Some bite-size morsels for mature travelers about some big trips is our offering this week:
Interhostel, now in its eighth year of travel/study programs aimed at the mature traveler, has three new destinations this spring and summer among the 22 programs it will offer this year throughout Europe, the Caribbean, Australia and China.
The first tour is to Orleans and the Loire Valley in France, a program that focuses on the kings and chateaux of the region. The July 15-29 tour also includes some vineyards and wineries, plus a two-day, three-night stop in Paris. Price: $1,095, plus air fare.
Florence, Italy, is the site for two trips, May 19-June 2 and June 1-15, both part of Interhostel's Studio Arts program for novice and experienced artists. Instruction will be given in watercolor, oil painting, drawing, sculpture and ceramics, in addition to tours to the museums, galleries and historic buildings of the Renaissance city. Price: $1,095, plus air fare.
Toledo, Spain, May 12-26, with an accent on Spanish art, notably the life and works of El Greco, plus visits to Madrid, Segovia, the Alcazar and El Escorial. Price: $1,095, plus air fare.
Interhostel's trips, always limited to 25 to 35 people, are frequently quick sellouts. All include full accommodations, including meals usually at a host university or modest hotels.
For more information about these tours or others in the spring/summer program, or for a free Interhostel bulletin on future trips, contact: Interhostel, University of New Hampshire, 6 Garrison Ave., Durham, N.H. 03824; (603) 862-1147 between 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. PST weekdays.
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SST Tours, operated for senior groups through Silver Senior Travel of El Toro, is repeating its Down Under Discovery Tour of the South Pacific from April 15 to May 3.
Priced at $2,589 from Los Angeles, the tour includes Melbourne and Sidney in Australia, North and South islands of New Zealand, with optional side visits on the way down or back to the Great Barrier Reef and/or Fiji. Deluxe hotels, breakfasts daily, loads of sightseeing tours and special events.
The tour can only be booked through a participating senior club or organization. Information: SST Tours at (800) 672-9922.
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The Friendship Force, subject of a column here last May about the nonprofit organization's low-cost tour to Japan, has a similar offering this year to Brazil from June 23 to July 7. The trip is not just for mature travelers, but normally the exchange program draws the majority of its members from the 50-and-older group.
These are not your usual group tours and not all who apply are accepted. They look for "ambassadors" who wish to share the culture and life styles of the host countries.
As such, ambassadors stay for a week as a guest of a Brazilian family in their home, with the host providing accommodations, meals and local transportation. A second week is included in Rio de Janeiro, with a five-star hotel, daily breakfasts and sightseeing included. The whole package is $2,595, including air fare from Los Angeles.
For information on the Brazil trip, on the Friendship Force in general, or possibly if you wish to host a Brazilian family later this year, contact: Friendship Force, P.O. Box 46011, Los Angeles 90046; or call Arlene Russell at (818) 966-9742, Ann Sterman at (213) 931-9533 or Zelda Arditte at (213) 870-5261.
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Attention veterans: If you have at least 20 years of good service in any branch of the U.S. armed forces (with a valid ID) and you don't know about the bargains available on "Space Available Travel" on military aircraft worldwide, you're missing out on some low-cost travel and accommodations around the United States and around the world.
Such veterans can travel free on military aircraft flying between bases around the United States, providing that space is available (and you have the patience to wait a day or two) and even on overseas trips, where the cost zooms to $10.
Retired Col. Charles H. Georgi, who runs the Space Available Information Center in Santa Barbara, has been putting out a guidebook on such travel for 18 years and the publication is in its 20th printing.
The guide tells all about how, when and where to ride space available, along with tips on low-cost military base accommodations and other information on U.S. and world travel. It's augmented by bulletins three times a year.
The cost for the 144-page booklet, plus a year's subscription to the bulletin, is $11.95. Make your check out to Space-A and mail to: Space Available Information Center, Dept. MT, P.O. Box 359, Santa Barbara 93102.
If you don't have the 20 years of good service, don't even think about it. If you didn't do the time, you aren't eligible for the trips.