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NEWS AND BRIEFS

Botanic Park to Open on Grand Cayman Isle

September 12, 1993|KIM UPTON

The Cayman National Botanic Park--Grand Cayman's first national park on land--will open the first week in January on 60 acres of wooded interior on Grand Cayman, an island usually revered for its beaches and pristine diving. The Botanic Park will showcase the islands' native flora and be the eventual home of the captive breeding facility for the rare Grand Cayman Blue Iguana. It is also home to a large variety of other indigenous wildlife, including the Grand Cayman Parrot, the Cuban bullfinch and the West Indian woodpecker. Signage in the park links plant species with aspects of Caymanian history. Park admission has not yet been set.

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Travel Quiz: What country has more than 100 volcanoes and an estimated 120 glaciers?

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Tour to Iran: On Oct. 25, InnerAsia Expeditions will take 15 travelers on a 22-day tour of Iran, the first major group of American tourists to visit since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The visit is made possible through the sponsorship of an Iranian travel company. The October tour will visit Sa'adabad Palace, summer residence of the former Shah; Tehran's Archaeological Museum (said to contain half the contents of Persepolis, the culturally rich capital of the ancient Persian Empire); the ancient city of Esfahan, and the mosque-filled city of Shiraz. The U.S. government does not prohibit Americans from traveling to Iran, but recommends against it. A State Department travel warning, which San Francisco-based InnerAsia distributes to potential travelers, advises that "Iran continues to be dangerous because of the generally anti-American atmosphere and Iranian government hostility to the U.S. government." Because the United States does not have diplomatic ties with Iran and there is no embassy there, little can be done to help Americans should problems arise. Cost of the 22-day trip, including round-trip air fare from the West Coast on Lufthansa, will be about $7,500.

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Damage Minimal, but Emily Cost North Carolina Tourism: Hurricane Emily, which hit North Carolina's Outer Banks and then headed back out to sea earlier this month, cost the regional tourist industry about $10 million in lost revenues, officials said, even though damage was slight along most of the popular, 120-mile-long Outer Banks, including Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk. The most heavily hit area was a few square miles on Hatteras Island around the village of Buxton, near the famous Cape Hatteras lighthouse. At press time Wednesday, it was expected that all beaches would have reopened by Saturday.

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L.A. Super-Chefs Create Menus for Travelers: Chefs with the new cruise company Orient Lines have just completed training in Los Angeles in Wolfgang Puck's restaurants Spago, Chinois on Main and Granita; at Spago in Las Vegas, and at Postrio in San Francisco. The high-profile training will enable the chefs to prepare Puck dinners on the 800-passenger ship Marco Polo, which will make its first voyage Oct. 30. Two special Wolfgang Puck dinners will be featured on each Marco Polo sailing. One will be inspired by items on the menu at Spago, the other by Chinois. Puck's pizzas will also be featured on board in the dining room, as well as at other locations. Orient Lines will sail in the Far East, South Pacific, Indian Ocean and Antarctica.

Another Los Angeles super-chef, Joachim Splichal, is creating menus for travelers. Splichal, who owns and operates the highly acclaimed Patina and Pinot Bistro in Los Angeles, has joined the Ventana Inn in Big Sur as a consulting chef.

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Channel Tunnel Reservations: Those who want to be among the first passengers to use the undersea Channel Tunnel linking England with the European continent can make reservations with BritRail. The high-speed passenger train through the tunnel will begin operating next summer to and from London, Paris and Brussels--at first on a limited basis, with a full schedule to start by the end of 1994. For reservations, write: Reservation Request Register, BritRail Travel International, 1500 Broadway, New York 10036. Reservations are not being taken for the auto shuttle trains, which will begin operating May 6 between Folkestone, England, and Calais, France. Ticket prices for these have not yet been set.

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Hurricane Status Reports: Sailers and cruisers can get up-to-the-minute hurricane status reports for the East, West and Gulf coasts, as well as the Caribbean, from the National Hurricane Center in Coral Gables, Fla., by calling a special telephone number: (900) 933-2628. The cost is 98 cents a minute and the average call lasts about three minutes. The service is sponsored by the Boat Owners Assn. of the United States in cooperation with the National Weather Service. A recording of similar information, but only for the area surrounding Florida and the Caribbean, can be obtained by calling the National Hurricane Center, (305) 662-5702, or for the eastern Pacific by calling (305) 662-5701. Except for the toll-call charge, that service is free.

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