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TOURS & CRUISES

Getting an Insider's View of India and Sri Lanka

May 09, 1999|KARIN ESTERHAMMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

An India-born university professor will lead tourists to India and Sri Lanka from Jan. 8 to 29. The trip starts with a city tour of Singapore, where the group stops for a night on the way to India. In India participants will visit New Delhi, Agra and the Taj Mahal, Jaipur, Udaipur, Bombay, Goa, Cochin and Madras. In Sri Lanka, stops will be made at Colombo and Kandy.

Cost: $4,900 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, airport transfers, ground transportation, hotels, all meals, entrance fees and lectures. Sita World Travel is booking the tour.

Contact: Simon George; telephone (562) 985-4848.

Tunisia: Cruise

Experience the rich heritage of Tunisia on a 10-day journey that combines a land stay in Tunis with a cruise along the country's coast and islands. Departures for "Tunisia: Land of Many Faces" are on various dates in October and November. Guests will spend the first four days exploring the great ancient cities of inner Tunisia. Among the stops will be the cities of Carthage, Dougga and Bulla Regia. Each city is known for ancient Roman ruins, including remnants of temples, baths and theaters.

Guests will continue to the port of Sousse to board a Classical Cruises yacht. Passengers will cruise to Gabes, where guests explore the village of Matmata, setting of underground dwellings carved directly out of the landscape; Djerba, the legendary island of the lotus eaters; the relaxing beaches and quaint fishing villages of the Kerkennah Islands; Sfax, with its fantastic medina; and finally the port of Mahdia, a charming village with cobbled streets and relaxing cafes, for an excursion to nearby El Djem, a Roman amphitheater that rivals Rome's Colosseum. From the Halcyon's home port of Sousse, passengers will also travel to Kairouan, the religious and cultural center of Tunisia, founded in 671; and Monastir, a medieval walled coastal town.

A three-night post-cruise excursion to Tozeur on the edge of the Sahara Desert is also available. Guests will explore this historic town, as well as the oasis towns of Nefta and Douz. A trip is also planned to the Ofra Sand Dune, accessible only by camel.

Cost: from $3,695 per person, double occupancy, including three nights at the Hilton Hotel in Tunis, most meals, all tours and shore excursions, baggage handling and tips. Rates for the optional three-night post-cruise trip are $575 per person, double occupancy.

Contact: Classical Cruises, 132 E. 70th St., New York, NY 10021; tel. (800) 252-7745.

Italy: North Region

A 15-day tour of Northern Italy departs Sept. 30. Museums, palaces, churches and opera houses of Florence, Venice, Milan, Pisa, Padua and Verona will be visited. Also on the itinerary are the best villas and gardens of Lake Como, Lake Garda, Lake Maggiore, Portofino and the River Brenta. Other highlights include motorboat rides to Isola Bella and Isola dei Pescatori, Bellagio, Portofino and a walking tour of Venice from the Jewish Ghetto to St. Mark's Square. Alberto Benzi will escort the tour and lecture on the historical, cultural and artistic significance of each place.

Cost: $3,195 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, first-class hotels, daily buffet breakfast and dinner, deluxe motor coach, motorboat rides, entrance fees, luggage handling and tips.

Contact: Professor Benzi Culture Tours; tel. (619) 454-1434.

D.C.: Capital Sites

Corliss Tours of Huntington Beach is offering two departures of an eight-day "Washington, D.C., Stay-Put Tour." The dates are July 3 and Oct. 10. Guests stay in the same centrally located hotel for a week and take day trips from there. Sites include the Capitol, Supreme Court Building, Library of Congress, Ford's Theater, Kennedy Center, Embassy Row, Georgetown, Arlington National Cemetery and George Washington's home at Mt. Vernon.

Members will also visit Fredericksburg, site of many Civil War battles; Gettysburg, for a tour of the National Military Park; and Baltimore and Annapolis, with visits to Ft. McHenry and the United States Naval Academy.

Cost: $1,369 per person, double occupancy, including hotel accommodations, admissions to attractions, private chartered motor coach, baggage handling, 12 meals and guide services. Air fare to Washington is not included.

Contact: Corliss Tours, P.O. Box 4042, Huntington Beach, CA 92605; tel. (800) 482-4597.

Italy: Jewish History

Traces . . . Italian Journeys Into the Jewish Past invites travelers to explore the more than 2000-year history of the Jewish people in Italy. The Jewish presence can be found in every region, from the ancient Roman catacombs to the world's oldest ghetto in Venice to the medieval and more modern synagogues of Umbria and Tuscany. Three 12-day trips begin Sept. 23, Oct. 7 and Oct. 28 and explore the Jewish legacy as well as the present-day communities. Each is designed for a small group.

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