Elderhostel Notebook  #39, December 23, 1998

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    From the Editors Notebook

    Elderhostel News and  Reviews

       Fall French Barge Trip
       Vermont Institute For Learning


    Editor's Notebook
 Wishing all readers a happy holiday season.

My exploration of some of the issues involving elderhosteling by
people with various physical disabilities revealed that there is
a wide range of levels of accommodation for various disabilities
in elderhosteling, but I think much more needs to be done to make
the Elderhostel Adventure available to more elders.

Based on the limited response I got from people with disabilities
It seems that most of those who responded are people who had been
active elderhostelers before their disability: macular
degeneration, stroke, joints that deteriorated, and having been
infused with the elderhostel spirit persisted in spite of the
problem and were encouraged and accommodated by the various
programs they took.

I have found that many people, particularly older men, are
elderhostel resistant but after bring introduced to the
experience many become elderhostel enthusiasts. This resistance
has to be even more of a problem if the person is handicapped in
some physical way and has an added fear of the unknown in terms
of their handicapp. I don't know how to address this problem.
Maybe Elderhostel Inc. has a role in terms of recruitment and a
pro active program to reach out to more people, and probably
those of us who are elderhostel enthusiasts have a role in
reaching out to encourage and assist people we know to take that
plunge and get into elderhosteling, choosing programs we know
will accommodate them.

Here are excerpts from the correspondence I received about the

From: "Fritz"  joy@shore.intercom.net

Hello Again,

I am legally blind which means that I can see the line below "the
big E". . When I go on an Eh, I always consider the activities
and situations that will be present. I always advise the
coordinators of my disability and ask for their input as to the
advisability of my participating. In addition, I always ask for
large print and private facilities. I usually am accommodated
with both.

I can remember going to the EH on San Salvidor, a sparsely
populated out island of the Bahamas soon after I lost my vision
and feeling safe enough to leave the compound, cross the road and
float about in the lovely cove of blues and golds. It was the
first time I was completely alone, on my own in over a year. It
was then I knew that life was still worth living.

In closing, there are the vast majority of programs that will
give me what I need to participate but then there are the ones
that resent your requests and in fact, ignore them. These usually
are the low budget, squeeze every dime ones such as the Grand
Canyon/Marble Canyon/Peach Springs or ones housed at Trinity
College in DC.

I would encourage disabled people to participate but always check
with the coordinators to make sure you will be accommodated per
your need.


From: Betty Audet  maubet@freespace.net  Subject: disability

I attended an elderhostel at Crieff, Ontario, last April ,within
a month of my hip replacement. I was still totally dependent on
crutches. I had very little problem although, houseing, lectures,
and meals, were in three adjacent buildings. The group was small,
small enough that the session could have been cancelled. and so
we really did get acquainted. Everyone held doors for me,
although I could get through any by planting my crutch firmly to
prevent them from closing. The only door that was a real problem
was a very stiff one on the handicapped washroom in the lecture
hall; management said they would adjust it on our recommendation
to make it easier for others in the future. When we did a tour to
Guelph I was given the easy seat in a van next to the driver.


From: HGlucks@aol.com

Some Comments on Elderhostel Sites for People with Disabilities

Note: I would strongly recommend that you call in advance to
request a wheelchair-accessible room and to reserve a wheelchair,
should you need one.

Amicalola Falls Lodge, Georgia (about 50 miles north of Atlanta)
We attended an Elderhostel there that was sponsored by North
Georgia College a few years ago, but I believe other
organizations hold Elderhostel programs there as well. It is an
attractive resort in a scenic location on the top of a mountain,
an easy drive from Atlanta. The rooms were lovely, clean and
spacious with private bathrooms and views of the surrounding
mountain scenery. The management was superb, very responsive to
everyone's needs. Everything was run very efficiently. I was on
crutches when we went there, and I had no trouble at all.

. . . .

Sullivan County Community College, in the Catskill Mountains, New
York This Elderhostel is listed as being held at a "renowned
resort hotel" and many people select it for that reason, assuming
that it will be equipped to accommodate people with disabilities.
But beware and check which facility they will be using before you
sign up. This program uses several different hotels in the area..
The Fallsview hotel is fine for people with disabilities, but
this year they used Kutsher's hotel instead. It turned out to be
a horror for those who use wheelchairs, crutches, walkers, or
canes, and even for those who just have trouble walking up hills.
The problems encountered with Kutsher's physical facilities,
maintenance and security procedures are too numerous to detail in
this brief review.


