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

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

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In This Issue:
Richmond, Virginia Skyline

  • Free Vacations For Military
  • State Department Travel Advisory -- Costa Rica
  • Get More for Less in Tampa Bay
  • Island Hopper Package
  • Half Price Houseboat
  • Get Ready for Road Trips
  • Free Trolley Rides
  • 1928 Rates for Fourth Night
  • Savings for Florida Residents
  • Save Up to 30% at Wingate Inn Hotels
  • California Shuttle LA to SF
  • Hertz Florida Drive Out Program
  • Kidnappers Nab Tourists
  • Free Tours Alabama
  • Richmond's Houses and Gardens -- by Nicki Chodnoff
  • British Airways Retires Concorde Fleet
  • Save 40 to70% on Rail Tickets

  • Free Vacations For Military

    Avalon Resorts, a collection of destinations in Mexico and Panama, is thanking all military personnel with a free stay at all Avalon Resorts. The offer extends to all military, active & retired, who are accompanied by one paying adult staying at an Avalon Resort for a minimum of three nights.

    Choose from the following five Avalon Resorts.

    Avalon Excalibur, Acapulco - all-inclusive rates start from $66 per room, per night, based on double occupancy with the military discount.

    Avalon Grand, Panama - all-inclusive rates start from $72 per room, per night, based on double occupancy with the military discount.

    Avalon Grand, Cancun - all-inclusive rates start from $98 per room, per night, based on double occupancy with the military discount.

    Avalon Reef Club, Isla Mujeres - all-inclusive rates start from just $105 per room, per night, based on double occupancy with the military discount.

    Based on standard room accommodations, there is minimum 3-night stay and the free vacation for the military offer is valid for travel through Dec. 23, 2003. Some restrictions/black-out dates apply. All-inclusive rates include meals, domestic alcoholic beverages, tips & taxes. Children 12 and under stay and eat free when sharing a room with two paying adults and eat free while accompanied by a paying adult. The Isla Mujeres rate includes roundtrip airport transfers and ferry transportation. Airfare is not included

    Avalon Resorts at 800-261-5014.

    State Department Travel Advisory -- Costa Rica

    Costa Rica is a middle-income, developing country with a strong democratic tradition. Tourist facilities are extensive and generally adequate. The capital is San Jose. English is widely spoken. Effective May 1, 2003, Costa Rica will require that all U.S. citizens present passports valid for at least 90 days in order to enter. Minors traveling with both parents will be permitted to enter by presenting a U.S. birth certificate and photo identification. Minors traveling alone or with only one parent will need to present a passport.

    U.S. citizens are generally permitted to stay up to 90 days. To stay legally beyond that period, travelers need to submit an application for an extension to the Office of Temporary Permits in the Costa Rican Department of Immigration. Tourist visas are usually not extended except under special circumstances, such as academic, employment, or medical grounds. Extension requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

    Always be prepared to present Costa Rican authorities proof of legal entry and stay in Costa Rica by their appropriately stamped passport. Under Costa Rican law, a photocopy of the passport and entry stamps is not sufficient to demonstrate proof of status. Americans have been detained, deported, and fined due to their failure to demonstrate legal status in Costa Rica.

    There is a departure tax for short-term visitors. Tourists who stay longer than 90 days without receiving a formal extension can expect to pay a higher departure tax. Persons who have overstayed previous visas may be denied entry to Costa Rica.

    SAFETY AND SECURITY: On the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, currents are swift and dangerous, and there are no lifeguards or signs warning of dangerous beaches. Several Americans drown each year. Adventure tourism is increasingly popular and many companies provide white-water rafting, bungee jumping, jungle canopy tours and other outdoor attractions. Since 1999, seven Americans have died on flood-swollen rivers in white-water rafting accidents. Use caution in selecting adventure tourism companies. Avoid small, "cut-rate" companies that do not have the track record of more established companies. The government passed legislation to regulate and monitor the safety of adventure tourism companies; enforcement is overseen by the Ministry of Health. To be granted official operating permits, registered tourism companies must meet safety standards and have insurance coverage.

