>       Elderhostel Notebook #79 January  2001
>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
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>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 is our first issue for 2001 (purists say for the millenium)
>and represents five years of posting reports on Elderhostel
>program experiences.
>In this past month I have had several communications from readers
>who disagreed with one or another of the archive reports of a
>particular program or program site.  If you feel a site or
>program isn't fairly represented in the archives, the solution is
>to write a report of your own describing your experience at that
>program and your report will be there in the archives along with
>the one you disagree with and readers can read both. Often
>programs change and problems at a particular time are remedied in
>later offerings of that program.
>Generally my experience with program reports has been that
>readers are very reluctant to make negative comments and often do
>so only in guarded and often coded terms. This somewhat defeats
>one of the purposes of the notebook which is to give readers some
>idea of which are the better programs and which ones they might
>want to avoid.
>This issue continues to carry the Comment and Query section, but
>I am considering discontinuing it  somewhere down the line and
>urge readers to use the SeniorNet Roundtables discussion on
>Elderhosteling instead. It is free and  available to anyone with
>an internet connection. I have put a link to it along with some
>basic instructions on the Notebook web page.  I won't discontinue
>the Comment and Query section until I see how that alternative
>works out.
>    Comments and Queries
>From: "Robert J. Levine" 
>This an answer I received inquiring about the effect of altitude
>when going to Tibet. I think many of your readers will be
>interested in the reply.
>Bob Levine
>In our group of 25 people, only one woman suffered severe
>altitude sickness: nausea, vomiting, etc. There was a doctor at
>the hospital who treated her, and she was out with the group in
>less than 24 hours. Some of the others had headaches of varying
>severity. Climbing stairs (of which there are many at the Potala
>Palace and other sites) did leave everyone breathless
>momentarily, but we had been cautioned to walk and climb slowly,
>and we were fine (I am 70 years old, and was fine; I am
>accustomed to a great deal of walking).
>Overall, everyone felt that whatever discomforts they experienced
>were small price to pay for a truly marvelous experience!
>From: DorryToo@aol.com
>I am going to New Mexico March 11 thru March 30 . Doing Galluop,
>Santa Fe and Taos. Sugestions for clothing and things to do.
>Nancy Jones
>Subj:   proposed trip
>From:   skorstvedt@compuserve.com
>We have done several wonderful Elderhostel programs in Italy all
>coordinated by Trinity College. One of the best was in Mondello,
>Sicily with the great team of Giovanni and Marcella as
>coordinators. Now we are thinking about a relatively new offering
>in Sicily. I have learned that it is not run by Trinity but by
>ETrav in Newton, Mass. The program is situated in Taormina and
>has a culinary focus. In the ElderHostel catalogue it is listed
>as Sicily-Cucina Mediterraneao,  Program  #18017-0601. I think
>about four programs have already been given. The one we are
>interested in begins June/1/'01.  Can anyone offer some feedback,
>evaluation of site and of program? Thank you in advance; CIAO for
>Subj:   Query about Adventures Afloat
>From:   ELNUNZ@aol.com
>We have just made a reservation for Hawaii by Sea.  Has anyone
>had any recent experiences with this program?  Would be
>especially interested in hearing about the hotel on Maui.
>Subj:   San Antonio
>From:   TONKINSON@prodigy.net
>We are interested in an Elderhostel in San Antonio.  There are
>several different classes available.  We would appreciate any
>information about these classes.
>Jamie Tonkinson
>Longmont, CO
>Subj:   Wild Africa Elderhostel
>From:   babaskp@execpc.com
>I've just discovered your Notebook, and would like to know if
>anyone has recently taken the Wild Africa Elderhostel in
>Botswana/Zambia.  We would appreciate any information regarding
>this trip.  It will be our first visit to Africa.  We have
>friends in their 80s who are wondering if it would be too
>strenuous for them.  Anyone out there with an answer?
>Thanks for this opportunity.
