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Savoring Mexican Arts, History

Tours & Cruises

September 02, 2001|KARIN ESTERHAMMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Learn about the conquistadors on a tour to Veracruz, Puebla and Cuernavaca, Mexico, Jan. 15 to 24. The trip follows the explorations of Hernan Cortes that led to the Spanish conquest of Mexico.

Jeffrey Wilkerson, a specialist in Veracruz art and archeology, will guide the group for three days. The tour traverses some of Mexico's most scenic landscapes, which vary from the Gulf coast to tropical rain forests and the mountains of the Sierra Madre Oriental. Participants will view ancient ruins and artworks. Stops include haciendas, museums and the studios of painters who have been influenced by Mexico's history. The group will have time to shop for crafts.

Cost: $2,145 per person, double, including hotels, most meals, entrance fees and guides. An optional three-day Mexico City extension is $595. Air fare is not included.

Contact: Jean Grimm's Art and Culture Tours, 1233 E. Baker Drive, Tempe, AZ 85282; telephone (480) 730-1764 or (888) 783-1331.

South America

Ecuador's Galapagos Islands and Peru's Machu Picchu are combined on a 15-day small-group tour organized by Odysseys Unlimited of Watertown, Mass. Departure dates are Dec. 2, Jan. 21, March 4, April 15, July 8 and Oct. 7, 2002.

The excursion begins in Lima with a city tour; the next day there is a flight to the ancient Andean city of Cuzco. Guests will spend three days in the Cuzco area to acclimate to the 11,000-foot-plus altitude. On Day 6 they will go to Machu Picchu. After exploring the Inca ruins, visitors will stay overnight at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge to enjoy the site after the day-trippers have left.

The rest of the excursion will be spent in Quito; the Ecuadorean market town of Otavalo; and aboard the new Grand Coral in the Galapagos for a private cruise.

Cost: from $4,695 per person, double occupancy, including air fare from New York, 13 nights' lodging, daily breakfast, most lunches and dinners, entry fees and the services of a Galapagos naturalist.

Contact: Odysseys Unlimited; tel. (888) 370-6765.

Washington: History

CIE Tours is offering an eight-day visit to historic sites in Washington, D.C., Williamsburg, Va., and Gettysburg, Pa., weekly until Oct. 27. The trip, which begins and ends in Washington, also includes Charlottesville, Arlington and Alexandria in Virginia.

Activities include tours of Mount Vernon, home of George Washington, and Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's plantation in Virginia; Colonial Williamsburg; a guided tour of Gettysburg National Military Park; and stops at the White House, Capitol Hill, the FDR Memorial, the Smithsonian and Arlington National Cemetery.

Cost: from $1,299 per person, double occupancy, including seven nights' accommodations, motor coach, guides, many meals, airport transfers, entrance fees and tips. Air fare is extra.

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

Bottom of the Earth

"Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falklands" is a 24-day trip starting at Santiago, Chile. Besides exploring the Antarctic Peninsula, this voyage includes stops at the remote Falkland and South Georgia islands. The Falklands resemble Scotland and are home to thousands of penguins. South Georgia Island, also home to vast penguin colonies, is perhaps best known as the final resting place of explorer Ernest Shackleton. Sharing tea with island residents offers insight into life in this archipelago. Ample time is provided to explore the island by Zodiac, by kayak and on foot. This trip departs Nov. 13 and Feb. 10.

Cost: from $12,830 per person, double, plus air fare.

Contact a travel agent or Lindblad Expeditions at (800) 397-3348, http://www.expeditions.com.

Italy: Harvest Time

A cultural-culinary adventure explores Tuscany and Umbria from Oct. 24 to Nov. 3.

The trip starts inside the ancient walls of Lucca, where motor scooters and cars are banned. Participants will visit villas, vineyards and restaurants, savoring seasonal specialties. The journey continues to the seacoast town of Viareggio, to Florence and Pisa, then south to Spello in Umbria, where the hotel is the former villa of a noble family.

Other activities include wine tastings; lunch at an artist's estate; a tasting at the community olive press; and a cooking class in a castle. There will also be a visit to the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, a walk on the Roman aqueduct in Spoleto and a tour of a ceramics factory in Deruta.

Cost: $3,600 per person, double, including hotels with breakfast, some meals, all excursions and guides. Group size is limited to 12. Air fare is extra.

Contact: Anne Block at Take My Mother Please Tours, tel. (323) 737-2200, http://www.takemymotherplease.com.

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