Drinking in Romania's Dracula Legend

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Learn the truth about Dracula on two 22-day tours, March 28 and Sept. 6, to Romania. The tour will trace the life of Prince Vlad Dracul, known in history as Vlad the Impaler. It will include four days in Istanbul, Turkey, whose history and culture are interwoven with that of the Balkan countries, as well as visits to Bucharest and many other Romanian cities. Cost: $4,500 from New York, including air fare, hotels, meals, guides, transfers, tips and taxes. Not included: air fare to New York. Contact: Herodot Travel; telephone (415) 381-4031.

Asian Eclipse

Orient Lines' Marco Polo will sail Oct. 24 to Southeast Asia to see a total solar eclipse. "Asian Eclipse '95" will be a 17-day cruise expedition combining the astronomical event with visits to Bangkok, Thailand; Singapore; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, as well as Kota Kinabalu on Borneo's northern coast. Cost: $3,495 per person, double occupancy, including 10 days aboard ship, three nights in Bangkok before sailing, two nights in Singapore at the end of the voyage and selected shore excursions in each port of call. Not included: international air fare. The eclipse will be viewed from the South China Sea. A panel of astronomy experts will accompany the expedition. Call Orient Lines, tel. (800) 333-7300.Riding in Ireland

Learn to ride or enhance your equestrian skills on a five-day trip to the Clonshire Equestrian Center in County Limerick, Ireland. The package is available year-round. Riders get at least three hours of training each day in classes of no more than three students riding Irish thoroughbreds. In winter, indoor facilities are used. Trail rides into the countryside are included. Cost: $1,395 per person, including six nights' accommodations and two meals daily in the nearby Dunraven Arms hotel. Not included: air fare to Ireland. Contact: Cross Country International Equestrian Vacations; tel. (800) 828-8768.

Proper English

A 12-day ladies' tour of England departs Los Angeles Sept. 26th. Tour will include a three-night stay in York at a Georgian hotel with a guided tour of York and Yorkminster, a ghost walk and visits to Castle Howard and the Yorkshire area. Three nights are in the Cotswolds at a 17th-Century country manor with visits to the Wedgwood and Royal Doulton potteries. Also included are visits to Bath and Stratford, and Warwick Blenheim castles with ample shopping opportunities. The trip will end with a five-night stay in London. Included is a full-day tour of London with afternoon tea on the Thames and dinner at the Sherlock Holmes pub. This tour will be escorted and will have local guides in York and Bath. Cost: $2,685 per person, double occupancy, including air fare from Los Angeles, breakfast daily, four dinners, all entrance fees and guides. The tour is limited to 20 participants. Contact: Janet Grilli, Vista Verde Travel, 2816 Palos Verdes Drive North, Lomita, Calif. 90717; tel. (310) 530-0520.Italy's Best

A 16-day Italy tour that visits Rome, Florence, Amalfi, Venice, Stresa and Assisi leaves June 18. The tour also includes visits to Verona, Padua, Pisa, San Gimignano, Siena, Naples, Pompeii, Sorrento, Positano and Capri. Participants will have the opportunity to attend concerts of Italian music or other cultural events. Prof. Albert Benzie of Grossmont College will give informal lectures at museums, churches, palaces, castles and birthplaces of great artists. Also included is a one-day excursion to Locarno and Lugano in Switzerland; a half-day visit to the Roman castles of Nemi, Castelgandolfo, Frascati and Tivoli; a sightseeing trip to the Palladian villas along the River Brenta, and the Amalfi coast by road and motorboat. Cost: $2,985, per person, double occupancy, including round-trip Los Angeles-Milan-Rome air fare, hotels, daily breakfasts and dinners, air-conditioned motor coach, all tips, entrances to main museums, luggage handling, sightseeing and funicular ride to a Capri village. Contact: Dr. Albert Benzie, 800 Prospect St., 3-A, La Jolla, Calif. 92037; tel. (619) 454-1434; or write to: Lenore Howell, The SDSU Continuing Educational Center at Rancho Bernardo, 16776 Bernardo Center Drive, Suite 110, San Diego, Calif. 92128.