>    Program Reviews
>         After the Fall (Eastern Europe)
>         Elderhostel 'train trek'  through Alaska
>         Discover Thomas Jefferson at Monticello
>         LaPaz, California Baja Sur
>         Geronimo Educational Foundation
>         New Orleans Jewish Community Center
>         Southwestern Oregon Community College/Off Campus
>After the Fall
>Three week trip to the Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary.
>December 2000
>Spent a week each in Prague, Vienna (St Polten), and Budapest.
>The theme was the history of each country with emphasis on the
>time after WWII and the communist period when the Soviets
>controlled the area. Lectures were by local activists who did in
>general a fantastic job of explaining their political and social
>Personally we also enjoyed 12 musical events in 20 days, both
>scheduled, optional and additional. Saw ballet, opera, folk,
>marionette shows and chamber concerts. Quality was first rate for
>these events.
>Only 13 EH showed up (vs 30 LY) so we had a closed group with a
>lot for staff to guide us.
>Prague: fell in love with this city. Vibrant and young with
>activity going on all the time. The history of the area is
>interesting and to have the locals tell of the period when they
>lived under Soviet domination and how little they knew of the
>outside world was difficult for us westerners to comprehend.
>Accommodations were excellent and like most non US places travel
>on the local tram and subway system was easy. Food on the high
>side for quality, but heavy into sauces as is this entire area.
>Of course potatoes were special in all these countries. Local
>leaders excellent.
>Vienna: disappointing in the they house you in St Polten, which
>while a comfortable hostel type facility (with private bath) was
>located 50 km from Vienna so it was difficulty to partake of
>Vienna at night. Feel this is a bad choice and caused us to spend
>over 15 hours on the bus just going back and forth to Vienna.
>Food moderately good but not exciting and in Prague and Budapest.
>Some of the lectures in the area were not prepared and others
>excellent. Did not get a good impression of Austria as a result.
>Budapest: interesting, excellent lecturers, good food and
>comfortable facilities. City is easy to get around in on the
>public system and went to a musical event almost every night,
>with excellent quality.
>Weather: seasonal, overcast all days and in the 40's with only
>one day of rain.
>Highly recommend this trip.
>Elderhostel 'train trek'  through Alaska
>University of Alaska
>This program was a  very nice experience.  It was not the "Ritz"
>but then I did not PAY for the "Ritz". It was 3 stamps in the
>passport...one in Seward where we studied at the Research Center
>which is a result of the Exxon Oil Spill.  In Denali National
>Park, we stayed in the cabins in Elderhostel Park!!  The food was
>terrible, but then, it was being prepared by a couple of the
>20,000 young people imported during the summer to work the
>"tourist season".  (I could stand NOT eating for a few days :-)
>We stayed in a hotel in Fairbanks but I understand the groups
>after us would stay in the dormitory at UAF.  I forgot, we stayed
>in the dorm at UAA (Anchorage) and these were first class rooms
>and new!
>We had very busy days and nights on this trip.  I had to play
>hooky one night and just sleep.  The train trip was spectacular!!
>  The sights, the views, the Glaciers!!  I went to the Arctic
>Circle which was an extra fee after Elderhostel ended.  In
>Anchorage, before the trip began, I took a "bear sighting"
>flight.  That was expensive, but I am glad I did it.  I did not
>see bears anyplace else.  I heard that some of the people who
>took the bear sighting trip before, DID not see bears!  I suspect
>it is a gamble.  I recommend that anyone interested take this or
>a similar trip because Alaska is rapidly changing.  The Burger
>Kings, Holiday Inn's, McDonalds, etc. etc. are built as fast as
>construction can go.  The gravel oil pipeline road is being paved
>across the state so all the other touristy things will follow.
>I am anxious to pick my next trip to England, Ireland and
>Scotland.  If anyone has been there , it would be nice to hear
>from you.
