xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo Elderhostel Notebook #94 November, 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. ################################################ From the Editor's Notebook ################################################ I wasn't able to include all available reports in this issue. Will do another in two weeks. ################################################ Comments and Queries ################################################ Safe in New York City. So far. Monday, September 24, 2001 4:18:56 PM From: firstname.lastname@example.org I was booked on United Airlines for a flight from La Guardia in New York to O'Hare in Chicago, but not on Tuesday, the day it all happened. I'd reserved my flight a month ago, so that I could attend the Bat Mitzvah of my granddaugher Robin, age 13. And a whole weekend of festivities had been planned - with family supposed to fly in from the west coast and the south as well as New York. Well, the festivities went on as planned - but not exactly - not with the aunts and uncles and grandparents who had hoped to attend but couldn't .Still, our extended family feels fortunate. Because our flights were'nt on Tuesday, the day it ll happened, but two days later.And we didn't even have to cancel. The airlines did. Ruth PS Right now, I'm looking forward to my annual trip to Chicago for Thanksgiving and I expect to fly. I don't believe the terrorists will try the same terror again - the element of surprise will be gone and hopefully the security will be there. _____________________ Subj: Changes in EH From: email@example.com We have noticed the gradual trend to higher levels of comfort, appeal, and expense in some programs, and we would join with the protest with this trend. We have 13 trips so far, two overseas, in about eight years,and there have been some cases of shared bath, moderate level of comfort, etc., but nothing severe. We believe that the catalog descriptions, plus access to your notebook and other sources, gives a mostly clear picture of each session, and we do not hold with the "upgrading" of comforts and expense with the loss of seeing new places as they are. If you want to choose your level of comfort and expense, the travel agents, etc., will be very glad to hear from you. Grady and Virginia Singletary ------------------- From: WestWindow@aol.com Subject: Comments on Elderhostel Travel My husband and I attended an Elderhostel at the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas 9/23-29 (given once a year in September). I won't attempt to describe it, except to say the staff was EXCELLENT, the program on the 1940s SUPERB, and the campus was BEAUTIFUL. The travel was tough. Since flights have been cancelled and combined (due to fewer passengers), the planes were full. Security was tighter. Our starting point was Logan Airport in Boston (enough said), and we went through Chicago (four-hour layover due to cancelled flight), arriving in Kansas City International. On the return we got to KCI at 9:00AM for an 11:07 flight (delayed) and got through security at 11:30AM. Now THAT'S what I call security. Yes, it was hard, but we need to be safe when flying. We have not cancelled a single trip - we have planned one a month through January, and no way are we giving up on travel. As "seasoned citizens", we have to support the travel industry! So many trips, so little time. Ellie Clark WestWindow@aol.com ---------------------- Subj: Housing policy To: IREG@Elderhostel.org An email letter from Bill Lee Longman to Elderhostel Notebook, cited a new policy that facilities must have en suite accommodations. If this is so, shame on you Elderhostel for changing your policy and eliminating sites that do not have private bathrooms. My husband and I have attended 58 programs over the past 18 years and have never found shared bathrooms a problem. As the Longman's suggest costs have continued to increase which is of course inevitable. But eliminating university sites (our favorite) which are the most likely to have shared facilities, certainly raised the average cost. When we were at Bellinter House for an outstanding program on Irish theater, that wonderful house and its history were worth the price of the transatlantic fare. Are you also eliminating the wonderful programs in Great Britain at their universities? Please reconsider this ill-advised change. Dinah Lindauer firstname.lastname@example.org ------------------------ Date: Sat, 13 Oct 2001 06:54:43 EDT From: Judykroon@aol.com You asked for input on current travelers. My husband and I are finishing up the Flavors of Spain trip which we started in Madrid on the 1st of Oct. It has been a good trip, a bit heavy on the wine for us but interesting and well done. More importantly, there were no problems for any of the 23 who decided to come. The Delta check in at JFK is weird in that they scan all luggage at the door. That means that scissors that you packed in your checked luggage get removed. Then the check in person hikes back to the security place to retrieve them and have you put them back in the luggage. The Delta plane was about three quarters full on the way over. British Air was wrapping ALL luggage and allowing only small carry ons. That did delay one couple a bit. We really feel sorry for the 11 who decided not to come, they missed a great time. With a smaller group we spread out on the bus, had more room in restaurants (which would have been way too crowded with 36) and generally enjoyed having a more managable group. Judy Kroon Rochester NY. ....off to Costa Rica and Panama for the Eco-tour in February ################################################ Program Reviews ################################################ THE HISTORY OF BROADWAY, West Side YMCA Barbara <email@example.com> It