    Demonstrations or strikes, related to labor disputes or other local issues, occur occasionally. Past demonstrations have closed ports, roadblocks, and sporadic gasoline shortages. Protests are typically non-violent. Avoid areas where demonstrations are taking place and keep informed by following the local news and consulting hotel personnel and tour guides.

    Crime is increasing and tourists are frequent victims. While most crimes are non-violent, criminals, including juveniles, show a greater tendency to use violence. Use the same level of caution as in major cities or tourist areas throughout the world. Avoid urban areas that are known to have high crime rates, deserted properties or undeveloped land. Walk or exercise with a companion, avoid responding to verbal harassment, and remember that resort areas popular with foreign tourists are common venues for criminal activities. Local law enforcement agencies have limited capabilities and are not up to U.S. standards, especially outside of San Jose.

    Several Americans have been murdered in urban, rural and resort locations. Many perpetrators have been arrested, and some convicted. Other assailants remain at large. U.S. citizens have been victims of sexual assaults in cities and rural areas. In three cases, the victim knew the assailant. There have been several sexual assaults, including one rape, by taxi drivers. Use licensed taxis, which are red and have medallions painted on the side. Licensed taxis at the airport are painted orange, rather than red. All taxis should have working door handles, locks, and meters (called "marias"). Do not ride in the front seat with the driver. If the taxi meter is not working, a price should be agreed upon before the trip begins.

    Unsuspecting patrons of bars and nightclubs have been drugged and later assaulted or robbed. Be aware of your surroundings, and don’t consume food or drinks left untended. Seek entertainment in groups to help avoid being targeted.

    There have been several kidnappings, including those of foreigners. Carjackings have increased, and motorists confronted at gunpoint while stopped at traffic lights or upon arrival at their homes. Late model sport utility vehicles and high-end car models are popular with carjackers.

    Purchase an adequate theft insurance when renting vehicles. Park in secured lots whenever possible, and never leave valuables in the vehicle. Thefts from parked cars commonly occur in downtown San Jose, at beaches, in the airport, bus station parking lots, and at national parks and other tourist attractions. A common ploy involves surreptitiously puncturing the tires of rental cars, often close to the car rental agency itself. When travelers pull over, "good Samaritans" appear to change the tire - and remove valuables from the car. Change the flat tires yourself or drive to the nearest service station, and watch your valuables at all times. Reduce risk by keeping valuables out of sight, don’t wear jewelry, and travel in groups. Minimize travel after dark.

    Money changers on the street may pass off counterfeit U.S. dollars and local currency. Credit card fraud is on the rise. Both theft and 'number skimming' are common. Retain all credit card receipts and check your accounts regularly to help prevent unauthorized use of credit cards. Avoid using debit cards for purchases, as a skimmed number can be used to clean out an account.

    Safety of Public Transportation: Fair
    Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair to Poor
    Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair to Poor
    Availability of Roadside Assistance: Fair to Poor

    Traffic laws and speed limits are often ignored; turns across one or two lanes of traffic are common, and pedestrians are not given the right of way. Although improving, roads are often in poor condition, and large potholes with the potential to cause significant damage to vehicles, are common. Traffic signs, even on major highways, are often inadequate. Poor visibility due to heavy fog or rain makes driving at night especially treacherous. In the rainy season, landslides are common, especially on the highway between San Jose and the Caribbean city of Limon. All types of motor vehicles are appropriate for the main highways and principal roads in the major cities. Some roads to beaches and rural locations are not paved. Some out-of-the-way destinations are accessible only with high clearance, rugged suspension four-wheel drive vehicles. Call ahead to hotels to ask about access roads. Avoid responding in kind to provocative driving behavior or road-rage. In case of an accident, remain in your car until police arrive.

    Traffic enforcement is the responsibility of the Transit Police ("Transitos"), who wear a light blue uniform shirt and dark blue trousers. They use light blue cars or motorcycles equipped with blue lights. They often wave vehicles to the side of the road for inspection. Drivers are commonly asked to produce a driver's license, vehicle registration and insurance information. Third-party coverage is mandatory. Infractions result in a summons. Fines are not supposed to be collected on the spot, although reports of officers attempting to collect money are common. People involved in vehicular accidents should not move their vehicle until instructed by a Transit Officer, who will respond to the scene with a representative of the National Insurance Company (known by its local acronym, BCIS.) Accidents may be reported by dialing 911.

