Desert Getaway Knows What Women Need

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The "Exactly What I Needed" tour is a revitalization getaway for women to Santa Fe, N.M., from Aug. 15 to 22. Offered by Aventura Artistica, the tour enlists personal growth coach Masa Goetz for private consultations and a presentation on the role of intuition and women's wisdom in maintaining well-being and balance. Activities such as hikes, spa time, a comedy evening, rafting down the Rio Grande, an art class, a Native American dance ceremony and a performance at the Santa Fe Opera are included.

Cost: $1,200 per person, double occupancy ($1,500 single), including land transportation, lodging, two meals a day, entertainment, all entrance fees and costs for activities. Air fare is extra.

Contact: Christy Rojas Foster at Aventura Artistica; telephone (800) 808-7352, Internet http://www.newmexicotours.com.

Eastern Europe: Trek

The tour operator Walking the World is planning a 12-day trek beginning July 29 in the Carpathian Mountains and through the national parks of Slovakia, where waterfalls, wildlife, flowers and butterflies flourish. The trip begins in Budapest, Hungary, with a walking tour of the historic castle district and a soak in a thermal spa.

The itinerary includes visits to one of the largest castles in central Europe and the walled town of Levoca for a stop at the Church of St. Jacob, known for its 15th century wooden altar. Countryside explorations will include small hidden churches with medieval frescoes and folk festivals. Accommodations include a converted 13th century fortress and country inns.

Cost: $2,395 per person, double occupancy, including hotels, many meals, ground transportation and guides.

Contact: Ward or Julie at Walking the World; tel. (800) 340-9255, http://www.walkingtheworld.com.

Scotland: Literary

Scotland was home to dozens of renowned writers, including poet Robert Burns, whose many works include "Auld Lang Syne." On this 10-day journey starting Sept. 8, participants will visit the cottage where Burns was born and Abbotsford, the mansion where Sir Walter Scott wrote historical novels. William Wordsworth visited Scott here and enjoyed the gardens that remain on view.

In Edinburgh, the group will explore Edinburgh Castle and the Writers' Museum, which honors Robert Louis Stevenson, who based his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde character on a notorious Edinburgh resident.

There's a stop at Andrew Carnegie's birthplace before taking a ride to the Scottish Highlands.

Guests also will visit Glamis Castle, the setting for Shakespeare's "Macbeth," and take a cruise on Loch Ness.

Cost: $2,980 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from New York, eight nights in country inns and hotels, breakfast daily, some meals, a literary tour guide and entrance fees.

Contact: Specialty World Travel; tel. (800) 242-2346, http://www.specialtyworldtravel.com.

Florida: Escorted

You can see Florida on an organized tour on the seven-night "Best of Florida" excursion, with departures on Oct. 13 and 27, Nov. 10 and Dec. 1 and 8. It begins in Orlando and moves on by motor coach to Fort Myers to see the winter homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. A stay on Marco Island is included, along with an airboat outing in the Everglades; a ride on the Overseas Highway to Key West; a visit to the Kennedy Space Center; a look at Miami's South Beach, Little Havana, Coral Gables and Coconut Grove; and a Miami waterways cruise.

Cost: from $1,175 per person, double occupancy, including airport transfers, seven nights in hotels, seven breakfasts, three hotel dinners and one in a Miami Beach restaurant. Air fare is extra.

Contact: Atlas Cruises & Tours of West Palm Beach, Fla.; tel. (800) 942-3301, http://www.atlastravelweb.com.

Baja: Mystery Cruise

Whodunit Productions is offering the next set of "Murder on the High Seas" cruises in conjunction with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. There will be three weekend cruises aboard the Viking Serenade, sailing from Los Angeles to Baja California, and a weeklong cruise aboard the Vision of the Seas, sailing to the Mexican Riviera during Valentine's week.

The "Weekends to Die For" are scheduled for Aug. 24 to 27, Nov. 30 to Dec. 3 and Jan. 11 to 15. Guests follow a mystery, with clues from strange telephone calls to their cabin and secret notes slid under their cabin door. The rest of the time on the ship is open.

The seven-night Mexican Riviera cruise aboard the Vision visits Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas.

Cost: from $824 per person, double occupancy, including cocktail parties for the mystery group.

Contact: Whodunit Productions; tel. (661) 297-3208, http://www .whodunitcruises.com.

Arizona: Archeology

On a Sept. 16-22 archeological tour around the Carrizo Mountains in northeastern Arizona, participants will search out the remains of pre-Columbian Pueblo Indian culture and will hike and clamber about cliffs and canyons.

Cost: $1,595 per person, double occupancy, including lectures, three nights in motels and three nights camping (bring your own gear), many meals and ground transportation. Air fare is extra.

Contact: Crow Canyon Archaeological Center; tel. (800) 422-8975, http://www.crowcanyon.org.

Barcelona: Festival

A tour of Barcelona, Spain, from Sept. 19 to 30 is planned to coincide with the Feast of Our Lady of Mercy, patron saint of Barcelona. Celebrations around the city include parades in the Old Quarter, a pottery fair, food and wine fairs, concerts and theatrical programs, sporting activities and nightly fireworks displays.

The tour will also include visits to Barcelona's historic sites, art collections and architectural highlights. One day will be spent on a visit to an 11th century monastery and a tour of a private winery. Another day the group will travel to Bilbao to visit the Guggenheim Museum.

The group will also stay two nights outside Barcelona in Gerona and visit its cathedral and ancient Jewish quarter. From Gerona the group will visit the Dali Museum and the Costa Brava.

Cost: $2,945 per person, double occupancy, including first-class accommodations, ground transport, breakfast daily and some meals, all transfers, sightseeing fees and air fare to Bilbao. Air fare to and from Spain is extra. Tour size is limited to 15.

Contact: Maria Blanc Tours; tel. (949) 488-0840, http://www.mariablanctours.com.

England and France

You can roll from the Middle Ages to World War II on this tour arranged by Saga Holidays of Boston, which specializes in escorted travel for people 50 and older.

"Historic Cities of England and France" starts with London, proceeds to Cambridge, visits Duxford Airfield--a World War II base that is now home to the Imperial War Museum's aircraft collection and the American Air Museum--and checks out Leeds Castle and Canterbury Cathedral.

Then the group takes the English Channel tunnel to France, visiting Caen (burial place of William the Conqueror), the Normandy beaches, Mont-St.-Michel, Falaise (birthplace of William the Conqueror), Amboise--for two nights in the Loire Valley with a full day visiting chateaux--and Paris.

Cost: $1,799 per person, double occupancy, for departures Sept. 14 and 28 and Oct. 12; $1,999 on June 15 and $1,599 on Nov. 9. Included are air fare from New York, eight nights in hotels, nine breakfasts and four dinners.

Contact: Saga Holidays; tel. (800) 343-0273, http://www.sagaholidays.com.

South: Cruise

Take a leisurely cruise from New Orleans on the American Queen steamboat from Dec. 22 to 29. Fine antebellum houses decorated for Christmas will highlight stops at such historic cities as St. Francisville and Baton Rouge in Louisiana, and Natchez and Vicksburg in Mississippi.

Cost: from $1,593 per person, double occupancy. Round-trip air fare is included if deposits are made by June 22.

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

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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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