Vacationers soon will be traveling in the...

Vacationers soon will be traveling in the Soviet Union by private rail car. Trips are being arranged by Gerard Morgan-Granville (who got the Royal Scotsman rolling through Scotland) in cooperation with Alistair Ballantine, president of Abercrombie & Kent of Illinois. Rail cars that ordinarily carry Soviet ministers of state will transport passengers. Deluxe accommodations are promised: compartments, baths, a dining room. On board will be a butler, maid, chef and an Intourist guide.

One itinerary will take in towns and villages between Moscow and Leningrad, including Suzdal, Kostroma and Rojtov, where passengers will sightsee by chauffeured limousine before continuing their journey. Because this is a deluxe trip, prices are steep ($3,500 for six days, including an open bar). In the planning stage is a trans-Siberian journey using the same upscale rail cars.

Contact Alistair Ballantine, Abercrombie & Kent, 1420 Kensington Road, Oak Brook, Ill. 60521, phone toll-free (800) 323-7308.

South Pacific on $1 a Day

You can book a tourist-class hotel in Australia or New Zealand for only $1 per person a night. The offer is in conjunction with United Airlines/Air New Zealand flights. Arrangements through ATS/Tour Pacific and Jetset Tours. Accommodations with Jetset are in Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns and Brisbane. ATS will put you up in Sydney or Auckland. Details from Jetset at toll-free (800) 453-8738 and ATS/Tour Pacific at (800) 232-2121 (California) or (800) 423-2880 (outside California).

Meanwhile, travelers planning extended vacations in New Zealand can book "Go As You Please Passes" for accommodations in New Zealand farmhouses and country homes. The toll-free telephone numbers are (800) 351-2317 (California) and (800) 351-2323 (outside California).

England by Canal

A company in England is booking six-day canal cruises for only $485. Sounds like a bargain compared with other canal holidays. Passengers board at various stops between London and Yorkshire. Sightseeing in Chester, Worcester, Stratford-on-Avon, Oxford and other towns. These hotel boats provide single/twin cabins with washbasins, a maximum of 8/10 passengers. Meals are prepared on board. Cruises will operate into October.

Contact Wilson & Lake International, 330 York St., Ashland, Ore. 97520 phone (503) 488-3350 for information on Charter Cruising of Rugby, England.

Irish-French Connection

If you're in no hurry, take the ferry from France to Ireland the next time you're in Europe. Sailing time from Cherbourg and Le Havre in France to Rosslare in Ireland (or Le Havre to Cork) is about 19 hours. One-way fares start at $88 during the summer peak season. (Eurailpass holders travel free.) There's an extra charge for cabins. These are sleek ferries. Restaurants, cafeterias, lounges, discos, movie theaters, duty-free shops. The ferries operate year-round. Discounts for students/senior citizens. Children under 4 years travel free.

Details from CIE Tours International, 122 East 42nd St., New York 10168, or call toll-free (800) 243-7687.

A Letter From Paris

Pascal Lefebvre, president of a bed and breakfast organization in Paris, writes: "If you have heard that there are no more rooms in Paris in July, we have the pleasure to inform you that we can still offer you accommodations for this period. In collaboration with the Office of Tourism in Paris, our association is providing lodging in private homes. We do our best to choose our accommodations according to the profile of our visitors, directing them to friendly hosts."

Write to Lefebvre c/o Bed and Breakfast 1, 73 Rue Notre-Dame-Des-Champs 75006, Paris, France. This same organization represents B&Bs; in London, Berlin, Rio, New York. For other lodging information, contact the French Government Tourist Office in Los Angeles.

A Small Hotel

In the latest issue of his travel newsletter Entree, publisher/editor William Tomicki praises a new quality small luxury hotel in New York, The Mark. "We're crazy about it," says Tomicki. "The most elegant, understated, tasteful lobby, furnished with original oil paintings, Biedermeier furniture. Rooms of marble, Piranesi prints. Loads of spider orchids, full-length mirrors everywhere. A front desk person accompanies you to your room. One of New York's best-kept secrets. Rooms start at $200. The Mark, Madison Avenue at 77th Street, New York."

Visas for France

Americans visiting France for less than three months are no longer required to apply for a visa. And neither are French citizens traveling to the United States. The visa requirement by the French went into effect in 1986, a period during which France was involved in an anti-terrorism campaign. Previously, even though French citizens were required to obtain visas to visit the United States, Americans had been welcomed without this formality. Now we can expect new visitors from France and doubtless France will be welcoming still greater numbers of Americans. The relaxation of the visa requirement by France comes at a propitious moment, as France celebrates the bicentennial of its revolution with a special invitation to overseas visitors.

Reader Recommendations

California--Barbara Burgoyne, Burbank: "Storybook Inn near Lake Arrowhead recently enticed us with a great midweek special--33% off for senior citizens over 60. There are 10 rooms in the inn and the rates range from $79 to $165 for a large cabin with fireplace. A spectacular view, particularly impressive at sunset. Freshly cut flowers, a full home-cooked breakfast, hot chocolate-chip cookies and milk just before bed. Storybook Inn, P.O. Box 362, Skyforest, Calif. 92385."

Hawaii--Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Bentley, Upland: "Recommend a bed and breakfast on Kauai called Mailulani Inn, general delivery, Kilauea, Kauai, Hawaii 96754. A beautifully restored old Hawaiian home. Just opened by Bev Simmons, whose roots are in Claremont. Offers two of her bedrooms with separate baths at $65/$75. Uncrowded beaches a short drive from the house. A real treat for those who want to escape the hotel frenzy."

England--Alan and Johanna Reid, Huntington Beach: "Discovered an outstanding B&B; on the outskirts of Sheffield (near York Cathedral and the Derbyshire Dales). Lovely old house overlooking the public golf course. Run by Ken and Peggy Lais, 10 Dalewood Drive, Beauchief, Sheffield, England S8 OEA. Rates: bed and breakfast, 12; full board, 16. Only 45 minutes from Manchester Airport."

Scotland--Kieram Healy, North Hollywood: Enjoyed the Ardeonaig Hotel, South Loch Tay, Killin, Perthshire, Scotland FK21 8SU. "Situated on the south bank of Loch Tay. A beautiful 16th-Century coaching inn. All rooms have private bath/shower. Seven nights dinner, bed and breakfast, with five days fishing (about $420 U.S.). Some fine salmon and trout fishing."

France--Hedy Hagel, La Puente: "Stayed at one of the nicest and cleanest hotels with food of gourmet quality. Prices very reasonable. Paid only 210 francs, which included breakfast. Bath with a good shower and a hair dryer. Hotel Pax, 24-26 Rue du Foubourg National, 67000 Strasbourg, Alsace, France."

Egypt--Bernadine Ryan Hoff, Carlsbad: "Maissa Sanders, an Egyptian-American, runs Lotus of La Costa, 721 Durango Circle, Carlsbad 92009. I took a 17-day tour, traveling from Cairo to Abu Simbel. The best part of the hassle-free trip was having both Maissa and the same Egyptologist guide all the way. It gave a continuity that was really helpful when moving through 8,000 years of history."

We regret that only a select few recommendations can be used. They must be brief (typewritten or printed). Only one recommendation per reader, please. Note: Recommendations will not be used unless prices and addresses are included.

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