Elderhostel Notebook #89 July 1,  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
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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
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Please keep all correspondence in simple e-mail text format.

    Comments and Queries
From: loumar@webtv.net

Subject: Austria

I am going on the Austria Danube Unifying program Oct 5-23. It
will be the first time I am going as a single and would like to
hear from anyone who is signed up for that program.



From: 	jcohrs@mindspring.com

I am registered for an Elderhostel called Argentina Land of
Contrasts which emphasizes Patagonia.  Has anyone taken this trip
or something similar?  I will be going in November and I'm
interested in weather especially in Tierra del Fuego.

From: GrammieB@aol.com

Hi! I would love to know whether anyone has taken the Adventures
Afloat trip which goes from Venice to Milan. Thank you for any
help in finding a reference.

Beverly Franklin (GrammieB@aol.com)


Subj: 	Vancouver

From: 	evelynhow@yahoo.com

Has anyone participated in an Ecoventures British Columbia EH?
Curious as to the quality.  Thank you evelynhow@yahoo.com



Intergenerational Washington DC

I'm registered for the Washington DC elderhostel with two
granddaughters, ages 14 and 10. Has anyone been to this one
before? How did it work out? Are evenings free? What time was the
Friday session over? What kinds of places did you see? We're
driving from Wisconsin.


Subj: 	I Give Up......

From: 	sunknow@tyler.net

I have come to the conclusion that I am not Elderhostal material.
They simply do not have a place, trip, or program suitable for me
to attend.

I have tried for two years, online, and through the published
Elderhostel Catalog to find the right match......it doesn't
exist.  I am amazed that theire are so many 'fit as a fiddle'
seniors out there.....how lucky they are!  They can hike, climb
mountains, ride the rapids, and do all the things that 20-30 year
olds can do.  It's truly a miracle.  A few folks in that top
condition would not surprise me......but where do the other
"not-so-fit" go, with any chance of participation.

Yes, I am handicapped.  But there are people with all sorts of
handicaps, and all of them are not confined to a wheel chair,
though the use of one would be helpful under certain
circumstances.  But if you are not wheel-chair bound, you just
don't exist (not even to the handicapped, I'm ashamed to
admit..!).  The airlines want nothing to do with you, regardless
of what the law says.....I have been turned down twice by major
airlines, absolutely no oxygen in flight.

The mobility at some of the program sites is described, or not
described...in words that are exceedingly evasive. AW......here's
one.  From the location to the dorm and meals three times a
day......"a nice stroll....."  (according to a friend, it was
five blocks, uphill....)

Mostly, only the very "fit" need apply....or you can always rent
a car.....but how far must you walk from the parking lot?  I am
not wheel-chair bound, I am oxygen dependent, and carry it with
me.....but I can walk only short distances, since
exercise-induced asthma is the problem, and the exercise called
for in wheeling myself cancels that idea. Allergic to perfume and
chemicals......well, that can usually be managed with with a
private room.  And no use suggesting a traveling partner....I am
a very independent lady.

I actually found one site I could drive to, and was interested in
it.  Yes, it included golf, for pete's sake, but I was interested
in the painting that was offered, and could just skip the golf.
I signed  up immediately, and was promptly told it was already
canceled.  I have NEVER found another.

I kept hearing about Tours.....by rail.....but I have yet to find
one!  Even the Bus tours are hard to come by, and warn of
"transport to site, and walk all day, bus back at night..".  It's
just no use......unless someone can show me, or tell me something
I'm missing.....there is no use in my staying on the mailing

Ya'll have fun..!!


editor's note:

I suspect there are a number of people with similar problems. If
anyone has found a solution please e-mail it in. I think some
contact ahead of time with a potential site would help. In the
online catalog many of the site descriptions have e-mail
addresses of the host entity. Others have phone numbers.

But that doesn't solve the cancellation problem. Maggie and I
found ourselves with a free week in July and found about 12
programs that fit our time slot and interest. The best ones were
filled which is understandable, but of the others most were

We sometimes just go anyway and do a "do it yourself" elderhostel
at the desired general location, but that cancels out many of the
advantages of elderhosteling. Anyway something else came up and
we decided to just stay here in wonderful Wisconsin that week and
do some geneological research on site in a local county area
where her great grandparents arrived at from Ireland in 1850's.

