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TOURS & CRUISES

Way to Ireland's Heart Is Through Its Cooking

August 06, 2000|KARIN ESTERHAMMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Irish cuisine? It exists, and from Oct. 9 to 20 Margaret Johnson, author of "Cooking With Irish Spirits" and "The Irish Heritage Cookbook," will introduce travelers to it. On the menu are apple pie and scones at Bunratty Castle; wine and cheese tasting and a cooking demonstration at Kinsale (where three days will be spent at the Kinsale International Gourmet festival); dinner at Ballymaloe House in Shanagarry; a visit to a salmon smokehouse; a lecture on organic, free-range and wild cookery in Wicklow; and a morning tour of the Dublin food markets.

Cost: $2,350 per person, double occupancy, including 10 nights' lodging, all breakfasts, eight dinners and a three-day ticket to the festival. Air fare is additional.

Contact: Focus on Travel; telephone (877) 828-4746.

Italy: More Cooking

A seven-day cooking course offered by Tuscan Way Tours immerses its participants in the foods and culture of southern Tuscany.

Staying at Casa Innocenti, the medieval home of chef-host Carlo Innocenti in the small village of Arcidosso, guests are taught the simple style of southern Tuscan dishes. A maximum of eight guests will attend daily classes and tour local markets, restaurants and vineyards.

Four excursions are planned to nearby villages: Montalcino, known for the vineyards that produce Brunello wine; the seaside village of Castiglione della Pescaia; and Sovana and Pitigliano, with their ancient ghettos and Etruscan tombs. Tour dates are available throughout the year.

Cost: $2,090 per person, double occupancy, including accommodations, meals with wine, airport transfers and local transportation for scheduled excursions. A four-day course is also available for $1,140 per person, double. Air fare is extra.

Contact: Tuscan Way, 2829 Bird Ave., No. 242, Coconut Grove, FL 33133; tel. (800) 766-2390, Internet http://www.tuscanway.com.

Egypt: Tombs, Temples

Follow the footsteps of Agatha Christie and Lawrence of Arabia on a trip to Egypt from Oct. 25 to Nov. 5. The group will explore Alexandria, Cairo, the Great Pyramid, pharaohs' tombs, the Temple of Luxor and the Nile Valley.

An extension is available to cross the Red Sea to see Mt. Sinai and visit St. Catherine's monastery, which dates back to the 6th century. Participants will then journey to Jordan to see the city of Petra, lost to the world for 500 years, and will visit Amman before returning home.

Cost $3,815 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, three internal flights in Egypt, hotel accommodations, daily breakfast and dinner and all sightseeing. The Sinai and Jordan extension Nov. 5 to 9 is $595.

Contact: Frank Tysen at Fun and Fantasy Tours, 15012 Del Gado Drive, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403; tel. (818) 501-4100.

Canada: Bears

Photographing or just gazing at grizzly bears is the purpose of a five-night expedition into the British Columbia rain forest. The tour is based at the Tweedsmuir Lodge near Bella Coola--about 240 miles northwest of Vancouver. The bears can sometimes be seen from the lodge's deck. But on the third day, the group (10 to 12 people) will go by aircraft, boat or vehicle to search for grizzlies in the forest. The other days will be spent on the Bella Coola River, looking for spawning salmon and predators such as eagles and bears; traveling to the Monarch Glacier Fields or 500-foot-high Hunlen Falls (via an optional helicopter trip priced at $350 to $500); visiting the local Nuxalk Indians; and sailing along the Pacific Coast.

Cost: from $2,695 per person, double occupancy, including lodging, all meals, guides and local transport. There are several departures between Aug. 17 and Oct. 11. Air fare is extra.

Contact: Natural Habitat Adventures of Boulder, Colo.; tel. (800) 543-8917, Internet http://www.nathab.com.

Scotland: Savoring It

CIE Tours International is offering a "Taste of Scotland" tour, a compact five-day trip that can also be used as an add-on for a visit to London or other transatlantic destinations.

A tour of Glasgow begins the itinerary, followed by a circular scenic route that takes in Loch Lomond, Rannoch Moor, Glencoe, Fort William, Fort Augustus, Loch Ness, the Grampian Mountains, Blair Atholl, Perth and Sterling, and ending at Edinburgh. Activities include a scenic cruise on Loch Ness and a whiskey distillery tour and tasting, as well as admission to the Burrell Collection, Blair Castle, Stirling Castle and Edinburgh Castle.

The tour operates weekly on Saturdays through Oct. 21.

Cost: $599 per person, double occupancy, including accommodations for four nights in first-class hotels, full Scottish breakfasts, three dinners, escorted sightseeing, hotel gratuities and taxes. Air fare is extra.

Contact: CIE Tours International; tel. (800) CIE-TOUR (243-8687), Internet http://www.cietours.com.

Germany: Markets

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