For anyone planning a trip to Spain, try to work in the one-day outing by train, Madrid to Aranjuez. Features a royal palace with formal gardens. Alexandre Dumas described the setting as the "Versailles of Spain." It's a leisurely day and it's cheap. Only about $8, including a tour of the palace. Worth the train ride alone. A steam locomotive pulls colorful 19th-Century passenger cars. This is Spain's second oldest train. Features antique wooden coaches restored by the National Railroad Museum. Operates Saturdays, Sundays through Oct. 19. Leaves Madrid's Atocha Station at 10 a.m., returns about 9 p.m. Perfect timing for Madrid's fashionably late dinner hour. Tickets on sale at Spanish travel agencies.
For other details about Spain, contact Alvaro Renedo, director of the National Tourist Office of Spain, 8383 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 960, Beverly Hills 90211 or telephone (213) 658-7188. (The office was moved here recently from San Francisco.)
A pilot for a major airline publishes a quarterly tabloid naming discount vacation lodgings. Lists properties in the Caribbean, Canada, Mexico, Florida and other areas but concentrates primarily on Hawaii. Example: "Condo on the beach on Kauai, completely furnished, sleeps four, from $40 a day." The tabloid (only four pages) is called Travel Times. Subscriptions are $5 a year. For a complimentary copy, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Donald R. Blum, 904 Silver Spur Road, Suite 680, Rolling Hills Estates, Calif. 90274.
Greyhound has expanded its Military Ameripass program to include armed forces reservists and National Guardsmen and their families. (Already covers actives in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, as well as retirees.) The regular fares are $249 for 15 days, $349 for a 30-day pass. Military personnel pay $119 and $169 respectively. These passes offer unlimited travel to any destination served by Greyhound.
Meanwhile, Greyhound is offering a "Money Saver" fare to all travelers at a 50% discount ($118 maximum one-way fares reduced to $59 during the summer months). Tickets must be paid for 30 days in advance. Good for travel to any destination served by Greyhound Monday through Thursday. Greyhound has also introduced a fare that allows a companion to travel to the same destination for only $2 with a passenger paying $25 or more.
Open Road Bicycle Tours of Virginia is doing trips this summer to Nova Scotia; the Pennsylvania Dutch country; the Maryland Shore/Chesapeake Bay area; Colonial Williamsburg, Va.; Berkeley Springs, W.Va.; the Shenandoah Valley, and Cape Hatteras, N.C. Rides are geared to the 8-to-50-mile range. Support vans accompany riders (loaded with luggage, spare parts and "tired cyclists"). Bikers overnight in country inns, motels. Says Open Road's Byron Reed: "I only select inns that I would like to stay in myself, and I'm darned picky!" This same company does other tours to Europe and the People's Republic of China. Details from Open Road Tours, 1601 Summit Drive, Haymarket, Va. 22069.
For years travelers have been accommodated in privately owned properties represented by Country Homes & Castles of England. Now there's a new twist. Instead of renting just a room, owners are allowing vacationers to take over the entire house. More than 30 properties listed. Move in for from two weeks up to six months. Rates start at $700 per week. You'll pay extra for maids, cooks. Contact Kay Fuentes c/o Country Homes & Castles, 900 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 830, Los Angeles 90017.
Here's a trip I'd like to take. It's a fall foliage train/bus tour that's scheduled to leave Los Angeles Oct. 6, return Oct. 13. Vacationers will travel by private rail car to Albuquerque, N.M., where they'll board a bus for Colorado for visits to Telluride, Leadville, Denver, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River and Mesa Verde National Park. In Durango a narrow-gauge steam train will deliver passengers to the old mining town of Silverton. Return to Los Angeles will be by private rail car from Denver. The tour operator promises "the finest amenities of the great trains of the past." Fine food, drinks, professional services. Contact Bryan Reese c/o Classic Rail Travel, P.O. Box 2541, Orange, Calif. 92669.
For escape from the pressures with sunsets to match, travelers heading for Expo can book a room for only $52.50 (double occupancy) at the new Olympic Lodge operated by Olympic skating star Nancy Greene at Whistler Mountain. Whistler is about 90 minutes by car outside Vancouver. Surrounded by glacier-capped peaks, forests, lakes, streams. Plenty to do for the actives (biking, swimming, hiking, river running, tennis, golf, fishing, canoeing). The lodge has 90 rooms, a restaurant and piano bar. See your travel agent or call the inn at (604) 932-2221.