From: Claire LeSage  ecclaire@elderhostel.org

 Regarding your request for info on programs for people with
disabilities, I must tell you about a program in British Columbia
that has been a resounding success! The program is in the Canada
Catalog and United States Supplement page 8, the separate
EHCanada Spring 99 Catalogue (page 9) or at the EH web page in
Canada spring programs.

The Program takes place at Bowen Lodge by the Sea
(61228-0418-01), which is owned by the Canadian National
Institute for the Blind (CNIB), and used as a training, meeting
and conference centre. The wonderful thing about the programming
is that visually impaired and sighted hostelers are welcome to
attend together! The courses include "What Do You See" which
focus on the causes and myths of vision loss with a sharing of
ways to minimize low vision. "History Surrounds Us" delves into
the history of Bowen, with stories of the orignial Native
inhabitants, kidnapped fisherman, explosive company (what do you
think happened to it?). The final course is entitled 'Walk and
Talk' during which an island naturalist will walk with the
participants going over the natural wonders of the island
including cedar, hemlock, arbutus, douglas fir, mink, grouse and

Last year was the first offering of this program and both
Elderhostel and the CNIB were thrilled with the positive

   Elderhostel News and Reviews

Helen Sternheim  helen@k12s.phast.umass.edu

We recently attended this elderhostel during the first Week in
December 1998. The program was housed in the Desoto Hilton Hotel,
on Liberty Street and near Madison Square. The rooms were very
comfortable and the food was good. However there was no menu
choice to accommodate diet problems. Classes were held in a
nearby classroom belonging to St. John's Episcopal Church. This
was a five night program which ended after lunch on Friday.

The breakfast was a continental one, which many people
supplemented by buying a bagel in the lobby or occasionally going
out to breakfast at Clearys or Mrs Wilk's Dining Room. We tried
Mrs Wilk's, for $5 per person you were seated at tables for 12
with family service. The menu included juice and coffee, bowls of
grits, bowls of scrambled eggs, a platter of sausages and bacon
and home made delicious biscuits. It was a nice experience, and
the food was excellent.

The program will probably be moving to a different downtown
location sometime next year. The program organizers hope to have
more flexibility in the newer location.

Our three topics were:

Rebs Vs. Yanks

This had 3 to 4 segments, the first day we had a tour bus trip.
Our group learned about civil war forts on the bus ride and
visited Fort Pulaski in the morning, and Forts Jackson and
MacCalister in the afternoon. We saw short videos at two of the
locations, toured the grounds and experienced a cannon and rifle
being fired two of them. This was a good beginning to learning
about the history of the area. We also had a morning lecture on
Savannah history and another morning program delivered by General
Lee (in costume).

Savannah's Life In Literature

We spent 2 afternoons walking from nearby square to nearby square
and examining the literary works of authors who lived in,
visited, and wrote about the life and customs of this elegant
city. Each afternoon also included the tour of an historic house.
We also learned about "THE BOOK", "Midnight in the Garden of Good
and Evil" by James Berendt. One of our history mornings also
briefly covered this book.

Popular Songs In America

Trace the highlights of music from Colonial America to Tin Pan
Alley. Sing along with your favorite tunes of yesteryear as you
are taken on a trip through music's archives with a true
balladeer. This program covered three meetings one in the evening
and was delightful.

All of the presenters were well organized and obviously liked
presenting topics of interest to them. The program coordinators
and two local volunteer program associates did a superior job of
keeping things running smoothly.

Helen Sternheim, Amherst, Massachusetts


Fall French Barge Trip
Sy   Betty Levine betl@erols.com

Just completed the fall French barge trip that included visits to
Strasbourg and Paris.

A wonderful experience overall, though the weather was seasonal:
Cool to raw, overcast skies and light rain with only a few really
pleasant days. But with enough clothes everyone was comfortable.

The guides were very well versed intheir subjects. Ute Petit was
with us in Strasbourg and could answer all questions in an
informative manner. Had a lecture on the history of Alsace by a
resident professor (English background) that was almost the best
4 hours we ever spent learning. She made a complex history very
clear. We toured the area, and found the town of Colmar to be one
of the most colorful we have visited with every house in the
"old" section painted a different color! A stop in Nancy at the
Art Nouveau Museum was especially interesting to introduce us to
a period that is becoming better known and show us the French
influence on this style.

Guy Verhaeghen was with us on the barge and in Paris. His talks
on French history, kings, the Gothic church style and the barge
system were excellant. He is charming and made it intresting.

The barge trip was delightful. Food outstanding. How about
tasting 18 cheeses over 6 days to test at lunch. Private room
with bath for all. A wonderful was to slow down and enjoy the
view. A bus goes with the barge so you do visit local sights as
you plod along. There were only 13 on the trip (max would be 18)
so it was easy to get to know ereryone. The crew were
English/French. They worked to make it pleasant. The barge is
used by Aberchrombe/Kent in tourist season so it was a great
"buy" through Elderhostel, the discount being the coolish

The hotels in Strasbourg and Paris were comfortable and the food
while not gourmet was French, with the lunches in a variety of
places being better than the dinners.