For us the elderhostel  solution is a little better planning
ahead of time, but that isn't going to help sunknow if the
program she finds is cancelled.

    Program Reviews

           Montreat Conference Center, North Carolina
           Aquitaine, France Elderhostel
           Grand Manan Island Elderhostel 63445
           Branson, Missouri
           The Jewish Community in Rome
           U. Of Missouri- St. Louis----MUSIC ON THE MISSISSIPPI
           Center for Studies of the Future

Montreat Conference Center, North Carolina
April 22-27, 2001.
itisalive@erols.com (My Elderhostel #56)

As the pastel day came slowly through my window high above
mountain-framed Lake Susan, I could look out and see the
shimmering water reflect elegant white dogwood trees and brazen
red azaleas. Only a few days earlier, it had been snowing in
Western North Carolina! Each morning offered a fresh treat at

"Montreat" is a contraction of "mountain" and "retreat. "It is
operated by the Presbyterian Church, USA. It is both a town and a
conference center a few miles east of Asheville, NC. The area
features many interesting sites, including the Folk Art Center,
Biltmore House, built by George W. Vanderbilt, and Carl
Sandburg's home, a national historic site. There are 4,000 acres
of lush woods here. As one of our guides said: "You cannot get
lost. We are on the only flatland in the area. If you do not know
where you are, just start downhill."

Two of the three instructors were superbly gifted teachers
utterly devoted to their art and students. They were well
prepared, interesting, and very generous with course outlines of
classes as well as recent materials and bibliographies. They were
available for questions after class and socialized with us. .

Bobbie Pell, a local storyteller, musician, and writer offered
the course: "Ballads-English and Scottish Narratives." She sang,
played the guitar, dulcimer and percussion instruments. She told
of honor, betrayal, mystery, comedy, and love that were sprinkled
throughout the legacy of Scotland and England. Her voice and
manner were so sweet, that she might have stopped the wars
between the Scots and English had they but heard her and sang

"Robert Burns: The People's Poet" was taught brilliantly by Dr.
Phoebe Smith, an English Professor who was on leave from Stetson
University. She placed Burns in the context of history, politics,
religion, literature, love and the rights of women, and even gave
us a glimpse of the famous Burns Suppers featuring haggis! Every
session was fascinating and very well thought out by Dr. Smith,
who put her whole heart into her scholarship and communication.

It was very pleasant to recall that in their courting days,
Abraham Lincoln recited Burns' love poetry to a happy Mary Todd.
They both knew Burns by heart.

"Abraham Lincoln and the Crises He Faced" was a different kettle
of fish--3 days old. You might expect some analyses of selected
crises, which were as long as Lincoln was tall. (Six feet four
inches} but you would be wrong. This was Lincoln without Fort
Sumter, which is like Roosevelt without Pearl Harbor. It was just
a highly subjective mish-mash of Lincoln without context, crises,
bibliography, or course outline. It was the stream of
consciousness of the teacher. If you had not passed History 101
recently, you would have drowned in it.

Dr. William Forstchner, is a Civil War hobbyist and science
fiction writer of "lost regiments" and "alien man eaters" who, at
Montreat College, is a professor of history. Poor Mary Lincoln
was dragged around the room by her hair, perhaps to illustrate
Lincoln's "crisis" because of her shopping habits. These old
stories, without compassion or understanding can be traced to
"Billy" Herndon, Lincoln's old law partner and enemy of Mary,
whose writing dates to 1889. It was pleasant to hear the
instructor's extensive reading of Lincoln's Second Inaugural, but
there was no explanation of its significance. Similarly with his
readings from Carl Sandburg's Lincoln. This was completed in l939
and it was the only book mentioned.

