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Hip Hopping Through San Francisco Clubs

August 23, 1992|KIM UPTON

A new tour jokingly called "Three Babes and a Bus" explores the San Francisco club scene under the direction of three women who claim to be experts on what's hip. On Friday and Saturday nights, Paula Sabatelli, Susan Francke and Donna LoCicero lead a bus tour that visits the city's hottest nightclubs, and it's selling equally well to tourists and to locals. Sabatelli said the locals join the tours not just for the chance to try out new clubs but for the convenience of not having to drive and park or wait in line to get inside. Most of the clients are between 21 and 40, although "older folks" sometime show up. The 9 p.m.-to-1 a.m. barhop usually takes in a couple of the moment's coolest clubs, but stops vary from night to night so that no one--guides included--gets bored. Two of the standards, however, are Bahia Tropical, a Brazilian club with live music and costumed dancers, and Club O, with '70s music and a dance floor on a plexiglass-covered swimming pool. The tour ends at Paula's Clubhouse, which has go-go dancers on the bar and just happens to be owned by Sabatelli. Tickets are $30; the price includes pickup and delivery from and to hotels and homes, cover charges, priority admittance to clubs and a cocktail at Paula's Clubhouse.

Travel Quiz: What seven California counties have only four letters in their names?

Around the World Returns: United Airlines, with routes purchased from the now-defunct Pan Am, will bring back 'round-the-world flights similar to those that Pan Am abandoned a decade ago. United will link its vast Atlantic and Pacific networks with service through New Delhi, India, beginning Feb. 10, as it launches the globe-spanning flights--United One going westbound and United Two going eastbound. Cost will be $2,241 for coach seats and $4,159 for first-class, for travelers leaving from the United States. Eastbound, the trip will leave Los Angeles and stop in New York, London, New Delhi, Hong Kong and San Francisco, then return to Los Angeles (cities westbound will be the same). The ticket allows stops in any city on the route and up to one year to complete the journey, once travel has begun. Frequent fliers would chalk up 19,717 miles . . . or just 283 miles short of a free frequent-flier round trip between Los Angeles and New York, should anyone have the energy.

Cruise Control: Shopping for a deal on a cruise? Consumer Reports August Travel Letter reports that late shoppers usually get the biggest discounts (perhaps 20% or more), although they may miss out on cabins on some of the most popular ships, which often sell out early. But early shoppers (four to six months ahead) and travelers willing to cruise off-season can get modest (10%) deals, too, the newsletter said. The biggest discounts (30%) and upgrades to better rooms are often saved for travelers who are the most flexible about dates, itineraries and cruise lines. As always, it is wise to shop around. Even discounters don't all quote the same prices. And final advice: The newsletter suggests travelers avoid shops recommended in on-board port lectures because "those recommendations are often based on fees paid by merchants, not on an objective comparison of merchandise and prices."

Alpha to the Air: When Alpha Air began daily flights between Los Angeles and Lake Tahoe Airport earlier this month, it became the only airline to offer nonstop service on the route, and only one of two commercial airlines (the other, American Eagle, serves Lake Tahoe from San Francisco) to fly into that airport. Lake Tahoe Airport is within 15 minutes of skiing, as well as casinos in Lake Tahoe, Nev., while the other area airport, in Reno, is about a 1 1/2-hour drive away. Introductory one-way fare, for travel completed by Nov. 15, is $99. For more information, call Alpha Air: (800) 421-9353.

Quick Fact: The travel and tourism industry is the third-largest retail industry in business receipts, after automotive dealers and food stores. (Source: U.S. Travel & Tourism Administration and U.S. Travel Data Center.)

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