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Tours & Cruises

Middle Eastern Desert Odyssey

October 25, 1998|KARIN ESTERHAMMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

You can go back in time on a monthlong tour to the Middle East from March 28 to April 28. The tour begins in Muscat, Oman, at the end of the Arabian Peninsula, moves to the interior city of Nizwa and then advances westward into Yemen. The ancient capital of Sana is visited, and there are drives into the desert countryside and mountains. Eighth-century Thula, Kawkaban and Shibam and the stone towers of Hajjarra also are on the route. Local markets are viewed, and the indigenous cuisine sampled. The tour enters Jordan, and nearly three days are spent around the famous carved stone city of Petra. In Syria, the cities of Palmyra and Aleppo and the St. Simeon basilica are seen. The finishing point is Damascus, Syria.

Cost: $6,899 per person, double occupancy, including most meals, ground transportation and guides. Transatlantic and internal air fare is extra.

Contact: Kathleen Fung at Far Fung Places; telephone (800) 410-9811.

Paris: Beauty

Cosmetics, fashion and perfumes form the focus of a "Tour de Beaute" to Paris Dec. 28 to Jan. 6. Features of the tour include a day at the Trianon Palace Spa, which is known for its hydrotherapy and aromatherapy treatments, and an excursion to the Cha^teau de Chamerolles, located on the "Promenade des Parfums" in the Loire Valley. Also included are a fashion show, a viewing at the Musee de la Mode et du Costume, and visits to a number of exclusive boutiques. Among other activities rounding out the tour are excursions to Fontainebleau and Versailles and a special New Year's Eve celebration.

Cost: $2,200 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from New York, eight nights' accommodation at the Libertel Lafayette in Paris, most meals, daily sightseeing, entrance fees and ground transportation.

Contact: Carina Klein at Travelcraft, 591 Broadway, New York, NY 10012; tel. (800) 777-2723.

Holland: Tulips

Board a deluxe brand-new river ship April 24 to cruise through Holland when the tulips are in full bloom. The nine-day tour will explore Holland. with opportunities to bike, see Anne Frank's house, spend a day visiting the town of Delft and walk through the Keukenhof Gardens.

Cost: $2,198 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, all meals on board, sightseeing, transportation and guides.

Contact: Lynn Rueff, P.S. Tours and Travel, 17826 Chatsworth St., Granada Hills, CA 91344; tel. (818) 831-8687.

New York: Theater

"Broadway Blast" New York City fall theater tours are being offered for the 27th year by Travel Dimensions.

A five-night trip is scheduled to depart Dec. 6, while six-night holiday trips are planned Nov. 24 to 30 and Dec. 27 to Jan. 2. Each features deluxe hotel accommodations, dinner at the Halcyon Restaurant and three New York shows, including "The Lion King" and the Rockettes' "Christmas Spectacular" at Radio City Music Hall.

Cost: $1,695 per person, double occupancy, including hotel accommodations, shows and ground transportation. Air fare is extra.

Contact: Travel Dimensions, 2118 East Hildebrand Ave., San Antonio, TX 78209; tel. (800) 828-6445.

Italy: Venice

The fourth annual "Opulent Christmas in Venice," from Dec. 18 to 27, is available from the Cal Poly Pomona Art Department. The 10-day program includes a seven-course traditional Christmas banquet in the penthouse dining room of the Renaissance Danieli Palace followed by the pageantry of midnight Mass at St. Mark's Basilica. After a Christmas Day ascent to the heights of the snow-covered Alps, the group will indulge in a traditional country dinner at an Italian restaurant. Another feature is a tour of the museums and synagogues of the historic Jewish Ghetto with a Jewish scholar as a guide. Also included is a Vivaldi concert, performed with 18th century instruments and costumes in the church where Vivaldi was choirmaster; drinks at Harry's Bar, which was frequented by Hemingway and Fitzgerald; and city tours that include palaces, art museums and cathedrals.

Cost: $3,395 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare, accommodations at the deluxe Europa & Regina Hotel, full breakfast daily and some dinners, transfers, all admission fees and expert guides.

Contact: Cal Poly Pomona Art Department at (909) 869-3512 or University Education Travel at (800) 525-0525.

Germany: Holidays

Enjoy the experience of an Old World Christmas in Germany, Austria and Alsace, France. Each year, starting at the end of November, a "Christkindlsmarkt" (Christmas market) is set up in many towns. These markets date back hundreds of years and today still turn town squares and narrow lanes into storybook Christmas scenes. The markets offer a blend of the edible and decorative symbols of the season.

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