Elderhostel Notebook #76 Nov 3, 2000

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://homepage.mac.com/jimolson/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 of the reports sent in to date, but
any not used in this issue are in the reserve file and will  be
in the next issue.

    Program Reviews

          Berlin/Paris Elderhostel #80071
          Cal Poly, Cambria Pines Lodge, CA
          St Mary of the Wood, Atawalk, Indiana
          The Art Institute of Chicago
          Queen Mary  - Long Beach, California --


  Berlin/Paris Elderhostel #80071
"Joyce S. Cohrs" 

This program, run with the cooperation of IST Cultural Tours, ran
from September 30 - October 15, 2000, and included one week at
the Underlinden Hotel in Berlin and one week at Citadines
Apparthotels Montmartre in Paris. On the whole it was a great
trip, especially the week in Berlin, as to content. The one down
note was the lack of organiztion in Berlin on the part of IST
which led to some problems which did not threaten the program
itself but brought about complaints about arrangements which were
completely avoidable with a little foresight. The tour leader in
Berlin didn't have a clue about what her role was or how to make
sure things ran smoothly. Her boss was equally, or more, at

We stayed in the former East Berlin within walking distance of
the Brandenburg Gate and many other historical buildings. The
main lecturer, Tom Abbott, was an American who had lived in
Germany more than 20 years and is an art historian. He also led
the city tour and the day tour to Potsdam. Public transportation
was less than a block away and we could use it easily. Berlin is
like one big construction site and the wall is no longer in
evidence at all. We also went to a cabaret performance and an
opera in the restored opera house. Many meals were served in the
hotel restaurant which had an especially lavish breakfast buffet.
Berlin is the place to be in Europe according to the lecturers at
both sites.

In Paris our hotel was a couple of blocks from the famous Moulin
Rouge. It was on a side street but the main street was rather
seedy with sex shops, etc. It was very convenient to both bus and
Metro and we were able to travel anywhere easily. Arrangements
were very well taken care of here by an experienced tour leader.
The main lecturer, Frabrice Callet, was fluent in English with
some accent problems which were easily decoded by us in the first
day or two. He and another guide accompanied us on our tours of
Versailles, the Louvre, and the Orsay so that our group of 35
could be split into two sections. We attended a chamber music
concert in a medieval chapel and had our farewell dinner in the
elegant dining room at the Louvre. Meals were especially good and
served in a number of restaurants as the hotel did not have a
restaurant. Many of the Elderhostlers had been in Paris before
but the lectures and tours presented different aspects from what
most had heard or seen previously.

Just two other notes about the trip: 1. IST in the U.S. did not
seem to be very good at travel arrangements and many people
complained about inconvenient routing and long layovers. 2. There
was more petty crime on this trip than I have seen before. Three
men had their wallets lifted by pickpockets and two women had
their handbags stolen. One was taken right outside the Paris
hotel one morning as a youth grabbed it off the shoulder of the
traveller. Most of this occurred in Paris. There were individual
safes in the rooms in Paris but even these experienced travellers
did not seem conscious enough of the danger.

Joyce Cohrs	jcohrs@mindspring.com


  Cal Poly, Cambria Pines Lodge, CA

My first requirement in choosing an EH is always the site, and in
this case the Cambria Pines Lodge  more than lived up to its
blurb.  It's a long-established retreat center on 25 acres of
pines, within walking (hilly) distance of the charming little
town of Cambria.  The rooms are large (some even with fireplace),
with TV, morning coffee, and 2 dbl beds.  There's an indoor pool
and spa available.  The place is built around large lovely
gardens.  We ate, exercised and had classes all in the same
room...but it was large enough for our group of 36.

The food was served buffet style, and was healthful, ample and
not particularly exciting (no choices)...but we don't go
hosteling to "dine", do we?  One of the high spots to the (5-day)
week was (were?) the co-ordinators, Shirley   Jack Yates.  It was
their first time, and I hope they go on forever.  This was my
25th EH and I've never had finer hosts.  They were charming, but
efficient, knowledgeable and good-looking and extremely helpful.

As to the courses, we had Tai Chi, and Zoos, but Cal Poly has
many different weeks and other courses offered.  But whatever you
choose, be sure to pick one that features "Sangs   Clatters: a
Glimpse of Scotland".  Maisie Eggers, the instructor, is a
National Treasure worth coming across country for!  She could
read the dictionary in that great accent and I'd be enthralled,
but she gave us a wonderful picture of growing up in Glasgow, and
some history of the Highland Clearances, and life in the crofts.
The climax was a Ceilidh the last night; a tribute to Robert
Burns, and even serving a real Haggis, with all its ceremony.