We visited Rheims, Loan, Chalons en Champagne (wine tour of
course), Chantilly, the Louvre (no guides allowed to talk as a
guides strike was on - its France), Notre-Dame, and a city tour.
Used the metro in town. Everyone on the trip had been to Paris
before and were comfortable on being on thier own.

If you wanta great trip - this is it.

IST had to reroute some passengers because of a partial Air
France strike and did it very effieciently. They do a very good
job as the French end of Eldershostel. A combnined dinner at the
Louvre had almost 150 Hostelers at one sitting with each group
saying their trip was the best!


Vermont Institute For Learning
South Burlington
Holiday Traditions


We stayed in a Best Western motel that had recently renovated. It
was convenient to buses and within walking distance to the
largest mall in Vt. Meals and most classes were held in the motel
or its restaurant. Food was above average for an Elderhostel and
was abundant. Every night the motel provided homemade chocolate
chip cookies and milk. Burlington, the largest city in Vermont,
has a beautiful restored downtown area that was decorated for

Our coordinators Jim Johnson and Andy Thompson were excellent.

We had a field trip every day on a luxurious bus with rest room.
We had several lectures about Vermont and New England Holiday
traditions. Surprised to learn that Thanksgiving was the big
holiday until 1850 and it was only after 1850 that Christmas
became a holiday tradition as we know it today. Clement Moore's
"Night before Christmas" popularized the Santa image and the
German's brought the Christmas tree idea in the late 1800's.

We went to dinner one night in a restaurant in Old Montreal and
afterward went to a gala holiday performance by the Montreal
Symphony in the Place D'Arts, the Montreal version of New York's
Lincoln Center.

We had holiday music class in the chapel of St. Michael's
College. We learned all about the organ and heard several musical
renditions of music including a solo of "O Holy Night."

That night several of us attended a public Christmas concert
presented by the choir of St. Michael's followed by a reception
in the Student Union.

We took a candlelight tour of Ethan Allen's homestead. Also
learned that he never made furniture, the factory was just named
after him. He was a deist, believed in a supreme power, but not
Christ or any of the prophets.

We went to the scenic Inn at Essex where 120 students attend the
New England Culinary Institute. We had a delicious dinner
followed by a school tour and a lecture by one of the chef

We toured the Shelburne Museum which opened specially for a
'Holiday Weekend." The museum is an eclectic collection of many
things including a steamboat, covered bridge, houses, stores and
valuable artwork including works by Monet, Degas, Cassot, Carot
and Grandma Moses. All the buildings, etc. are original and were
moved to the site, unlike Williamsburg which is all mostly all
new buildings.

We went to Stowe, viewed a festival of Christmas trees, and were
taken on a bus tour that included the Trapp Family Lodge.

The last night we were serenaded by a folk guitarist. It was a
busy and enjoyable week. Highly recommend this Elderhostel!


From: Andy Kfor ndk4@yahoo.com
Subject: Re: Elderhostel-Salem State College

RE: Salem State College/"On Campus" ( Salem, Massachusetts, a
suburb of Boston)

Having attended an Elderhostel at the "campus" of Salem State
College, I think it is important for people to be able to
interpret the writeup in the Spring Catalog. First I want to
point out I prefer college locations because of the accessibility
of library, athletic facilities and being around students. Of the
25 Elderhostels I've attended, about 15 have been at colleges.
Quotes are from the writeup of Salem:

"On-campus residence hall" is really at a satellite facility in
an urban residential neighborhood, about 2 miles from the main
campus, which is accessible only by car or public transportation.
Dorms and the classroom are NOT air-conditioned and windows must
stay open. Dorms face student dorms where boom boxes, shouts,
telephone ringing and sometimes mysterious sounds resonate
through the night. Bring a good set of earplugs!

"Four bedrooms share two baths". During the week I was there the
bathrooms, halls and common areas were not cleaned once. At the
other colleges I attended, shared bathrooms were cleaned daily.

"Moderate distance from waterfront, historic houses...." means
about 5 miles via public transportation or your own car, with
limited parking available. For special events the host does not
provide a bus; hostelers are asked to organize their own

During the school year Salem hosts elderhostels at an older, but
clean and elegant hotel in town. Meals are served at the hotel or
nearby restaurants and sites are in walking distance. My roommate
at Salem had attended a previous session at the hotel and was
astounded at the contrast.

