Lausanne Gets a Hostel for the Budget-Minded

Lucy Izon is a Toronto-based freelance travel writer and author of Izon's Backpacker Journal; Internet http://www.izon.com

Switzerland-bound youths who plan to stop in the scenic lakeside city of Lausanne, home of the Olympic Museum, will find new budget accommodations.

The Lausanne Guest House & Backpacker, which opened last week at 4 Rue des Epinettes, is a two-minute walk from the railway station and 15 minutes from Lake Geneva. The hostel, in a renovated 19th century building, can accommodate 80 people in rooms with two to four beds (with or without private washrooms).

A bed (with linens) in a room shared by four costs about $18, a bed in a double room with linens and a semiprivate bathroom is $25, and a single room with private bathroom is $49.

The hostel is powered by solar energy and natural gas, and is nonsmoking. Geared for young travelers and families, it has a big garden with barbecue area, and mountain bikes and electric bicycles can be rented. For more information, telephone 011-41-21-601-8000, fax 011-41-21-601-8001, Internet http://www.lausanne-guesthouse.ch.

Lausanne (population of 125,000) is on the shore of Lake Geneva in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. It is home to the International Olympic Committee, and it has a medieval center to explore and vineyards to cycle around. Train and boat services along Lake Geneva take you to nearby Montreux or to Geneva, 37 miles away.

The Swiss Pass, which allows unlimited rail travel in Switzerland, does not offer student or young adult fares, but a current Rail Europe promotion adds a free day to four-, eight-or 15-day or one-month Swiss Passes purchased in North America before Dec. 31. The passes are valid for six months from the date of issue.

Swiss Passes are valid for rail travel (reservations and meal supplements must be purchased separately), discounts on private railways and travel on lake steamers and city transportation lines. For details, log on to http://usa.myswitzerland.com/en/welcomeframe.cfm. Click on "Great Rail Products."

A Swiss Pass (including the bonus day) for four consecutive days of travel is $160 for second class and $245 first class. The eight-day version is $220 second class, $330 first class. Fifteen days costs $265 second class, $400 first class; 21 days is $305 second class, $458 first class; and one month is $345 second class, $525 first class. Passes must be purchased in North America. Ask a travel agent or Rail Europe, tel. (877) 456-RAIL (7245), http://www.raileurope.com.

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The German National Tourist Office has a free 50-page, pocket-size booklet packed with information for young visitors. "Impressions Unlimited: Germany--Youth on Tour" offers information on historical sites, hang-gliding from Alpine peaks, mountain biking, special inline skating Tuesday nights in Frankfurt, and more. It includes helpful Web sites and e-mail addresses, brief profiles of 33 German cities, events such as youth and music festivals, sporting events, cultural highlights and public celebrations such as Oktoberfest (Sept. 22 to Oct. 7).

The booklet also has information about student-style accommodations, including ways to contact the German Youth Hostelling Assn. The booklet contains brief information on train travel for students, rail passes, language courses and a basic map. (Forty-three German youth hostels are housed in fortresses or castles.)

Call the German National Tourist Office in New York City, tel. (212) 661-7200. An interactive version of the manual is also available on the Web site, http://www.germany-tourism.de.

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A new youth hostel has opened in the heart of San Francisco, providing beds for student-style travelers for $22 to $24 per person per night.

The HI San Francisco-City Center, 685 Ellis St., is close to restaurants and entertainment, weekly farmers market, the popular cable cars and the shops of Japantown, Union Square and Chinatown. From the hostel you can easily reach Fisherman's Wharf, the Mission District and Ocean Beach using public transportation.

The 270-bed, seven-story hostel, formerly the Atherton Hotel, features a mahogany balcony and a juice bar. Rooms (each with bath) have two, three and four beds. There's an open kitchen for cooking, lockers for storage and an Internet lounge. The staff organizes tours and programs. Guests have 24-hour access.

Photographs of the hostel are on the Internet, http://www.hiayh.org/whatsnew/sanfran.htm. Reservations can be made at http://www.hiayh.org/reservations/ebeds.htm, or contact HI S.F.-City Center, 685 Ellis St., San Francisco, CA 94109; tel. (415) 776-6377, Internet http://www.norcalhostels.org.

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