New hostels for international travelers that provide lodgings for less than $20 per night have recently opened in the Tuscany region of Italy, the Ecuadorean capital of Quito, and near the popular Padre Island National Seashore in Texas.
The Mt. San Michele hostel is in Italy's central Tuscany region. The scenery encompasses hills, vineyards and olive trees, and in the distance you can see the city of Florence. Mt. San Michele Park is ideal for trekking, horseback riding and mountain biking.
The hostel, which can accommodate 60 travelers, is in a renovated stone barn. Address: Via Casole 42, 50030 Lucolene FI; from U.S. telephones 011-39-55-851-034.
In 1978, UNESCO declared Quito to be a World Cultural Heritage site. The city, which is only 14 miles south of the Equator, is located on what was once an ancient Inca city.
The three-story Quito Youth Hostel is at Madrid 868 y Pontevedra. (Addresses in Ecuador are often given with the building number after the street name, followed by the name of the nearest intersecting street.)
This hostel offers accommodations in double, triple and group rooms (with private bathrooms). There is a cafeteria, travel agency and tourist information desk.
An agreement between the Ecuadorean Youth Hostel Assn. (AEA) and the airline TAME--which provides transportation from Quito to the Galapagos Islands, 1,000 miles west of Ecuador--entitles Hostelling International members to a 20% discount on air fare to visit the islands that made Charles Darwin famous.
The 1992 edition of "Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands" by Rob Rachowiecki (Lonely Planet, $16.95), also reports that TAME offers students discounts of up to 25% when flying from Quito to the Galapagos.
One of the most popular American destinations for spring break is Padre Island, near Corpus Christi, Tex. Thousands of students descend on the area in March and early April, outnumbering the local population by about 50 to 1, according to estimates.
American Youth Hostels has opened a hostel in Port Aransas, the gateway to the Padre Island National Seashore.
Padre Island (pop. 2,000) is the longest coastal-barrier island in the world, and the entire Gulf of Mexico side is sandy beach. The island stretches for 113 miles, about 80 of which are protected by the National Park Service: The area is one of eight national seashores in the United States.
The Malaquite Ranger Station on Padre Island National Seashore conducts hikes and nature programs throughout the year for both individuals and groups.
Port Aransas is on the northern tip of 18-mile-long Mustang Island, another barrier island just north of Padre Island. An old-fashioned beach town about 25 miles from Corpus Christi, Port Aransas also is located near the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, the winter home of the endangered whooping crane and 300 species of birds.
The Mediterranean-style hostel is situated only a block from the beach in Port Aransas, at 1500 11th St. Travelers can find dormitory-style accommodations for $15 per person per night, plus a self-service kitchen, swimming pool, hot tub and lounge.
For more information, contact the Padre Island National Seashore International Hostel, P.O. Box 1212, Port Aransas, Tex. 78373; tel. (512) 749-5937. Reservations can be made by phone with a credit card.