A potpourri of package deals, a new Eastern Europe railpass plus other odds & ends.
• One of the better winter deals we've seen comes from sunny Lugano. Some 30 hotels there are participants in a winter discount package. Through April 3, 1998, a double room for three nights with bath/shower and breakfast included starts at 145 Sfr. ($101) per person at 10 category A hotels, 235 Sfr. ($163) at 14 category B hotels, 325 Sfr. ($226) at five category C hotels and 460 Sfr. ($319) at four category D hotels, including one of Switzerland's finest, the Villa Principe Leopoldo.
• A tour in observance of the 50th Anniversary of the Berlin Airlift includes stops in Berlin, Frankfurt and Wiesbaden and will be led by retired U.S. Army Colonel Steve Bowman, former Deputy Brigade Commander, U.S. Army, Berlin. Tour dates are June 22 - July 5, 1998.
Participants will visit the site of the 1945 Potsdam Conference, Tempelhof, Tegel and Gatow airfields, and attend commemorative events including the opening of the new Allied Museum and observe the fly-in of historical aircraft to Tempelhof. Among the planes will be the "Spirit of Freedom," a former U.S. Air Force C-54 transport which actually flew in the airlift.
Prices for the full 13-day tour are $3250 per person air/land and $2320 land-only. For the 10-day Berlin-only tour, prices are $2900 air/land and $1970 land-only. Airlift veterans get a 10% discount. Contact: Specialty Tours, 6535 Copa Court, Falls Church VA 22044, tel. 888-868-7706.
• A new railpass valid for travel in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, the Slovak Republic, and Austria, the Eastern Europe Flexipass, is available from DER Tours through travel agents. The pass provides five selected days of unlimited first-class travel within a one-month period and costs $195. Up to five additional days can be purchased for $21 per day. Children ages 4-12 pay half the adult fare.
The pass also provides 50% discounts on Danube boats between Passau and Linz as well as on other boats, cog railways, and bicycle rentals within Eastern European countries. Contact: DER Tours 800-782-2424, press 2.
• Through February 28, the five-star Kempinski Hotel Atlantic on the banks of the Alster in Hamburg is offering a special winter rate of 275 DM ($157) per night for a single or double room. Sadly, the deal does not include breakfast. Book by phone at 800-426-3135.
• Calling it "The Ultimate Grand Cruise," the river vessel Amadeus II will cover more than 2,200 miles across Europe from the North Sea to the Black Sea in just over three weeks this summer.
The U.S. promoter of the tour, Uniworld of Encino, California, claims it is "the most comprehensive cruise through Europe ever offered" and points out that passengers will traverse much of Europe over the three-week trip and only have to unpack once.
The ship will sail Dutch waterways to the Rhine River, then along the Main-Danube Canal to the Danube River, which will carry the ship along the remainder of its transcontinental voyage.
Among the cities and villages to be visited are Amsterdam, Koblenz, Rudesheim, Heidelberg, Miltenberg, Würzburg, Rothenburg, Bamberg, Nürnberg, Kelheim, Regensburg, Passau, Melk, Dürnstein, Vienna, Budapest, Kalosca, Belgrade, Rousse, Vidin, Constanta, and Bucharest.
The Ultimate Grand Cruise will have two departures in 1998; June 27 and July 17. The cruise-only fare is $4,498 per person, based on double occupancy. All accommodations are outside cabins. Air-inclusive fares are available from New York ($5,438), Chicago ($5,538), Miami ($5,538), Los Angeles ($5,688), and San Francisco ($5,688). Contact a travel agent or Uniworld: 800-556-5086.
• The convivial Hotel Bären in Wilderswil, on the edge of Interlaken, offers several packages for 1998: Two nights with breakfast and one dinner is 180 Sfr. ($125) per person double. The single supplement is 30 Sfr. ($21). Prices for a three-night winter special begin at 180 Sfr. ($125) per person with breakfast, or 270 Sfr. ($188) if dinner is included. Seven nights start at 420 Sfr. ($291) with breakfast, or 602 Sfr. ($418) halfboard. Those who book a seven-night halfboard package three months in advance get a 10% discount, choice of room and one hour horsedrawn carriage ride. Contact: Hotel Bären, CH-3812, Wilderswil, tel. +41/33/828 3151, fax 828 3152.
• For those thinking ahead to late spring and early summer, the country spa, Grüner Baum, in Badgastein, offers four-night weekend packages which include an apartment or junior suite, food and drink (except for bottles of wine and spirits), welcome cocktail, facial and body treatments, 25-minute massage, solarium, Rolls Royce or picnic wagon tour and breakfast in the mountains.
Per person cost is 6780 AS ($547). Available dates are April 30-May 3, May 20-24 and June 10-14. Contact: Grüner Baum, tel. +43/06434/25160, fax 25160.
• In October, we published a letter from subscriber Jan Quinn Freyberg in which she highly recommended the services in Prague of George Prager. Since then, another subscriber, European trip planner Karen Pasold, has supplied us with a price list for Mr. Prager's services.
* Transfer to-from airport $50
* Day Guide 8 hours $20
* Grand City Tour per person $20
* Karlstejn Castle per person $20
* Opera, ballet, symphony tickets $20-$50
* Mr. Prager accepts only cash. Contact: George Prazsky-Prager, Zelena 28/1747 180 00 Praha 8, fax 00420/02/3111979.