If your email reader cannot read HTML, please go to http://tsanews.fateback.com to view this newsletter. Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter
Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, October 2003 Issue


Travel Savings Alerts
P.O. Box 91033
Columbus OH 43209
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FAX: 775/264-7063
ISSN: 1542-801X, Copyright © 2003 
All Rights Reserved.
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In This Issue:
Kennedy Space Center

  • Fiji Vacation
  • Travel Break for Fall
  • Hong Kong Travel Boost
  • Bora Bora for $999
  • New St. Petersburg Flights & Contest
  • Hot Deals to Britain
  • Grand Canyon Winter Packages
  • U.S. Demands Disabled Complaints Data
  • Stay with Woodside, Win Chance to Play in NY
  • Disney Low Season
  • Budget Weekend, Weekly Rates
  • Delta's New SkyMiles Upgrade Policy
  • Bolongo Bay Columbus Celebration From $49.50
  • Leaf Forecast, Chance to Win Foliage Getaway
  • Florida’s Space Coast by Nicki Chodnoff
  • Winter Specials to Rome, Venice and Florence
  • Relax at Caretta Shidome

  • Fiji Vacation

    Stay in a beachfront room at the Sonaisali Island Resort in Fiji for five nights from $1357 per person. The price is based on double occupancy and valid to Dec. 5, 2003. All prices reflect a 3 percent discount for payment made with cash or a check.

    The package includes roundtrip airfare from Los Angeles to Nadi on Air Pacific, a five night stay, return airport transfers, buffet breakfast daily, use of non motorized water sports, welcome cocktail. Honeymooners receive a bottle of sparkling wine and fruit basket on check-in.

    Other departure dates are offered for an added fee: Dec. 6 to Dec. 23, 2003 $1440 per person, Jan. 16 to Mar. 31, 2004 $1389 per person.

    www.discoverwholesaletravel.com look for tour code: FIJI3F5.


    Travel Break for Fall

    Microtel Inns & Suites makes taking a much deserved travel break easier with rates from $32 a night across the country with "Take a Break Rates."

    Rates are good through Nov. 30 at participating hotels and start from $32 for a single room and $42 for a double room or suite.

    Microtel or 800/771-7171.



    AdvertisementNew Cheap Tix Chart
    Buy Tickets at a Discount -- Special ticket outlets sell discounted day-of-performance tickets to theatrical productions, films, and sporting events. Discounts can be 50 percent or more. On The Go Publishing’s NEWLY UPDATED Cheap Tix Chart, still only $14, lists outlets in the U.S. and eight foreign cities that sell discounted, day-of-performance tickets. Order here.


    Sealy Sleep Tips

    Getting a good night's sleep is a challenge travelers face frequently. Sealy's works to educates airline passengers that quality sleep away from home can be achieved. Dot Richardson, M.D., orthopedic surgeon and medical director of the USA Triathlon National Training Center in Clermont, FL, was interviewed on the importance of getting a good night's sleep away from home. In the interview Dr. Richardson, who is also the Vice Chairman of The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, informs travelers:

    Quality sleep is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle

    Sleep impacts the ability to handle a full day's worth of activities

    People need a bed that makes them feel comfortable and gives them support so they can fall asleep faster and get deep, restorative sleep to feel good the next morning and be more productive

    Sleeping on a good mattress is just as important whether you are on the road or at home

    When planning a trip, call hotels before booking to determine what kind of mattresses they offer

    Sealy, Inc.


    Hong Kong Travel Boost

    United Vacations and numerous tour operators that partner with United Airlines, are offering attractive vacation package deals. Among bargains are:

    United Vacations five-day Hong Kong Sampler from $525 -- includes roundtrip airfare from San Francisco, Los Angeles and NewYork, three nights’ accommodations, free island-hopping pass, choice of Cultural Kaleidoscope tours such as Tai Chi. When purchased by Oct. 31, 2003, packages start at $525 per person, double occupancy. United Vacations or 800/917-9246.

    General Tours "It's Time To Go! Hong Kong -- This six-day/four-night program features roundtrip trans-Pacific airfare on United, choice of hotels, daily buffet breakfast, professional local guides; Museum of History pass and more. The package is valid through March 31, 2004 and prices start at $659. General Tours 800/221-2216.