    The government wants to discourage sexual tourism and to punish those engaged in sexual activity with minors. Soliciting the services of a minor for sexual purposes is illegal and punishable by imprisonment. Leaving the U.S. for the purpose of engaging in sexual relations with minors is a violation of federal law, punishable by up to 10 years in a U.S. prison.

    AdvertisementCheap Tix Chart -- Special ticket outlets sell discounted day-of-performance tickets to theatrical productions, films, and sporting events. Discounts can be as much as 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.

    Get More for Less in Tampa Bay

    20 Attractions for under $10 -- Dollar-conscious travelers hoping to stretch vacation budgets can consider Tampa Bay, located along Florida's Gulf Coast, Tampa Bay is full of exciting things to do and see for the whole family that won't break the bank.

    Each of these affordable attractions cost $10 or less to visit: Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Dinosaur World, Florida Holocaust Museum, Henry B. Plant Museum, Historic Bok Sanctuary, Kid City, Lowry Park Zoo, Museum of Science & Industry, Polk Museum of Art, Skipper's Smokehouse, Ss American Victory Ship, St. Petersburg Museum of History, Sunken Gardens, Tampa Bay Downs, Tampa Bay History Center, Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa Theatre,

    Teco Line Streetcar System, Teco Manatee Viewing Center, Ybor City State Museum and Walking Tour.

    In addition to 20 affordable attractions, the Tampa Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau offers visitors five getaway packages that start at $87.50 per person including taxes.

    Book packages online, or call 800/44-TAMPA.

    Island Hopper Package

    Frenchman's Cay Resort, on Tortola, British Virgin Islands offers an "Island Hopper" Package for visitors to the BVI. The resort is known as a quiet, romantic hideaway with water views of Tortola and the outer islands.

    The package is available through August 2003 and includes individual villa accommodation, hotel tax and service charge, a bottle of champagne, daily breakfast, a romantic candle lit dinner, gratuities on meals, free use of snorkel equipment, beach towels, beach chairs and tennis court. The following packages are available:

    The cost for two people in one-bedroom villa, June through August, is $555 for three nights and $695 for four nights. The cost for four people in two-bedroom villa during June through August is $955 for three nights and $1,195 for four nights.

    Frenchmen's Reef, in U.S. 800/235-4077, in Canada 800/463-0199.

    Half Price Houseboat

    If you want to beat mid-summer crowds or celebrate Memorial Day at a unique venue, consider

    Lake Powell. Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas offers 50 percent discounts on all houseboat trips completed by June 23, 2003.

    Prices for a three-night stay range from $682 to $2171, depending on the size and class of the vessel. Houseboats must be rented from Bullfrog, Halls Crossing, Hite Marinas uplake and Wahweap Marina downlake. The offer excludes 46-foot houseboats, and is not valid on existing reservations or with any other discount.

    Lake Powell houseboats range from 36 to 59 feet and offer upgrades, including swim slides, individual staterooms, watercraft storage ramps, central heating and air conditioning.

    Lake Powell is on the border of Utah and Arizona in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area between the Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks to the west, and Arches and Canyonlands National Parks to the east. Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas.


    Get Ready for Road Trips

    Pennzoil, the manufacturer of Fix-A-Flat offers a "Trunk Must-Have Checklist" for roadtrip roadside emergencies. When you purchase Fix-A-Flat, Pennzoil is giving away a free 2003 Rand McNally Road Atlas with purchase.

    Bottled water - Helpful if the radiator runs low on fluid or simply to avoid dehydration while stranded on the side of the road.

    Flares - Essential if you experience car problems after dusk.

    Jumper cables - Batteries can die for many reasons, including leaving lights on accidentally.

    Tire inflator such as Fix-A-Flat® - A quick, convenient solution for a flat tire...no tire jack or spare tire required.

    Flashlight (and batteries) - Always be prepared.