was with some reluctance, considering the recent attack on the World Trade Center, that I headed for the History of Broadway Elderhostel at the West Side YMCA. I have never felt more at home in New York due to the friendliness of everyone I met. The director of the Y thanked us for coming, and doing something positive to help the city on it's way to recovery. I met several people who were willing to discuss their experiences on September 11 and afterwards. I rode in the elevator with a rescue worker coming off his shift and my neighbor at the Metropolitan Opera shared her reaction to the attack. If you have been considering an Elderhostel in New York, do not hesitate! I have attended three other programs at this site and found them exciting and enlightening. The location of the Y, two blocks from Lincoln Center and a few steps to Central Park, is ideal and the programs are well planned. Once I was settled into my spartan but clean room I felt at home. Except for the flags flying everywhere and the diminished crowds in Times Square, it was the New York City I love. Theater tickets were easy to get due to so many people staying away from the city. Several members of our group elected to see the hotter than hot Producers; but the group had been led to TKTS during our tour of Times Square and so many chose less pricey offerings. The walking tours were excellent; some highlights are the Players, not open to the public, the New Amsterdam (home of the Lion King), an off-Broadway theater. An acting class and panels of actors and other theater people replaced formal lectures. I have been going to the theater in New York for longer than I care to admit, but I learned many things about acting, producing plays and theaters then and now. My appreciation for this art form has been expanded. The food is simple and plentiful with many options, and there is always a member of the group to eat with during the convenient cafeteria hours. Several lunches were eaten out including BBQ, Chinese and a new favorite for me: O^ÒNeal^Òs. David the director was helpful and steady and his friendly assistant Thomas led us in optional warm up exercises every morning. I am sorry I have done all the programs the Y offers; perhaps I will start over again! Barbara Kaden mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org ___________________ Chautauqua Institution/Athenaeum, #32161-0923-01/21 Gro226@aol.com I can't speak for all 170 attendees, but I'm sure that the "US Foreign Policy For the 21st Century" was an educational and exciting week for the large majority of Elderhostelers present. The 5 lecturers were all retired Foreign Service Officers of ambassadorial rank from the American Foreign Service Association, which is the professional association of the Foreign Service located in Washington, D.C.. They were all gifted speakers, professional, knowledgeable, and open to any and all questions. A nice touch was the fact that the 5 ambassadors, and their wives, made themselves available during meals and free time for continuation of dialog with the Elderhostelers. The particular areas of the world covered in detail were Europe, Middle East, Japan, and Latin/South America. Some of the countries where the 5 served as ambassador were Cyprus, Ghana, Chile, Columbia, Togo, Madagascar, and the UAR. Prior to achieving ambassadorial rank, all had served on staff in many countries of the world. Hence, all could speak to most any area beyond the geographical areas specified for this particular week. The events of 9/11/01, to various extent, were discussed by all 5 lecturers. There were several "entire group" get togethers, but for the most part, the 170 attendees were broken up into 4 groups of approximately 40 each for the lectures. Another nice touch was a one hour "Conversations with the Ambassador's Wives". The 3 wives present related their perspective of the Foreign Service and had their own "war stories" about trying to maintain a home, be a hostess, and raise and educate a family, often times under very difficult circumstances. The Athenaeum Hotel lived up to its "Grande Dame" designation. Built in the late 1800s, it maintains its historic charm with high ceilings, period furnishings(much of it very comfortable wicker), and with undulating floors in the hallways, to boot. The weather during the entire week was cold and rainy, so the broad porch on the 2 sides of the hotel, overlooking Chautauqua Lake, with it's many wicker rockers, did not get the "rocking and chatting" activity it deserved. I heard nothing but raves regarding the food. Apparently, the Athenaeum kitchen is at least partially manned by culinary students. I might add that one meal included a mushroom soup that I consider the best I've ever eaten. Ummm! Most lectures were held in a building a pleasant 15 minute walk from the hotel. Portal to portal bus transport was offered throughout the week for non walkers. All in all, it was a very satisfying and enjoyable week and I think we all came away comfortable with the food, the coordination, and the accommodations. Perhaps, more importantly, we came away with the knowledge that if these gentlemen are the type of people representing us in our countries overseas posts, we can all sleep a little more peacefully at night. Gene Groelle email@example.com _________________ Eisenhower Presidential Library - Abilene, Kansas "Remembering the 1940's" September 2001 - six-night program firstname.lastname@example.org Only one Elderhostel program is offered annually, and the Library personnel enjoy the week as much as the participants. Mack, Linda, and Barbara have been involved in all 15 programs. Lodging is in a good motel with attached restaurant. Catered meals at the Library were varied and tasty. Special dinners in an old mansion