    Aberdeen Tours "WinterFest" -- Starting at $999 for two people, the package includes roundtrip airfare from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu, Seattle or New York, three nights’ accommodations at a four-star hotel, tours and more. This package is valid Nov. 15, 2003 through March 31,2004. Aberdeen Tours 877/956-8886 or e-mail info@aberdeentours.com.

    Pacific Delight Tours "Hong Kong Special Promotion -- Visitors can enjoy three nights in Hong Kong for $499 with Pacific Delight Tours. The package includes roundtrip airfare, accommodations at the Newton Hotel, half-day sightseeing tour, local guide, museum pass and daily free cultural activities. Trips must be booked by Oct. 31, 2003 and taken Jan. 1- March 25, 2004. Pacific Delight Tours or 800/221-7179.


    Bora Bora for $999 -- HURRY -- BOOK BY OCT. 8!!

    Tahiti Tourisme North America offers for the first time $999 packages to Bora Bora, Moorea and Tahiti: five-nights in Bora Bora and a five-night Tahiti/Moorea combo, for $999 per person. Both packages include roundtrip air from Los Angeles on Air Tahiti Nui, five nights at a beachfront hotel, and inter-island transfers.

    The Bora Bora package includes five nights at the beachfront Le Maitai Polynesia (http://www.hotelmaitai.com/bora/us/index.htm), roundtrip airfare from Los Angeles to Papeete and inter-island flights.

    With the Tahiti/Moorea combo, you can select from a list of hotels on each island. The Tahiti/Moorea package includes international airfare and transfers between Tahiti and Moorea on the Aremiti ferry (about 20 minutes).

    Prices are per person, double occupancy for travel between Nov. 1, 2003 and March 31, 2004. Travel must be booked by Oct. 8, 2003. Some seasonal supplements and black out dates apply.

    $999 packages or 800/689-3232.

    Advertisement
    New, Exclusive Hotel -- Upstate New York's Lake George Village

    96 elegant suites in the Fort William Henry Grand Hotel offer a new level of luxury. Five floors of suites offer entertainment centers, kitchens, and some have a Jacuzzi and a fireplace. Rates start from $109.90 per night. Fort William Henry Grand Hotel or 800/234-0267.



    New St. Petersburg Flights & Contest

    USA3000 Airlines, a low fare-full service airline, will offer new schedule services to St. Petersburg FL from Chicago, Cleveland, and Newark starting Oct. 9, 2003 with fares as low as $79 for one-way service. Service from Detroit starts Nov. 4, and service from Milwaukee and Philadelphia in December 2003.

    To celebrate this new service, USA3000 Airlines, in conjunction with the St. Petersburg CVB, The Historic Renaissance Vinoy Hotel, Dollar Rent a Car and the Salvador Dali Museum team up so you can win a four-day, three-night trip to Florida.

    There are no blackout dates -- just simply a question of seats being available on USA 3000 Airlines and a room at the Renaissance Vinoy. The same applies to Dollar Rent a Car.

    To enter your name into the drawing visit www.floridasbeach.com -- and click on the win a trip banner, then enter your information requested and find the terms and conditions of entry.

    USA 3000 offers low fares with simple fare rules: No roundtrip ticket purchase or Saturday stay, one-year same-price extensions in the event you cannot make the trip as originally purchased, name changes are also possible.

    Despite low prices, USA 3000 offers amenities, including: a full meal service of breakfast, lunch or dinner depending on departure time and mimosas on all AM departures on all international flights; snack service on all Florida flights; first-run movies or a video short selection onboard all flights; choice of nine music channels; permission to bring aboard small pets in carriers for a nominal fee and an in-flight library of magazines.

    USA 3000 or 877/USA 3000.


    Hot Deals to Britain

    Brian Moore International Tours offers its REWARDS program where you can save up to $500 per couple on these deals. Prices are per person based on double occupancy and include roundtrip airfare from New York or Boston. Prices are valid through March 31, 2004.

    London City Stay from $359 - includes three nights in London at a downtown 4-star hotel and breakfast daily. Extra nights are available.

    Britain's Friendly B&Bs from $599 - The six-night Fly&drive program allows you to explore Britain at your own pace. Included is a six-day car rental and an accommodation directory guide which includes hundreds of B&Bs throughout England, Scotland and Wales.

    Best of Britain from $1,324 - This fully escorted 10-day tour starts with three-days in London, two-nights in the Cotswolds, one-night in York and two-nights in Edinburgh. The program includes sightseeing with a professional tour director in an air-conditioned motorcoach, eight breakfasts and 11 dinners.

