For 18 years, Bernice Lewis has been the Mother Superior of the singles set. You want to visit Las Vegas, alone or with a group? Ring up Lewis. How about Hawaii, the Caribbean, the Soviet Union? Buzz Lewis. Whatever the destination, Lewis is ready to advise the single traveler. Lewis has been counseling singles since shortly after being widowed in 1971. Alone for the first time in years, she was apprehensive about traveling solo. Others, she concluded, probably shared her fears. That's when Lewis became the guru among singles. Widows, divorced men, young singles. She counsels individuals concerning their fears, nurses them along as they plan their journeys. Right up to the moment of departure. These are one-on-one discussions. And although this isn't a dating game, Lewis often puts singles together for companionship as well as economy (avoiding the aggravating single supplement). Recently, Lewis sent a doctor off to Europe with other singles. The lady reported back that she had a "fabulous time." Lewis has been called upon to arrange honeymoons for singles who meet on trips. Primarily, though, her objective is to put joy into travel for singles.
"I understand their fears," she says.
Bernice Lewis, Outer Limits Travel, 16830 Ventura Blvd., Suite 260, Encino 91436. Call (818) 905-0680 or (818) 981-6724.
Camper Vans: We continue to receive queries about camper-van rentals in Europe. Here's another source: European Car Reservations, 349 W. Commercial St., Suite 2950, East Rochester, N.Y., (800) 535-3303. Rates from $353 a week in the off-season, $650 during the high season. These are VW and Ford vans equipped with stoves, refrigerators, cooking utensils and a guidebook identifying 3,000 campsites throughout Europe. Only one hitch: Vans must be picked up in Amsterdam. (Drop-off permitted elsewhere in Europe.) Currently, ECR is discussing plans for pickups in Ireland, Switzerland, France, Great Britain (in addition to Amsterdam). Meanwhile, ECR will rent you cars/mini-vans in Hungary (Budapest as well as five other Hungarian cities). Prices start at $49 a day. Details from Tony Cole at ECR's 800 number.
Depot Inn: B.R. of Riverside asks about "out of the ordinary" accommodations in Northern California. We know of a turn-of-the-century railroad station that's been converted into a B&B near Santa Rosa. The Melitta Station Inn once served passengers on Southern Pacific's run between Santa Rosa and Sonoma. Before this it operated as a stagecoach stop. Six guest rooms (four with private baths). Antiques, country collectables, a wood-burning stove. A chance to step back to a less hurried era. Stop for the night or spend several days. Activities include visits to wineries, Jack London State Park, fishing, biking, riding.
Melitta Station Inn, 5850 Melita Road, Santa Rosa, Calif. 95409. Call (707) 538-7712. Rates: $65/$80.
Wilderness Travel: If you're considering an adventure vacation, write for the new catalogue produced by Wilderness Travel of Berkeley. A slick giveaway. One hundred pages devoted to 87 trips worldwide. Stunning color photographs. Day-by-day itineraries for Nepal, India, Pakistan, the Soviet Union, Tibet, Thailand, the Congo, Rwanda, Zaire, East Africa, Botswana, Madagascar, the Amazon, Patagonia, the Galapagos, Indonesia, Borneo, New Guinea, Fiji, Europe. These plus other destinations. Trips (seven to 40 days) are led by authorities on wildlife/foreign cultures. Groups limited to 15 persons. Some of these expeditions involve rigorous travel, others are "soft adventures" focusing on inn-to-inn hiking, sailing, visits to Europe's Alps.
Catalogues from Wilderness Travel, 801 Allston Way, Berkeley, Calif. 94710, (800) 247-6700.
San Francisco: Hotel reservations in San Francisco can be booked with a single toll-free phone call. San Francisco Lodging represents dozens of hotels, B&Bs, inns in the Bay Area. Everything from boutique hotels to restored mansions. Savings over high-season summer rates. Besides accommodations, SFL books car rentals, airport transfers, limousines, restaurant reservations, excursions, sightseeing. San Francisco is decked out for Christmas. A good time to visit.
San Francisco Lodging: (800) 356-7567. This is a free service.
Corsica: I've been fascinated with Corsica ever since I listened one night to a radiator salesman and a maid singing a duet in a smoky club in Ajaccio. It was like a scene in Rick's joint in the film "Casablanca." And although the radiator salesman and the maid were mere amateurs, they sang with soul. For nearly an hour the audience shouted for encores. It was the kind of spontaneous action for which Corsicans are famous. Corsica isn't one of those picture-post card islands you see on calendars. It's like no other island in any ocean. Old World villages. Peaks that spike clouds. Narrow, winding roads that plunge like a roller coaster. (Corsica is only a short boat trip off the French/Italian coast).