    Duct tape - The ultimate solution for quickly repairing a ruptured hose until you reach the nearest service station.

    First-aid kit - For all the little emergencies.

    Blanket - Helpful if you need to slide under the vehicle to further examine a problem or simply to provide warmth on a cool summer evening.

    Reflective triangle - To be used during day or night to warn oncoming vehicles. Reflective triangles are required in some states.

    Cell phone - If all else fails, simply call for roadside assistance. However, be prepared to be in an area without signal

    Maps - It's safe to know where you are and it will be easier to tell potential rescuers a more precise destination

    Free Trolley Rides

    The Jacksonville Florida Transportation Authority now has four FREE trolley routes that serve downtown on the Northbank and Southbank. The San Marco Hibiscus Trolley serves San Marco Blvd., Riverplace Blvd. and Hendricks Avenue, every 10 minutes between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    The weekday Northbank Sunflower Trolley links to the Skyway at Central Station and serves the new sports arena and baseball field, Berkman Plaza, County Courthouse, City Hall Annex, The Landing and all downtown towers. Sunflower trolleys operate every 10minutes from 6:30 a.m. to 7p.m.

    The Azalea Trolley runs Monday to Saturday and serves the Skyway Station, Ritz Theater, LaVilla School of the Arts, JTA Administration Building and The Federal Reserve Building.

    The Magnolia Trolley also runs Monday through Saturday from Skyway Station to City Hall, The Federal Building, The Landing, City Hall Annex, the Yates Building and most downtown towers.

    Azalea and Magnolia weekday trolleys operate every 30 minutes 5:30 to 10 a.m. and 2 to 7 p.m.; plus every 15 minutes from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Saturday trolleys run every 30 minutes from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

    Click here for more information or call 800/733-2668.

    1928 Rates for Fourth Night

    Celebrating 75 years as a resort, Sea Island, GA home to The Lodge and the historic Cloister, invites guests to stay a fourth night for $19.28 as part of its “75th Anniversary” package.

    With the “75th Anniversary” package, guests can stay at the 40-room Lodge or The Cloister, the cornerstone of the Sea Island Resort, which was once cited by former Vice President Alben Barkley as “pre-ordained since the beginning of the world as a perfect spot for honeymooners.”

    Opened in 2001, The Lodge offers round-the-clock personal butler service, prepared rose petal baths and a bedtime service of cookies and milk.

    The 75th Anniversary Package is available until June 30, 2003.

    The resort offers three 18-hole championship golf courses, five miles of private beach, four pools, spa, children’s activities, 25 tennis courts, shooting school, horseback riding and water excursions. Guests can also experience a variety of the resort’s outdoor activities including crabbing along tidal creeks, kayaking tours through the surrounding marshes by the resort’s on-site naturalist, and charming nature walks.

    Sea Island or 800/SEA-ISLAND.

    Sandestin Rise & Shine -- Value-added package includes stays at the Bayside Inn and a daily breakfast buffet for two, access to the health club, tennis, bicycle, canoe, kayak and boogie board rental. From $99 per night. Sandestin Resort 9300 Emerald Coast Parkway West, Sandestin, FL 32550, 800/622-1922.

    Savings for Florida Residents

    As the temperature heats up, so do the savings for Florida residents. Disney's Play 4 Days, a value ticket offer is back at Walt Disney World Resort. Play 4 Days allows Florida residents four days of play in Disney's four theme parks for $109 per person, plus tax. That's nearly half off what four one-day tickets cost at the gate. With the special "park hopper" bonus, ticket holders get to "hop" among Disney parks at no extra charge.

    Good for four days of Walt Disney World theme park visits through Sept. 30, 2003 (blackout date: July 4).

    Unlimited park hopper privileges on each of any four days.

    Available to Florida residents only; proof of residency required for each adult.

    >Cost of a Play 4 Days ticket may be applied to the cost of a resident annual or seasonal pass.

    Play 4 Daysor 407/WDW-4DAYS.

    Save Up to 30 Percent at Wingate Inn Hotels

    Through May 22, save up to 30 percent at Wingate Inn hotels with the chain's Spring Into Savings Rates promotion. The discounted rates start at $65.

