Washington state's Harry Ellis is back leading tours through the San Juan Islands to British Columbia. Last summer Virginia Hutcheson of Manhattan Beach traveled with Ellis, describes him as "good-natured, accommodating, knows his subject."
Ellis' groups are small. Only eight passengers in a 15-passenger van. Trips take in Vancouver Island. Afterward there's a 12-hour ferry ride through the Inside Passage to Prince Rupert. Stunning scenery and a side trip to Hyder, "the friendliest ghost town in Alaska." At Hyder the group takes time out to fish for salmon/trout. Returning to Seattle they zero in on Prince George and the Frazier Valley. Overnight stops at lake-shore inns. The nine-day tour costs $689 (includes transportation, ferry rides, lunches, nine nights' accommodations). Ellis also does camping trips, custom tours of the Pacific Northwest, a camping/fishing tour of Vancouver Island, backpacking to the Olympic Mountains, plus the beaches of Washington state.
Contact Harry Ellis c/o Venture Outdoors, 5354 Roby Place N.E., Bainbridge Island, Wash. 98110. Telephone (206) 842-3189.
We ran an item several Sundays ago about villa rentals in Italy's Tuscany area. Now comes a note from Beth Davies of Italian Villa Rentals with additional listings of other villas/apartments in the same region. This is a good base for trips to Florence, Pisa, Torre del Lago (Puccini's hometown), Genoa, Portofino, Siena, the wine country of Chianti.
Davies will rent you a one-bedroom apartment for as little as $262 a week. She's also taking reservations for a two-bedroom home (sleeps four) for $535 a week. This figures out to a trifle more than $20 a night per person. With all the talk about the high cost of European vacations, it's one way to cut expenses. Most villas are near the village of Marina di Pietrasanta. This is on the Mediteranean (between Genoa and Pisa).
Contact Beth Davies, Italian Villa Rentals, 10700 Northup Way, Suite 222-C, Bellevue, Wash. 98004-1437. Telephone (206) 827-3694. The overseas address: Toscana Mare Villas, Piazza 24 Maggio 25-26, 55044 Marina di Pietrasanta, Italy.
The Grand Tour
Travel agent Richard Mandl says he has "condensed 45 years of travel experience into a 14-day tour to places I like very much." The European holiday (limited to seven persons) will feature small inns/restaurants. The tour begins in Munich at the 500-year-old Hotel Torbrau. Next stop: Hotel Zugspitz at Garmisch-Partenkirchen (smashing view of Germany's tallest mountain). In Austria, Mandl has chosen a retreat near Salzburg that was a favorite of Emperor Franz Joseph. In Vienna the group will dine in a restaurant dating from 1447. The trip winds up with a journey on the Danube to Budapest and dinner in an Old World restaurant, with Hungarian musicians cranking out romantic melodies on the violin. Cost of the tour ($2,430) includes land transportation, hotels, sightseeing, most meals. Air fare is extra.
Other details from Mandl at Truly European Holidays, 250 East 1st St., Suite 912, Los Angeles 90012, or call (213) 624-1543.
Ed Gaines of Visalia wants a rental on Maui "with all the comforts." We know of a two-story hideaway that overlooks the Kaanapali Coast. Only minutes from the old whaling village of Lahaina. Four bedrooms, 4 1/2 baths, kitchen, a couple of bars, a library/office and an authentic teahouse. A maid/cook does the chores. Guests unwind in a sunken upstairs living room (a smashing view of the ocean framed by the islands of Lanai and Molokai). "For a select view who appreciate the very best in luxury resort accommodations," says Noel Irwin-Hentschel, who spent a bunch of coconuts creating this holiday home she calls Chiang Mai. The master bedroom features cable TV, a VCR, a movie library, views of the ocean. It's expensive. Depending on the season, rates run $1,500/$3,000 a week.
For details write to Chiang Mai, 2500 Kuhio Ave., 2nd Floor, Honolulu, Hawaii 96815. Or call (808) 922-2380.
Touring New York
A series of day tours of the Big Apple is being offered this summer by the Guide Service of New York. Tours also feature Manhattan's other four boroughs. Tailored for walkers, riders, bicyclists. Pedal through Central Park, visit the Lower East Side, do an Irish pub crawl or ride out to Coney Island, Sleepy Hollow, the Hudson Valley. Excursions to Staten Island, Yorkville, the Bronx Zoo, Little Ukraine, Little Italy, Hoboken.
The Irish pub crawl ($42) includes a meal and a drink, takes in several Irish watering holes en route to a pub with authentic Irish music/atmosphere. The tour of the Lower East Side ($15) features noshing with a sampling of rugelach, bialys, knishes, halvah and other Jewish delights. (This group visits Manhattan's only remaining kosher winery.)
For a brochure write to Guide Service of New York, 445 West 45th St., New York 10036. Telephone (212) 408-3332.