Got a call from the local passport agency imploring travelers to make application at their local post offices. Lines are horrendous at the agency, says Director Sakae Hawley. To get the lowdown on rules for obtaining a passport, call (213) 209-7070. Basically, here's what you'll need: a couple of passport-size photos, a birth certificate (or other evidence of citizenship) plus personal I.D. (driver's license, Social Security card, etc.). So try the post office. Either that or join the chaos at the agency, 11000 Wilshire Blvd., Room 13100. Only go early. It's a nightmare at noon, late in the day (closing time, 4 o'clock).
Thirty Orange County travel agencies have banded together to offer discount sales. Emphasis is on cruising. Other assistance with airline/tour purchases. There's a hitch, of course. You have to join a club. It's called International Voyagers. Members are given baggage tags, bulletins, a toll-free number to call while traveling. Details by dialing (714) 660-4900 or toll-free (800) 645-8585.
Here's a new toll-free hot line to learn the facts about health/immigration for foreign countries: (800) 368-3531. Call 9 a.m.-6 p.m. EST (local time, 6 a.m.-3 p.m.). This is a service of the International League of Travelers in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization and the U.S. State Department.
Bay Area Guide
A new edition of "City Guide" gives hundreds of facts on the San Francisco Bay area. Information on restaurants, shops, resorts, hotels. Contains 300 pages, sells for $4.95. The authors, Dan Whelan and Bella Levin, operate a hot line for travelers seeking assistance for hotel/motel reservations. (This is a free service.) Call (415) 332-9611. Hours: 1a.m.-6 p.m., Monday through Friday. For details about the book, write to City Guide, P.O. Box C, Sausalito, Calif. 94966.
Cable Car Caper
Speaking of San Francisco, the city by the bay is scheduling a big wingding June 15-22 to celebrate the first anniversary of the return of the cable cars. Lots of action. A parade, fireworks, a treasure hunt (winner gets a trip to Australia), dance contests, street performers. Motormen will compete in the annual Cable Car Bell-Ringing Championship. And there'll be wine tastings, children's shows. Contact Marge Booker at the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau, P.O. Box 6977, San Francisco 94101, or call Booker at (415) 974-6900.
It's called "a French fantasy" and it's a trip. Planned for the physically disabled ("or anyone else desiring a slow-paced tour"). Leaves LAX Sept. 12. Takes in Paris (P.L.M. St. Jacques Hotel), Beaune, Lyon, Nice, Monte Carlo, Cannes, Vallauris. Get in touch with Joan Diamond, Valley Oaks Travel, 13323 Moorpark St., Sherman Oaks 91423 or telephone (818) 990-4560, (213) 872-2830.
Hospitality Plus promises to steer you to a lineup of romantic hideaways. The service is free. These people have been doing business for four years. Introduced the toll-free number a couple of weeks ago. They'll put you into anything from a secluded cottage at the beach to a hideaway at Yosemite. Rates from $75 to $165 a night. Call (800) CAL-INNS. Outside California dial (714) 496-6953.
Rand McNally has published a couple of splendid new books. The '85 Rand McNally Road Atlas of Britain offers a route-planning map, conversion tables, mileage chart, an index of place names, explanation of motor way and road signs for England, Scotland, Wales. The company's "Road Atlas & Vacation Guide for the U.S./Canada" is divided into six regions. Contains profiles of each state/province. Maps, discount coupons for a variety of attractions in the United States. Price: $12.95.
Santa Barbara--Jim Anathan, La Quinta: Enjoyed the Cheshire Cat B&B, 36 W. Valerio, Santa Barbara 93101. "New, immaculate, magnificiently decorated. This is a beautifully restored Victorian home. Approximately $100 and worth it. Jacuzzi, liqueurs, candy, toiletries."
Freestone, Calif.--Esther Weissman, Los Angeles: "Just returned from our third trip to the Green Apple Inn, Freestone, Calif. 95472. Lies between Bodega Bay and Santa Rosa. Peaceful setting, four bedrooms, antiques, $55 double per person."
Utah--Mrs. B. J. Arnold, Santa Ana: "A wonderful bed and breakfast, the Zion House, P.O. Box 323, Springdale, Utah 84767. Within two miles to the entrance to Zion National Park. Excellent breakfast, clean rooms and a delightful hostess."
Ireland--Dick N. Porter, Los Angeles: "The best two B&Bs out of 20 we experienced in Ireland are Woodlands House, Bally Nestragh, County Wexford. The Neill B&B, Lisnamandra, Crossdoney, County Cavan. About $9 per person. Warm, friendly, gracious families."
Scotland--William Kasper, Los Angeles: High praise for the Auchterarder House, Auchterarder PH3 1DZ (near Gleneagles). "We felt like we were guests at a friend's country house. A most unexpected pleasure for us, and I'm sure others would enjoy it as well."
England--Leonard Ziraldo, Canoga Park: "Spent a lovely weekend at the Springs Hotel southeast of Oxford in the pretty Thames Valley between Henley and Wallingford. A country house in a wooded, peaceful setting with 20 modern rooms with baths. The Lakeside restaurant in the hotel was a fine dining experience. The tab for two was about $80 per night including two meals. The Springs, North Stoke, Wallingford.
Readers: Your recommendations should contain the addresses of hotels, inns, restaurants, as well as prices whenever possible. (Please print or type.)