>Discover Thomas Jefferson at Monticello
>Virginia Commenwealth U
>Charlottesville, VA.
>The organizers did a fantastic job of making everyone feel
>comfortable and welcome.
>The opening reception was an opportunity for people to meet each
>other, and all of the participants were gracious and interesting.
>We had 9 lectures on Monticello and Jefferson. They covered
>Architecture, collections, gardens, archaeology, education,
>political life, plantation life and UVA architecture.  All of the
>speakers except one were professors from UVA.  They were well
>organized, and had excellent slides and information to share.
>They were respectful to the audiences questions, even if
>seemingly stupid questions, they were taken seriously.  I MUST
>ADMIT THOUGH, most of the questions were fascinating, and
>reflected the plethora of scholarship of the elderhostelers.  I
>learned an enormous amount about Jefferson and Monticello -- in a
>well balanced way.  The professors did not sugar coat the man,
>but also told the human side.
>The accomodations were in a Best Western, which was old but
>adequate.  The rooms were large and had TV's and microwaves and
>refrigerators.  The food was served buffet style, and for the
>most part was excellent.
>We took two planned tours:  One to Monticello where we had the
>VIP treatment which included rooms which are off limits to most
>tourists.  Especially interesting was the dome room.  The other
>tour was of UVA.  We were able to tour with the preservationist
>who was wonderful and informative.  We also went to Michie Tavern
>and the Monticello Visitor Center.  Entertainment included
>Scottish dancers and music, and a Musician/storyteller.  Both
>were fun.  We had a free afternoon to do as we wanted, and a hike
>of the roundabouts at Monticello with a naturalist was also
>offered for that afternoon.  I chose to go to Montpelier with
>some others.  We also had dinner out one evening after a book
>signing by Joseph Ellis author of Founding Brothers.
>Overall, a great program.
>  LaPaz, California Baja Sur
>The Baja Natural History and Human Culture
>November 25-December 2, 2000
>We arrived by AeroMexico in LaPaz and took a taxi to the hotel
>LaPosada de Engelbert.  This hotel is a large spread-out one
>level modern hotel with a private beach on the Sea of Cortez with
>casita-style rooms spread throughout the property. It was very
>private and security was provided day and night. Our spacious
>room included a king-size bed with a private bath.  The dining
>room overlooked a pool surrounded by beautiful flowers and
>greenery.  This was once a favorite retreat for movie stars in
>the 60s and 70s who flew into LaPaz in small private planes
>before the roads were accessible to this hotel. The food was
>outstanding, with Mexican-style dishes served at each meal and
>was not too highly seasoned for those unaccustomed to spicy
>cuisine. Breakfast and lunch were served buffet style and dinner
>was formal with waiters serving the meals.  The weather was warm
>with clear blue skies.
>Lecture topics centered on the marine ecosystems in the area,
>fish and invertebrates, sea birds, marine mammals and the human
>history of the area. Two excursions enriched the classroom
>lectures: A full-day bus trip through the desert ended at Cabo
>San Lucas and was culminated with a ride out through the famous
>arches on a glass bottom boat. A two-hour boat ride to Espiritu
>Santo Island, which is a sea lion preserve, also provided
>opportunities for snorkeling and swimming. A picnic lunch was
>enjoyed while viewing large sea lions in their natural habitat.
>Field trips included an anthropology museum, a whale museum, and
>a snake museum. A special project to save sea lions damaged by
>fishermens net was filmed in the area by our instructor and
>shared with us. We were fortunate to attend an evening cultural
>event; a Ballet Folklorico, performed by local children in
>colorful native costumes.
>I would highly recommend this program.  The hotel accommodations
>and the food were excellent. The lectures, field trips, and
>excursions were very informative. The location and beautiful
>weather also contributed to this memorable learning adventure.
