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NEWS AND BRIEFS

Teddy Roosevelt Home Reopened in New York

July 18, 1993|KIM UPTON

Sagamore Hill, President Theodore Roosevelt's summer White House and family home at Oyster Bay, N.Y., on Long Island, about 35 miles from Manhattan, has reopened after seven months and significant restoration. Six rooms and hallways on the second floor of the 28-room home--including the Roosevelts' bedroom, the nursery and daughter Alice's room--have been redecorated to better reflect the appearance of the house during the later years of Roosevelt's presidency and the early years following it, circa 1905-1914. Furniture, about 90% of which is original, has been added or rearranged, and rooms have been repainted as they appeared in photos from the time. Outside, an old carriage road was converted to an interpretive trail, the tennis court was restored, and the family's pet cemetery and perennial gardens refurbished. This latest restoration is the second step in what will probably be a three-stage project to make the house appear more historically accurate. The first floor was restored in 1982 and now seven rooms, mostly on the second floor, remain to be renovated. Admission is $2 for adults (ages 16-62), free for all others. For information: (516) 922-4788.

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Travel Quiz: What country observes the most holidays?

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Rome's Via Veneto to Become Traffic-free: Rome's Via Veneto, the glittering backdrop for director Federico Fellini's 1960 film "La Dolce Vita" and once the playground for tourists in search of movie idols, will be permanently closed to traffic beginning Aug. 1, according to city officials. The avenue, whose cafes have hosted film stars Marcello Mastroianni and Brigitte Bardot, is now choked by traffic and offers few places to sip coffee. It is also notorious, during late-night hours, as a promenade for transvestite prostitutes. Officials said they plan to make the street more inviting by planting flower beds, building park benches and giving cafes more space for their tables.

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Smokeless to London: On Sept. 1, British Airways will begin a three-month trial period of nonsmoking on daily nonstop flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco to London. During the trial, passengers will be surveyed about their reaction to the nonsmoking flights. Should most approve, the policy will probably become permanent, as it just did after nonsmoking trials on British Air flights between Hong Kong and London.

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French Trains Fast, Faster, Fastest: With the opening of the third and fastest TGV train--the TGV North--last month, the rail trip between Paris and Lille, France, has been trimmed from two hours, 10 minutes, to one hour and 20 minutes and will be cut to less than an hour in September. The TGV North has the potential for traveling up to 200 m.p.h.; the TGV Southeast Paris-Lyon can do 168 m.p.h., and the TGV Atlantique Paris-Brittany can travel 186 m.p.h.

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Quick Fact: Total tax on rooms priced at $100 or more in New York City: 21.25%, the highest in the country.

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Rubles Out, Litas In: Lithuania has begun using its own currency, the litas, as an official replacement for the Russian ruble. The litas was Lithuania's national currency from 1918 until 1940, when the Baltic republic was annexed by the Soviet Union. Lithuania declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1990, and last October introduced an interim currency, the talonas, to replace the ruble. The interim currency was introduced to distance Lithuania from the continuing devaluation of the ruble, while preparations were being made to issue the litas. The talonas will remain in circulation until Tuesday, after which it can be exchanged for the litas.

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Travel to Mexico Rises: Tourism to Mexico during the first four months of the year increased by 4% over the same period last year, according to the financial daily newspaper El Economista, quoting the National Fund for Tourism Development. Among the fastest-growing tourist regions were the relatively new Huatulco beach resort on the Pacific, Cozumel in the Caribbean and Los Cabos at the tip of Baja California.

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QE2 Accident Report: A British government inquiry into the grounding of the Queen Elizabeth 2 cruise ship off Massachusetts last August has found that outdated shipping charts were mostly to blame for failing to warn that the water was "significantly" shallower than shown. Cunard cruise lines' 66,000-ton ship ran aground near Martha's Vineyard, Mass., Aug. 7 while carrying more than 2,800 passengers and crew. Repairs to the hull and twisted keel are estimated to have cost $30 million. The accident investigation report by Britain's Department of Transport found that the ship grounded on "uncharted and previously unsurveyed rocks" after available data led the crew to overestimate the height of the tide. It also said that a phenomenon called "squat," in which a ship slips lower in the water at high speeds, contributed to the accident. The report called on authorities to review charts and carry out more research into the effects of squat.

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Snooze News: Attempting to capitalize on the popularity of the hit movie "Sleepless in Seattle," the Stouffer Madison Hotel in Seattle is promising to help guests stay awake by selling a special "Sleep Less in Seattle" package ($149 per night) that includes a corner suite with a good view of the city, the water and the mountains, and a gift basket filled with coffee beans, chocolate-covered espresso beans and coffee-flavored candy. If that isn't enough, morning coffee is delivered to all rooms.

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Comparatively Speaking: Average room cost, by city: New York, $178; Los Angeles, $166; Honolulu, $159; Palm Springs, $158; Washington, $155; San Francisco, $152; Miami, $150; Phoenix/Scottsdale, $149; Boston, $143. (Source: 1993 Zagat U.S. Hotel, Resort and Spa Survey.)

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Quiz Answer: Malaysia, with 39 official days off a year, according to J.P. Morgan's "World Holiday and Time Guide, 1993." (Azerbaijan has the least, with four days off.)

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