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Rundown for the week of August 30, 1997

Rome Fountain

Our first stop in today's savvy traveler finds you standing in a plaza in Rome........it's a sweltering summer afternoon---you're hot...you're tired..you're.sweaty. Looking for relief, you gaze longingly at one of the city's giant fountains and fantasize about a refreshing dip. That's what an italian man did last week--and with his plunge into one of rome's most famous fountains, he created a tidal wave of controversy. Jon Eldan relates this roman tale.


Rudy Maxa answers listener questions. A listener asked how to access airline internet sites to learn about special weekend deals. Rudy suggested he check out a reference page that lists the web addresses of every major airline. That site is located at


Cuban Tourism

Cuba has been off limits to American tourists since the early sixties because of the US embargo. But in recent years, thousands of Americans have risked breaking that law in order to taste the forbidden fruits of this small, island nation. Some Americans go for the decadence of pre-Castro days---rum, cigars and sex. But others are discovering the country's rich cultural history. Savvy Traveler correspondant Reese Erlich begins his report in the resort area of Varadero about 70 miles east of Cuba's capital.

Additional Information about Cuba Travel: Ok, so you want to get to Cuba without spending the next several years at Leavenworth? First of all, understand that it's perfectly legal for U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba. Unless you're a researcher or journalist with an exemption, it's illegal to spend money on the island.

But there are no direct flights from the U.S., so most Americans get there through third countries such as Mexico, Jamaica or the Bahamas. The Cuban government welcomes Americans and makes things easy by not stamping your passport.

Tourists who go through travel agencies specializing in Cuba can save up to 50% off standard rates for room and board. Those agents also can arrange for your tourist visa. American credit cards, traveler's checks and ATM cards won't work.

Havanatour is the official Cuban travel agency and will be happy to make travel arrangements for Americans. They have offices in Cancun, Mexico City, Nassau, Kingston and other cities. You can usually pay for air fares and prepaid hotel vouchers with US credit cards or travelers cheques, since you are paying outside Cuba. Remember, however, that buying air tickets or prepaying for hotel rooms, etc., is a violation of the US embargo. Cash, of course, is difficult to trace.

Other travel agencies can also book flights and make travel arrangements.You'll need to get a tourist visa through the travel agent. A visa for a stay of up to 10 days costs $10 (US). 10-30 days costs $20. You'll need to make a photo copy of the front, inside page of your passport (the part with your passport number and photo) which will be sent to the Cuban embassy or consulate.

Upon arrival in Cuba, immigration will not stamp your passport. So there won't be an offiical record of your trip.

Best way to find out about the night life is check out the weekly newspaper Cartalera. It's in English and Spanish and lists all the free concerts, movies and who's playing at the local clubs.

Can U-S citizens get in trouble for going to Cuba? According to Beth Weaver, press spokesperson for the Treasury Dept.:

Unauthorized travelers to Cuba can face criminal penalities of up to 10 years in jail and a maximum $250,000 fine; they can also face civil penalties of up to $55,000. The Treasury Dept. says that in 1994, it collected $1.5 million in civil penalties from people who illegally traveled to Cuba.

Finally... can you come home with Cuban rum or cigars? Well, legal travelers can bring back a hundred dollars worth of Cuban products. But if you're flying under the legal radar, you risk having those great Monte Cristos confiscated at American customs.

Celluloid Traveler

If you travel you probably also like the movies. After all, many of us took our first trips in the flickering light of a darkened theatre.

As traveler and film buff Jim Clapp tells us, movies, like plane tickets, have the power to transport us to far away places and times past.

Deal Of the Week

You know, I talk a lot about the special weeked fares that major airlines offer on their internet sites each Wednesday. But one, smaller airline does that and more. While the big boys' fares are only good for that upcoming weekend, Florida-based Carnival Airlines runs its special sales a month or more.

Carnival's deals right now are between New York City and Ft. Lauderdale. But occasionally a Florida-L.A. deal sneaks in, too.

Ft. Lauderdale, of course, is just a half-hour drive away from Miami. So if you've got the Art Deco, party district of South Beach on your mind, and you can get to Newark or JFK airports easily, consider Carnival. Most recently, Carnival offered a roundtrip fare of just $179 between New York and Ft. Lauderdale.

Again, what makes Carnival unique is that you can buy tickets for months in advance, not just the upcoming weekend. There are, of course, restrictions. Southbound travel is generally Sunday through Wednesday, northbound travel Tuesday through Friday. And tickets are non-refundable. Carnival to south Florida--that's my deal of the week. More information? Call Carnival at 800-258-5288.

Car Wars

Rudy Maxa talks with relationship expert Dr. Deborah Tannen about why the battle between men and women takes on special intensity in cars. Tannen is the author of "You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation" as well as "Talking From 9 to 5." She is a University Professor at Georgetown University, where she is on the Linguistics Department faculty. After discussing communications between men and women with Tannen, Rudy talks with listeners about their most vivid experiences with "car wars"

Preview of next week's Q&A: Next week The Savvy Ttraveler tips his hat to all those kids heading back to school by asking you to remember the days you stood in front of your classroom to talk about how you spent your summer vacation. How did you spend your summer vacation? That's the subject we want you to call and tell us about at 1-888-SAVTRAV.

Where did you go? What cool things did you do? What are the places you visited that the rest of us might want to think about getting on our travel calendars for next year? Again, old schoolmarm Rudy is standing, ruler in hand, in the radio classrooom, waiting to hear from you about how you spent your summer vacation. Give me a call at 1-888-S-A-V-T-R-A-V. And not to worry...there won't be a quiz.

The Tomato Festival

Rudy talks with Doug Lansky, The Vagabond Traveler, about what it was like to be part of the Tomatina Festival. The event, in which townspeople and tourists pelt each other with thousands of pounds of ripe tomatoes, happened this week in Bunol, Spain, a town near the spanish mediterranean coast.

Next Week on The Savvy Traveler

Coming up next week: We'll visit the only Frank Lloyd Wright house anyone can live in for a night or two-- a rentable Wright cottage in Wisconsin. You'll sample a few airport museums around the country and actor Ben Stein helps kick off a new series called "Places of the Heart.' That plus listener calls about How We Spent Our Summer Vacation in next week's show.

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