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Benelux Rises a Notch on the 'Must-See' List

August 29, 1993|BETTY MARTIN

HOLLAND, LUXEMBOURG, BELGIUM (International Video Network, 75 minutes, 1993).

The Benelux countries don't usually make the top of most travelers' "must see" lists, but this well-photographed video offers some impressive reasons--historical, cultural and scenic--to move them up a notch or two.

In the Netherlands, viewers are shown lovely panoramas of the countryside, with its canals and windmills, followed by a tour of Amsterdam and busy Dam Square, many museums and the famous Anne Frank House.

Other sights include diamond centers, the nearby cheese center of Alkmaar, the vast port city of Rotterdam, The Hague, the flower region and auction at Aalsmeer, the porcelain creations of Delft and the city of Maastricht.

A tour of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg offers scenic views of ancient river valleys and scores of medieval castles and Roman ruins, colorful markets and war monuments. The tour of Luxembourg City includes scenes of the international banking center, intriguing shops and sidewalk cafes.

The video takes viewers north to several castles and the romantic town of Clervaux. To the south, there's a cruise on the Moselle River, a balloon ride and a tour of the wine country.

Belgium is rich in scenery and tradition and its capital, Brussels, is a sophisticated political center. Viewers visit the Grand Place with its splendid guildhalls, shops, restaurants and nightclubs, museums and art galleries.

In the Flanders area, there are tours of the port city of Antwerp, the lace center of Brugge, and the textile center of Ghent, with its grim fortress-castle of Gravensteen.

En route to the Ardennes region, the video stops at the gateway cities of Dinant and Namur on the Meuse River, and at the cultural city of Liege.

The Ardennes is a center for outdoor activities such as hiking and kayaking, and is also the site of Belgium's chateaux country and the city of Bastogne, the heart of the historic Battle of the Bulge during World War II.

Tapes are available from International Video Network, 2242 Camino Ramon, San Ramon, Calif. 94583, (800) 669-4486. Price: $24.95.

COUNTRY INNS OF VERMONT (Big Brother Productions, 94 minutes, 1993).

For travelers considering the "inn scene" on a trip to Vermont, this video provides a plenitude of choices. Twenty-three are visited, all of them seemingly oozing with charm and filled with antiques. Most have some historical significance and retain the flavor of their heritage as Victorian mansions or country farmhouses.

As the video moves from inn to inn, viewers meet the innkeepers and explore the amenities. Common rooms vary but all have such things as parlors, lounges, libraries or bar/taverns and dining rooms. The bedrooms look comfortable, displaying handmade quilts and antiques, and they often have their own baths and fireplaces.

Although the inns have a similar ambience, each has something that seems to set it apart. One features a llama herd. Activities at other inns vary from skinny-dipping in an isolated pond and horseback riding in summer, to downhill or cross-country skiing and sleigh rides in winter.

Variables discussed include the inns' policies on pets, smoking and alcohol.

The food ranges from country cooking to gourmet, and many of the inns grow their own fruit and vegetables and have fine wine cellars.

Most of the inns shown in this video are in the southern part of the state, and all were selected on merit, not for compensation.

Addresses and phone numbers are shown on the tape, and a rate list and map accompany the video.

Tapes are available from Big Picture Productions, P.O. Box 524, Bernardsville, N.J. 07924, (800) 521-4141. Price: $29.95.

DESTINOS: AN INTRODUCTION TO SPANISH and FRENCH IN ACTION (developed by WGBH Boston as part of the Annenberg/CPB Collection).

These elaborately produced video series, originally shown on public television, are now available in home video packages. Filmed on location and using dramatic story lines, viewers are provided with intensive and enjoyable learning tools for two of the languages frequently used by travelers.

The introductory tapes in the Destinos series begin with a young woman as she investigates the mysterious past of a wealthy Mexican don. Her travels take her to such Spanish-speaking countries as Mexico, Spain, Argentina and Puerto Rico.

The French tapes open in Paris, where a romantic comedy follows the adventures of a young American man and a young French woman as they travel through France pursued by a dark stranger.

As the stories unfold, the viewer learns by listening to the conversations and associating the dialogue with the locale, action, facial expressions and body language.

Though each package follows a slightly different method of teaching, each stresses learning the languages and dialects as they are spoken in daily life.

Each series begins with 26 half-hour episodes on seven tapes, and includes a textbook with corresponding chapters, a grammar workbook, self-tests and audiotapes.

The packages were developed by public TV station WGBH in Boston, and are available from the Annenberg Corp. for Public Broadcasting for $299. Package components are available separately. The Spanish package also includes software for Macintosh or IBM computers.

Packages for advanced students also are available, priced from $255. For more information: (800) LEARNER.

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