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Rundown for the Week of October 3, 2003

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Destination: Florida

More visitors made it to the Sunshine State than any other state last year. While Orlando is the most-frequented destination in Florida, many travelers probably don't realize how varied the state is. From the subtropics of the Keys to the marsh wetlands of the West Coast to the pine forests near the Georgia border, there's a lot to explore in Florida that's not in any theme park tour guide. Our contributors went to look around.

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A Quick Flight to Cedar Keys
by Hal Humphreys
For Hal Humphreys and his wife, freedom means taking to the skies and leaving the world behind, buzzing hundreds of miles away on a minute's notice. That's because they both fly their own small plane. So, we asked them to wing their way down to Cedar Key, Fla., a quiet, off the beaten path, one-road-in-one-road-out speck in the Gulf of Mexico.

   Web resource: Map of Cedar Key, Fla., on Mapquest - view map

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Splendid China...Without Leaving America
by Judith Ritter
Here's a place in Florida that's truly bizarre: There's a cultural haven in Orlando, Fla., that allows you to travel to the heart of the exotic Orient -- without ever digging up your passport. Reporter Judith Ritter says if you're hankering for a foreign trip, but the stock market hasn't kind to your savings account, this is the place for you.

   Web resource: Park Web site - www.floridasplendidchina.com/

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Offbeat Keys: a Disney-free chat with Chris Elliott
Even if you don't have your own Cessna to fly down to Florida, there are plenty of great reasons to visit. This week, our Travel Troubleshooter and resident Key Largo man-about-town, Chris Elliott, gives us his picks for the top must-do destinations in Florida.

Chris Elliott's Top 5 Picks for Florida:

  1. Interested in history and culture? Check out St. Augustine.
  2. Are you the outdoorsy type? If you've already done the Everglades, head over to Crystal River on the west coast.
  3. Like a 24-hour party? Miami's your place -- especially, South Beach. Now's the time to go because there's a glut of luxury hotel rooms.
  4. Looking for a kickback, chill-out vacation? Head to Sanibel Island.
  5. And, for families? Take the kids to Winter Park, near Orlando.

Web resources for Chris Elliott
www.ci.st-augustine.fl.us: St. Augustine
www.florida-everglades.com: Florida Everglades
www.crystalriverflorida.com: Crystal River
www.gmcvb.com: Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau
www.sanibelisland.com: Sanibel Island
www.wpfl.org: Winter Park

Rediscovering Family Roots
by Naomi Lewin

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Learn how to
search for your
ancestors online
In honor of the Jewish High Holy Day of Yom Kippur, we present an emotional story of a woman rethinking her past. This summer, reporter Naomi Lewin took a trip back to the place of her family roots. Silesia was the easternmost part of Germany when her family lived there; since the end of World War II, it has become part of western Poland. Armed with all of the old pictures and clues she could find, Naomi set out with her sister Eva to piece together the puzzle of her family's history. By retracing the steps of her ancestors, she found something even more valuable: a connection to the past.

Web resources
Click here to learn more about tracing your family history. Our basic guide on genealogy provides tips on how to start researching your own ancestry, and books and Web sites that could aid you in your search.

"Be the Creature!" an interview with the Kratt brothers

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There's a new series that's premiering this week on the National Geographic Channel called "Kratt Brothers: Be the Creature." So, what does that mean? Well, ever notice how some nature programs just tend to set up a telephoto lens 400 meters away and observe the animals? Award-winning wildlife filmmakers Chris and Martin Kratt do the complete opposite of that: They get right in there, swimming with the animals' waters and they, literally, eat their food. They, uh, "become the creature." These guys are crazy. Host Diana Nyad talks with Chris and Martin Kratt.

Online resources
news.nationalgeographic.com: interview - "Kratt Brothers on Filming With an Animal's-Eye View"
www.krattbrothers.com: Kratt Brothers Web site
www.nationalgeographic.com: National Geographic Channel

Sound Travels San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble

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Today, we're traveling back in time. You're about to hear a "best guess": an intellectual exercise perfect for the upcoming Yom Kippur holiday. Shortly after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, about 70 A.D., an entire Jewish musical tradition fell into oblivion. Today, using historical texts, ancient Talmudic notations and religious scholars' hypotheses, the San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble has put together a collection of music using ancient instruments, played as they think they were played nearly 2,000 years ago. The release is called "Ancient Echoes."

Recent Sound Travels
"The sounds of work in Timbuktu", Mali, West Africa
"St. Lazarus Day," Bahia, Brazil
"Speaker's Corner," Sydney, Australia
"Singing Frogs of the Pantanal"
"Climax Golden Twins"
"The Palio, Siena, Italy"
"Mongul Music"
"Summer in New York"
"Summer in Los Angeles"
Click here to search for all "Sound Travels"

Traveler's Aid Travel update with Joe Sharkey

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Joe Sharkey, the business travel columnist for "The New York Times," joins host Diana Nyad to chat about what's going on in the culture of business travel this week. They discuss how hotels and airlines are faring in post-SARS Hong Kong, the buzz on the CAPS 2 program and what frequent flyers think about it, and what we're to make of jetBlue's violation of privacy policy and how business travelers are reacting to it.

Online resources:
www.nytimes.com: Archive of Joe's articles on The New York Times Web site (registration required)

Deal of the Week Chinese New Year in Hong Kong / "Ritzy" bargain in Malaysia

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Our Travel-Expert-in-Residence, Rudy Maxa, is back with two awesome Eastern-influenced deals that demonstrate the bargains available in Asia these days: 1)Get to Hong Kong to celebrate the Chinese New Year in style; 2)A way-too-low price on Kuala Lumpur's full-service, swanky Ritz-Carlton hotel.

DEAL #1: The first is a package from Go-Today that will take you to Hong Kong in January to celebrate the Chinese New Year: Airfare, 6 nights accommodations, a half-day tour, museum passes and seating for the Jan. 22nd parade -- with prices starting at $599 per person, based on two people traveling together from Seattle or San Francisco. Depending on the level of hotel you choose, the tab can double, and there are modest add-on charges for flying out of other U.S. cities. Book by Oct. 30th.

DEAL #2: This one's smaller -- yet no less enthralling: smaller, deal that is worth mentioning: The swanky Ritz-Carlton hotel in Malaysia's capital of Kuala Lumpur will give you a double room for $115, and throw in a butler-drawn bath and a one-hour Swedish massage. You can't get a message for much less than that in the U.S. -- let alone a luxury hotel room to go along with it!

Web resources
--For details on the Go-Today's Hong Kong New Year's offering, visit www.gotoday.com, or call 425-487-9632. You'll pay an extra $20 if you book your trip by phone.

--To book a $115 room (plus a free massage) at the Ritz-Carlton in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, send an e-mail to the hotel at ritzkl@ritzkl.po.my, or you can call the hotel in Malaysia directly by dialing 011-603-2142-8000. The special offer is valid until the end of 2003.

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