Recommend Elderhostelers wanting to visit Salem do so when "off
campus" is offered :o(.

Andy K4


From: "Donham, Dexter" ddonham@elderhostel.org
Subject: Elderhostel Ease of Registration


I am writing in response to the comments in the Elderhostel
Notebook concerning prepayment of Elderhostel tuition fees. I
hope this explanation addresses the concerns of those with
questions about the new procedure

Elderhostel has implemented a group of initiatives, called Ease
of Registration, to improve the registration process for both
program participants and for program sites. Hostelers have been
requesting some of these changes for years. Part of these Ease of
Registration initiatives involves earlier payment (eight weeks
prior to program start) of tuition fees directly to Elderhostel
Headquarters, rather than to the program site at the start of the
program. Elderhostel has received comments from hostelers, both
pro and con, concerning Ease of Registration and prepayment of
program fees. In sum, we believe the benefits outweigh the costs
by a considerable margin.

One of the key Ease of Registration initiatives is to permit all
payments for programs to be made by credit card. This change
eliminates those situations where some sites require cash or
checks for final payment because they are not equipped to take
credit cards, as well as relieving other sites of the expense of
accepting credit cards. Hostelers who have credit cards which
accumulate bonus points, rebates, or frequent flyer miles can
realize these benefits. And, the use of credit cards allows
participants to spread out their payments, if they so choose.

Since, with prepayment, all the financial transactions of
registration are handled before programs begin, site staff can
focus on welcoming hostelers and getting programs off to a smooth
start. Hosteler refunds are now handled through Elderhostel
Headquarters, again relieving program staff of the necessity of
handling financial transactions during the program. Hostelers can
receive their refunds as a credit to their credit card accounts,
rather than as a check to deposit.

Additionally, the use of credit cards for prepayment has
facilitated Online Registration, whereby hostelers can use the
Elderhostel website to review catalogs and register directly.
This benefit has proved very popular with hostelers, with both
website traffic and online registrations growing.

Dexter Donham, Vice President of Marketing Elderhostel, Inc. 75
Federal Street, Boston, MA 02110 Voice: (617) 426-7788 Fax: (617)
426-8351 ddonham@elderhostel.org www.elderhostel.org


From: Jeff McCombe  jeff.mccombe@sympatico.ca

With regard to Elderhostel payment policies, one thing I would
favour is the ability to pay by credit card. As a Canadian I am
aware of the problems we have paying in U.S. funds and U.S.
visitors have paying here in Canadian because of exchange rates.
When I go to U.S. programs I take a bank draft in U.S. funds, but
many participants do not, and confusion reigns.


Jeff McCombe
Richmond Hill, Ontario

From: Roz Cole  roz@hgea.org

I prefer the new system of early charge card (on-line) payment
for several reasons:

1. I'll get to use my charge card for the entire amount, giving
me much appreciated mileage on my favorite airline.

2. When I charge it, I don't actually pay for it until a month

3. I believe it will encourage people to make up their minds
sooner, thereby releasing space for hard-to-get-into programs.

4. It is more efficient and quick, saving EH time and work. This
has to be good for all of us.

Let's embrace such improvements, and work together to work out
any bugs in the system.

Welcome to the 21st century.

Aloha, Roz


From: Mary Ann Boher fmboher@azstarnet.com
Subject: Intergenerational Programs

We are interested in an intergenerational program with our two
grandaughters, ages 10 and 12. There are two programs that sound
similar and I wonder if you have any information on them that has
not been published:

Texas A  University/Galveston: Bottlenose Dolphins, Endangered
Sea Turtles, and Marine Critters and

University of Texas Marine Science Institute/Mustang Island -
Texas: Island Secrets: Marine Mammals, Sea Turtles and Birds of
Sea and Shore

Any information on the Olympic Park Institute/Olympic National
Park - Washington: Educational Safari in the Olympic National
Park program would be appreciated as well.

From: SantaFe812@aol.com

Has anyone been to the South Padre Island Elderhostel, to Corpus
Christi or Kingsville? We are doing all three in February and
would appreciate information.

Bob and Georgia Honeyfield

From: BenZJR@aol.com

We have read many of your praises of Francis Kouie at the
Elderhostel Chateau De Meridon. Now we have been trying to
contact Francis but our mail has been returned. Do you have his
current address? If you do we would love to have it.

Ben   Romaine


 From: "leonard m gerber" LGERB@prodigy.net

We would like to hear from anyone who has been to the "Thailand
Elderhostel Program." We have registered for the Feb.99 departure
and would be interested in hearing opinions re: quality of
program, accomodations, food, field trips, etc. Thanks.

Leonard Gerber