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View From San Marino

May 15, 1988|ERIC FRIEDHEIM | Friedheim is editor/publisher of Travel Agent magazine.

Question: During a trip to Italy we want to visit San Marino. Does it have hotels, and what's worth seeing?

Answer: The world's smallest republic, San Marino is about one-third the size of Washington, D.C., and is a short drive from Rimini in northern Italy. It has several good small hotels, and the country's 2,000-foot altitude offers excellent views. Its big industry is tourism and postage stamps. For more information, contact the Consul General, San Marino, Attn. Maria Enrico, 1155 21st St., Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20037, (202) 223-3517.

Q: While visiting abroad we'd like to take gifts from home for friends, but have been warned that some items might be offensive. Where can I get information on local customs?

A: What and what not to give is important in many countries. For guidance, consult "Do's and Taboos Around the World" ($8.95, Benjamin Co., 1 Westchester Place, Elmsford, N.Y. 10523).

Q: Before going on mountaineering tours I'd like to learn more about the sport. Are there any climbing schools in the Western area?

A: Some adventure tours sold through travel agents offer basic instruction. For more expert training information, contact Snowbird Resort, Utah, 84092; Alpine Experience, P.O. Box 503, Graham, Wash. 98338; American Alpine Institute, 1212 24th St., Bellingham, Wash. 98225, or Climbing magazine, P.O. Box E, Aspen, Colo. 81612.

Q: We are planning to drive through Scandinavia. How are road maps and information on points of interest obtained?

A: Official tourist bureaus are the best source for local attractions and events. Some also provide maps free or for a nominal fee. "Road Atlas & City Guide of Europe" ($12.95) contains 47,000 entries, including routes, city maps and other driving details. Contact the Scandinavian National Tourist Offices, 655 3rd Ave., 18th Floor, New York 10017, or call (212) 949-2333.

Q: Is it true that a travel club will cut the cost of any trip?

A: Carriers, hotels and tour companies often give volume reductions to legitimate clubs with sizable memberships. Before joining, check with your local Better Business Bureau or travel agent because some clubs have engaged in fraud or have hidden charges and restrictions that can limit their bargain offerings.

Q: Recently you mentioned several railroad museums. Aren't there others that also offer steam trains and trolleys for short rides?

A: More than 100 such passenger railroads with steam locomotives, trolleys and electric excursion trains, all cater to rail buffs and other visitors. An illustrated guide to United States and Canadian steam trains and transport museums is available for $7 from the Empire State Railway Museum, Middletown, N.Y. 10940.

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