    Spring Into Savings rates are available at participating locations and are based on single or double occupancy, subject to availability. Blackout dates and other restrictions may apply. Rates cannot be combined with any other offer or special promotion.

    Wingate Inn hotels offer free high-speed Internet access in every room, free continental breakfast buffet, free local calls and 24-hour business center with free faxing and photocopying.

    Wingate Inns, 800/228-1000.

    California Shuttle LA to SF

    California Shuttle Bus has a new service as an alternative to driving, flying and existing bus lines between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. California Shuttle Bus features pick-up and drop-off locations at major hotels in LA and SF Bay area.

    The service is aimed at the business traveler who wants to arrive at his or her hotel, get a good night's rest, and then go to work the next morning.

    CA Shuttle Bus fares are $40 per person one-way or $60 per person one-way to reserve the seat adjacent as well. The $40 fare will not guarantee that the seat next to you will be vacant. Departure times are between 2 to 4 p.m. with arrival at 9 to 10 p.m.

    Click here for online reservations.

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    Hertz Florida Drive Out Program

    Winter is over and that means it's time for Hertz' Florida Drive Out Program. The program provides one-way rates from $27 per day and $129 per week for a mid-size car for any qualified renters in Florida looking to drive North with the warmer weather. Additional rates are available for full-size vehicles, convertibles, SUVs and minivans.

    Available for pick up at all corporate Florida locations, the Florida Drive Out Program is available through May 21, 2003. To take advantage of this offer, customers must rent a vehicle from a Florida Hertz location and return it to any one of the more than 45 Hertz corporate locations in Connecticut, Detroit, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, New York, New Jersey or Ohio. There are no drop-off fees and unlimited mileage is available for all rentals. A 28-day maximum rental applies. The drive out program Rates cannot be combined with any other promotion, offer or discount.


    800/631-3131, ask for Rate Code (RQ Code) 1WAY at time of booking.

    Kidnappers Nab Tourists

    In four separate attacks in the Sahara Desert, 29 tourists are feared to have been grabbed by a terror group linked to al-Qa’ida. All the kidnaps were in Algeria. Germain anti-terrorist commandos are mounting a massive hunt.

    The first 11 tourists: six Germans, four Swiss and a Dutch national, were crossing the Sahara by motorbike when they vanished on February 21. Four more Germans, two men and two women, disappeared and were last heard from on March 8. Six Germans traveling in three 4x4s went missing at the end of March. In April, eight Austrians also disappeared.

    Germany has sent its GSG-9 anti-terror squad to join the search. The Islamic guerilla group the GSPC, with close ties with Osama Bin Laden, is suspected of being behind the abductions.

    No demands have been received. Experts believe the captives could be pawns in a new terror strategy devised by al-Qa’ida.

    As part of Governor Bob Riley’s mission to increase awareness of Alabama culture and history, free guided Saturday walking tours will take place from Memorial Day weekend through the Fourth of July weekend.

    Community leaders will lead attendees through the historic districts or courthouse areas. These walks will take place in cities all across Alabama.

    All walks will start at 10 a.m. Saturday morning and last about one hour. Some of the 30 participating cities include: Anniston, Auburn, Birmingham, Decatur, Dothan, Huntsville, Foley, Monroeville, Montgomery, Selma and Tuscaloosa.

    Free Tours Alabama

    FREE ADMISSION -- Come Monday and up to five people occupying the same vehicle and a child five and under receive free admission to 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 800/225-5292.

    Richmond's Houses and Gardens -- by Nicki Chodnoff

    Prepare to be surprised by beguiling Richmond VA, a city that’s a delight for visitors of all ages and especially lovers of history, gardens and architecture.

    The city’s history is America’s history. John Smith boated up from Jamestown Va. Pocahontas lived here. England’s second successful settlement is here. Richmond has ties to Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and John Marshall. Plus Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War.

    Here are a few of the historic houses, turned museums, that open their doors to the public.