Native Culture

Learn about Native-American beliefs, tribal ceremonies and dances, camp in tepees and share meals and daily life with the Comanche, Kiowa, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Pima and others. The trips range from three days to a week and are led by an anthropologist and a staff of Native Americans. Trips are taken February through November, and go to Oklahoma, Arizona, Wisconsin and Massachusetts. Itineraries include such events as a prayer circle ceremony in sacred sites in Sedona, Ariz., led by a Yavapai Apache elder, a Cheyenne celebration in Oklahoma and a meeting of tribes in Massachusetts' Berkshires. Costs: $245 to $795 per person, including lodging, meals, fees, lectures and ground transportation; air fare is extra. Contact: Journeys Into American Indian Territory, P.O. Box 929, Westhampton Beach, N.Y. 11978; tel. (800) 458-2632.

Greek Easter

Experience the Greek Orthodox Easter on a seven-day yacht cruise April 21. Participants sail on the Viking Star to Tinos to attend a pre-Easter ceremony at a cathedral. Then passengers sail to Paros to attend a midnight candle-lighting ceremony. Easter Sunday will be spent in a small village on Paros to dine on traditional Easter foods, such as roasted lamb and special breads. Other islands visited are Delos, Mikonos, Naxos, Ios and Santorini to see historical sights. Sailing is four to five hours each day with afternoons and evenings free. Cost: $995 per person, double occupancy, including breakfast and one meal daily, tour guide, transfers, land and sea transportation. Air fare to Athens is not included. Contact: Viking Tours, 1200 N. Flores, No. 314, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069; tel. (213) 656-6181.

Polynesian Cruise

Cruise the isles of French Polynesia for seven days on the Wind Song May 13 and Sept. 9 with Larry Dunmire, a professional photographer whose specialty is the tropics. Dunmire will help passengers capture South Pacific scenery on film by teaching them composition, the proper use of filters and lenses, and the best film to use. Optional side trips include helicopter photo trips, sailing and sportfishing from a large catamaran off Bora Bora and scuba diving in Rangiroa, the world's second-largest atoll. Cost: $2,995 per person, including round-trip air fare to Papeete, Tahiti. Contact: Vickie Baehner at Travel Partners, 485 E. 17th St., Suite 102, Costa Mesa, Calif. 92627; tel. (714) 631-5240.

Farm Stays in Africa

A farm stay is part of a 27-day escorted tour to South Africa, April 14-May 10. The tour visits Johannesburg, Pretoria, Kruger National Park, Swaziland, Zululand, the Drakensbergs, Royal Natal National Park, Durban, Addo Elephant National Park, the Garden Route, Knysna, Oudtshoorn Ostrich Farm, Stellenbosch and Cape Town. Participants can experience South African history while staying on a working farm that has been operated by the same family for more than 100 years. Several game drives are included. Three- and five-day extensions are available to Victoria Falls and Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe and Zambia as well as other southern African locations. Cost: $5,995 including air fare from New York, accommodations and some meals. Contact: A.S.I. Tours, 5655 E. River Road, 101-A, Tucson, Ariz. 85715; tel. (800) 775-0274.

Erie Canal Cruise

A six-day study tour along the Erie Canal in upstate New York leaves June 15. Participants will cruise on the 40-passenger Emita II and make stops at historical sites by day and stay in hotels by night. Tour guide is historian Donald Larkin. Cost: $998 (plus $22 membership fee) per person, double occupancy, including all meals. Not included: air fare to Syracuse, N.Y. Contact: Smithsonian Associates, tel. (202) 357-4700.

The Times is not responsible for changes in prices, dates or itineraries. These should be confirmed with travel agents or tour operators.

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