    Brian Moore International Tours or 800/982-2299.


    Grand Canyon Winter Packages

    Xanterra Parks & Resorts, operator of lodges in Grand Canyon National Park, offers winter rates and packages available Nov. 30 through Dec. 18, 2003 and again Jan. 4 through March 11, 2004.

    This year's packages include: The Winter Value Rate. For $68 per night plus tax you receive a room at Maswik or Yavapai Lodge. For three or more people per room, the cost is $9.25 for each additional person. Children 16 and under stay at no extra charge.

    The Grand Value Package, available at Maswik and Yavapai lodges is $99 for two people for a two-night package. Additional persons in the room cost $9.25 each with the exception of children 16 and under. Guests receive discounts at all gift shops operated by Xanterra in Grand Canyon National Park.

    The El Tovar Romance Package includes one night in a standard queen room, a bottle of sparkling wine and fruit basket in the room and dinner for two. The base package cost is $249 plus tax with upgrades to a deluxe room or suite available for an additional charge.

    Xanterra Parks & Resorts or 888/297-2757.

    Advertisement
    Sandestin Rise & Shine -- Save With These Great Rates -- Value package includes stays at the Bayside Inn, daily breakfast buffet for two, access to the health club, tennis, bicycle, canoe, kayak and boogie board rental. From $99 per night. Sandestin Resort, 800/622-1922.


    U.S. Demands Disabled Complaints Data

    U.S. and foreign airlines will be required to report complaints they receive from disabled passengers starting in 2004, the U.S. Department of Transportation said. The new rule orders airlines to submit discrimination claims to the department yearly for aircraft with capacity of at least 60 seats.

    DOT already tracks discrimination complaints from disabled passengers filed directly with the government. Last year, DOT received 477 complaints, many focused on difficulties getting assistance to board and exit flights or help making connections between flights.

    American Airlines, the world's largest air carrier, agreed with the DOT in March to pay $1.2 million to settle allegations it mistreated disabled passengers. A year earlier, Northwest Airlines Corp., parent of Northwest Airlines, the number four U.S. air carrier, agreed to pay up to $700,000 to settle charges that it failed to provide adequate service to disabled passengers.



    Stay with Woodside, Win Chance to Play in New York

    Woodside Hotels & Resorts, a Northern California hotel group, created their "Stay with Woodside, Play in NYC" promotion. Through Dec. 31, 2003, stay at any Woodside Hotel and receive an entry to win a first class trip to New York.

    Entries are based on visits to any Woodside Hotel, regardless of length of stay and the number of guests in the room. No limit on entries, you may submit one entry for each stay. The winner will be selected on Jan. 5, 2004, and be notified by mail and e-mail. Travel must be completed by May 3, 2004. Restrictions apply, and seats are not available on all flights, especially during peak travel periods.

    The trip will include: two, roundtrip, first-class tickets on Delta Air Lines from San Francisco to New York, a three-night stay at a luxury hotel in Manhattan, dinner for two at a five-star restaurant and two tickets to a Broadway show.

    Woodside Hotels & Resorts or 800-368-2468.



    Disney Low Season

    Kissimmee-St. Cloud calls itself the backyard of Walt Disney World. It may not have the charm of some destinations, however Osceola County does not lack budget lodging opportunities. Throw in value-season (the fall and winter months when family travel slows down) rates -- which can be thought of as slow-season rates -- on top of already budget rates, and you'll find some good deals available. Here are a few of the area accommodations specials. Compare the rates below with what's offered inside the park, and you'll see why staying a few miles away has its advantages. When contacting these lodgings providers, ask for the “KISS” Offer

    Apollo Inn 407/933-8124 or 800/999-2765, $21.95 single, extra person $4. Refrigerator, microwave, free local calls and internet. Two queen beds, three HBO channels, and pool.

    Best Western Eastgate 407/396-0707 or 800/223-5361, $35 per night based on availability. Add $7 during high season. Free scheduled transportation to nearby attractions.

    Clarion Hotel 407/396-4000 or 800/568-3352, $45 per night Free shuttle to Disney's theme parks, discount tickets, heated pool.