    Agecroft Hall - This Tudor-style home was rescued from destruction in Lancashire, England in 1926. It was dismantled, brought across the ocean by ship and rebuilt on the banks of the James River. The lifestyle of the gentry, who financed America’s early colonies, is portrayed in the 17th century house. Designed by Richmond landscape architect Charles Gillette, the grounds and gardens reflect the Tudor and early Stuart periods.

    Wilton House & Museum - One of the wealthiest and most influential families of colonial America, the Randolphs, built Wilton, their plantation manor house, in 1750 on high ground overlooking the James River as part of a 2,000 acre tobacco plantation. Filled with fine silver, porcelain, textiles and furniture, the parlor is considered one of the 100 most beautiful rooms in America.

    Virginia House - had its beginnings in England as the12th century priory of St. Sepulchre. The Weddells acquired the manor in 1925 and saved it from demolition. It took several ships to carry the priory stones, carved and quarried more than 800 years before. Local craftsmen reconstructed the house in Richmond’s Windsor Farms along the James River. Landscape architect Charles Gillette created eight acres of gardens here.

    Maymont - the 100-acre downtown oasis, near Byrd Park, is in an area that's Richmond’s equivalent of Central Park. The one-of-a-kind place includes a park; the Gilded-Age Romanesque Revival mansion of the Dooleys; the nature and visitor center that interprets the environment of the James River; the Italian and Japanese gardens with terraces, pergolas, pools and bridges; wildlife exhibits; the carriage collection; children’s farm and arboretum.

    Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens - The gardens are on land Powhatan Indians once hunted and owned by Patrick Henry. Gardens bloom year-round with the addition of the new Victorian glass conservatory with its 63-foot dome which includes a palm house with changing displays of flowering plants. Outside areas include a sunken garden, exotic Asian garden, Victorian garden, wetland environment and a children’s garden.

    Civil War Visitor Center - As the industrial and political capital of the Confederacy, Richmond had a pivotal role in the of the Civil War. The National Park Service’s Civil War Visitor Center is housed at the historic Tredegar Iron Works and serves as a jumping off point for the Richmond National Battlefield Park, a 60 mile driving tour that connects 11 Civil War sites. The iron works held the largest foundry in the pre-Civil War South and produced 90 percent of the canons for the Confederacy. The site commemorates Civil War campaigns to defend or capture the Confederacy capital. The center includes exhibits and audiovisual programs that introduce the history of the 1861 to 1865 story of Richmond.

    Henricus Historical Park - Colonial history in central Virginia comes to life at the 1611 Citie of Henricus where the New World’s second successful English settlement is re-created. Costumed guides offer hands-on opportunities to learn what life was like in the 1600s at the English home of Pocahontas. The park is part of the Dutch Gap Conservation area.

    Hollywood Cemetery - The cemetery is the resting place for more than 75,000 people including famous Virginians Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler, General J.E.B. Stuart and Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States. The cemetery also holds the remains of more than 18,000 Confederate dead. The garden-style cemetery features paths that wind through valleys and hills and offers great views of the James River.

    Garden Week - If you love to peek around shrubs to get a glimpse of hidden gardens or glance in windows while walking along a street to see what the inside of a house looks like, the Garden Club of Virginia has something for you. It’s called Garden Week and during one week in April, all through Virginia, people open their private homes and gardens. To get these insider glimpses, you only pay a small admittance fee (in 2003, the fee ranged from $10 to $30 per event) that benefits the garden club. Now in its 70th season, the event is known as “America’s Largest Open House”.

    Prices will probably change for April 2004. Some of the rules remain constant from year to year such as purchasing tickets on the day of the event, at designated information centers and online at http://www.vagardenweek.org. Proceeds help the garden club restore historic gardens and grounds throughout Virginia.

    As next year’s event draws closer, the garden club will reveal how many houses and gardens will be included in each local event. This year, each event offered from five to six local houses and gardens. Visitors typically drive to tour areas and are greeted by hostess guides on the tour. All houses will feature flower arrangements by garden club members with colorful seasonal plants that are native to the state.

    Where the Locals Eat:
    Try Perly’s, an old-fashioned eatery that's a favorite hang out for the locals. Stop by in the morning or for lunch (not opened for dinner) and you may run into the governor, legislators and downtown workers stopping in for their morning grits.

