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Rundown for the week of December 26, 1998

Ahwahnee Prowl
Kitchen's large and small across the country are smoking from all the holiday feasts. And the kitchen at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park could definitely use a break, as it's just finished preparing the annual Bracebridge Dinner. It's an elaborate affair that's been held almost every Christmas for the last 70 years. Famed photographer Ansel Adams was one of the fouders of the lavish event, that's complete with carolers, costumed characters and several courses. I decided to find out how they prepare feasts in the forest.

Q & A I: Unique holiday customs
Rudy talks to listeners about unusual holiday traditions they've observed in other countries.

Pico Iyer Interview
Pico Iyer is one of the most revered travel writers of our time. He's journeyed the world covering distant places most of us have only read about--Cuba, Vietnam, Ethiopa...Tibet-- he's even had an audience with the Dalai Lama. But after having so many exotic experiences, what corner of the globe does he find most inspiring? How does Pico Iyer choose a place to call home? He joined us to answer those questions and to talk about his latest book Tropical Classical, a collection of essays about the places and people he's met on his travels. But first I wanted to know...what moved him to start traveling so intently, in the first place?

American Orient Express
I bet if we played word association with the phrase "Orient Express," you'd come up with "luxury," "mystery," "romance," "elegance." And you'd probably think Europe. But the truth is you don't have to travel to another continent. You can find luxury rail travel right here at home on the American Orient Express. Judie Fein takes us along for the ride.

Deal of the Week: Give the Gift of Travel

Q & A II -- General Questions
Rudy takes listeners' general questions about travel. He mentions:

Becoming a Travel Agent

  • Airlines have changed their commission structure. Caps have been placed on international as well as domestic commissions. Cruises and tour packages aren't capped yet.
  • Ther professional travel agent Rudy talked with is Susie Fisch from McCord Travel in New York

Sailing Across the Atlantic

The general consensus was that sailing across the Atlantic is a rare and unpleasant experience. Waters can be extremely rough. If still determined, it can be done. Him Araiza at SailAway Yach Charter Consultants in Miami had the following suggestions:

  • Buy a sailing magazine and look in the classified section for private boat owners looking for a crew and join them on their journey
  • Only consider doing this if you've got a Jacques Cousteau personality or if you're "one hell of a good, experienced yachtsman."
  • Be extremely flexible in terms of when you can go and for how long.

A good resource is Steve Colgate of Offshore Sailing School Ltd. Although the school itself doesn't organize trips, he's completed the trip several times and might have some tips. His phone number is 800-221-4326.

Sights to See in Beijing

  • The Forbidden City, so called because it was off-limits to commoners for 500 years.
  • The Old Summer Palace.
  • Tiantan Park is the best example of Ming Architecture. The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests dominates the park, and its wooden pillars support the ceiling without nails or cement, as if by magic (or really good engineering).
  • Chinese acrobats. The best place to catch a show is the Chaoyang Theatre in Dongsanhuan Beilu.
  • Chinese opera. Special performances for foreigners are put out nightly in the Liyuan Theatre, which is part of the Qianmen Hotel. You can also try the Chang'an Grand Theatre.

Christmas in England
For this holiday season, The Savvy Traveler's Karen Brown decided to flee the hectic life of Philadelphia for a Christmas in the English countryside. Searching for a rustic getaway, she and her husband headed north to the country of Yorkshire, just a few hours from Scotland. As we hear in this postcard, she stumbled on a scene from the last century and learned that some old world traditions are alive and well.

Next Week on The Savvy Traveler...
Maybe you'll resolve to be a better tipper when you hear, next week, about what your concierge has to go through on a daily basis.

"Tickets to the theater, no problem. Ship a turtle to Germany, a snap sir. You need somebody in a gorilla suit to sing happy birthday to your spouse? Coming right up."

We'll find out what travel trends to expect in the new year, and we take a journey to an unusual gathering place in Morroco.

"You might stroll past a fortune-teller with a weather-beaten set of tarot cards or a dentist who's table is laden with previously extracted molars."

The exotic sounds of Marrakesh and the continued battle between man...and carry-on luggage. That and more so please come along for the ride in next week's edition of The Savvy Traveler.

For tapes of the show
If you want your very own copy of The Savvy Traveler, order an audio cassette. It's easy. Just call 303-823-8000. The price is $15. As Rudy says, it's a steal.

The Savvy Traveler Newsletter
The Savvy Traveler newsletter is now available. For more information, call toll-free, 888-SAV-TRAV (888-728-8728), extension 3, or e-mail mail@savvytraveler.org.

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