>Geronimo Educational Foundation
>December 2000
>I just thought I would give my opinion on a Elderhostel Program I
>just attended.  I have attended fifteen Elderhostels and many
>people have asked me what I have liked and have not liked.  The
>stock answer is all Elderhostels are so different it is difficult
>to separate one from the other as to good or bad.
>I now have an Elderhostel program that I can say is the worst I
>have ever attended.  It was sponsored by the Geronimo Educational
>The charge was $512.00 per person.  For $1024.00 we received  a
>$25.85 room, three useless hours of free time most every
>afternoon, plus a full afternoon and evening of free time as a
>bonus. The food was about as poor as any food I have ever had at
>an Elderhostel.
>The staff was good and knowledgeable, especially a Mr. John Rose.
>I have seen many caves and the Kartchner Caverns are the most
>over rated caverns I have had the privilege to tour.  I would not
>recommend touring these caverns to anyone.
>Just a passing thought, one of the Elderhostelers received a
>bonus, they had mouse or small rat as a companion in their motel
>If this type of over priced programs is what the future of
>Elderhostel holds I an afraid I will quit attending my usual four
>programs a year. It is starting to appear to me that
>Elderhostel's prices are rising fast and the quality of the
>programs is in decline.
>I had planed to attend several other programs sponsored by the
>Geronimo Educational Foundation but after this experience I will
>never attend any other program sponsored buy this group and would
>advise anyone else not to waste their time and money on any of
>their programs.
>Bob Wieser
>editors note:  From personal expereince I can note that this time
>of the year in Arizona the desert rodents do make an attempt to
>get indoors and often do in spite of the best efforts to keep
>them out.
>  New Orleans Jewish Community Center,
>  Dec. 10-15, 2000.
>  Ronarizona@AOL.COM
>The topics were the History of New Orleans, the History of the
>New Orleans Jewish Community and New Orleans Music. The faculty
>was uniformly excellent, Lester Sullivan (Xavier University),
>Irwin Lachoff (Xavier University) and John H. Baron (Tulane
>University). All lectures were at the Brent House Hotel except
>one, which was at the J. C. C.   The Hotel was a good class well
>maintained commercial hotel with daily maid service and a
>restaurant-cafeteria of moderate quality (breakfast was okay).
>All lunches and dinners were included and most were at very, very
>good eating places in the French Quarter and elsewhere.
>Transportation was by very comfortable bus. Museums, plantations,
>a river cruise and other attractions were included. The J. C. C.
>staff was pleasant and efficient. A most enjoyable and
>educational Elderhostel, highly recommended.
>Ron and Diane Weintraub.
>Southwestern Oregon Community College/Off Campus
>Date: Dec 10-16,2000
>Program # 37675-1210--01
>Price $457.00 for 6 nights-including all meals and field trips
>every day in 1st class motor coach. transportation. Horizon air
>flys into North Bend. It is affiliated with Northwest Airlines. I
>drove and took I-5 interstate to Eugene,Ore and turned towards
>coast from there.good roads. no mountain passes.no snow. Having
>attended EH in all parts of the U.S., of my 16 attended this was
>the best organized and presented. All credited to a very
>competent young lady named Sally Hampton. Location-Pony Village
>Lodge located across from Pony Village Mall in North
>Bend,Ore.(adjacent to Coos Bay,Ore.) accommodations were
>fine-hotel is being remodeled as was sold to Ramada Inn, however,
>it did not effect any of our rooms or hotel usage.
>We did not have the best weather but Sally was great at adjusting
>changes to fit in with the weather. Bus driver took us right to
>the door in case of rain. We started off at registration by being
>offered canned salmon,oysters,shrimp or tuna and an assortment of
>local made jams and jellys. Welcome dinner and nicely presented
>orientation. Our group of 22 were one of the most compatible I
>have seen. We all came prepared for rain and no complaints made
>at any time. It was a hardy group out for a good time before
>2nd day Lecture on Climate,Geology and Beaches at the hotel Lunch
>at Oregon Institute of Marine Biology- Boy can those ladies put
>on a feast.Beach combing at Simpson Reef Dinner at Lodge. Evening
>trip to Shore Acres to view 250,000 Christmas lights in the
>beautiful gardens A sight to remember.
