hotel has been refurbished and was quite comfortable. Housekeeping services were efficient and met all our needs. The program was extremely well organized - one of the nicest in terms of program timing and information of the many we have attended. The coordinators were friendly, helpful and informative. During the month of May Natchez is home to an Opera Festival, with aspiring singers from all over the country spending the month in performances all over the town. They appear at concerts, recitals, full performances, etc. and we were treated to this wonderful music every day, in one format or another. There were so many memorable moments during the week, it is difficult to single out what we liked best about this well thought out Elderhostel. We were treated to many good lectures on the history of Natchez and tours of some beautiful mansions, churches and plantations. We had an outstanding dinner at Cedar Grove Plantation, and the week ended with a performance of H.M.S. Pinafore, very nicely performed by some of the singers we had come to feel were "ours". The breakfasts were all at the hotel, a full buffet meal, and one lunch was at the hotel, while all the rest of the meals were at places that we could walk to or be taken to in buses. Our coordinators made each trip special by pointing out places of historic interest along the route. We had some free time to explore additional places on our own. Every one of the lectures we heard was worthwhile and added to our knowledge of Natchez and its place in history. We were particularly impressed with Dr. Thomas Gandy, Natchez Physician and Historian. He has put together a lecture and exhibit of historic photographs, which he painstakingly restored from very old negatives found in the city. This exhibit alone is worth a trip to Natchez, but there is so much more to enjoy in the Elderhostel. This was our 22nd Elderhostel and we would consider it right near the top. In fact, although we have rarely returned for a second visit to any Elderhostel, we are thinking about going back next May for another Opera Festival - it was that enjoyable. Gladys and Don Dillemuth email@example.com ________________ Prague, Czech Republic/Budapest, Hungary firstname.lastname@example.org For a long time now we have wanted to visit these two countries but have been put off because invariably they were combined with countries like Poland, Austria and/or Germany, none of which we will visit for personal reasons. Finally the Spring EH catalog listed a program limited to these two countries and we jumped! Rather than a day-by day description that can hide the forest for the trees, let us use the criteria that EHers seem to care about most. The staff in both cities were among the best we have had on EHs in 30 years of traveling. They were caring, concerned, well organized and did everything they could to give us a super experience. The programs and instructors were well up to EH high standards. We attended every lecture and seminar. A bounty of evening performing arts programs, from folk to opera (in those GORGEOUS opera houses you see on PBS television!) kept us entertained and enlightened. Food was good to excellent with bountiful buffet breakfasts at our hotels, lots of restaurant dining sampling the various cuisines of the country and local specialties (had wild boar soup and venison that were to die for!) and NO box lunches. We visited many areas of each country, enjoyed dinner cruises on the Danube and Vlatava (Moldau), and enjoyed every castle, church, monastery, country town, working farm, crystal factory and so very much more. The catalog description hardly does justice to the trips and excursions we experienced. A fascinating component in each country was visits to a number of Jewish history and heritage sites therein. Both countries were invaded and occupied by the Nazis and this aspect of their history was not neglected. (Of course, evidences of the 50 year Soviet occupation are still apparent even 10 years after they left.) One other very positive aspect : we stayed in one hotel in Prague and one hotel in Budapest for each 10 day component in each country. The hotels were very comfortable and it was WONDERFUL not to have to live out of our suitcases and moving to a new location every 2 or 3 days. Also, the exchange rate is VERY favorable to the dollar so one can indulge oneself very well for very modest sums. Go -- and tell them we sent you! (No commission - just payback for a WONDERFUL trip!!) Matt and Sylvia Schwartz