and a popular chicken restaurant. In addition to lectures on so many aspects of the 1940's - World War II, radio shows, music, movies, religion, women, and sports - President Eisenhower's life and dedication to our country is detailed in both lectures and visits to the museum, his home, and his resting place. Although Abilene's population is only 6500, its many museums and attractions are woven throughout the week's activities. The Elderhostelers (42 from 14 states) were treated to a 1940's fashion show, allowed to research in original source materials in the library, enjoyed a theatrical performance, laughed at "The More The Merrier", a 1943 movie, and had lunch and a ride on a railroad excursion train. A bus shuttle on our free afternoon along with admission to local museums gave everyone the opportunity to enjoy the town. On Friday night the group proceeded to the library auditorium as "Pomp and Circumstance" could be heard. A great idea - "a yearbook" was presented to each graduate with picture and personal information about each Elderhosteler. Participants ranged in age from 56 to 90, with their remembrances of the 1940's adding to the overall congeniality of the group. This experience, my fourth, rates a "five-star" grade, the same as General Eisenhower! Submitted by Diane Tanner, 305 West Lake Avenue, Peoria, IL 61614 email@example.com ______________________ Geneva Center (IN) Elderhostel firstname.lastname@example.org "Cruisin' Down Nostalgia Lane " is an Elderhostel that has been offered before at the Geneva Center Conference Center, Rochester, IN, but not the way we experienced it. A few days before the scheduled October 14 start, we received an e-mail from the director that "due to the events of September 11," the two previous instructors would not be available, but other instructors had been procured. It turned out that one of the original leader's daughter worked in the WTC , and it was three days after the attack before he found out she was all right. I suppose he was too unnverved after that to undertake teaching a lighthearted course. However, in their stead Vicki Driebelius procured a pair from the Auburn-Cord-Deusenberg Museum. Jon Brill is the archivist and he and Gregg Buttermore, the marketing director, provided us with a real hands-on course that more than met our expectations. We went to the museum, of course, but then the museum came to us when Jon drove a 1931 Auburn 4-door sedan to the Center and let us all ride in/drive /look at the motor, etc., to our heart's content. In addition, each provided many handouts during their lectures tracing the history of automobile manufacturing in the U.S. in general and Indiana in particular. We learned about famous auto makers and how advertising changed over time, and of course how the automobile affected the American way of life. We also visited the Studebaker Museum and saw several videos. The men were enthusiastic and knowledgeable, but unsure of their reception, since this was their first introduction to Elderhostels. I think we made believers of them -- Jon is already talking about looking into the program. They did this on short notice, but if they had had a year to prepare, it couldn't have been better. The companion program, Quilting in the Civil War, attracted some of the auto men's wives, while one brave man opted to take the quilting class for the lectures about women's life in the Recent Unpleasantness. We were surprised that so few attended -- 11 in the car class and 10 in the quilting. Vicki said a few had cancelled, but apparently they weren't concerned about having so few. One fringe benefit was that we all had a private bath instead of sharing with another couple. (It is worth the money to get a private bath there.) While we were there the Health Dept. found coliform bacteria in the water system in a minute concentration, and as a precaution we were given bottled drinking water. When the boiler conked out on a cold morning, we were given space heaters. No one complained about any of it. The food was excellent and included fresh-baked bread daily. Vicki was all we could ask for in a coordinator. One of the men who has attended over 50 E'hostels made the statement that he had never felt so cared for in his life. That was a good way to put it. Several of the attendees had been there for courses before -- I can see why. Don and Kay Cornelius, Huntsville, AL _________________________ Great Alpine Crossroads... email@example.com Our Swiss Elderhostel program "Great Alpine Crossroads--Switzerland's Magnificent Railways" was scheduled to end on September 13, so we were in Locarno on September 11. Elderhostel (operated by Experiment in International Living in Switzerland) and our hotels were most accommodating to us. They saw to it that we were fully informed through English versions of CNN, and they did everything they could to make our extended stay comfortable. Because we and another couple from the group had to stay almost an additional week before we could be rebooked on SwissAir and Northwest, our EIL leaders and guide arranged for us to stay--without charge--in a Swiss home (a homestay added on to our Elderhostel program!). Other than the obvious fact that we were ready to go home, that was a delightful experience. The railway program was everything we had expected it to be--and more. We loved the entire country, and we learned to have great appreciation for the Swiss transportation system. Our guides were always helpful, the lectures were interesting and informative, and our lodgings were always well-located. As you can imagine, the scenery was superb. And the trip allowed for just enough extra time so that we could do some exploring on our own in the six cities we visited. The only Elderhostel trips we've ever taken are the