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Hawaii for Hikers: Happy Trails on Three Islands

TIMES STAFF WRITER

There’s no basking on the beach on these two excursions through Hawaii. One is a 10-day, inn-to-inn hiking tour of Kauai, Maui and the Big Island. Walking distances range from three to six miles daily. Sites and sights include the Na Pali Coast Trail; Waimea Canyon, known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”; the crater at Haleakala; Kailua-Kona beach for snorkeling; and Volcanoes National Park.

Cost: $1,800 per person for nine nights’ lodging, all meals save three dinners, naturalist guide and on-tour inter-island air fare. Except for April and May, monthly departures begin Dec. 26. Air fare is extra.

The other odyssey offers seven days of mountain biking, hiking and sea kayaking on Kauai and Molokai. A Feb. 5 to 11 outing is scheduled for singles. A second trip is Feb. 28 to March 5.

Cost: $1,695 per person, double occupancy, for six nights’ lodging, all meals, guides, cycles, kayaks and on-tour air fare. Maximum group size is 10 participants. Air fare is not included. Contact: The World Outside; telephone (800) 488-8483 or (303) 413-0938.

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France: Provence

Join Novel Expeditions on an eight-day food and wine lover’s tour of the captivating region of Provence March 18 to 25. This fabled French province conjures up images of bright sunshine, green hills, fresh herbs, lush vineyards and beautiful olive groves. In the 19th century, the light and landscapes of Provence attracted such illustrious painters as Cezanne and van Gogh, who came from Paris to capture the famed Provencal light on the dramatic Mediterranean hillsides. Today much of the charm of Provence lies in its distinctive cuisine, which successfully marries the traditions of the mountains and the sea. Fresh meat and fish, savory cheeses and fine wines combine to make Provence a must for those interested in gourmet cooking and eating.

Participants will visit the sites associated with Peter Mayle’s “A Year in Provence,” view the landscapes that inspired the most famous Impressionist painters, stay in elegant centuries-old chateaux and visit beautiful ancient towns and villages. Travelers will sample specialty reserve wines at the best wineries in Provence and dine in historic Michelin-starred restaurants. Guests will shop in Provence’s famed produce markets with two of the region’s finest chefs, followed by gourmet cooking classes using the fresh foods they have chosen.

Cost: $2,895 per person, double occupancy, including accommodations, daily breakfasts and five dinners; all sightseeing and entrance fees; professional guides and guest lecturers; cooking classes; and all ground transportation and transfers. Air fare to France is not included. Group size is limited to 15.

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Contact: Novel Expeditions, 140 Tunstead Ave., San Anselmo, CA 94960; tel. (800) 820-8485.

California: Yosemite

A six-day train trip to San Francisco and Yosemite is available from Jan. 28 to Feb. 2. Guests will ride on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight to San Francisco, where they will spend the night at the Tuscan Inn at Fisherman’s Wharf and spend the next day sightseeing.

Next the train travels to Merced and stops for a tour of California’s Gold Rush region. Guests will arrive in Yosemite in the evening and stay at the Ahwahnee or Yosemite Lodge.

Chefs from around California will host cooking classes in the Ahwahnee ballroom. After touring Yosemite Valley, which may be blanketed in snow, participants can choose from among ice skating, snowmobiling or cross-country or downhill skiing.

Cost: $879 (Ahwahnee) or $659 (Yosemite Lodge) per person, double occupancy, including transportation from Los Angeles, some meals and sightseeing.

Contact: Mary Mader at Altour Classic Cruise and Travel; tel. (818) 346-8747.

Portugal and Spain

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A 15-day tour to visit medieval Portuguese and Spanish sites leaves April 25. The tour starts in Lisbon with a city tour and excursions to Sintra, Cape Roca, Cascais and Estoril. Then the group will cross into Spain to visit Seville and see a flamenco show; tour Cordoba with its winding, flower-decorated, medieval streets; see Gibraltar; and spend four nights in Torremolinos. The tour continues on to Granada and the Alhambra and then Madrid for three nights. There is an optional post-tour to Barcelona for $349.

Cost: $2,968 per person, double occupancy, including hotels, ground transportation, some meals and sightseeing fees. Air fare is not included.

Contact: Eva’s Tours, 27485 Paseo Mimosa, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675; tel. (949) 489-0488.

Vietnam: Top to Bottom

Experience the culture, beauty and history of Vietnam, the land of the Blue Dragon, from Feb. 24 to March 11. The tour starts in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). Aboard the Reunification Express train, passengers will enjoy vistas of the South China Sea as they cross Hai Van Pass en route to Hue. Also scheduled is a dinner cruise on the Saigon River, a dragon boat ride to the Tombs of the Emperors on the Perfume River in Hue, and a visit to Hanoi’s Lake of the Restored Sword.

Cost: $2,795 per person, double occupancy, including deluxe accommodations at Western-style hotels with breakfast, airport transfers, ground transportation, air transportation within Vietnam, admission to all attractions and two guides. Air fare to Vietnam is extra.

Contact: The Gurnham Group; tel. (800) 475-0004, Internet https://www.gurnhamgroup.com.

Mexico: Oaxaca

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Join a savory trip to Oaxaca to learn the culinary secrets of the area. The tour and classes are led by Susana Thrilling from Seasons of My Heart cooking school, and Elaine Gonzalez, author of “The Art of Chocolate” and “Chocolate Artistry.” The tour runs Feb. 18 to 27. Guests will visit the colorful markets of Oaxaca, explore the Monte Alban archeological site and see Teotitlan del Valle, known for its weaving.

Cost: $2,500 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, airport taxes, land transportation, lodging at Hotel Mision de Los Angeles, culinary classes, all entrance fees to museums and archeological sites, and guide services.

Contact: Vanessa Acosta at the Southwest Museum; tel. (323) 344- 9064.

Tahiti: Lots of Sun

Adventure Vacations of La Jolla is off to Tahiti Jan. 9 to 17. The emphasis will be on rest and relaxation with ample time for guided sightseeing, beachcombing and shopping.

Cost: $859 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air from Los Angeles, six nights at the Moorea Village on Moorea, one night at the Hotel Tiare in Papeete, Tahiti, and all inter-island ferries, transfers, lei greeting and baggage handling. This does not include some taxes and credit card fees.

Contact: Adventure Vacations; tel. (858) 459-1065.

Texas: JFK History

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy 36 years ago will be studied during an April 12-16 program in Dallas. Organized by HistoryAmerica Tours, the sessions will feature speakers such as Conover Hunt, who led the effort to create the Sixth Floor Museum at the former Texas Book Depository Building; reporter Hugh Aynesworth, who covered the slaying and the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald; and retired Dallas police Det. Jim Leavelle, to whom Oswald was handcuffed when Jack Ruby shot Oswald. Touring in Dallas will cover all sites connected with the assassination.

Cost: $1,295 per person, double occupancy, which includes four nights’ lodging, four breakfasts, three dinners, admissions and guide. Air fare to Dallas is extra.

Contact: HistoryAmerica Tours; tel. (800) 628-8542.

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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