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Journeys That Are Picture Perfect : VIDEOS: Picture Perfect Television Travels

November 12, 1989|BETTY MARTIN | Martin is a former staff member of the Travel Section. Her column on travel videos appears monthly

In this month's selection of videos, travelers can picture themselves sunbathing on the beach at Acapulco, visiting George Washington's home or strolling through the streets of Florence, Italy.

"ACAPULCO" (Travelview International, 1988, 50 minutes). This is a colorful, fast-paced preview of interests for the first-time visitor to see and do in this Mexican resort.

The video is in three parts. The first provides a panoramic view of Acapulco Bay, with its string of high-rise hotels and beaches, from high on a hill at historic Ft. de San Diego. This is followed by a closer look at some of the activities on Revolcadero, Condessa and Puerto Marques beaches, including horseback riding and parasailing. Also seen are fishermen on a deep-sea fishing trip, scuba divers on a jaunt to Roqueta Island, water skiers at Cayuca Lagoon and a beautiful sunset from Pie de la Cuesta.

For a taste of Old Mexico the video takes viewers to the Zocola (central square), cathedral and mercado, and includes shops of local artisans, a party-boat tour of the bay, a trip to watch the famous Quebara cliff divers and a drive down the splendid Costera Miguel Aleman, the main street on Acapulco Bay.

There also are kaleidoscopic scenes of Mexican rodeos, bullfights and festivals, plus scenes of diverse nightclubs, discos and restaurants.

The second segment contains interior and exterior scenes of some of the major hotels and their amenities, and takes the viewer into some of the elegant shops. These are not paid commercials.

At this point, however, there's a break for real commercials--airlines, buses, rental cars, etc. It's a disconcerting break that would be more appropriate at the end of the video, where a plug also is given for the hotel that housed the video's film crew.

Part three is devoted to travel tips furnished by Berlitz travel guides, including information on tourist cards, transportation, currency, shopping and bargaining.

The film quality is good and the narration informative.

Tapes are available from Travelview International, 5630 Beverly Hill, Houston, Tex. 77057, toll-free (800) 325-3108. Price: $29.95.

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"MOUNT VERNON" (Finley-Holiday Films, 30 minutes 1989). This is one of a series of Finley-Holiday videos on travel destinations in the United States. It's beautifully filmed and will be of special interest to the armchair traveler or for reminiscing. It has no tips or travel recommendations.

The narration is informative and nicely blends description with history, biography and quotations from George Washington that illustrate what life was like for the gentleman-farmer-President more than 200 years ago.

An aerial view locates the estate overlooking the Potomac River, and the video then takes the viewer on a tour of the home, pausing at some of the family's personal items and mementos, including a key to the French Bastille that was given to Washington by Lafayette.

The bedrooms are shown, including those used by Martha's two children and by the Washington grandchildren. Also seen are the west parlor where the family portraits hang, and the small dining room where the family ate.

The outbuildings include the spinning room, laundry, pantry, kitchen, scullery, slave quarters and cemetery.

The video also visits the vegetable garden and greenhouse, and focuses on the broad piazza, designed by Washington, that extends the length of the house.

Returning to the interior, there are scenes of the library with a Windsor chair that has a fan propelled by foot pedals; the bedroom where Lafayette stayed; the little parlor with its harpsichord; the large dining room, and the garret bedroom in which Martha slept after the death of her husband.

The film closes with views of the tomb of Martha and George, and of the fife-and-drum corps that performs there on the anniversary of his death.

Tapes are available from Finley-Holiday Films, Box 619, Whittier, Calif., (213) 945-3325. Price: $29.95.

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"FLORENCE" (World Video Travel Guide, 40 minutes, 1986). This relatively short video will whet the appetite of art lovers and, to a lesser degree, gourmands. For Florence is not only known as "the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance," but is also given credit for the invention of the fork.

The tour opens in Pisa, the site of the largest airport in Tuscany, with scenes of the Leaning Tower and some early Roman ruins, before heading for Florence, 45 minutes away.

Street scenes of Florence show some luxury hotels, smaller pensions, coffee bars and shops, before the tape zeros in on Florence's most recognized landmark--the huge Duomo and its stained-glass windows by Ghiberti.

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