international ones, and we've never been disappointed. It is so nice to have everything planned and included in the price. We know that some of the international prices are more now than they used to be, but we happen to prefer the en suite accommodations that are now offered. (A year ago we took another kind of tour and were amazed at how many of the meals, excursions, gratuities, etc. were not included in the price--thus making international Elderhostels which even include transportation to and from home seem quite affordable.) It's also nice to stay in hotels that are locally owned and operated--not cookie cutter copies of those we find at home. This trip did entail some extra walking and getting bags in and out of railway stations. Because of that we're glad we elected to "pack light" by using the new Rick Steves wheeled bags that he designed for just such European trips (see ricksteves.com). We highly recommend this Swiss Elderhostel, and we wouldn't hesitate to go again--in spite of the world situation. Jim and Jean Wheeler ------------------------------------ Irish Heritage and Culture Sept. 5-19, 2001 Navan Limerick, Ireland firstname.lastname@example.org This our 17th Elderhostel was our first one overseas and the best so far. Before giving a short review, let me mention that we did have two clouds hanging over us. The first was the news about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks which came at the halfway point in our program. This of course made us numb and anxious even though we continued to enjoy the remainder of our time in Ireland. It was so strange being abroad while news about the tragedy unfolded. Our group attended several memorial services. On the Friday day of mourning Ireland was completely shut down with crowds of people going to church. The Irish people were most sympathetic with many expressing their sorrow to us on the street and in the shops. The other smaller cloud was to learn that due to an Elderhostel policy change we were the last Elderhostel group to be housed at Bellinter House and at University of Limerick. This is due to shared baths in these facilities. We think it is a mistake to eliminate locations on such a basis and hope that many of you will also write to object. (See accompanying article). Yes, Ireland is as green as they say with wonderful scenery. And there is a rich heritage of myths and legends. There were 40 participants in the Elderhostel on Irish Heritage and Culture. Another couple and ourselves were four days beforehand in Dublin, going to plays at the Abbey Theatre and Gate Theatre plus sightseeing, traditional music in pubs, Evensong at Christ Church. On Sunday we were engulfed in a huge crowd of fans wearing Kerry green with Co. Kerry playing Co. Meath in Irish football (very popular amateur sport). Then on Sept. 5 we joined the group arriving in Dublin airport for the trip some 30 miles north to Bellinter House which is a large Palladium style house now used as a retreat center. Lectures focused on pre-historic and Celtic history, also myths and legends, with field trips to ancient passage graves at Knowth and the Hill of Tara important to the high kings of Ireland, also south of Dublin to Glendalough with its round tower and Russborough House. Noel French from the Navan area was our superb tutor and tour guide. We learned as well about the turbulent Irish history and language. Other lectures were on Anglo-Irish literature, writers such as Jonathan Swift and W.B.Yeats, and on Irish art architecture. A field trip to Dublin focused on the National Museum and Gallery and on the free day in Dublin many saw the famed Book of Kells at Trinity College and Kilmainham Jail. Being together at Bellinter was especially helpful as we received the shocking news from back home. During our stay we enjoyed several evenings of traditional Irish music. The second half of the program was at University of Limerick over on the western side where we were housed in dormitory rooms. And we shared baths here also with sinks in the rooms. We were priviledged to have a very knowledgeable lecturer, Mary Angela Keane. She took us to the Burren on which she has written a book and was a guide for the Clinton party on their visit to that mysterious area. Also we saw the remarkable Cliffs of Moher and visited Coole Park. Going a different direction past Tipperary another day we saw the Rock of Cashel plus Bru Boru Heritage Centre. Other field trips took in Craggaunowen and Bunratty Castle Folk Park plus going into Limerick. Here at Limerick also we had Irish music and dance to entertain us. Meals at Bellinter were very tasty with a social hour beforehand each evening. We soon became good friends and sat with different people each meal. Entrees were beef, lamb, pork, fish, etc. We became accustomed to Irish soda bread. Yes, we did tire of so much potatoes and carrots. But what wonderful soups and desserts. Breakfasts included porridge and Wheatbix and such. At Limerick the dining room food was also quite good and on occasion we dined at some nice hotel. For breakfasts there we ate in the dorm units with supplies brought in. Some in the group remained for extra travel as did we for three days in Killarney. One couple continued in a second Elderhostel in Ireland after this one and several toured for a week more in Co. Kerry. There was anxiety about travel plans home, of course, as we learned of disruptions and heard various rumors. Here is where the coordinator Beryl from the UK (who was with us both weeks) was most helpful as she confirmed flights from Limerick and allayed fears. By the time we departed Ireland travel was back to normal with no problems. We would not hesitate to seek out another international Elderhostel. Inquiries welcomed...Bill Longman, email@example.com.