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Hungarian Hot Springs and an Alaskan Glacier

August 01, 1993|BETTY MARTIN

HUNGARY, LAND OF PROMISE (Phil Slayton Enterprises, 80 minutes, 1991).

Straddling the Danube River, the three ancient cities of Buda, Obuda and Pest became one city, Budapest, in 1873. Today they offer a cross section of the diverse historical, cultural and culinary experiences to be found in Hungary.

This video roams the streets of each area of the city, showing scenes of major tourist sites from museums, cathedrals and Roman ruins to thermal springs and modern hotels.

A Danube River ferryboat ride takes viewers to Margaret Island, with its amusement centers, swimming pools and restaurants. There's a tour of the Buda Hills with its parks, forests, castles and zoo. An interesting sidelight is a visit with a "typical" Budapest family for glimpses of its lifestyle.

From Budapest the viewer is taken north along the Danube to art colonies in such towns as Szentendre and Esztergom. In the latter, the medieval capital of Hungary, there is a stop at the remains of its once-magnificent cathedral.

Following the path of the river, viewers visit small villages and farms along the Slovakian border before heading for Sopron on the Austrian border. Here, viewers explore the narrow winding streets and enjoy the panorama from the top of the distinctive Fire Tower. Other stops along this border include Fertod, with its splendid palace, and the towns of Koszeg and Jak.

A highlight is a land and boat tour of towns and spas around Lake Balaton, Hungary's largest resort area.

The video also visits Herend, a porcelain and horse-breeding center; Sarvar, known for its thermal springs; Pecs and its Zsolnay Porcelain company site, with its ancient Turkish architecture; Kecskemet, whose tile-decorated buildings are renowned; the salami-making town of Szeged, and the restored castle at Gyula on the Romanian border. In the northeast are the cultural and economic center of Debrecen, the strangely desolate Hortobagy National Park on the Hungarian Plains, the wine region towns of Tokaj and Eger, the wondrous caves at Aggtelek and the glass factory at Parad.

Tapes are available from Wish You Were Here Videos, 1455 Royal Blvd., Glendale 91207, (818) 243-7043. Price: $29.95.

COSTA RICA ADVENTURES (Travel Adventure Videos, 50 minutes, 1993).

For anyone considering Costa Rica as a travel destination, this video could be the clincher that sends them rushing off to their travel agent.

Beautifully filmed and loaded with practical information, it visits some of the country's most scenic areas. Highlighted are the national parks, reserves and forests with their rich, varied vegetation and wildlife, plus film of some of the scenic lodgings.

After a brief visit in San Jose, the capital, viewers fly to Tortuguero National Park and join kayaking and river-rafting tours along its tropical waterways, overshadowed by beautiful trees and filled with exotic animals.

On the Pacific side there's a visit to Manuel Antonio National Park and lodge, overlooking beautiful white-sand ocean beaches. The park also features hiking trails, sea kayaking and deep-sea fishing at Punta Quepos.

There are scenes of bungee jumpers and a day trip through coffee plantations to Puntarenas, with a boat trip to Tortuga Island for a picnic on the beach.

At Monteverde, a privately owned reserve, there is a magical tour through a lush rain forest with waterfalls, ferns and a "hummingbird gallery."

Surfers will appreciate the uncrowded west-coast surf at Tamarindo, with its lodge and casino, as well as the challenging surf on the Caribbean side.

There's a visit to a horse ranch, a hike to a lovely double waterfall in Rara Avis, and a trip to a remote tropical forest at Marenco on the Osa Peninsula.

The final stop is at Corcovado National Park, the most unexplored area in Costa Rica, with its abundant wildlife and untarnished beaches.

Tapes are available from Travel Adventure Videos, P.O. Box 8474, Newport Beach 92658, (800) 748-7800.Price: $24.95.

ALASKA'S PORTAGE GLACIER (Alaska Video Postcards Inc., 35 minutes, 1991).

Glaciers, the last vestiges of the Ice Age, are diminishing at an astonishing rate. Portage Glacier, easily accessible by highway 48 miles east of Anchorage, is receding 300 feet a year. In this beautifully filmed video, viewers watch this event unfold while listening to a narrative relating the life cycle of a glacier.

The video is presented in two parts. Its first segment shows the awesome beauty of Portage Glacier by air and by water. Flying over the huge ice mass, viewers look down on towering ridges, deep crevasses and a small, incredibly blue lake at its terminal. Once on Portage Lake, they cruise along its mile-long ice face and watch the calving glacier break off and crash into the lake.

There are beautiful scenes of mountains, waterfalls and the valley where Portage Creek flows into Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet, past the ruins of the town of Portage, destroyed when it was submerged beneath eight feet of water during Alaska's 1964 earthquake.

Part Two, "Voices From the Ice," produced for the U.S. Forest Service and shown at the visitor center, combines scenes of flora and fauna with the sounds of calving, wind and snowstorms, melting ice and the creaking of the glacier.

There is film of the ice worm, the only creature to live on the glacier, which survives on pollen carried by the wind.

As the glacier recedes, new "voices" arrive--birds chirp, salmon splash and mountain goats bleat. Bears and eagles come on the scene and finally man--Native Americans, Russians, gold seekers. Nature's cycle starts again with the rebirth of the land: Forests grow, providing a lumber and paper industry; salmon give fishermen a livelihood and feed many others.

Tapes are available from Alaska Video Postcards, P.O. Box 112808, Anchorage, Alaska 99511-2808, (800) 248-2624. Price: $19.95.

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