    Comfort Suites Maingate Resort 407/390-9888 or 888/390-9888 $57low season. Two miles to the Walt Disney World Resort. One-room suites sleep six. Free Continental breakfast and scheduled transportation to area attractions.

    Country Inn & AmeriSuites 407/997-1400 or 866/499-1300 $69-$99 per night. Not valid during holidays or special events. Caribbean-themed resort three miles from Walt Disney World. 18-hole mini-golf, three pools, free Continental breakfast and scheduled shuttle service to area attractions.

    Holiday Inn Nikki Bird Resort 407/396-7300 or 800/20-OASIS $59 per night for 1-4 people per room. Full-service resort hotel, three pools, free shuttles to the Walt Disney World.

    Days Suites Old Town - from $39.95 per night Sun-Thur, $44.95 per night Fri-Sat. Limited availability. 2.5 miles to the Walt Disney World. Free Old Town rides and Disney shuttle Our spacious 3-room suites include bedroom, eat-in kitchen and living room (sleep 6 people comfortably). 3 outdoor pools (2 heated).

    Holiday Inn Kissimmee Downtown 407/846-2713 or 800/624-5905, $59.95 per night includes full buffet breakfast. 200 guest rooms (12 efficiencies), two pools, a kiddie pool, Jacuzzi, playground, fitness center, guest laundry, Black Angus Restaurant and Lounge.

    DoubleTree Resort Orlando-Villas at Maingate 407/397-0555 $89 per night. 150 one-,two-, or three-bedroom villas with fully equipped kitchen set amid 15 acres of lushly landscaped grounds. Outdoor heated pool, hot tub, exercise room, tennis court, playground, game room, and restaurant. Free shuttle to Walt Disney World.

    Quality Suites Maingate East 800/848-4148, $69.95 1BR suite (1-6 persons), $99.95 2BR suite (1-10 persons) valid 9/2-11/21, 12/1-12/18, 2003. Separate bedrooms, living room, dining area, sofa bed. Free shuttle to Disney theme parks. Free Continental breakfast and afternoon beverage reception.

    Super 8 Motel Orlando/Kissimmee Suites 800/325-4348, $49.95 per night. Apartment-style suites with full kitchen, living room, and two bedrooms. Free transportation to Walt Disney World. Offer available during off-season only.

    Park Inn & Suites 407/396-6100 or 800/670-7275, $49 standard room, single or quad with free Continental breakfast. Studio, family suites, TV, multi-channel cable, telephones with data port, electronic in-room safe, hairdryer, iron/ironing board, refrigerator/microwave, pool, Jacuzzi, playground, game room, and gift shop.


    Advertisement
    Patagonia Experience -- From $463 plus airfare.
    4-day adventure includes: 3 nights’ accommodations, daily breakfast, airport transfers, all-day excursion exploring Ultima Last Hope Fjord and Torres del Paine National Park. LanChile Vacations or 877/219-0345 ask for promotion code LCVP8A/03.


    Budget Weekend, Weekly Rates

    Budget Rent A Car offers special deals on weekend and weekly rentals. You can rent a compact car (Ford Focus or similar) for $22 per weekend day. Mid-size vehicles (Ford Mustang Coupe or similar) and mid-size SUVs (Ford Escape or similar) are available for $25 per weekend day, or weekly mid-size rates of $159.

    Mention rate code K1 for a weekend rental, or rate code K2 for a weekly rental. Rates are valid for pickup through Dec. 15, 2003 and are subject to availability. Blackout dates apply.

    Budget Rent A Car or 800/BUDGET-7.



    Delta’s New SkyMiles Upgrade Policy

    Delta Air Lines announced a new upgrade policy and additional benefits for its SkyMiles Medallion frequent flyer members effective Jan. 1, 2004.

    Platinum Medallion members - who earn a minimum of 100,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) in a calendar year - will receive unlimited, complimentary 500-mile upgrades at the time of booking, based on availability, when purchasing Y, B and M economy fare class tickets. Gold Medallion and Silver Medallion members - who earn more than 50,000 MQMs and 25,000 MQMs, respectively, in a calendar year - will receive unlimited, complimentary 500-mile upgrades, based upon availability, when purchasing Y and B economy fare class tickets. Gold Medallion members will be eligible for this benefit 100 hours prior to departure. Silver Medallion members will be eligible 72 hours prior to departure. 500-mile upgrades are valid on most Delta flights within or between the United States and Bermuda, Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico.

