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TRAVEL VIDEOS

Railroad Tape Is Good Training for Europe Trip

December 02, 1990|BETTY MARTIN

"Europe by Train" (produced for Eurail by Taylored Video Services, 30 minutes, 1989).

The video extols the advantages of traveling the 100,000-mile European rail system.

Despite being loaded with cliches--"a time machine to the next chapter on your itinerary," a "journey through living post cards" and "railroad travel is an invitation to discovery"--it nevertheless is a well-produced source of information for those considering Europe by train.

The video explains the different types of Eurailpasses--Flexipass, Youthpass and Senior--and offers information on luggage and how to travel light, as well as tips on how to best use the rail system.

Some advantages of using a Eurailpass are the bus, ferry and steamer connections, the comparative value of rail passes over other means of transportion, the train punctuality and the fact that train travel is frequently faster than flying because stations are conveniently located in the heart of cities.

The tape comes with a map that shows the countries in which the Eurailpass can be used, informs viewers how to read the train schedules and offers information on how to make restaurant and sleeper reservations.

Shown are interiors of railroad stations (along with shops, luggage carts and porters), some of the railroad cars and brief scenes of the countryside.

Available from Taylored Video Services. Write P.O. Box 220513, Charlotte, N.C. 28222, or call (704) 366-0404. Price: $22.95.

"Portrait of England, Treasure Houses and Gardens" (Tapestry Video, 1989, 55 minutes).

Producer Dan Moss provides a "tapestry" of England set to the music of jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.

Although neither the scenes nor the music are identified, the film is a pleasant viewing and listening experience.

For viewers who need more specific information, a printed program is included with a map of England, showing places reviewed in the film.

The program also lists the film's musical numbers, which come from the CBS Records Masterworks album that features Marsalis in solo performances. There are also several solos by soprano Edita Gruberova.

Although the video will be of minimal help to trip planners, to Anglophiles and those who appreciate Baroque music it is an interesting contrast to the usual travelogue.

There are no tips or travel recommendations.

Tapes are available through video stores or by phone: (800) 445-3800, Operator 880. Price: $19.95.

"The Great World Cruise of the QE2" (International Travel Films, 1989, 85 minutes).

Visiting 24 ports on an 80-day around-the-world cruise is no mean feat. Neither is condensing it into an 85-minute video, but Doug Jones does an admirable job.

Viewers will learn more about the ship than most passengers do. For example, information is offered on how much fuel and food the ship uses, and a behind-the-scenes tour goes from the engine room to the bridge.

Passengers are shown in the pool, shops, theaters, restaurants, night clubs and casino.

The film begins when the ship picks up passengers in New York City and Port Everglades, Fla. Then it sails to the Caribbean islands of Martinique and Barbados, and later to Brazil for tours of historic Salvador and the beaches of Rio de Janeiro.

After crossing the Atlantic to the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Town in South Africa, the ship stops at the island of Mauritius and afterward at Sri Lanka for tours of Colombo and the ancient capital of Kandy.

In India, the ship docks at Madras, where a trip includes the Taj Mahal. Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Bangkok are next on the itinerary.

At the halfway mark on the cruise, there's a five-day visit to Hong Kong, where viewers can sample the shops and night life while the ship is refueled, cleaned and resupplied.

The next part of the journey includes South Korea, for trips to Pusan and Kyongju, and Japan, for tours of Tokyo and its night life, a ferryboat ride to Izu Gardens for a traditional tea ceremony, a side trip to the religious center at the town of Kamakura and a brief stop at Yokohama before sailing across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii.

Three rituals are performed on this lengthy journey: a "cross-the-line" ceremony on going over the Equator on the way to Brazil, a white elephant sale, during which passengers trade unwanted souvenirs purchased on their trip, and a tug-of-war between passenger teams as the ship crosses the international date line.

Afterward, the ship sails to Honolulu for some of the popular tourist sights, then continues on to Los Angeles, where the video shows scenes of Hollywood and Disneyland.

The rest of the cruise includes a stop in Acapulco, a journey down the Central American coast and a trip through the Panama Canal and the Caribbean, with stops at Cartagena and Curacao before heading back to Port Everglades and New York City.

Jones' video was filmed for viewing in theaters and was not cut or edited for video presentation. The film quality is excellent and the narration is informative and entertaining.

Tapes are available from International Travel Films, P.O. Box 39402, Los Angeles 90039, (213) 663-4334. Price: $29.95.

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