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Visitors to Polish Cities Warned Against Thieves

March 15, 1992|KIM UPTON

The U.S. State Department is advising Americans that while business and pleasure travel to Poland is generally safe, reported incidents of crime against foreign visitors and local residents has increased. Travelers are advised to exercise particular caution against thieves when traveling by train, public trams and buses. Organized groups of thieves and pickpockets appear to be operating in the train stations, trams and buses of Warsaw, Poznan, Krakow and other major cities. The groups operate by surrounding the traveler to distract his attention while boarding or exiting the train and then picking pockets.

Travel Quiz: Which of these countries--Kenya, India, Brazil, Indonesia--is not on the Equator?

Twin Piques Interest: The bizarre TV series "Twin Peaks" is now such a hit in Japan that it is sending droves of Japanese tourists to Snoqualmie and North Bend in Washington's Pugent Sound region. The critically acclaimed show, which was canceled last year after a two-season run, was set in the fictitious Pacific Northwest town of Twin Peaks but actually filmed at the Salish Lodge in Snoqualmie and in various locations around North Bend, Wash. After debuting on cable in Japan last spring, the series came out on videocassette last summer and became an instant sensation. As a result, Japanese tourists are paying big bucks for a visit to the real Twin Peaks: $1,600 for a five-day tour that takes them, among other places, to the Mar-T Cafe for a slice of cherry pie (popular in the show), according to the Washington State News Bureau.

So far, several hundred tourists--some members of Japanese Twin Peaks fan clubs and one wearing a jacket with a homemade FBI logo on it (the hero of the series was an FBI agent)--have taken the tours, which debuted last month. And several hundred more are already booked on tours for later this spring. This is a "significant increase" in tourism from Japan for this time of year, according to a spokeswoman for Japan Travel Bureau International, the private company that runs the tours. "Nobody expected it to be such a hit," she said. And all this is taking place before the Twin Peaks movie is released this spring in Japan. Stay tuned.

Quick Fact: When the World's Fair Expo '92 opens in Seville next month, Kansas City will be the only city in the world to have its own exhibit at Expo--because Kansas City and Seville are sister cities. Housed in the U.S. Pavilion, the exhibit will provide a look at Kansas City in its role as a gateway to the American frontier.

Back to the Waves: The 480-passenger Ocean Pearl, which was towed to Singapore after an engine-room fire Feb. 12 aborted the ship's Singapore-Bali cruise, will resume sailing April 13 on a 19-day Spice Islands itinerary, according to a spokesman for Pearl Cruises. The Ocean Pearl, which had set sail Feb. 8, was off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, when the fire broke out. Passengers went to muster stations, where they stayed for 3 1/2 hours while the fire was contained and extinguished. Although passengers were not in danger, the ship's engines were incapacitated by the fire. They remained on board overnight before being transferred to the Sea Princess of P & O Cruises.

Estonia Visas in the U.S.: Travelers to the Baltic nation of Estonia can now get visas in the United States before departure and at fees cheaper than those charged upon arrival in the country. Previously, visas had to be purchased upon arrival. Although single-entry visas--valid for 30 days--will continue to be issued in Estonia, they will cost $60, or twice the $30 fee of those purchased in New York from the Estonian Consulate General, 9 Rockefeller Plaza, Suite 1421, New York 10020, (212) 247-1450. The Consulate can also arrange five-day transit visas ($10) and mutiple-entry visas ($50).

Jelly Bellies: "Planet of the Jellies," the largest exhibition ever presented on jellyfish, according to an aquarium spokesman, will run through Sept. 7 at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Seventeen jelly species, many presented for the first time at an aquarium, will be part of the show. Animals in the exhibition include comb jellies that shine with rainbow light as they swim; upside-down jellies that pulse on the bottom of tropical seas, and peach-blossom jellies that live in freshwater lakes around the world.

Giving Us the Business: Business air fares are expected to rise 10% to 12% this year, American Express Travel Related Services predicts. The travel agency cites two years of big industry losses, higher operating costs and new airplane deliveries. American Express also says corporate meeting fares and business discount tickets will be harder to obtain in 1992. Meanwhile, lodging, car rentals and meals are expected to increase 2% to 5%.

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