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Billions and Billions of Stars in Middle East

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Griffith Observatory Director Ed Krupp will lead an ancient astronomy tour to Israel, the Egyptian Sinai and Jordan, Nov. 5 to 20. Guests will visit astronomical sites amid Biblical ruins to study the Middle East’s long tradition of sky lore, astronomy and calendar-keeping.

The tour will begin in Caesarea, Israel, to see a mithraeurn (an underground room simulating a cave) whose roof allowed sunlight to enter the chamber on the summer solstice; a Roman theater and the ruins of Herod’s temple. In Tiberias, participants will stop at the ancient city gate and synagogue at Tiberias Hammat to view a celestial mosaic with a depiction of the Greek sun god Helios, the 12 signs of the zodiac and the four seasons. At the Canaanite ruins of Tel Hazor, the group will see a pillared temple to Hadad, the sky god of storm and weather.

Also on the itinerary is Jerusalem and the Essen settlement in Qumran, south of Jericho, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.

Participants will visit the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the hilltop fortress of Masada. In Jordan, guests will visit Petra, Madaba and Amman to see the remains of the ancient Roman city of Jerash.

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Cost: $5,345 per person, double occupancy, including air fare from Los Angeles, land transportation, accommodations, UCLA Extension tuition and most meals. Contact: Israel Tour, The Sciences, UCLA Extension, 10995 LeConte Ave., Suite 714, Los Angeles, CA 90024; telephone (310) 825-7093.

Wine Festival

Imbibe in the fifth International Wine Festival in Budapest, Hungary, Sept. 1 to 8. Participants will visit the Buda Wine Market, the Wine Exhibition and Marketplace, the opening ceremony of the exhibition, and attend a performance by the Budapest Gypsy Orchestra and the State Folk Ensemble.

In Budapest, participants will take a historical city tour and visit the artists’ village of Szentendre on the Danube River.

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The farewell dinner at the traditional Gellert Hotel’s Duna Restaurant will be prepared by food and wine professionals.

Cost: $2,215 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare, six nights’ hotel accommodations, daily breakfast, two dinners, excursions and sightseeing, cultural programs and participation at the main festival events. Contact: Tradesco Tours, 6033 W. Century Blvd., Suite 670, Los Angeles, CA 90045; tel. (310) 649-5808.

Southwestern Parks

Cruise up Lake Powell to Rainbow Bridge National Monument on a tour that combines the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Zion national parks. The tour is six nights, and leaves Oct. 20 from Southern California via motor coach. Guests will stay overnight in Laughlin and Mesquite, Nev.; Williams, Ariz.; Cedar City, Utah; and at Lake Powell in the Wahweap Lodge. Participants will also see a show at Zion National Park’s IMAX Theatre.

Cost: $712 per person, double occupancy, including hotels, some meals and transportation. Contact: Main Street Tours, 1751 W. Torrance Blvd., Suite N, Torrance, CA 90501; tel. (310) 212-0791 or (800) 300-MAIN.

Say, Cezanne

Join members of the Palos Verdes Art Center from Aug. 23 to 27 on an art tour to Philadelphia and New York to see art exhibits. The group will view the Cezanne exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the permanent collections at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Rodin Museum and the Barnes Collection, which has one of the world’s finest collections of French Impressionist paintings. Then the group travels to New York by train for the Picasso and Portraiture exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art and the Winslow Homer exhibit at the Metropolitican Museum of Art. The Picasso exhibit includes 130 paintings and 100 drawings from his family’s private collection. The Homer exhibit consists of 200 pieces.

Cost: $525 per person, double occupancy, including all transfers, two nights at the Wyndham Hotel in Philadelphia, two nights at the Intercontinental Hotel in New York, train to New York and admissions to all exhibits. A portion of the tour cost benefits the Palos Verdes Art Center. Air fare and most meals are not included. Contact: Sharon Ryan, Argo World Travel, 31239 Palos Verdes Drive West, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275; tel. (310) 377-0377 or (800) 651-0377.

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New Zealand Gardens

A 12-day tour visiting private gardens and the annual floral show, the Festival of Flowers, at Christchurch, New Zealand, begins Feb. 7 and returns Feb. 17.

The flower festival showcases floral displays on the river banks of the Avon. Participants will also visit the winning gardens of the citywide private garden competition.

The tour also includes sightseeing within New Zealand, with visits to other public and private gardens in Auckland, Rotorua, New Plymouth, Wellington and Picton.

Cost: from $2,200 per person, double occupancy, including land transportation, accommodations, all breakfasts and some meals, sightseeing and garden visits. Air fare is not included.

Optional extensions are available to Sydney, Australia, before the garden tour, and to Queenstown, New Zealand, after the tour. Contact: WorldWise Travel Services, 1739 Franklin St., Suite A, Santa Monica, CA 90404; tel. (310) 829-5334.

Native Americans

Journeys Into American Indian Territory is offering a series of tours that take guests into several areas of the country--Oklahoma, Arizona, South Dakota and Massachusetts--to learn about the lives, past and present, of various tribes.

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Participants will camp in tepees and other traditional Native American houses, learn tribal dances, eat native foods, participate in ceremonies and learn traditional beliefs.

The journeys are led by anthropologist Robert Vetter.

Trips dates are: Massachusetts (Aug. 24 to 26), South Dakota (Sept. 5 to 10), Oklahoma (Sept. 12 to 19) and Southern Arizona (Nov. 4 to 11).

Cost: from $300 per person for two-day trips and $700 to $1,200 for longer trips, including lodging, lectures, admission to all events, two meals per day and ground transportation. Transportation to the locations is not included. Contact: Robert Vetter, Journeys Into American Indian Territory, P.O. Box 929, Westhampton Beach, NY 11978; tel. (800) 458-2632 or (516) 878-8655.

Equate Ecuador

Explore Ecuador Aug. 17 to 24 on an eight-day journey that gives a comprehensive tour of Ecuador’s capital, Quito. Participants also take day trips to Avenue of the Volcanoes, the Ambato Market and the Equator Monument. Trips are made to the countryside to view the Andes and the crafts shops of tiny villages.

Cost: $1,483 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, accommodations, most meals and land tours. Extension tours to the Galapagos Islands are available at additional cost. Contact: Foley Travel, 4037 Governor Drive, San Diego, CA 92122; tel. (714) 457-2727.

Ozarks By Rail

Travel by private train through the Ozarks during the fall foliage season on a rail tour Oct. 23 to Nov. 2. The train will travel only during the day, with each night spent at hotels along the route. The itinerary includes a two-day visit to Branson, Mo., to attend shows.

The private train originates in St. Louis, and, for the first two days of the tour, will be pulled by a vintage steam locomotive built in 1944. From St. Louis, the train travels south along the Mississippi River, pausing overnight in Poplar Bluff, Mo., and Little Rock, Ark. The train then continues over the scenic White River route through northwestern Arkansas to Branson, then to Kansas City, Mo.

Cost: $2,095 per person, double occupancy, including air travel, sightseeing, five shows in Branson, 19 meals, lodging, luggage handling and transfers. Contact: Mountain Outin’ Tours, P.O. Box 70; East Irvine, CA 92650; tel. (800) 844-3985.

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


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