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Electronic Explorer

Let the Games Begin--After the Web

May 12, 1996|LAURA BLY

If you're one of the estimated 2 million fans heading for the Olympic Games in Atlanta, cyberspace is crawling with resources designed to enhance your journey--from last-minute, online ticket sales to locals' advice on coping with the Peach State's sticky summer weather. An obvious gold medal contender is Atlanta Games (http://www.atlantagames.com), a World Wide Website produced by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper.

Billed as an "unofficial insider's guide," this cleanly designed, information-rich package gives visitors the lowdown on lodging, transportation, entertainment, city and regional tours, and restaurants. An extensive classified section puts readers in touch with locals hawking house rentals and Olympic souvenirs, while a "Cams Across Atlanta" feature supplies live views from four vantage points across the city, updated every five minutes. Atlanta Games' lodging section includes articles on a new buyer's market for hotel rooms and how to negotiate the best deal on a private residence, along with a list of companies offering rentals.

One of the largest, Atlanta-based Creative Travel Services, has its own comprehensive Website (http://www.com-stock.com/cts/welcome.htm) with color photos of available properties. A "Southern Website sampler" provides links to 10 popular regional sites, from the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg, Tenn., to Georgia's Okefenokee Swamp. But if you're searching for directions to Scarlett O'Hara's beloved homestead, Tara, forget it: As an Atlanta Games feature points out, "except for occasional street names (Ashley Cove, Rhett Road, Scarlett Way), enterprising companies (Tara Mobile Home Park) and the Tara trinkets available at tourist shops, the 'Gone With the Wind' phenomenon barely exists locally."

While it lacks the sass and insider tone of the Atlanta Games site, the Atlanta Olympic Committee's officially sanctioned Guide to the 1996 Olympic Games (http://www.atlanta.olympic.org) is a crucial stop for Atlanta-bound Web surfers.

Among its most useful features is an online ticket center, updated hourly and open 24 hours a day. Users can check ticket availability for both sport and Olympic arts festival events, searching by sport, day or location, then order online. Other Internet resources:

* The Atlanta Convention and Visitors' Bureau (http://www.com/acvb/) can supply the nuts and bolts, from a calendar of events to a four-day weather forecast. But the site's "Olympic News Update" isn't exactly up-to-the-minute: Earlier this month, the section cheerfully noted that "visitors to Atlanta in 1995 can see (Olympics preparations) in progress."

* The cyberspace version of Atlanta magazine (http://atlantamag.atlanta.com/) plans several Olympic-themed features over the next few months, including June's "Southern primer" by humorist Melissa H. Bienvenu and in July "Best of Atlanta" roundup of restaurants, shopping and entertainment.

* Atlanta-based CNN has its own Olympic Games Page (http://www.cnn.com/SPORTS/OLYMPICS/index.html), with sport-by-sport schedules, Olympic trial results and news stories. Among its recent revelations: The city's "wildly popular" Indigo Grill will begin taking reservations for the first time during the Olympic Games.

* The aptly named Quick Guide to Atlanta in '96 (http://www.mindspring.com/~prog400/atlanta.html) provides links to dozens of Atlanta and Olympics sites. You can even get an online sneak preview of Olympics in Nagano, Japan; Sydney, Australia; and Salt Lake City

* Usenet newsgroups focusing on this summer's Olympics include atl.olympics and rec.sport.olympics.

Small byte: Already one of the strongest travel sites on the Web, GORP--Great Outdoor Recreation Pages (http://www.gorp.com) was recently redesigned to include more graphics and new search capabilities. The site's Active and Adventurous Travel section allows users to search for trips by activity, location, special interest or company name.

Bly welcomes reader comments; her e-mail address is Laura.Bly@latimes.com. Electronic Explorer appears monthly.

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