    Richmond’s in the midst of a restaurant renaissance. Here are a few restaurants that are raising the food bar.

    Chez Fouchee - Open only for lunch, this is one of the places to see and be seen. Their budget box sandwiches won’t dent your budget and have a gourmet flair and taste. Their hot lunch platters are creative, inexpensive and can pass for dinner.

    Pomegranate - A small, creative restaurant in the Tobacco Warehouse District allows you to dine in a quiet, unhurried atmosphere. The chef/owner offers European bistro-like food that includes pomegranates whenever possible.

    Tobacco Company Restaurant - A fixture in the revitalized Shockoe Slip area for the past 20 years, the lively restaurant has a loyal following and always has something going on. Food is a cut above better bar fare. The real treat is the former tobacco warehouse and how it has been refurbished. Be sure to check out the brass chandelier that came from the Federal Reserve Bank in Cincinnati.

    Getting Around:
    Richmond Pass - $15 gets you admission to five attractions from the 19 that participate including the Children’s Museum, Science Museum and Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens.

    Richmond Cultural Connection - Travel in comfort between Richmond’s most popular attractions, historic sites, gardens, shopping and dining areas. For $1, you can ride and transfer all day. The seasonal shuttle runs Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. or noon until 5 p.m. from June 7 through September 7.

    Buy your CityPass or Cultural Connection tickets at the Richmond Region Visitor Center, 400 North Third St. 804/783-7450, or online at http://www.visit.richmond.com.

    For more information, contact the Richmond Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau, 800/370-9004.

    British Airways Retires Concorde Fleet

    British Airways announced the retirement of its Concorde fleet of seven aircraft at the end of October 2003.

    BA charges about $6,981 for a seat on a Concorde flight across the Atlantic. The demise of the flashy 100-seater will spell the end of an era. The slender needle-nosed jet travels at twice the speed of sound and was hailed as the height of European technological innovation and business acumen when it entered service in 1976.

    The caviar and champagne-laden pre-boarding and in-flight services was a status symbol for the jet-set crew. BA cannot afford to offer the Concorde's luxury services as demand slows.

    An Air France Concorde crashed outside of Paris in July 2000, killing 113 people. The crash forced the carriers to pull the jets for over a year and spend millions upgrading them. The plane's future became uncertain as the war in Iraq jacked up fuel prices and stumbling U.S. and European economies cut demand for expensive business travel.

    Save 40 to70% on Rail Tickets

    Similar to airline discounts, Rail Europe offers "book-early" low fares for advance-purchase, one-way tickets on certain international rail routes between France and Italy, Switzerland and Belgium. Savings with these new advance purchase fares, available for a limited number of seats per train, range from 40 to70%, depending on the route. Bookings may be made as far in advance as 60 days and a minimum of 14 days prior to travel.

    Ideal for North American travelers visiting two or more countries and flying into one country, and departing from another, the new advance-purchase, one-way tickets are available on: Artesia day trains between Paris-Milan in 2nd class, on Artesia night trains between Paris and Milan, Venice, Rome or Florence in couchette sleeping compartments; between Paris-Geneva on TGV trains in 2nd class only; between Brussels and numerous destinations in France on TGV trains in 2nd class only.

    These book-early fares reflect three levels of prices for these routes and classes of service. Like airline pricing, when the allotment at the lowest fare is filled, the next higher fare level applies. This means early booking is the best way to ensure getting the lowest price. These fares are not a limited-time promotion but are available all year.

    All prices in the following example are one-way, per person: between Paris (Gare de Lyon) and Geneva, fares range from $50 to $69. Between Paris-Milan by day, $44 to $82. The price range for a night train in a couchette, Paris to Florence or Venice or Rome, is $44 to $100 (same price for any of the three Italian cities). Traveling between Brussels and Paris Charles deGaulle airport on TGV trains costs $38 to $57; between Brussels and Nice, Cannes or St. Raphael $75 to $125.

    Rail Europe, 888/382-7245.

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    The Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, P.O. Box 91033, Columbus OH 43209, edited by Nicki Chodnoff, is published monthly.

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