    In addition, Platinum Medallion members will earn new benefits at select MQM thresholds: Two or four additional Platinum Medallion Upgrade certificates (PMUs) at 125,000 or 150,000 year-end MQMs, respectively;

    The option to award Medallion status to a friend or apply Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) toward Medallion status for 2005; Platinum Medallion Upgrades may be used to upgrade from select fares on worldwide itineraries, regardless of distance flown. These new Platinum Medallion Upgrades will be awarded in early 2004 and will be in addition to the six PMUs provided to Platinum Medallion members upon qualification.

    Click here for a complete overview of all Medallion program benefits and changes.


    Bolongo Bay Columbus Day Celebration From $49.50

    To commemorate the discovery of the New World in 1492, Bolongo Bay Beach Club in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, offers a Columbus Day Celebration Package, with nightly rates from $49.50 per person, based on double occupancy, (a savings of $76 per couple, per night) for its Semi-Inclusive Continental Plan (CP). The rate does not include eight percent hotel tax and five percent service charges.

    The CP option includes beach front accommodations; daily Continental breakfast buffet; free use of non-motorized watersports (paddle boats, sunfish sailboats, windsurfishing equipment, kayaks and much more) with instruction; membership in the fitness center; a "discover scuba diving" in-pool lesson; use of basketball, volleyball and tennis courts, plus equipment; and nightly entertainment.

    Bolongo's All-Inclusive option is $149.50 per person, per night, double (a savings of $76 per couple, per night) and includes all meals (unrestricted a la carte dining including lobster and filet mignon at two on-property restaurants); unlimited beverages including premium brands; and all taxes, surcharges and gratuities.

    Bolongo’s 65 beach front rooms include a private balcony, a mini-refrigerator, coffee maker, ceiling fan, air-conditioning, color cable television, hair dryers, radio alarm clocks, iron and ironing board, safe and telephone.

    The Columbus Day Celebration Package is valid on all new reservations for travel now through Oct. 31, 2003. The Columbus Day promotion must be booked directly through 800/524-4746 or via e-mail: info@bolongobay.com. You cannot combine the promotion with their other offers including the "Kids Stay & Eat Free" and "Club Everything" programs.

    Advertisement
    FREE ADMISSION MONDAYS -- Up to five people in the same vehicle and a child 5 and under get in FREE at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, GA. Marvelous Mondays continue through 2003. Monday visitors also can register for a monthly drawing to win free passes for future visits. Callaway Gardens or 800/225-5292.

    Leaf Forecast, Chance to Win Foliage Getaway

    Celebrate the crisp temperatures of fall and its most colorful event with weather.com and its annual Fall Foliage section.

    The guide features color-coded maps displaying normal peak times for 125 locations throughout the country during the fall. The section also provides regional charts that highlight current, leaf-color-intensity for selected locations across the country-to help site visitors plan their fall getaways. Additionally, the Fall Foliage section offers information about the science behind the color changes. The section will provide these reports through the end of November.

    This season, you can register for a "Football and Foliage" getaway courtesy of Nextel. Web visitors who register for the sweepstakes are eligible to win a trip to view the changing of the leaves in person and attend an NFL game-another favorite fall activity-in 2004.

    weather.com



    Florida’s Space Coast by Nicki Chodnoff

    It seems wrong to visit land-locked Orlando and not take time to dip a toe into the miles of ocean that surround the Florida peninsula. Orlando’s closest beaches are about 45 minutes due east of the city. There lies 72 miles of coastline dubbed Florida’s Space Coast comprised of Titusville, Cocoa Beach, Melbourne and Palm Bay in Brevard County.

    There aren’t many places on this planet where you can see an alligator along the road and a rocket launch pad in the same line of vision. The Space Coast is that place: a contrast of high-tech and nature where astronauts and space-bound rockets share space with a national wildlife refuge that’s home to endangered species such as the Western Indian manatee, Southern bald eagle and Atlantic loggerhead turtle.

    For most travelers, a visit to the Space Coast offers another benefit, it is easy on the wallet. It’s an affordable side trip for families who can get two experiences for little more than the cost of one. Lodging rates around the Space Coast average about $76 per night during high season and drop considerably in the fall. Admission fees for museums, parks, rides and other attractions is low or free. Food is reasonably priced with a wide selection of cuisine.

    Here are a few of the many things to do see.

