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June 19, 1999

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Family-friendly Europe for Sale

Ready to see Europe by train? You probably know there's a profusion of rail passes that can save you a few bucks. But here's the news this week. With every adult ticket you purchase on the Eurostar, a child under 12 gets to ride free. This deal is good until the end of August, but you must purchase your tickets this month.

The Eurostar (www.eurostar.com) links London and Paris, as well as Disneyland Europe outside Paris. Also known as the "Chunnel train" because it goes through the Channel Tunnel, it's a sleek, fast train that every kid -- even one as old as I am -- loves. There are also family-friendly deals for BritRail, Austrian Railpass, and Eurail buyers. To find out about them, click on the "Kids Travel Free" offer at www.raileurope.com.

Remember, you have to buy your passes before you leave the U.S. And here's a footnote. If you're thinking about ways to get to London, British Airways (www.britishairways.com) just announced a buy one, get one free ticket deal. Buy a coach ticket between June 15 and June 30, travel anytime between June 22 and September 30, 1999, and you'll get a FREE Executive Club award round-trip economy class ticket for a second London vacation this winter. Sample round-trip fares: from DC, $638, New York, $598, from LA and San Francisco, $798.

Europe on sale--that's my Deal of the Week.

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Rockslide at Yosemite
More than 1300 visitors were evacuated from Yosemite National Park last Sunday when a rockslide sent boulders crashing down. One climber was killed as helped friends escape. 200 more tourists were evacuated later in the week and park officials now say things could be sliding again.

Recorded message: "Geologists have identified additional fractures in the rock wall above Curry Village where rockfalls occurred on Sunday June 13 and Tuesday June 15. A small area of Curry village that has been identified as a possible impact area has been evacuated as a precautionary measure."

That's the word from Yosemite National Park as it continues to keep conditions updated with recorded messages on it's information line.

For more info try these two numbers:

  • Lodging Reservations 559-252-4848
  • Curry Village front desk 209-372-8323

Pilot Fatigue
Pilot fatigue has been in the news since the American Airlines crash landing in Little Rock two weeks ago. The FAA says it will begin strict enforcement of rest regulations in December, giving the airlines six months to review flight and rest operations. The law says pilots cannot fly more than eight hours in a 24 hour period, and they have to be able to rest for eight hours within that same time span.

Northwest Class Action Suit
A Michigan judge Friday granted class-action status to a lawsuit by Northwest Airlines passengers who were stuck on Detroit runways during a January snowstorm. Northwest had argued against class-action status because not all 8000 passengers experienced the same problems -- on some planes toilets backed up; on others, they ran out of food and water.

Passenger Bill of Rights
Those incidents prompted Congress to create a bill guaranteeing passenger rights. Well, the airlines headed off that congressional action Thursday when they announced a package of voluntary measures to keep their passengers happy. The plan includes letting customers know when the lowest fares are available and meeting their needs during long on-aircraft delays. But don't be too impressed by this new wave of airline goodwill...many of the measures are things the airlines are supposed to do for you anyway. And if the industry doesn't follow through, lawmakers threaten to reapply the pressure.

Amtrak Guarentee
Amtrak says it's on board with passenger rights. In fact, they just announced that you'll get a free ticket if you don't like their service. And Amtrak has just returned to Oklahoma after a 20-year absence. The new "Heartland Flyer" chugs from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth and other far-flung connections.

Ferry from NYC to the Vineyard
Can't take a train? Catch a ferry. A new service started up last week from Liberty State Park off Manhattan sailing up to Martha's Vineyard. The ride takes four and a half hours and leaves Friday evenings, returning Sunday nights. A round-trip ticket is $169, and for $199 you can ride up top and get two free drinks.

Midnight Baseball
Don't forget the big ball game Monday night...in Alaska! At midnight. Yep, the summer solstice means its time for the annual midnight baseball game...as long as it's not too dark to see the ball. The Midnight Sun Baseball Game is played June 21 (summer solstice) in Fairbanks, Alaska at Growden Memorial Field. For info or tickets, call the Alaska Goldpanners at 907-451-0095.

Cows on Parade
And finally, I guess the folks in Chicago have gotten over the Mrs. O'Leary incident because the city is happily being taken over by cows. 300 life-size Fiberglass cows will graze in the Loop all summer. One will even jump over a moon on Michigan Avenue. It's all part of a public art exhibit called "Cows on Parade."

Travel Advisory
by Michelle Kholos

Crime against Tourists Abroad
Two armed men robbed American tourists on safari in Kenya Thursday, then drove off in the tour bus, kidnaping three members of the group, who were later released unharmed. Attacks around the Masai Mara game reserve have increased over the past two years. Two Belgian tourists were kidnaped from a boat last week while they sailed to the popular resort island of Santa Cruz in the Philippines. The State Department warns that crime is a serious concern in the Philippines and kidnaping is considered a common occurrence.

Construction Rules the Road
Remember the old joke about there being two seasons in the Midwest: winter and highway construction? Well now, during the peak of summer travel, most of the United States can, unfortunately, share that punch line. Construction has taken over American roads, the fruits of the $203 billion dollar highway bill. Officials ask drivers to remain patient this summer and remember when you see an orange barrel, that means there's probably somebody behind it doing work.


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