There were two field trips in a very comfortable bus: one to a
Tasting and Tour of a Winery, and the other to the Zoo in
Atascadero, where we had a glimpse behind the scenes of this very
fine little zoo.  We also had a free afternoon, which many used
to visit the famous (kitschy) Hearst Castle nearby.  We went up
the coast a ways to see the Elephant Seals on the beach.

Because of its location, this site requires a car, so most of the
group were fellow Californians.  Another slight drawback was
noise....the buildings are not well-insulated, so if you have
inconsiderate neighbors, you would do well to call the
desk...they take quick action.  But those are very small things
compared to the pleasure of this EH.  If I didn't have the rest
of the EH Catalog to visit, I'd go back in a minute!

  Terry  Kirker

St Mary of the Wood, Atawalk, Indiana

My wife and I just returned from Atawalk: The Covered Bridges of
Indiana 14552 elderhostel. It was our first one, so we had little
to compare with.  We enjoyed our experience and recommend it to
you all (especially if the problems cited below are corrrected).
Here are our comments:


We arrived on St Mary of the Wood College campus on Sunday
afternoon.  Check-in went smoothly.  We were greeted and directed
by Veronica.  Sunday evening we had a brief mixer session, which
was helpful.  I wanted to watch the Bears game (dumb, but
faithful...that's me), but couldn't find a cable-connected TV on

Monday morning Ann Lynk, Director of Visitors and Convention
Bureau, gave an interesting, spirited talk about the history of
the Covered Bridge Festival.  Lots of emphasis on "it's about the
money."  Monday early afternoon was a video on the history of
Providence and a brief, informative tour of Sisters of Providence
hall and church.  Then we had a very good class session with Mike
Cooper, who taught us about the engineering design and
restoration of covered bridges.  An hour of swimming  preceded
supper.  That evening a local gradeschool group presented a
program of (very little) information about their studies of the

Tuesday morning we received a great lecture on history and lore
of the bridges by Sherm Chancellor.  He then took us by school
bus to many of the bridges.  We got to crawl around and under
them to our hearts' desire.  He showed construction,
deterioration, and restoration aspects.  We had lunch on the road
at Tangiers, home of the "buried beef".  It was lots better than
it sounds.  Then it was on to more bridges and back to the
College.  That evening they arranged for us to watch "The Bridges
of Madison County" on the TV/VCR at the College.

Wednesday we were off on the bus to see more bridges with Sherm
all morning.  We finished up the tour at noon and were on our own
for four hours of arts and crafts shopping in Bridgeton, IN, one
of the several towns in the area that host the Covered Bridge
Festival, returning to the College for supper.  Most of us
watched a video movie that evening.

Thursday morning the group's only activity was a 2-hour session
on Flora and Fauna of Indiana.  It turned out to be a brief walk
on campus to collect leaves, then making leaf-print-t-shirts.
Good fun, but not what any of us had in mind.  We were free in
the afternoon.  Veronica made special arrangements for the school
van to take some of the group back to the Covered Bridge Festival
for more shopping.  The rest of us went to Terre Haute, which has
some interesting old buildings, a nice house-museum, and lots of
strip-mall shopping south of town.  That evening we had a special
"Amish" closing dinner.  It was good, but not really special.  We
received our certificates and a beautiful, framed print of a
covered bridge (nice!).  Later, most of us watched another video
in the guesthouse.

Friday there was NO planned program.  We ate breakfast and left.


St Mary of the Woods is a beautiful, old campus about 5 miles
outside Terre Haute, IN.  In October the beautiful scenery in the
area is worth the cost of the elderhostel.  The dining halls are
about 1/4 mile from the Guesthouse where we stayed.  It was an
easy walk, but would have been a bummer if it had rained.


Rooms were neat and clean.  Our room was spacious and
comfortable.  Lighting was poor (bring 100W bulbs).  The building
only has heating, so it would have been less comfortable if the
weather had been warm.  We shared a bath with another couple.
This was just a minor inconvenience.


Breakfasts were self-serve.  The serving area was crammed into a
small, dead-end room.  When we suggested they open another,
existing door in the room, the staff explained that it would be
inconvenient for them(!).  There was a variety of breakfast
items, but nothing special.  Lunch and supper meals were in the
school's dining room.  The food was institutional, well prepared,
and ample.  Suppers were at 5:30....too early by our standards,
especially as isolated as we were from town and cable TV.


Veronica and her assistants, Lori and Julie, were helpful,
responsive, flexible, and active.  When problems developed, they
acted to fix them.  However, there were several gaps in coverage,
and we had problems contacting them when problems came up.