    The Kennedy Space Center -- is probably one of the best bargains in Florida. For $33, the maximum access pass for adults and $23 per child, you can spend the whole day learning and marveling about space and the history of this country’s space program. The one admission price gets you into the 140,000 mega-facility that includes the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame with simulation stations that let you feel the pull of 4Gs; the visitor complex with two IMAX movies, a rocket garden with Mercury and Gemini era rockets, a replica of the space shuttle and bus tours to launch pads; and the Apollo/Saturn V Center where you can see an authentic Saturn V rocket, the most powerful ever built.

    Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge -- Free -- A buffer to protect people from the incredible energy released when massive rockets take off turns out to a haven for wildlife. The 220-square mile, 140,000-acre refuge, around the Kennedy Space Center, is home to more federally endangered species than any refuge in the United States. Five hiking trails from 1/4 mile to five miles in length may pass by estuaries, marshes and coastal dunes. A seven mile, one-way, self-guided driving tour includes numbered stops to areas where wading birds, shorebirds, raptors, waterfowl, alligators, otters, and other wildlife frequent. The 10-foot tower at Stop 8 offers a view of the surrounding marshes. The refuge is closed four days prior to a launch day.

    Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge -- Free -- The 20 miles of coastline from Melbourne Beach to Wabasso Beach is the most important nesting area for loggerhead sea turtles in America and the second most important nesting beach in the world. Twenty-five percent of all loggerhead sea turtle and 35percent of all green sea turtle nests in the United States occur in this 20 mile zone.

    Canaveral National Seashore -- $5 per day, per car -- one of only ten National Seashores in the U.S., its 24 miles of undeveloped beach and wetland, offering sanctuary for an abundance of plants and animals. Adjacent to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, this barrier island along the ocean offers beach, dune, hammock, lagoon, salt marsh, and pine flat-land habitats. About 1,045 species of plants and 310 species of birds can be found in the park including endangered species such as loggerhead, green and leatherback sea turtles; West Indian manatees; bald eagles; wood storks; peregrine falcons; eastern indigo snake; and the Florida scrub jay. Walking the self-guided nature and historical trails is most comfortable during the cool winter months. Other activities include lagoon and surf fishing, boating, canoeing, surfing, sunbathing, swimming, hiking, and horseback riding. Turtle Watches are available June and July. Park visitors can join a ranger and watch a loggerhead sea turtle nest on the beach.

    Port Canaveral -- The Space Coast is home to behemoth rockets and behemoth ships. Now the busiest passenger cruise terminal in Florida, Royal Caribbean, Disney, Holland America , Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival call this port home. The 86,000 ton Carnival Pride is the largest ship based at the port. When finished gazing at these monster ships, the port is the place for fun with boat ramps, bike paths, campsites, picnic areas, public parks, shops, restaurants and charter boats.

    Airboat Rides - Lone Cabbage Fish Camp -- From $17 adults, $8.50 children. An airboat can skim over six inches of water. That’s only a little bit deeper than a puddle. That’s why airboats are the perfect transportation over the miles of marshy land near the St. John and Banana rivers. On 30, 60 and 90 minute rides, the airboats travel at speeds up to 45 m.p.h. As the boat slows down to an idle, you have several opportunities to take photos. Most of the ride is a wind-in-your-face glide through areas that from the highway look like terra-firma - solid land. Along the way, you get to see the local wildlife in the natural cypress swamps which include alligators, eagles and wading birds. You never know what you will see. Our biggest surprise was spotting about 40 head of wading cattle in the marsh. Some were standing knee-deep, others were shoulder deep in the water munching on the abundant vegetation.

    Island Boat Rides -- $18.50 adults, $9.25 for children. Two-hour tours on Island Boat Lines’ 55-passenger pontoon boat, Miss Florida USA, was relaxing and informative. The slow-moving cruise can serve as a time for interacting between parents and children as our guide pointed out the natural world around us. We floated near the Thousand Islands along the Banana River lagoon estuary system which passes canals with homes on one side and large open stretches of water. You never know what wild life you may see along the mangroves (black, white and red), the source of much life in the brackish wetlands. Our trip yielded mostly bird sightings: blue herons, bald eagles, ospreys, cormorants, and anhingas. Surprisingly, we saw nearly as many birds (for us they seemed exotic) on people’s lawns as on the uninhabited islands. Hoping to spot playful dolphins and manatees, we only caught glimpses of dolphin flippers and watery trails of manatees. In addition to the eco-tour, Island Boat Lines offers other tours from various locations in the Space Coast.

