Saddleback College Community Education is offering a grand tour of Europe July 19 to Aug. 1. The tour covers England, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and France, and is designed for a first-time visitor to Europe. The tour incorporates the capitals of London, Paris and Rome, but will also stop in some of beautiful smaller cities of Europe such as Canterbury and Rye, England; Brugge, Belgium; Rothenburg, Germany; Salzburg, Austria, and Lucerne, Switzerland. Participants will hear lectures about the art, music, architecture, history and general culture of the areas visited. The tour includes accommodations in the historic 15th century Mermaid Inn in Rye; wine tasting on the Rhine River; picnics en route, and a farewell dinner in the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Cost: $4,275 per person, double occupancy, including air fare, hotels, most meals, entrance fees and guides. Contact: The European Experience, P.O. Box 6691, Laguna Niguel, CA 92607; telephone (714) 495-2905.
A journey to see the highlights of Vietnam departs June 8-16. The tour includes major historical sites such as the Iron Triangle and Cu Chi tunnels. In the Mekong Delta region in the south, participants see patchworks of brilliant green rice paddies tended by farmers in conical hats. Guests tour the cool plateaus of the Central Highlands, home to many hill tribes. Other highlights are the ancient imperial city of Hue, a religious and historical center for its dynasty of the Nguyen emperors. Visitors also visit China Beach and the Marble Mountains.
Cost: $1,999 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, hotels, meals, entrances and guides. Other departure dates are available throughout the year. Contact: VivaUSA International Tours, 1840 W. 17th St., Santa Ana, CA 92706; tel. (800) 360-VIVA.
Virginia's 62nd annual Historic Garden Week will be the cornerstone of a journey showcasing private gardens, historic estates and art galleries from Washington D.C. to Williamsburg and the James River Plantations in Virginia. Timed to capture the beauty of flowering dogwoods, azaleas, peonies and spring bulbs, this seven-night tour departs April 19. Sponsored by the California Arboretum Foundation and Mission Creek Studios, it will be accompanied by an artist and a Harvard University horticulturist.
Featured art collections range from those in Washington's Textile Museum, the National Gallery and at Hillwood, estate of the late Marjorie Merriweather Post, to those at Richmond's renowned Fine Arts Museum and the Rockefeller Folk Art Center in Williamsburg. Guests will also meet contemporary artists in select studios and private galleries.
Other activities include an evening at Ford's Theater and dinners with gourmet cuisine, including regional delicacies such as Chesapeake Bay crab cakes and Martha Washington gingerbread. Accommodations include historic hotels and a country inn overlooking the Rappahannock River.
Cost: $1,995 per person, double occupancy, including accommodations, porterage, entries, participation on Historic Garden Week in Virginia, Ford Theater performance, 14 meals, ground transportation, services of guides. Contact: Learned Journeys, P.O. Box 30626, Santa Barbara, CA 93130; tel. (800) 682-6191.
A cultural tour-cruise that covers artistic and scenic sights in Lisbon, Madrid, the French Riviera, Italy and Greece leaves Los Angeles Aug. 5 for 15 days. Two days are spent in Lisbon to see St. George Castle, Jeronimo Monastery, the Alfama Quarter and Belem Tower. Two days are in Madrid to visit the Prado Museum, the Royal Palace, Puerta del Sol, Plaza Espagna, Cibele Fountain with an optional excursion to the El Escorial, Valley of the Fallen and Toledo. One day is taken in Barcelona to admire the Pueblo Espanol, the Gothic Quarters and Gaudi's cathedral.
The seven-day cruise begins in Barcelona, stopping first at Cannes and visiting Nice, Monaco and Monte-Carlo. The next port of call, Civiavecchia, allows a full day exploration of Rome's great masterpieces. Next is Sorrento, along with Capri and Pompeii. The fourth port call is Taormina with the impressive Greek theater and the active volcano Mt. Etna. Cruising the Mediterranean, the ship will stop first at Crete to see Knossos, the cradle of Western civilization, then at picturesque Santorini. The final port call will be Athens. During the final two days in Athens, the Acropolis, the Parthenon, the Agora and the Archeological Museum will be seen.
Cost: $2,595 per person, double occupancy, including air fare from Los Angeles to Lisbon and from Athens to L.A, all meals and entertainment, hotels in Lisbon, Madrid and Athens, sightseeing tours, airport transfers and lectures by Albert Benzie, professor of philosophy and humanities. Contact: Albert Benzie, Mesa College, 7250 Mesa College Drive, San Diego, CA 92111-4998; tel. (619) 454-1434.
Gardens of Provence