We talked to many friends before going on this elderhostel.  They
all commented on the "rigorous" activities and how busy they
usually were on elderhostels.  This was NOT the case here.  We
had many, BIG "freetime" gaps.... too many.  Our experienced
group members agreed. The program really ended Thursday at
noon(!!!), so we only had a 3 1/2 day elderhostel.  The program
should have been fleshed out with more content (shopping isn't
content), such as information sessions and/or field trips on the
history of southern Indiana, Terre Haute (quite an interesting
history there!!!), local attractions, flora and fauna
(educational this time), and canals.

Overall, we enjoyed our first adventure and recommend it to you.
We are already looking for our next one.

Bill and Ann Carter wacarter@netnitco.net


The Art Institute of Chicago
October 1-7, 2000

This excellent program used selected paintings, sculptures, and
artifacts in its collection as foci for informative lectures (one
or two daily) on art, from ancient to contemporary times.
Participants (44 in our group) were housed and ate breakfast and
dinner at the historic 106-year-old Chicago Athletic Association
building, a short block and across the street from the Art
Institute, on Michigan Avenue.

Rooms were comfortable and well appointed; food, satisfactory;
service, excellent.  We had lunch daily at the Institute's school
delicatessen.  Extras--in our case, two evening plays and a
two-hour downtown afternoon walking architecture tour--could be
reserved in advance and cost extra. Other options (no charge)
included daily one-hour morning Tai Chi classes, a special
evening lecture, and a onetime after-dinner calligraphy class.
We had one afternoon free.

The program site is within walking distance of such Chicago
landmarks as the Field Museum, Cultural Center, original Marshall
Field's Department Store, Sears Tower, Palmer House, Museum of
Contemporary Art, and Terra Museum of American Art.


Queen Mary  - Long Beach, California --
The Center for Studies of the Future
Oct. 8 - 12, 2000
Program 52355-1008-01

The Queen Mary is fabulous!  Owned by the city of Long Beach, she
is permanently berthed in its harbor and operates as a luxury
hotel.  Her elegance is evident immediately as all staterooms,
passages and public areas are richly panelled, utilizing some 50
different kinds of wood, many varieties from trees which are now
extinct.  In addition, sparkling crystal murals, complimented by
gleaming brass and German silver are resplendent in the
stairwells.  The QM is home to several million dollars worth of
exquisite art objects.  She is in a constant state of renovation
to preserve her elegant 1930's atmosphere, while upgrading to
accomodate the expectations of today's guests.

Forget everything you've heard about cramped shipboard cabins. As
a ship's officer pointed out during one lecture, "This is a
liner, not a cruise ship." Guests are housed in spacious,
air-conditioned, first class staterooms.  Our room was equipped
with a coffeemaker, refrigerator, hair dryer and phone jack for
internet access.  (It's my understanding that other rooms may be
lacking in some of these amenities.)  My roommate, Mary Alice,
and I found ample storage space in the closet, desk and a
multitude of drawers and cubby holes.   Two portholes provided
daylight and gave us access to fresh air.  The hotel staff is
courteous, friendly and attentive -- an eager crew who provide
service with a smile.  The local newspaper was left at our door
every morning, and maid service is provided daily.

The meals served on board are delicious!  The QM chefs do an
excellent job of prep and presentation.  We breakfasted aboard
ship, and also enjoyed two superb dinners. The breakfast buffet
included eggs, potatoes, bacon and sausage, as well as a variety
of cereals, rolls, pastries, juices and a spectacular array of
fresh California fruits.  Though most of us chose the buffet, we
were given the option of ordering from the menu.

At the first group dinner, the main course choice was chicken or
fish.  Our farewell dinner options were chicken or steak. All
were served with rice or potatoes, and a tasty fresh vegetable
medley.  Most meals were served in the Promenade Cafe -- a
beautifully appointed salon on the Promenade deck.   The waiters
are attentive without being intrusive, and the service is
excellent.  (As specified in the catalog, they are not prepared
to cater to special dietary needs.)

Some hostelers make it a policy to carry little money, based on
their understanding that all expenses and tips have been prepaid.
This isn't the case on the Queen Mary. Unless you're a very light
eater, you'll need a bit of  breakfast and lunch money. You'll
also need some cash for tips.  For example, upon arrival,
bellhops greet you at the parking lot entrance, put your luggage
on carts and escort you to the lobby, which is upstairs.  If you
arrive before check-in time, they stow the bags for safekeeping,
until your room is available. After delivering you and your
luggage to your room, they expect, and deserve, a tip.

CSF provided breakfast vouchers for Monday, Tuesday and
Wednesday.  These had a face value of $10.  Hostelers pay the
difference if tabs exceed that amount.  (The difference is not
refunded if you spend less.)  The buffet is priced at $9.95,
before tax and tip.  Thursday's "prepaid breakfast" was
continental style -- sign in and pick up coffee, juice, and
pastries in the bakery and eat on the deck or in your room.