>3rd day Field trip to Coquille River Lighthouse,Bandon Historical
>Society Museum,Lunch at restaurant overlooking the beautiful
>coast,then visit to "Free Flight"Bird and Mammal
>Rehabilitation.We saw owls,hawks,even a Bald Eagle that were all
>injured and no longer able to be returned to the wild. Any animal
>that could be returned we were not allowed to see so they would
>not get used to people. Next explore Old Town Bandon,candy
>factory,cheese factory dinner at lodge.
>4th day Field trip to Hallmark Fisheries and a wonderful tour
>watching the arrival and progessing of Dungeness Crab.Lunch at
>College and tour of facilities.This is a nice modern college. In
>summer the accommodations are at the college and they were very
>nice. No Dorms - All apartments afternoon - visit to Myrtle wood
>factory,Coos Bay artifacts, Oregon Wine Cellar, Dinner at Oregon
>Institute of Marine Biology. It was a feast of fresh
>crab,shrimp,huge salad bar, fried oysters,baked tuna(and Turkey
>if you were not a seafood eater) and out of this world desserts.
>Another offer to see Shore Acres Lights
>5th day Trip to Reedsport and Umpqua Discovery Center,Dean Creek
>Roosevelt Elk Viewing(yes they were out there). Lunch at
>Winchester Bay and out to Sand Dunes Discovery. Dinner at Lodge.
>6th Day Welcome to U.S.Coast Guard Air Station at North Bend.
>Greeted by the Captain and then the "Dolphin" Helicopter pilot
>and the rescue Swimmer/Emergency Medical Technician showed us
>"How its Done" So interesting. Lunch at College, Then to Bureau
>of Land Management(BLM) for story and film on the shipwreck 2
>years ago of the "New Carissa" just off Coos Bay. Continued on to
>Coos Bay Museum Historical Maritime Collection and lastly a
>Harbor Tour on the boat Rendezvous. Enclosed or top deck
>available. It was a nice night. Dinner at Lodge with music. Sally
>gave us a wonderful send off. She was quite an organized lady
>with great ideas.Was with us all days and invited many of the
>personnel that showed us around to have lunch or dinner with
>us.The manager of the hotel even came to our final dinner and
>thanked us for staying with them. Look for other programs put on
>my this college. You too will have a wonderful 6 days.
>Marion Peck
>University of Arkansas - Fayetteville
>Program # 04576-1129 - "The Edge of Conflict"
>This Civil War themed program ran from Wednesday to Monday
>because of the weekend reenactments at Prairie Grove State Park
>Battlefield.  It was one of the best EH's we have attended (out
>of 21), extremely well organized and with nice facilities.  We
>were transported everywhere in a U. of Arkansas bus with a
>razorback on the sides!
>The first night we had a short orientation/introduction time and
>then were driven downtown to see the main square of Fayetteville
>lit with thousands of white Christmas lights, spectacular.  We
>toured Pea Ridge National Battlefield with a ranger as guide,
>visited the antebellum homes of Fayetteville, explored the U. Of
>A. campus, saw and discussed "The Red Badge of Courage", and
>watched several excellent videos on the war in Arkansas. One
>thousand reenactors, including artillery and cavalry, fought
>battles on Saturday and Sunday.  We spent hours exploring the
>encampments and talking to the "soldiers".  The Ozark Dulcimer
>Society performed for us and included Civil War songs in keeping
>with our theme.
>Our coordinator, Gloria Young, thought of everything,including a
>catered meal in a school building near the battlefield.  The
>logistics of this week had to be difficult to work out and
>everything was done to make our visit pleasant and memorable.  It
>was VERY cold much of the time, but that was beyond anyone's