This same person substituted for a course: "A Walk Through The
Twentieth Century." He showed us a video of himself in Mongolia,
involved with the locals in catching, stuffing, roasting, and
eating an enormous rodent. His conclusion was: "Well, that took
care of twenty minutes." Fortunately, this was after lunch and
well before dinner. I headed for the hills with my walking stick
and camera.

Gratefully, the amenities at Montreat were excellent. There was
maid service every day. Every evening entertainment was
presented: piano concerts, square dancing, a cabaret songbird,
and an excellent amateur night in which I participated.

The food was buffet style for every meal and featured mile-long
salad bars, choices of meat, chicken or fish or all the above,
and an irresistible desert table. Everyone forgot that "Taste
Makes Waist." Still, at the final meal, six people at my table
took the pledge to undergo liposuction.some day!

Montreat could be named.ElderTreat. Hope to meet you there, as it
could happen to you too!

 From your friendly Elderholic,

Sid Kessler, email: itisalive@erols.com


Aquitaine, France Elderhostel

I just returned from the Elderhostel trip to the Acquitaine
region of France, which goes to Bordeaux (1 wk) and then Sarlat
!1 sk).  Although I had a good time, the program could use a lot
of improvement.  The days were far too long leaving on the bus at
8:30 or 9 am and returning on average a 6:30.  There wasn't
enough free time.

The wine lecturer spoke no English and everything he said was
then translated by a marginally competent person.  Too much
repetition of facts concerning wine chateaux.  The art lecturer
(a film school teacher) was needlessly verbose.  Sarlat was a lot
better, with far better hotel accommodations and much improved
trips. The trip might be worthwhile if only for the Sarlat
segment.  As a whole, the itinerary ignored the participants'
preferences and needs to be rethought.

  Write to Mglaser2@aol.com

Grand Manan Island Elderhostel 63445
June 10 -16, 2001
Helen Sternheim (helen@k12s.phast.umass.edu)

My husband and I just returned from our 25th Elderhostel trip.
We and 17 other people enjoyed a delightful 6 nights on Grand
Manan Island, New Brunswick Canada.  The program was held in the
Marathon Inn, a hotel that was established in 1871.  The hotel
was both charming and rustic and no two rooms were alike.  The
meals were all excellent and for dinners we had a choice of
either fish or a meat every night.

Jim Leslie (the hotel owner) was the program coordinator, he led
the bird watching walks, drove the bus, cooked breakfast and even
cooked dinner on the regular cooks night off.  He was a super
person and we all enjoyed his wharf walks and industrial tours of
Grand Manan too.  We are now all experts on lobster fishing,
salmon farming, herring fishing and sardine canning.

The program kept changing to take advantage of the weather.  On
our rainy foggy morning we had a tour of the Grand Manan Museum.
We had an excellent tour given by Ava, one of the staff members.
On the sunny days we had bird walks in the morning and wild
flower walks in the afternoon.  We were lucky enough to see bald
eagles on three occasions.  On Thursday we took a boat trip with
Peter Wilcox on the "Sea Watcher" to Machias Seal Island.  This
was the highlight of the week, we saw many puffins, nesting
arctic terns and razor bills. In the evenings we had slides shows
and talks by Wendy Dathan (our wildflower expert) and Laurie
Murison the manager of the Grand Manan Whale and Seabird Research

I would highly recommend this elderhostel to people who enjoy
spending time outside learning about the place you are visiting.


Branson, Missouri

Our Elderhostel in Branson (our 16th) was mainly about the Ozarks
Area. We learned about the Dams, the rivers and lakes (manmade),
the history of the Ozarks. We saw a couple of shows. They took us
to one show called the Dixie Stampede. This was a Horse Show.

They served us dinner while the show was going on. We sat in
tiers in a Horseshoe shaped arena. There was a counter or shelf
for our food. The servers came around with huge trays and placed
the food on our plates. We had soup, cornish Game Hens, potatoes,
corn on the cob, biscuits, and apple turnovers. There was no
silverware. We had to eat everything with our fingers. Pretty
messy. They gave us all a hot towel to clean up with afterward.

