What if there was a way to find out first hand what different countries were like without going there? What if you thought of somewhere you wanted to go but needed to know the can’t-miss activities and best ways to travel about? Or, what if you went on an absolutely fabulous trip and wanted to share what you saw and learned with others? For all of these reasons and countless more, Coronado Armchair Travel is a gift to the community.
Coronado Armchair Travel was founded by Hellen Anderson who has been a proud Coronado local for several decades and felt there was a need for this important group in Coronado. “I had a dream living in Asia for many many years. I love to travel. I had organized tours for the San Diego Museum of Art and I had missed it when I could no longer do it. I recognized that Coronado is a well traveled place and felt the need for [Coronado Armchair Travel] so I spoke to the Senior Center and they had room for us. I was fortunate to have a wonderful committee.”
The current committee meets monthly to plan the event. Each event is thoughtfully planned out and is themed by the country. Past events have included Cuba, SSR, Mongolia, Italy, The Gardens of Provence and the Cote d’Azur, Biking in Switzerland, and The Amazon Rain Forrest. Another exciting presentation was about Vietnam from a former POW. November 10th will be Norway which will be the last event of 2015. Events already scheduled for 2016 include Denmark, Hong Kong, and the Galapagos. The official calendar for the next six months will be released in late November. It is a lot of work, but these women are constantly laughing and chatting with each other and other locals, it is evident that there is a lot of fun that goes along with all of the planning.
[Map of “Biking in Switzerland” presented by Sue and Lee Cargill]
Every event includes a menu and atmosphere that reflect the country (it can only be imagined the delightful the tastings must be!). When the event focused on travel in Mexico, there was a mariachi band who played the event. One attendee gushed, “it was a ton of fun!” At the recent Switzerland event in September, the tables were decorated in the red and white of the Switzerland flag and kabobs with swiss cheese were served as well as swiss chocolates.
The first Coronado Armchair Travel presentation was in April of 2012 and given by then president and founder, Hellen Anderson, who discussed her travels to Thailand. The first meeting attracted 46 locals, and it has since grown to almost 200! Due to the rising number in attendance, the Coronado Armchair Travel moved locations from the Senior Center to the Coronado Recreation Center earlier this year.
In such a small town, a lot of the presenters are found by word of mouth. The committee prides themselves on pooling their resources and knowing a lot of people. Hellen describes Coronado as a “peripatetic society. Coronado is well traveled and we watch who is going on what trips. Most of us have been locals for over fifty years!”
[Founder, Hellen Anderson, featured in middle, socializing with event attendees]
The change of venue from the Coronado Senior Center to the Coronado Recreation Center was an important shift and enabled growth for the events. Not only in size, but also allowed greater flexibility in demographics. Former President and current committee member, Franchesca, discusses Hellen’s dream of the Coronado Armchair Travel, “She wanted to have something for the community to bring people together. Now that we are under the recreation center we can bring in younger people and families.”
Although the committee meets once a month, planning for each event takes about six months. Upcoming events can be found on eCoronado and in the Coronado Recreation Center catalogue. These events take place the second Tuesday of every month (with the exception of December) and begin at 6:00 PM for refreshments and mingling followed by a 6:45 presentation time. The recreation department of the city is the sponsor of the Coronado Armchair Travel. The cost to come to an event is a $5 donation to the center, but appetizers and refreshments inside of free of charge.
Current Coronado Armchair Travel President is Susan Anderson, Hellen’s daughter. Susan explains that “It’s a great idea. People meet each other and they are all interested in travel. I always say its a good place to meet old friends and make new friends who you already have a common interested in traveling. It’s been a really fun place to just get together, have some punch, and enjoy regional cuisine. The committee is what makes this so fun – it’s a great group of gals!”
[Current President, Susan Anderson, presenting speakers]
The common acknowledgement from all the presidents, past and current, is overwhelming gratitude toward the city. Susan says, “The city has been really, really wonderful in helping us with the facility and the services.”
If you are interested in hearing travel stories, sharing your own, just getting together and getting to know other Coronado residents with similar interests, or chocolate and wine- Coronado Armchair Travel is something you need to check out.
For information, call (619) 522-7342.