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TOURS & CRUISES

Easter Time in Ancient and Medieval Greece

October 29, 2000|KARIN ESTERHAMMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Byron Tours is offering a tour to Greece from March 30 to April 16 to see ruins and wildflowers, temples, medieval stone villages and Venetian towns during the Greek Easter holidays. Guests travel from the balmy island of Crete in the south to the snowcapped peaks of northwestern Greece, near the Albanian border. The tour balances visits to the Acropolis, Knossos, Delphi, Mycenae, Meteora and Epidaurus with leisurely walks to country hideaways. Another tour of the islands is available in May.

Cost: $3,950 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from the West Coast, hotels, transportation, entry fees and some meals.

Contact: Byron Tours; telephone (831) 688-1325.

Costa Rica: Nature

Tours to Costa Rica are available Feb. 17 to 25 and April 21 to 29. Guests will begin with a visit to Tortuguero National Park on the Atlantic, where sea turtles lay eggs. Boat rides along canals through the rain forest will allow guests to see birds and other wildlife.

The tour continues through Braulio Carrillo National Park to the Pacific Coast. Guests will visit the Tarcoles bridge to see caimans and scarlet macaws. A visit to Jaco Beach will allow guests to try several activities--such as a rain forest canopy tour, horse or bike riding--or just enjoy the beach and shop for souvenirs. Guests will also spend a day at Manuel Antonio National Park, where the forest meets the sea, to swim in the warm waters and walk trails in search of sloths, monkeys and other wildlife.

Next the group will explore the Carara Biological Reserve, where colorful scarlet macaws are found. The tour then travels to Cerro de la Muerte Cloud Forest, where guests will look for the resplendent quetzal, a magnificent bird found only at high elevations. Additional 13-day summer tours are available.

Cost: $999 per person, double occupancy, including all ground and water transportation, hotel accommodations, guides and 18 meals. Air fare is extra.

Contact: Tropical Eco-Tours, 1333 Calle Pimiento, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360; tel. (888) 900-1-ECO, Internet http://tropicalecotours.com.

Vietnam: Bicycling

An 18-day bike tour explores the tribal cultures of Vietnam, traveling along coastline and through wooded hills and picturesque villages. Guests will take trains, planes and bicycles to Vinh Long in the Mekong Delta, travel by boat to the floating villages and fish farms at Cai Bai and drive to Chau Doc for sunset views at Sam Mountain near the Cambodian border. The group will cycle along the waterfront of Old Saigon to the Cu Chi tunnels. In Nha Trang, participants will stay at a French villa, then take a sleeper train to Da Nang, cycle around the city and waterfront to the Cham Museum, visit China Beach and climb Marble Mountain, which is layered with caves and Buddhist temples. In Hue, the group will bike through lush countryside to visit the tombs of the former emperors, and then fly to Hanoi to cycle to the minority villages in Hoa Binh and Mai Chau. An extension to Ha Long Bay is available.

Dates include Feb. 7 to 24 and July 4 to 21.

Cost: $2,630 per person, double occupancy, including accommodations, some meals, all transfers, ground transportation, air fare within Vietnam, train fare, guides, taxes, entrance fees and boat trip. International air fare and bike rentals are extra.

Contact: Asian Pacific Adventures, 9010 Reseda Blvd., Suite 227, Northridge, CA 91324; tel. (818) 886-5190 or (800) 825-1680, Internet http://www.asianpacificadventures.com.

Bali and Java

Experience local culture on a tour of Bali and Java, Indonesia. To get the feel of local life, guests will trek into a village in Java and stay overnight there. In Bandung, participants will climb to a crater and in the village of Padasuka hear a bamboo orchestra performance. Next they will board a tourist train to Yogyakarta to visit the Borobudur Temple. After a Ramayana Ballet performance, the tour moves to Bali. The weeklong tour is available year-round.

Cost: $1,495 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, daily breakfast, some other meals, sightseeing, performances, transfers and service charges. Train ticket from Bandung to Yogyakarta and domestic air fare from Yogyakarta to Bali are included.

Contact: America Asia Travel, 1323 S. Golden West Ave., Arcadia, CA 91007; tel. (626) 821-1986.

Cruise: Cooking

Chef Andre Soltner has joined Royal Olympic Cruises' on-board cultural enrichment program as a guest chef on Olympic Voyager's April 16 to 28 cruise from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Barcelona, Spain. A seven-day cruise beginning April 28 sails from Barcelona to Athens. Soltner is the former chef/owner of New York's Lutece restaurant. He will give cooking demonstrations, and some of his most requested dishes will be featured in selected dinner menus.

Contact: Royal Olympic Cruises; tel. (800) 872-6400, Internet http://www.royalolympiccruises.com.

Florida: Fauna

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