Lake Hopping in Italy; Theater Daze in London

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A relaxed 15-day trip to Italy to see the lake region and Venice is being offered Sept. 24 to Oct. 8.

Seven nights are spent in the lake region, including Lake Orta and Lake Como. In this area, guests will see a medieval town, the Villa Carlotta and the city of Milan. Departing Lake Como, the group will spend two nights at Lake Garda, one of the largest and most beautiful lakes in Italy. En route to the lake, stops will be made at Gorgonzola, Monza and Bergamo. A wine tasting and lunch are provided on the way to Padua, where guests will stay for three nights. They will then visit Venice and see Burano, known for its lace making; Murano, known for its beautiful and intricate glassware; and Terceira. There will be a city tour of Venice and ample free time to enjoy the city.

Cost: $3,350 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, deluxe motor coach transportation, first-class hotels, most meals, sightseeing fees and guides.

Contact: Teresa Arieta of Burns Travel; telephone (949) 830-0351.

London: Theater

Celebrate the millennium on Critics' Choice International's annual "London and Theater" tour from Dec. 28 to Jan. 6. Guests will stay eight days at the luxury Athenaeum Hotel and Apartments in Piccadilly and see six London shows, including "The Lion King." The trip includes a New Year's Eve after-theater celebration at the Mountbatten Hotel, a tour of London and a stop at an art gallery or museum, a Sunday excursion to the countryside followed by a late afternoon luncheon on the Thames cruiser Salient, and after-theater sessions with critic Ed Kaufman.

Cost: $5,299 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, daily full English breakfast, airport transfers, ground transportation, three dinners, one luncheon, entrance fees, taxes, tips and baggage handling.

Contact: Nancy Bland or Melissa Truskett at Montrose Travel, 2343 Honolulu Ave., Montrose, CA 91020; tel (800) 301-9673.

Canada: Cities

Corliss Tours of Huntington Beach is offering an 11-day "Bonjour to Quebec and Ontario" tour Oct. 13. Cities include Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. In Quebec City, passengers will tour Upper and Lower towns with a local guide, board a boat for a whale-watching cruise in St. Catharine's Bay, and visit the Beaupre Coast to tour the St. Anne de Beaupre Shrine, St. Anne Chutes and Montmorency Falls. A highlight of the visit to this area will be an overnight stay at the Man Richelieu, a castle-like luxury hotel in the region of Charlevoix, with views of the St. Lawrence River.

The tour continues to Montreal to see Notre Dame Basilica, Olympic Park, St. Joseph's Oratory and Mt. Royal. Tour members will be treated to a dinner at the Sugar Shack for authentic Quebecois food, music and entertainment.

In the capital city of Ottawa, passengers will see Parliament Hill and Parliament buildings, the RCMP Barracks, Byword Market, the Canadian Museum of Civilization and Embassy Row.

The final stop is Toronto to see the CN Tower and O'Keefe Center. A day trip to Niagara Falls is included.

The October departure will feature fall foliage plus Oktoberfest in Kitchener-Waterloo. A departure in July 2000 will include the Grand Feux Lots Quebec, a fireworks and musical extravaganza that takes place each summer at Montmorency Falls, plus the colorful Changing of the Guard ceremony on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

Cost: $2,150 per person, double occupancy, including hotel, admissions to attractions listed, private chartered motor coach transportation, airport transfers, baggage handling, 18 meals and the services of a guide. Air fare to Quebec City and return from Toronto are additional.

Contact: Corliss Tours, P.O. Box 4042, Huntington Beach, CA 92605; tel. (800) 482-4597.

Mexico: Colonial Gems

A former USC professor will lead a nine-day architectural and culinary tour into the silver cities of old Spanish Mexico. Tour dates are Oct. 15 to 23.

Participants visit several private colonial homes and haciendas for receptions. Dinners will be hosted each night in a different historic colonial patio restaurant.

While participants are based in a converted monastery hotel in the hillside town of San Miguel de Allende for six nights, there will be side trips to Guanajuato, Dolores Hidalgo and Queretaro. Guests will also stay in Morelia in a 250-year-old antique-filled hotel that was once the home of a viceroy of Mexico.

Cost: $1,545 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, airport transfers, hotel accommodations, daily breakfast and dinner, receptions, all sightseeing and entrance fees.

Contact: Frank Tysen Private Adventures, 9337 Doheny Road, Beverly Hills, CA 90210; tel. (818) 501-4100.

India: Mogul Sites

Bestway Tours & Safaris, which specializes in tours to India, is offering a 17-day trip to India and Nepal. The tour departs monthly.

The program starts off with a visit to the many Mogul and post-Mogul-era sites in New Delhi. From here, the tour visits Rajasthan. A tour of Jaipur, known for its pink buildings, is followed by a countryside drive to Fatehpur Sikri and the Taj Mahal in Agra.

From Agra, the next stop is Khajuraho to see the temple complex, and then it's on to Varanasi. An early morning cruise on the Ganges River is followed by a short flight to Katmandu, Nepal.

Cost: from $2,300 per person, including round-trip international air fare from LAX, first-class hotels, breakfasts and entrance fees.

Contact: Bestway Tours & Safaris; tel. (800) 663-0844.

Sequoia: Photography

An old-fashioned camping trip in Sequoia National Forest will be conducted for nature photographers from July 23 to 25. The tour includes guided photo walks through groves of giant sequoia trees and meadows filled with wildflowers. Guides do all the cooking at camp. Optional motel reservations are available.

Cost: $125 per person, including campsite reservations and all meals.

Contact: Image Quest Tours, 1164 Alvira St., Los Angeles, CA 90035; tel. (323) 939-2819.

Mississippi River: Cruise

Go steamboating on the Mississippi Queen this December and hear country performers to boot. Glen Campbell is scheduled to perform Dec. 10 to 15 on a cruise from Memphis, Tenn., to Nashville, Tenn. Prices begin at $840 per person, double occupancy. Air fare for this trip is $200 per person.

Roy Clark will perform on the steamboat from Dec. 15 to 20. This cruise travels from Nashville to Memphis. The cost is from $840 per person, including air fare.

A seven-night cruise is planned for Dec. 20 to 27, sailing from Memphis to New Orleans. The Oak Ridge Boys are scheduled to perform. Prices begin at $1,140 per person, double occupancy, including air fare.

Pre- or post-tour hotel packages can be purchased with all cruises.

Contact: Don Eslinger at Historic Tours of America, 20325 Seabright Lane, Huntington Beach, CA 92646; tel. (714) 536-3434.

Paris: Millennium

Ring in the turn of the century in Paris as the City of Light puts on a show with a variety of special events and celebrations. The tour leaves Dec. 29. Guests will spend five nights in the Concorde Louvre hotel near the Louvre and the opera house, take a city tour of Paris and a half-day tour of the medieval town of Chartres. New Year's Eve festivities include dinner at the hotel. On New Year's Day guests will take a Seine River cruise.

Cost: $3,165 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, daily breakfast, two meals, ground transport and museum passes.

Contact: Claudette Crowther, Carlson-Wagonlit Travel; tel. (805) 899-2323 or (800) 549-7233.

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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