    Cocoa Beach Pier -- Established In 1962, the Cocoa Beach Pier is a historic landmark on Florida’s Space Coast. In one place, you can spend the whole day enjoying the beach and the traditional activities you expect by the sea: sunning, surfing, swimming and fishing.. One of the main attractions is fishing on the pier which ends 800 feet into the Atlantic Ocean. Bait is available and rods and reel can be rented. If you want to play volleyball on the beach or just take in some sun, Seadogs rents beach chairs, boogie boards and sells sundry items you forgot to bring along. No matter what you want to do or where you want to dine, everything is casual. At the pier’s end is one of the most perfect spots to view a sunset, a bar that sits 800 feet over the water.

    You Gotta Eat: You can play it safe and head to the national chains and fast-food or your meals can be part of the adventure. Here are a few reasonably-priced places to eat.

    Lone Cabbage Fish Camp -- The old-style Florida fish camp on the banks on the St. Johns River serves local cuisine: alligator, frog legs, catfish -- all deep-fried. While much of the menu is seafood, you can still sink your teeth into a hamburger. Part of the fun is eating out on the large deck or the screened porch -- both with views of the river. At the same location where you catch the airboat rides, Lone Cabbage Fish Camp is one of those rare places where worlds collide. It’s not unusual to find a mom and dad with kids in tow eating on the open deck, seniors on the approach near the deck waiting for the airboat rides or bikers with black leather jackets rolling in on their Harleys. Everyone co-exists.

    Cocoa Beach Pier - Seafood predominates, but you can choose nearly anything to eat and drink at the six restaurants and bars at the pier. No fancy beach theme here -- everything is casual and family-friendly. Most of the restaurants and bars have water views including the Atlantic Ocean Grille which sits 500 feet over the Atlantic. Lunch and snacks are served at the Marlins Good Times Bar & Grill. To cap it all off, get a cone or play a game at Ricky's Ice Cream Parlor & Arcade. If you eat at any of the pier’s restaurants, you get a 50 percent discount on ice cream.

    Rusty’s at Port Canaveral - Call this seafood central with a menu for meat lovers. Daily “Early Bird” specials from 4 to 6 pm and nightly specials can get you dinner from $5.95. Even happy hour, daily from 3 to 6 pm, has it share of specials. Nearly every seat in the house, indoors or at the new outside patio, offers water views. Fishing boat charters available at the dock outside.

    Florida’s Space Coast or 800/93-OCEAN.



    Winter Specials to Rome, Venice and Florence

    Central Holidays offers Winter Specials to Rome, Venice and Florence. Packages are valid for travel Nov. 1, 2003 to Mar. 31, 2004.

    Florence from $499 - Travelers enjoy seven days and five nights in Florence. Price includes five-night’s accommodations, breakfast daily, transfers, and airfare from New York, Boston or Washington.

    Venice from $559 - seven-day/five-night City Stay. Price includes 5-night accommodations, breakfast daily, half-day city tour, and airfare from New York, Boston or Washington.

    Rome from $659 - seven-day/five-night itinerary. Price includes five-night’s accommodations, breakfast daily, transfers, and airfare from New York, Boston or Philadelphia.

    Central Holidays or 800/935-5000.



    Relax at Caretta Shidome

    The building boom has hit Japan. Construction cranes, like alien creatures sitting on the tops of buildings, are a common site. One of the newer projects, completed in Dec. 2002, is the Caretta Shiodome, a one-minute walk from Shiodome Station on the Oedo Subway Line, in the Higashi-Shim-bashi district of downtown Tokyo.

    The futuristic complex includes a high-rise office wing and a large underground mall with 33 restaurants and cafes, 25 shops, a 1,200-seat theater, a huge public area and view-floors from which visitors can take in broad panoramas of Tokyo and its bay.

    The theme of Caretta Shidome is the "slow life" as it is designed as a refuge from the fast-paced life in Japan in recent decades. With this goal in mind, the designers went all out to make the complex people friendly; the kind of place where you can spend hours without feeling rushed or pressures from the outside.

    The builders seemingly have met their goals. Caretta Shidome was a city attraction from the day it opened.

    Reprinted from the Amazing Japan newsletter.


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