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Tours & Cruises

Rallying the Rails on Austrian Trains

March 15, 1998|KARIN ESTERHAMMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Join George Drury, author of "Railfan's Guide to Austria," for two weeks of narrow-gauge, steam, mountain, funicular, tram and mainline train-riding through Austria. The tour runs Sept. 10 to 24. Highlights include a mountain excursion over Semmering Pass; a ride on meter- and smaller-gauge lines such as Murtalbahn, Achenseebahn (steam-powered cog railway), Salzburg's Lokalbahn, Mariazellerbahn and tiny Zillertalbahn (also behind steam); and streetcar rides in Graz, Gmunden (world's shortest), Stubaitalbahn (a mountain-climbing streetcar) and Vienna.

Cost: $2,699 per person, double occupancy, including rail tickets, accommodations, some meals and sightseeing. Air fare is extra.

Contact: The Society of International Railway Travelers, 1810 Sils Ave., No. 306B, Louisville, KY 40205; telephone (800) IRT-4881.

Best of Spain

Visit Spain May 30 to June 14 beginning and ending in Madrid. The group will be escorted by a local guide on a city tour of Madrid. The tour continues over the Sierra de Guadarrama Mountains to Segovia to view a 92-foot-high Roman aqueduct still in use. The group moves north to Burgos to see its Gothic cathedral. Also visited are the important sites in Pamplona, Barcelona, Valencia, Granada, Seville and Cordoba.

Cost: $2,150 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles to Madrid, hotels, most meals, service charges, taxes and baggage handling.

Contact: Gwen-Jones Travel, 4533 Fairfield Drive, Corona del Mar, CA 92625; tel. (714) 760-0777.

Back to the Source

"Israel: A Journey to the Source," Aug. 18 to 27 under the sponsorship of the Claremont Institute, will focus on the ancient city of Jerusalem and the origins of Christianity and Judaism, with side trips to the Golan Heights and Masada. The Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Dome of the Rock are some of the sites visited.

Historian Martin Gilbert, author Midge Decter, Claremont Institute President Larry Arnn and Vice President Michael Warder will lead the tour. Local Israeli public officials will discuss politics, immigration, national security and other issues.

Cost: $4,995 per person, double occupancy from Los Angeles including round-trip air fare on British Airways, seven nights in the Hyatt Regency, all programs and entrance fees, some meals and guides.

Contact: Michael Warder, The Claremont Institute, 250 W. 1st St., No. 330, Claremont, CA 91711; tel. (909) 621-6825.

Native American Trails

A 12-day journey along the "Trail to Lakota, Crow, Cheyenne, Arapaho and Shoshone Peoples" begins Aug. 14 in Billings, Mont. From there, 20 participants will visit the Custer battlefield; the Lame Deer, Pine Ridge and Wind River reservations; Bear Butte; Devils Tower National Monument; and Medicine Wheel.

Cost: $1,595 per person, double occupancy, including 11 nights' lodging (three nights in a tepee), all ground transportation, guides, admissions and some meals. Transportation to Montana is not included.

Contact: Journeys Into American Indian Territory; tel. (800) 458-2632.

Tiger Tales

Preserving the tiger and other threatened wildlife in India is the focus of Rare Earth Explorations' 17-day tour that begins Nov. 14 for six to 15 travelers. The guide is Toby Sinclair, a guidebook author and BBC field manager involved in producing TV specials about tigers. Besides national parks and nature sanctuaries, some of India's famous palaces and temples are visited. Tour participants also take an elephant ride.

Cost: $4,490 per person, double occupancy, including accommodations in lodges, tents or five-star hotels, all meals inside the parks, and all transportation within India. Air fare to New Delhi is additional.

Contact: Rare Earth Explorations; tel. (212) 686-7411.

State of the Skate

Several in-line skating trips on flat roads are available this spring and summer from Zephyr Inline Skate Tours. Five trips are scheduled to the Netherlands, including a seven-day tulip season tour that begins May 9. Guests stay in small, family-run lodgings. Routes are usually 12 to 15 miles daily, but longer stretches are available for distance skaters. Van support is also available.

Cost: $1,665 per person, double occupancy, including daily breakfast, most dinners, luggage handling and guides. Up to 24 skaters can join each tour. Tours of San Francisco and the wine country, southern Minnesota and the Pennsylvania Amish country are also available.

Contact: Zephyr Inline Skate Tours; tel. (888) 758-8687.

Costa Rica

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is hosting an 11-day trip to Costa Rica, July 31 to Aug. 10. Areas visited include Guanacaste province for its abundance of bird and animal life, the cloud forest of Monteverde, the jungle waterways of Tortuguero National Park and a visit to two of Costa Rica's active volcanoes--Poas and Arenal. There will be ample opportunity for bird-watching and photography.

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