The country is very pretty, but it was not one of my favorite


The Jewish Community in Rome

In April I just enjoyed a brand new 8-day program, the Jewish
Community in Rome. This is one of the really outstanding programs
run by Trinity College, Hartford, CT. As you skim through my
report, remember that the members of our nice sized group of
about 20 very pleasant people, were mixed Jewish and non-Jewish
which made it all very interesting and pleasant.

We stayed in an interesting neighborhood -- near Sta. Maria
Maggiore, if you know Rome -- spent exploring the old ghetto and
related areas, and of course Michael Campo who was our superb
leader, knows Rome so well that we saw most of the city's most
important features which he related to Jewish history. We had a
perfectly pleasant hotel with a few small defects, plenty of
typical food plus a couple of menus featuring the Roman/ Jewish
cuisine some of which is a little odd to our taste, and it was a
very full short program.

We had time for some meals on our own in various neighborhoods
and I can't remember how much free time we had -- I stayed on for
a few days longer to find my own haunts, attend some exhibitions,
eat much too well and cafe-watch every late afternoon in perfect
weather. Our group NOT travel about the city by tour bus except
for one day to a rather remote area. We usually used local buses
as a group and then walked a fair amount -- not as much of some
of the new, rather athletic programs EH is now running. Often in
Rome one is given a return bus ticket and time to spend on your
own, with lots of information the buses back to the hotel -- what
numbers and where to catch them.

In that program there was emphasis on the ancient Roman period,
information on relationships between Italian Jews and non-Jews
throughout history, and much information through lectures and a
field trip on the Nazi occupation, with the final deportation of
a surprisingly small number of Jews, since many people seem to
have been hidden by neighbors, officials and local clergy (not
Pope Pius XII). Some of them actually survived the war. This was
all new to me and I really value the new knowledge, reading from
the several of the recommended books since I'm home.

For those of you you haven't travelled on one of Trinity's
Italian programs, I've done many and always recommend them as
among EH's very best trips. Beautiful Lake Garda, Verona,
wonderful Venice, the normal 2-week Rome, and the various
programs in Assisi, Siena, Montecatini (for Florence) are all
programs other people have done and liked a lot. I know that part
of Italy from my own travels but I'll probably eventually go back
again because with the EH lectures, I dig below the surface of
hotels, shopping, looking for church art and eating too much and
too well when I go there independently. Oh, yes, Sorrento has
always been a perfectly beautiful trip with a wonderful woman
there who has run it for years. And Sicily is a fascinating place
-- all ancient Greek monuments. I did a very so-so tour there
years ago and one day will probably take the EH program to learn
more about it.

I wish all the overseas EH programs were as good as those in
Italy and Britain! Carol Doctor, Wilmette, IL


U. Of Missouri- St. Louis----MUSIC ON THE MISSISSIPPI
June 3-8,
2001 lmjr34@yahoo.com


Best Western Super Hotel(Westport Park) on outskirts of city,
close to airport; EXCELLENT FREE shuttle van not only to airport,
but also to other places throughout the week (PAUL the driver is
TOPS); swimming pool and whirlpool; well maintained facility;
plenty of free parking for your car; limited outside walking
area; van connects with St. Louis convenient public
transportation  system (reasonable fare)


Very comfortable and spacious to please most, but room
housekeeping service was sometimes a problem


Auditorium type room with comfortable seats with desk tops, good
AV setup BUT air-conditioning was cold (I was comfortable with my
winter sweat-shirt with hood)


JAZZ/BLUES---Don Parker---outstanding: enthusiastic, lively,
humorous, pleasantly expressive, well-organized

BLUES/GOSPEL/SPIRITUAL--Robert Ray---also outstanding; very
knowledgeable (trained in classical music);used keyboard to get
audience singing participation; composer of BLACK MASS known
world wide BLUES/ROCK ROLL--Ron Edwards--soft spoken radio
personality with collection of album covers and plays a unique
steel guitar

COMPOSER OF WORDS AND MUSIC--James Richards-- enthusiastic,
knowledgeable and presented some very novel sheet music

RAGTIME at the Scott Joplin State Historical Society Museum; a
young man performed some great ragtime on a tingling piano

