Elderhostel Notebook #88 June  8,  2001

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compare notes on elderhostel programs.

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    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


Subj: 	EH in Malta

From: 	mvhoff@en.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: 	bankstons@mediaone.net

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: 	jordan457@mosquitonet.com

I would appreciate any information about a tour of India,
especially Northern India.  Thank you.

Carol jordan457@mosquitonet.com

    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


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)


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


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,


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)


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

    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


One evening after dinner in a local cafe, we had a local folk
singer with guitar for a presentation


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
lmjr34@yahoo.com          communications welcome



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


University of Taos, NM

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

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

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.

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

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


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  thomaseu@aol.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

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

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

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

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 dgdill@bellsouth.net


Prague, Czech Republic/Budapest, Hungary

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

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