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TOURS & CRUISES

Brewing Up a Trip to Bavaria, Czech Republic

August 13, 2000|KARIN ESTERHAMMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Savor traditional beers and meet the brewers of Central Europe on a trip in the Czech Republic and Bavaria from Sept. 15 to 24. The trip begins in Prague, Czech Republic, a city filled with centuries-old brew pubs and cafes. Day trips out of Prague will include Plzen, the source of Pilsener Urquell.

Participants will spend two nights in Bamberg, a medieval German town, and sample its famous Rauchbier (smoke beer). Once in Munich, the tour's final destination, the highlight will be Oktoberfest, the world's biggest beer festival. There will also be tours to several Bavarian specialty breweries.

Cost: $1,750 per person, based on double occupancy, including hotels, entrance fees, ground transportation and some meals. Air fare is extra.

Contact: Mike Saxton, Travel 100 Group, telephone (312) 876-6866, Ext. 376, Internet http://www.beertrips.com.

Ecuador: Biking

With hands firmly gripped on handlebars, mountain bikers can see the "real" Ecuador while biking the trails of volcanoes. Trips are available Sept. 8 to 23 or Dec. 22 to Jan. 6. Mountain cyclists will bike a mix of dirt tracks and old cobbled roads, with a fair amount of ascent and descent.

Daily distances will average 24 miles in high altitudes and variable terrain. Participants will traverse the "Valley of the Volcanoes," close to Quito, the capital. They will visit craft markets in Indian villages. The culmination of the trip is a bike ride up to (and descent from) Chimborazo and Cotopaxi, the highest peaks in Ecuador.

With full-time vehicle support and guides, guests will be camping part of the trip but will also spend several nights in hostels and historic haciendas.

Cost: $2,665 per person, double occupancy, including hotels, all meals, guides and airport transfers. Air fare to Quito is extra.

Contact: KE Adventure Travel; tel. (800) 497-9675, Internet http://www.keadventure.com.

Mediterranean: Cruise

A positioning voyage on the Wind Surf will cruise the ports of the Mediterranean beginning Nov. 11. The trip departs from Nice, France, and visits Palma de Mallorca, Valencia and Malaga, Spain; Tangier, Morocco; and Lisbon.

Cost: $2,263 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from New York, eight-day cruise, port charges and taxes.

Contact: Windstar Cruises; tel. (800) 258-7245, Internet http://www.windstarcruises.com.

Mexico: Holidays

Two tours to Mexico will help you get out of doing the holiday dishes. The first is Nov. 18 to 30 to Guadalajara, Lake Chapala, Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende for three nights.

The second trip, "A Mexican Christmas Posada," runs Dec. 18 to 28. Four nights are spent in Puebla and six in Oaxaca. Guests will attend many holiday activities in both cities.

Cost: $1,095 per person, double occupancy, for the November trip and $1,245 per person, double occupancy, for the December trip, including hotels, two meals daily, guided tours and ground transportation. Air fare is extra.

Contact: Global Adventures, 350 N. El Camino Real, No. 36, Encinitas, CA 92024; tel. (800) 347-9468.

England: Walking

English Lakeland Ramblers know their way around England's Lake District. Seven- and eight-day hiking and walking tours are available weekly through October. Besides tours in the Lake District, there are tours of the Cotswolds and the Scottish Highlands. An eight-day itinerary in the northern Highlands of Scotland includes three days on the Isle of Skye.

In the Lake District, tours originate from a single, family-run hotel from the 17th century. Participants are driven daily to hiking trails or can sign up for the inn-to-inn tours.

Tour sites include Neolithic stone circles, a Roman fort, a Gothic church, an Elizabethan mansion and William Wordsworth's Dove Cottage. Rides on a narrow-gauge steam railway and a Victorian lake yacht are also included.

The itineraries' primary focus is the scenery. The hiking pace and distance of the walks range from easy to moderate. They are designed for those in average physical condition; no hiking experience is necessary.

Cost: from $1,890 per person, double occupancy, including hotels, all meals, entrance fees and guides. Air fare to London is extra.

Contact: Seth Steiner at English Lakeland Ramblers, 18 Stuyvesant Oval No. 1A, New York, NY 10009; tel. (800) 724-8801, Internet http://www.ramblers.com.

Italy: Sicily

Discover the sights, sounds and flavors of Sicily with Amelia International Tours. Departing Dec. 23 for 11 days, the "Just Sicily" itinerary includes the ancient sites of Palermo, Agrigento, Siracusa and Taormina.

Guests will have the opportunity to participate in some of Sicily's festive Christmas traditions and sample culinary delights, such as fish prepared with lemons and oranges, and cookies and honey cakes.

Four nights are spent in Palermo exploring the Norman Palace and the Church of St. John the Hermit, with its exotic gardens. A traditional Sicilian Christmas Eve feast will be served.

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