The lunch plan was a bit unusual.  At registration, each hosteler
was given an envelope containing $20 -- which was designated as
"lunch money" for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, when we'd be
on our own.  Monday's group lunch was pizza.  Our schedule read,
"Meet at Italian restaurant in the Marketplace across from the
ship."  Upon arrival at the restaurant, we were told to use the
back door, which was labeled "Employees Only."  Here, we were
sent through a cafeteria-style line, past a makeshift counter
where small salads, packets of dressing, and beverages were set
out.  We were given a slice of pizza on a paper plate and sent
outdoors to eat.  (Had we known in what to expect, many of us
would have skipped this experience, and opted to dine aboard

This course is not for people who have difficulty walking.  In a
classic example of understatement, the catalog listing shows 700
feet as the maximum distance between housing, classes, and meals.
The ship, itself, is 1,019 feet long. There are ten decks, and
the class tours had us scampering over four or five of them,
using the stairs to move between decks.  (The two elevators are
slow. Folks who used them had to catch up with the group, usually
missing out on a few things.)  In addition, the schedule includes
a walking tour of downtown Long Beach, a visit to the aquarium,
and two evening meals at a downtown Greek restaurant.  Long Beach
provides free bus service to these locations. However, you have
to walk across the Queen Mary's sizeable parking lot, to and from
the bus stop, and will very likely have to stand while you wait.
Some folks in our group were unable to participate comfortably in
these activities.

Classes include a study of Art Deco, the Art of the Queen Mary,
as well as the histories of the Queen Mary, movies and Long
Beach.  Given California's laid-back lifestyle, when it comes to
classes, flexibilty is the name of the game.  If you seek
structure and compliance with pre-ordained schedules, this may
not be the course for you.  Adjustments are frequent and require
a willingness to go with the flow.

The two ship's officers who lectured and led a tour, knew their
material and presented it in an interesting way.  Sean Smith, the
Art Deco instructor, is a youthful grad student, who initially
appeared ill at ease.  He stammered a bit, then conceded that
ours was his first Elderhostel class.  He mentioned that he was
more accustomed to teaching college students and to saying "Yes
sir" or "Yes ma'am" to people our age.  At that point, I cut him
a bit of slack on the grounds that 'He'd been raised right.'
Following the lecture, Smith led us on a tour where he pointed
out and explained the decor and details of  some of the artwork
on board.  Here, he was in his element, and seemed to be more
comfortable, and ably fielded our questions.

Gary Hammond, whose audio-visual presentation on  was scheduled
from 8:30 till noon failed to appear on Wednesday.  Our
coordinator filled the timeslot with videos of old movies. Mr.
Hammond showed up at 11 o'clock on Thursday morning.  His
presentation was crammed into the one-hour slot that had been
allotted for a lecture on the Port of Long Beach. This very
interesting and entertaining class titled, "The films and music
of the Queen's era," was, unfortunately, cut short because of a
noon check-out time. (I heard no explation regarding the
scheduled lecture about the port.)

One of the brightest spots in the agenda was our walking tour of
downtown Long Beach, led by Lucy Daggett. Lucy is extremely
well-informed about local history, art and architecture and
sparkles as she enthusiastically shares information about the
town which she so obviously loves.  Our group got an added bonus
during this outing, when the tour ended inside a church, where
the pipe organ was undergoing extensive repair.  One of the
workers graciously treated us to a brief, but masterful,
impromptu concert.

Another highlight for me, was the visit to the Aquarium of the
Pacific.  We lunched in the cafeteria, primarily on salads or sub
sandwiches, and then were free to roam at our own pace.
Knowledgeable docents are available to answer your questions, and
there are many hands-on exhibits where you can, for example:
Reach into the water and touch the sting rays (whose barbs have
been removed.)  The aquarium has both indoor and outdoor
exhibits.  The specimens original habitats range from frigid
Alaskan waters to the tropical reefs of Micronesia.  My personal
favorites, the sea otters, put on a non-stop performance that
continually kept the viewing area crowded with observers.

I'd be remiss if I ended this narrative without mentioning Peg
Steel, our coordinator.  As stated earlier, the QM is constantly
undergoing repair and renovation.  During our brief stay, this
work required the occasional closing of stairways, passages and
in one instance, the dining room.  In addition to coping with
teachers who failed to show up, Peg had to deal with rerouting us
to avoid construction areas.  She made heroic efforts to keep our
group of 40 happy in spite of the foul-ups.  Somehow, Peg kept
smiling.  Also, hats off to the ships' officers and crew, who
went out of their way to make our stay pleasant.

Micki Nelson