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Rundown for the Week of September 12, 2003

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Destination of the week: Australia

Australia is a fascinating country where tourist sites and ancient wonders are often one in the same. From the rain forests to the deserts to the beautiful cities of Sydney and Melbourne, we're taking a special look at the land Down Under this week. While Australia is about the size of the mainland of the United States, most of the population there lives on and around the miles and miles of majestic beaches. Their winter is our summer, so we thought now is the perfect time to start planning a trip to Oz. But where do you start?

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A Journey to Alice Springs by Martin Stott
Australia is one of the most diverse climates in the world. While beautiful beaches, lush forests, mountains and farmland abound, the vast majority of the continent has more in common with the Mojave than Monterrey: flat, scrubby desert plains, expanding in every direction, interrupted only by the massive Ayers Rock. The de facto capital of the Australian interior is an outpost called Alice Springs. We sent Martin Stott to get an in-depth look at one of the world's oldest cultures.

Click here to search for other stories by Martin Stott

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A chat with Malcolm Griffiths,

Click here to learn more about traveling to / in Australia
Malcolm Griffiths joins host Diana Nyad to tell us where to go, what to do and when to visit Oz. Malcolm gives us an overview of Australia, how long our first trip should last, places he recommends we visit, the best time of year to go, and the biggest Aussie misconceptions and myths.

The Lonely Planet Top 5 Aussie Picks
The first Lonely Planet Travel Guide appeared nearly 30 years ago after Australians Tony and Maureen Wheeler completed a London-to-Sydney overland trip. Now, the Melbourne-based company specializes in unique guidebooks to "off-the-beaten-track" sites. Tony gives us his top five Australia picks.

  1. Dine with the devils. Go to the northwest corner of Tasmania and take a nighttime Tasmanian devil tour.
  2. Head out to Monkey Mia, a beach in Western Australia to swim with the dolphins. Just wade out -- and they'll swim in to meet you.
  3. Take a desert road trip, but not on the highway. Rent an SUV and go for a spin on an outback track, like the Birdsville Track or the Simpson Desert Crossing.
  4. See some aboriginal art. You can find it in galleries all over the country.
  5. "Knock back some amber fluid with the dinky-dis." Translation: Have a couple beers with the real Aussies.

Online resources
Click here to learn more about traveling to / in Australia, and what to do when you get there.

Crossing Over with Ruben Martinez

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Travel has always been a huge part of the "American Experience. And, our nation was built on immigration and migration. Journalist Ruben Martinez chronicles one particular slice of that border-crossing population in his book "Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail." The Savvy Traveler's Benjamin Adair recently spent some time in California farm country with Ruben, just north of the Mexican border, talking about the epic road trip that brings people from deep inside Mexico, Central and South America, and the adventures that come with crossing the border to make ends meet.

Online resource
"Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail" by Ruben Martinez is available at Amazon.com. Your purchase helps support The Savvy Traveler.

Click here to search for other stories by Ben Adair

The Beauty of Glen Canyon, Revealed by Stephen Trimble

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about traveling to
Glen Canyon
Just up the Colorado River from the Grand Canyon is Glen Canyon, which, some say, is even more scenic and beautiful. But not many people know this because only smallest portion of Glen Canyon is normally visible -- after the building of the Glen Canyon dam, nearly all of the canyon was buried under Lake Powell. Well, today, due to a 5-year drought in the West, Lake Powell has lost almost half its water. So, many of its exquisite side canyons are visible for the first time in over 30 years. Stephen Trimble went to Lake Powell to see what was now out in the open.

This segment begins with a reading from the late David Brower, who was in charge of the Sierra Club. David was one of the last to see Glen Canyon before the dam covered it with Lake Powell.

Online resources
Click here to learn more about traveling to Glen Canyon

Click here to search for other stories by Stephen Trimble

San Antonio Winery by Cash Peters

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There are two things most people never expect to find in downtown Los Angeles -- besides parking. The first? Snow. The second: a winery, with rows and rows of grapes terracing up the cemented-over embankments of LA River. Believe it or not, the family-owned San Antonio Winery has pressed grapes in the heart of downtown Los Angeles since 1917. It's nestled in an area once known as "Little Italy." We sent Cash Peters over to sniff out a few corks and check it out.

Online resources
www.sanantoniowinery.com: Web site for San Antonio Winery
www.cashpeters.com: Web site for Cash Peters

Click here to search for other stories by Cash Peters

Sound Travels "Speaker's Corner", Sydney, Australia

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Sound Travels, where we travel with only our ears as our guide, takes us to Australia. In Sydney, since there is no constitutional right to free speech like in the U.S., there are designated "Free Speech Areas": places in public squares where people pull up soapboxes and have their say. Up until the 80s, a trip to Speakers' Corner at the Domain was a required detour when visiting Sydney. Each Sunday afternoon, crowds would gather to listen to the piercing social, political and religious debates. Sadly, these days, there is only a monument to pay tribute to this history. But Sherre DeLys recorded a lively exchange back when the debate still raged.

Recent Sound Travels
"Singing Frogs of the Pantanal"
Climax Golden Twins
"The Palio, Siena, Italy"
"Mongul Music"
"Summer in New York"
"Summer in Los Angeles"
"Summer in Seattle"
"Summer in Chicago"

Click here to search for all "Sound Travels"

Traveler's Aid Airline Ticket Futures

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Hal Humphrey and his wife's annual trips to Belize always net them friends and amazing experiences. While we usually associate Belize with Mayan culture, Hal discovered another native people there, rich with their own history and daily customs. Hal let his Southern gentleman style go by the wayside when he heard the drums of the Garifuna. While there, he was invited to the Nine Night, a Caribbean-style wake. At the wake, he bid farewell to his grandfather and a Belizian friend, both who had died recently, in a way befitting fellow adventurers.

Online resources
www.washington.edu: bio - Oren Etzioni
www.businessweek.com: article - "How to Rumble the Airlines"

Deal of the Week Czech on the Czeap

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Our Travel-Expert-in-Residence, Rudy Maxa, calls in from Prague because he wants us to enjoy some of that post-communist Czech cool: incredible bargains on getting to, and staying in, Prague.

DEAL: AIR? Rudy says Prague is one of the coolest cities in Europe -- and he's not talking temperature. This gorgeous city of Gothic and Baroque architecture, home to Franz Kafka, Mozart and Dvorak, has been an American favorite ever since the early '90s, when the Communists were pressured out of town by popular sentiment.

Nordique tours is offering round-trip affair from any U.S. city served by Lufthansa, plus four nights of accommodations and breakfast, from prices beginning at $399 per person, based on two people traveling together. That's for folks flying from Boston, NY, Newark and Philadelphia. It's $50 more from Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Miami and DC. It's $479 from Denver, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston and Phoenix. It's $499 from LA, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. Figure on another $130 in taxes.

The packages are nonrefundable and subject to some holiday blackouts, but generally, you can travel between November 1 and the end of next March.

HOTEL? This price is for a three-star hotel near the famed castle in downtown Prague. For $100 more, you can upgrade to a four-star hotel for the four nights. And, you can add on additional days in Prague or other European cities, if you'd like.

Web site: For more details on the Prague air/hotel package, contact Nordique Tours at 800-995-7997, or visit www.nordiquetours.com.

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