SUMMARY OF MUSIC FORMS--Joe Costantino--a very polished
presenter; rubbed shoulders with some of America's greatest
performers; World War II special services experienced;
radio/early TV arranger/announcer; he is on the national
Elderhostel circuit as a lecturer because of his great expertise
and excellent presentations


Breakfast--limited (but healthful)buffet (same every day)in hotel
dining room;  Lunch--waitstaff served, limited; Supper--various
outside locations (prominent/popular St. Louis places) limited
menu and portions (except for Riddles' spaghetti house)


Fresh apples, fresh bananas, SUPER cookies, great brownies and
plenty of water FIELD TRIPS:  Daily to locations of live
performances, unique stars plaques of famous Missouri
personalities in sidewalks (Blueberry Hill-University Park area),
Sheldon Music Hall, Scott Joplin Museum, Chatauqua-Kirkwood Park,
Catholic Cathedral/Basillica, Webster University Opera Center
(live performance of LaBoheme)


Becky Walstrom was always conscientiously helpful, very present
at almost all doings --she's been a director for more than 8
years;  her resident coordinator, Mary Kay Menees was always
available; Mary has done many Elderhostels with her late husband
who had amassed an incredible collection of records in his


You MUST  be a lover of JAZZ/BLUES/SPIRITUALS to really
appreciate this program; you must really go with the flow on food
since the limitations are many;

NOT RECOMMENDED FOR HANDICAPPED, particularly because of the many
field trips (handicapped would do very well staying in the
hotel); some days were much too long ---out of hotel meals and
programs did not allow a split ---you had to go to both since
they were a distance from the hotel. Besides the excellent
lectures, I was particularly turned on by the FABULOUS OPERA
PRESENTATION, it was even better than some I've seen at the Lyric
in Chicago.

YOUR ELDERHOSTEL JUNKIE---Leonard     e  mail communications
welcome            lmjr34@yahoo.com

Center for Studies of the Future
Ventura-by-the-Sea - California
June 10-June 15, 2001

FACILITIES:  Four Points Sheraton Hotel -- regular hotel rooms -
beds made and sheets changed mid-week only -  comfortable except
for noisy air conditioner - some Elderhostelers complained of
inadequate cleaning.

FOOD -  All meals at the hotel restaurant - about 1/4 mile walk
from rooms - excellent food and service with a great view of the
yacht harbor.  Breakfast:  always oatmeal, cereal and fruit.
Sometimes bacon   eggs, pancakes or muffins.  Lunches often
salads and/or sandwiches, with very good cookies for dessert.
Dinners well-cooked and enjoyed by all.

COORDINATOR -  Peg Steel - was with us all the time, except for
free-time.   Constantly available for questions and problems,
very organized but never bossy.  One small glitch when the hotel
van failed to pick up some Elderhostelers after a trip to town,
but I feel sure Peg will not let that happen again!

CLASSES - Digital Cameras -  Each of the 19 participants was
issued a digital camera and assigned a computer.  After an
opening lecture we went out and took some pictures, came back and
downloaded them into the computers.  The chief instructor, Egmont
von Websky was well-informed, careful and very patient.
Fortunately, most of the Elderhostelers had about the same level
of computer skills.  The other instructor, Paul Felts, and Peg
were also in the lab every session, so with the 3 helpers for 19
people, everybody got personal attention.  We learned a lot about
resizing, adjusting and printing our pictures.  The last day's
session was on choosing a digital camera.

Jacques Cousteau - Although most of the people attending came
primarily for the digital camera session, we were surprised and
pleased at the other class. Margery Spielman was a diver with the
Cousteau Foundation and had many interesting anecdotes to tell us
about Cousteau, his family and his work.  She had a lot of visual
aids and some hands-on diving equipment.  She had an excellent
delivery with no notes and kept the class awake even though we
met right after lunch with no nap break.

As we understand it, the Center for Studies of the Future is an
organization formed for handling Elderhostels in a variety of
Southern California settings, and if this one is representative,
they do a really professional job of it.   We highly recommend
this Elderhostel.

Grady and Virginia Singletary